Coconut Rice

This coconut rice recipe will become your go-to, no-fail, coconut rice that’s restaurant delicious but easy to make at home!

This coconut rice is light, fluffy and infused with 3 times the coconut thanks to my secret ingredient! It’s the divine, simple, coconutty answer to the dreaded question “What should I make?” when it comes to sides because everyone loves it! This coconut jasmine rice pairs perfectly with a practically any grilled protein, South East Asian dish, tropical dish or seafood. It can also be easily adapted to make Thai Coconut Rice, Jamaican Coconut Rice, Pineapple Coconut Rice, Coconut Lime Rice, Curry Coconut Rice – all recipes included! Plus, it’s super easy to make either on the stove or in the rice cooker!

Rice makes a scrumptious side to so many meals from Tropical, to Asian, Mediterranean, to Mexican to everything in between. If you’re looking for you next rice recipe, look no further than: Mexican Style Rice, Rice Pilaf, Cilantro Lime Rice, Greek Lemon Rice, or Parmesan Risotto.

 

top view of coconut rice in a stainless steel skillet

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Coconut Rice Recipe

I am extra excited to bring you this coconut rice recipe because I’ve experimented with it more than any other recipe to bring you perfectly textured rice that’s not gluey, sticky or mushy!  You will be in LOVE with this rich, coconutty, fluffy rice. Once you follow the foolproof recipe once and see how easy it is, it will quickly become your go-to favorite rice.

To come up with the best coconut rice recipe, I experimented with several factors so you don’t have to!  I played with water to coconut to milk to rice ratio, toasting the rice and not toasting the rice, using full fat coconut milk and light coconut milk, adding the rice to simmering liquid or bringing the rice to a simmer with the liquid, cooking for less time and steaming for more time, cooking for more time and steaming for less time, etc.  It was a long-fought battle, but in the end, I found the most important factors to create the best coconut jasmine rice were:

  • Thoroughly rinsing the rice
  • Toasting the rice
  • Cooking the rice with coconut milk and water
  • Bringing the rice to a simmer with the liquid
  • Cooking the rice until al dente and steaming to finish cooking

The resulting coconut rice is restaurant worthy and the ideal accompaniment to many South East Asian dishes such as chicken satay, beef rendang, and curries such as red, yellow, and green to soak into the rice creating the perfect bite.  It’s equally fabulous with tropical dishes like Hawaiian chicken, Hawaiian chicken kabobs, and huli huli chicken, as well nearly all Western-style proteins like cilantro lime chicken, mojo pork and jerk shrimp.  So, if you need an outstanding side with whispers of rich coconut, look no further than this coconut rice recipe!   It just doesn’t get any better my friends EXCEPT that the recipe uses pantry friendly ingredients and is SO easy to whip up with my tips and tricks.


This coconut rice recipe is also extremely versatile and easy to customize depending on what you’re serving it with.  With just a few seasoning changes or add-ins, you can make can completely mix up the flavor profile.  You can even swap the jasmine rice for basmati rice and add yellow curry powder to make Indian coconut rice!  This coconut jasmine rice is a blank canvas just waiting for you to add your creative spin – or not.  Because the plain coconut rice is so addicting, you’ll be eating it straight from the saucepan.   I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.  Let’s make coconut rice!

coconut jasmine rice topped with pineapple

Ingredients in Coconut Rice 

This coconut rice recipe is chock-full of flavor, but it requires very few ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make rice with coconut milk: 

  • Rice: I recommend using jasmine rice in this recipe.  Jasmine rice is a type of long-grain white rice that’s easily to find at your grocery store next to the other varieties of rice.  Jasmine rice is fragrant like popcorn, moist, and soft with a slightly sweet flavor. You may also use basmati rice if you’re looking for more distinct grains or more of an Indian mouthfeel.  Avoid other white rice varieties because they can cook up mushy and avoid brown rice, which takes much longer to cook and will need a different liquid to rice ratio.
  • Coconut milk: Buy canned coconut milk, not the kind in a carton. Full-fat or light coconut milk will work, but remember fat equals flavor!  Coconut rice made with full fat coconut milk will taste richer and boast more coconutty swag.
  • Cream of coconut: Not to be confused with the coconut cream you scoop off the top of canned coconut milk! It is an optional ingredient but adds sensational concentrated coconut flavor that will make this the BEST coconut rice! See my notes below on where to find cream of coconut and what it is. 
  • Spices: For added oomph, I used ground ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to flavor the rice.  The rice still tastes very neutral even with these additions, so don’t be scared away!

