Meatless Monday: Rich & Creamy Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Ever had one of those days when you want dessert but you don’t want junk food? In those moments, a homemade, healthy-ish dessert would satisfy you, but you might not have a lot of time. Today’s coconut rice pudding is the easy solution to this conundrum. Warm and comforting, but requiring just 30 mostly unattended minutes in the kitchen, it’s a great treat to have after a long day. Oh, and if you want your dessert to be vegan, this recipe still qualifies.


Dessert: Say Yes

We all want to be healthy, and we know what we eat plays a huge role in how we feel. Indeed, a recent global study found that bad diets are responsible for more deaths than smoking. In countries where people follow “a diet close to the Mediterranean diet” with a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils, including olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish, the lowest number of diet-related deaths occur. So go ahead and fill your plate with healthy food, but don’t forget dessert.

Science recognizes seven basic tastes into which all foods can be categorized: bitter, salty, sour, astringent, sweet, pungent, and umami. When all these tastes are represented and balanced in our diets, we feel satisfied. And food satisfaction opens all kinds of doors to feeling good.



How To Make Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Here are a few things to consider when making today’s recipe: I recommend using glutinous rice when making rice pudding. Contrary to how it sounds, glutinous rice does not contain gluten. It has a high amount of amylopectin, which gives it a moist, sticky quality that is particularly good for rice pudding. Also, I use organic raw cane sugar in this recipe. Although it will leave you with brownish-colored rice pudding (as in the picture above), it retains some of sugar’s natural nutrients, such as iron. I’m not saying to load up on raw sugar, but for (occasional) treats in which the texture will allow, I prefer it to white table sugar. However, you can easily substitute with white table sugar if you prefer, for whatever reason. Oh, and about those spices: I use whole cloves in this recipe, but getting a bite of whole clove isn’t for everyone, I know. For those of you who prefer to forego the whole spice, substitute 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

So, say yes to dessert, but instead of reaching for that junky candy bar, make today’s rice pudding. I often make a pot to share with friends and reserve a little for myself to enjoy during the hectic workweek, because on those days when we want dessert, we should just have dessert.



Coconut Rice Pudding (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

Serves: 4-5

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes



Coconut Rice Pudding:

  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice, rinse and drained
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons anise seed
  • 10 cloves (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seed
  • pinch of sea or pink Himalayan salt


  • raisins
  • shaved dried coconut, toasted
  • shelled raw, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • rose petals, chopped (optional)



  1. Combine the rice, coconut milk, sugar, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the flame to medium low and simmer, stirring from time to time, making sure the mixture doesn’t over-thicken, for 25 minutes, until the rice is tender and the mixture is pleasantly thick.
  3. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for about five minutes.
  4. Plate, topping each portion with raisins, dried coconut, pistachios, and rose petals, if using, and serve.


Additional Cooking Notes

  • This coconut rice pudding can be served warm or cold.





Photos by Shiraz Leyva