What is Cream of Coconut?

Cream of coconut is most often used in mixed drinks and can be found near other drink mixers at your grocery store. Note that cream of coconut does NOT contain alcohol. If you have trouble locating it, just ask someone at the store as it is a very common ingredient.  There are both liquid and powdered forms, so take care you get the liquid form. I use Coco Real Cream of Coconut in the convenient squeezable form.  

showing how to make coconut jasmine rice by displaying the secret ingredient:  cream of coconut

How to Make Coconut Rice 

This coconut rice recipe is as easy to make as regular rice, but you must closely follow the instructions. Here’s a detailed look at how to make coconut jasmine rice with my tips and tricks so it turns out fluffy and not mushy.

Use the correct rice

For this recipe, you’ll want to use long grain jasmine rice. The type of rice is important because it affects the texture and consistency and ratio of ingredients. Other types of rice (other than basmati) can have too much starch and are destined to become gluey or mushy.  Jasmine rice, however, boasts the perfect size grain to soak up the divine coconut flavor without becoming a big blob of gluey rice if you follow my other tips and tricks.

Use water and coconut milk

It might be tempting to use all coconut milk to maximize the coconut flavor, but this is a sure way to end up with gluey rice because coconut milk is so much stickier than water. Instead, 2 cups coconut milk and 1 ½ cups water cooks the rice perfectly while injecting it with subtle coconut flavor.

Rinse and drain rice thoroughly

Rice contains a lot of starch, which is crucial to remove in this recipe so it doesn’t cook up sticky and mushy, especially because coconut milk is so sticky.  To rinse, place the rice in a fine mesh sieve and thoroughly rinse rice under cool running water for several minutes until the water runs pretty clear. It will never be 100% clear, but you don’t want to shortcut this process!

Toast the rice

This was the step that changed everything.  Once I toasted the rice, my coconut rice was so much fluffier!  Not only does toasting the rice develop a wonderfully nutty flavor, but more importantly, it develops a protective outer shell that helps the grains keep some of its texture after they are cooked. After toasting your rice for a few minutes, don’t worry that the rice doesn’t look like it’s very toasted, we are just going for the science and not the color.

showing how to make coconut rice by toasting jasmine rice in a skillet

Use less liquid than usual

Normally rice is cooked with a 2 to 1 ratio of liquid to rice, meaning 2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice.  For this coconut rice recipe, we us a 1.75 to 1 cup ratio.  Don’t be tempted to use more or less liquid to start – I’ve already tried that!  More liquid results in gluey rice and less liquid results in burnt rice. You can always add liquid later, but you can’t it away!

Add the rice and then bring to a simmer 

Instead of simmering the liquid and then adding the rice, add the rice and the liquid and then bring to a simmer together before covering with the lid. By simmering the rice with the liquid, the temperature doesn’t drop once you add the rice which produces a firmer, more distinct grains, and evenly cooked, fluffier rice.

showing how to make coconut rice by adding coconut milk and water to sauacepan

Bring the liquid to a strong simmer before covering

The entire surface of the liquid should be rippling before you add the lid, not just the edges. This can take several minutes, so be patient.  This cooking time counts towards cooking the rice and is why the total covered cooking time is so short.    

Cook on low until the rice is al dente

Once simmering, give the rice a stir, cover with the lid and turn the heat down to LOW. Cook on Low for 6-10 minutes, or until the rice is al dente, meaning it has a slight bite because it will continue to steam once removed from heat.  

This cooking window is where you need to use your own discretion because lots of variables come into play such as the width of your pan, the quality of your pan (how well it retains heat), if your stove runs hot or not, how long it took to bring your rice to a simmer before covering, etc.  So, I recommend checking our rice at 6 minutes and covering and continuing to cook if needed until most, if not all, of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost done.

showing how to make coconut rice by letting it rest before fluffing

Let the Rice Rest

Now the magical steaming.  After the rice is mostly cooked, give it one stir, remove from heat and rest, COVERERD, for 10 minutes.  I don’t understand all of the science behind it, except that it works.  It allows you to use less liquid so the grains aren’t water logged and mushy and instead the rice finishes cooking in the hot, steamy pan.

Add cream of coconut cream

My sister introduced me to the best coconut rice decades ago – her secret?  Cream of coconut!  It replaces the sugar in most recipes with this elixir that delivers slight sweetness with an intoxicating concentrated coconut flavor.  You don’t have to add it, but it is culinary changing.    

showing how to make coconut rice recipe by adding cream of coconut

More Cooking Tips for Making Coconut jasmine Rice 

  • Use a non-stick pan: it is essential your pan is non-stick because the rice will soak up all the liquid, evaporating the protective barrier between the rice and the pan and your rice will burn 100% of the time unless you use a nonstick pan.
  • If the liquid evaporates before rice is done:  add just a little water, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once the liquid is gone.
  • If the rice is still wet once it’s done: don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the liquid the last 10 minutes while steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.
  • Let it steam: don’t shortcut the 10-minute steaming process as it gives the rice time to finish cooking and firm up which in turn, makes it fluffier. 
  • Use a fork to fluff the rice: the tines help separate the rice grains, whereas a spoon can mash or break the grains.
  • Salt and pepper to taste: if your coconut rice tastes like it’s missing something, it is probably salt. I add a decent dose of freshly cracked salt and pepper to my rice before serving – just make sure you taste your rice as you season. 
top view of coconut rice in a stainless steel skillet

Coconut Rice in the Rice Cooker

If you want to take the guesswork out of coconut jasmine rice – use your rice cooker! It is SO easy – just dump all the ingredients in and press the button! The only thing to be aware of is you will use 1 cup of water instead of 1 ½ cup because the rice doesn’t lose any water simmering on the stove. You will still want to let the rice steam/rest without opening the lid for 10 minutes after the timer goes off.

Recipe Variations to Try 

  • Coconut Lime Rice:  stir the juice and zest of 1 lime into the rice after it’s fully cooked/steamed.
  • Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice: stir the juice and zest of 1 lime and 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped into the rice after it’s fully cooked/steamed.
  • Thai Coconut Rice:  season the rice with ⅛ teaspoon turmeric in addition to the salt, pepper, garlic, onion and ginger. You can also add 1 tablespoon red curry powder in place of the seasonings (still season with salt and pepper). Add two Pandam leaves, tied into a knot to the simmering liquid or 2-3 kaffir lime leaves.
  • Jamaican Coconut Rice: sauté the rice with ½ diced onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Add 1 cup red kidney beans, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 bay leaf before simmering.
  • Basmati Coconut Rice:  swap the jasmine rice for basmati rice.  Everything else stays the same. 
  • Coconut Ginger Rice:  omit the ground ginger and sauté 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger with the rice.
  • Coconut Curry Rice: use basmati rice instead of jasmine rice if you’re looking for an Indian flair.  Sauté the rice with 2 teaspoons curry powder.  Season with 1 teaspoon EACH onion powder, garlic powder, salt and ½ teaspoon EACH smoked paprika, pepper, ground ginger.  Add ⅓ cup golden raisins before simmering. Garnish with cashews.
  • Pineapple Coconut Rice: swap the water for pineapple juice.  Stir well drained pineapple tidbits into the rice after cooking.
  • Add-ins: a simple way to transform this coconut rice is with garnishes or add-ins.  Try adding freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice or zest, fresh pineapple chunks, chopped mango, cashews, sliced almonds or golden raisins.
  • Add a protein: you can enjoy this coconut rice as a side or as a main entrée. To bulk up the dish, add chicken, pork, or shrimp to the rice once it’s been cooked and fluffed. 

How to Store Coconut Rice 

Let coconut milk rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

How to Reheat Coconut Rice 

  • Microwave: for small portions, microwave rice in a microwave-safe container for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through.
  • Stove: for larger portions, transfer rice to a nonstick skillet along with a splash of oil or butter.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
top view of coconut rice recipe garnished with toasted coconut

Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance? 

Yes! While this coconut rice recipe doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so it can come together in minutes. 

  • Rinse rice: thoroughly rinse rice until clear, drain and store.
  • Sauté rice:  go one step further and sauté the rice, cool, then store in an airtight container.
  • Simmering liquid:  measure the coconut milk, water and spices into an airtight container.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  

Can I Freeze Coconut Rice? 

Yes!  Let the rice cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag (recommended) or freezer-safe airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label and freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, let the rice thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or stove as directed above.

What to Serve with Coconut Rice 

This coconut milk rice pairs perfectly with so many types of dishes from your favorite grilled protein to Tropical, Mexican and Asian-inspired dishes. Here are some of my favorite dishes to serve alongside this coconut rice: 

Looking for More Rice Recipes? 

up close of spooning coconut jasmine rice
top view of coconut rice in a stainless steel skillet

Coconut Rice

This coconut rice is light, fluffy and infused with 3 times the coconut thanks to my secret ingredient! It’s the divine, simple, coconutty answer to the dreaded question “What should I make?” when it comes to sides because everyone loves it! This coconut jasmine rice pairs perfectly with a practically any grilled protein, South East Asian dish, tropical dish or seafood. It can also be easily adapted to make Thai Coconut Rice, Jamaican Coconut Rice, Pineapple Coconut Rice, Coconut Lime Rice, Curry Coconut Rice – all recipes included! Plus, it’s super easy to make either on the stove or in the rice cooker!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups long grain jasmine rice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk (full fat or light)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

ADD LATER

Instructions

  • Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve under running cold water until the rice water runs pretty clear. This is crucial and will take several minutes. Don’t shortcut this step or you’ll end up with gummy rice.
  • Melt the butter in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Increase heat to medium-high and add the rice. Sauté for three minutes to toast the rice (this makes it fluffy).
  • Add the coconut milk, water, and seasonings. Bring to a simmer (wait for the middle to start to bubble, not just the edges). This can take up to five minutes, so be patient. Once simmering, give the rice a stir, cover with the lid and turn the heat down to LOW.
  • Cook on low for 6-10 minutes, or until the rice is al dente (it will continue to cook more in the next step), checking doneness and stirring at 6 minutes.
  • Give the rice ONE stir, remove from heat and rest, COVERERD, for 10 minutes – no peaking!
  • Add cream of coconut to taste and gently stir in with a rubber spatula. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like more salt). Garnish with toasted coconut, if using, and serve warm.

Notes

  • Use jasmine rice: other types of rice can have too much starch and are destined to become gluey or mushy.  You may also use basmati rice if you’re looking for more distinct grains or more of an Indian mouthfeel.  
  • Coconut milk: buy canned coconut milk, not the kind in a carton.  Full-fat or light coconut milk will work, but coconut rice made with full fat coconut milk will taste richer and boast more coconutty swag.
  • Cream of coconut:  replaces the sugar in most recipes with slightly sweet, intoxicating concentrated coconut flavor.  Cream of coconut is not to be confused with the coconut cream you scoop off the top of canned coconut milk. It is most often used in mixed drinks and can be found near other drink mixers at your grocery store. Note that cream of coconut does NOT contain alcohol. If you have trouble locating it, just ask someone at the store because it is a very common ingredient.  There are both liquid and powdered forms, so take care you get the liquid form. I use Coco Real Cream of Coconut in the convenient squeezable form.  This is the exact one I use
  • If the liquid evaporates before rice is done:  add just a little water, keeping in mind that the rice will continue to steam for 10 minutes once it’s removed from heat, so it doesn’t need to be 100% cooked once the liquid is gone.
  • If the rice is still wet once it’s done: don’t worry, it will continue to absorb the liquid the last 10 minutes while steaming. When you remove the lid after 10 minutes, you can let the rice sit an additional 5-10 minutes to dry out.

Coconut Rice in the Rice Cooker

The ingredients are the same with the omission of butter and reduction of water. 
  • 2 cups long grain jasmine rice
  • 1 14 can coconut milk (full fat or light)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
ADD LATER
  • 3-5tablespoons cream of coconut – see notes (optional but recommend)
  • toasted shredded coconut for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve under running cold water until the rice water runs pretty clear. This is crucial and will take several minutes. Don’t shortcut this step or you’ll end up with gummy rice.
  • Add all of the ingredients to your rice cooker and give them a stir.
  • Cook on the white rice setting.
  • Once the rice is done, don’t open the lid. Continue to let the rice steam for 10 minutes before stirring in the cream of coconut to taste.

Recipe Variations 

  • Coconut Lime Rice:  stir the juice and zest of 1 lime into the rice after it’s fully cooked/steamed.
  • Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice: stir the juice and zest of 1 lime and 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped into the rice after it’s fully cooked/steamed.
  • Thai Coconut Rice:  season the rice with ⅛ teaspoon turmeric in addition to the salt, pepper, garlic, onion and ginger. You can also add 1 tablespoon red curry powder in place of the seasonings (still season with salt and pepper). Add two Pandam leaves, tied into a knot to the simmering liquid or 2-3 kaffir lime leaves.
  • Jamaican Coconut Rice: sauté the rice with ½ diced onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Add 1 cup red kidney beans, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 bay leaf before simmering.
  • Basmati Coconut Rice:  swap the jasmine rice for basmati rice.  Everything else stays the same. 
  • Coconut Ginger Rice:  omit the ground ginger and sauté 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger with the rice.
  • Coconut Curry Rice: use basmati rice instead of jasmine rice if you’re looking for an Indian flair.  Sauté the rice with 2 teaspoons curry powder.  Season with 1 teaspoon EACH onion powder, garlic powder, salt and ½ teaspoon EACH smoked paprika, pepper, ground ginger.  Add ⅓ cup golden raisins before simmering. Garnish with cashews.
  • Pineapple Coconut Rice: swap the water for pineapple juice.  Stir well drained pineapple tidbits into the rice after cooking.
  • Add-ins: a simple way to transform this coconut rice is with garnishes or add-ins.  Try adding freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice or zest, fresh pineapple chunks, chopped mango, cashews, sliced almonds or golden raisins.
  • Add a protein: you can enjoy this coconut rice as a side or as a main entrée. To bulk up the dish, add chicken, pork, or shrimp to the rice once it’s been cooked and fluffed. 

How to Store and Reheat

  • How to store: let coconut milk rice cool to room temperature then transfer to a tightly covered airtight container or to several small containers for meal prep. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
  • To freeze: let the rice cool completely before transferring to a freezer bag (recommended) or freezer-safe airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out as much excess air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let the rice thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or stove as directed above.
  • To reheat in the microwave: for small portions, microwave rice in a microwave-safe container for 60-90 seconds or until warmed through.
  • To reheat on the stove: for larger portions, transfer rice to a nonstick skillet along with a splash of oil or butter.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
 

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16 Comments

  1. Ramya says

    Will be making all soon can i use vegan butter as am a vegan this recipe is indian am indian and i approved this perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    • Jen says

      Thanks Ramya, I hope you love it!

  2. Joanna says

    I love, love, love coconut rice! Thank you for the tips and instructions, plus all of the substitutions/variations. Mine came out perfect! I will be making this weekly!

    • Jen says

      That’s awesome you made it already, I’m so pleased it turned out perfectly!

  3. Nicole says

    If making in rice cooker do you use true measuring cups or the cup that comes with the rice cooker (which isn’t a true cup)?

    • Jen says

      Great question! Use true measuring cups for this recipe.

  4. Therese says

    Can I add the Pandam leaves if using a Rice Cooker? Would I just add when adding all the ingredients to the Rice Cooker?

    • Jen says

      Yes, add them with the rest of the ingredients, enjoy!

  5. Therese says

    Hi Jen, The stove top directions you say to toast the rice. Can I toast the rice before adding to the Rice Cooker?
    And I miss spelled my email on my comment before this one. oops!!

    • Jen says

      I toast the rice so it doesn’t get mushy on the stovetop and the added bonus is the flavor but yes, you can definitely toast the rice for extra flavorful rice cooker rice.

  6. Therese says

    This coconut Rice was SO GOOD!!!!! I used my Rice cooker. Perfect texture, fluffy. Just the right amount of coconut flavor. I used 4 TBSP of the Cream of Coconut. I will use 5 next time just because I love coconut. Was perfect with your Hawaiian Chicken which is AMAZING!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Therese, I’m thrilled this coconut rice was such a hit! Great pairing with the Hawaiian chicken!

  7. Stephanie says

    YUM! We are huge fans of your coconut rice with pineapple and cashews (with the Red Thai Curry paste flavor bomb!) but made this simple coconut rice to go along with your jerk chicken and all I can say is OMG! I’ve made lots of coconut rice recipes over the years and they all tend to be gluey and less than appealing. Followed your directions exactly and this rice came out so light, fluffy and each grain of rice was literally separate. It was amazing. Added the cream of coconut and garnished with toasted coconut which really threw it into the dessert category too, LOL, it was heavenly.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I have experimented with this recipe more than any other to get it right so I’m so pleased to hear the rice was light and fluffy and came out perfectly! Thank you!

  8. Meghan says

    I’m not sure where I went wrong but my coconut rice came out thick and gluey and the rice took forever to cook. I followed the recipe, so I’m not sure why it didn’t work out!

    • Jen says

      Hi Meghan, I am sorry it didn’t work out, that must be so frustrating! Make sure to thoroughly rinse the rice because that is where the gluey starch comes from. If it took forever, it sounds like the pot might be the culprit. I would try starting with less water and adding more as needed and turning the heat higher when you simmer. Hope this helps!

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