This Easy Coconut Milk rice recipe will give you the most fluffy, tasty, and flavorful rice you've ever had! It's not only quick and easy to make, but it pairs beautifully with all types of cuisine, including Indian, Thai, and other tropical cuisines!
Plus, it can be ready in just under 25 minutes! This recipe I'm sharing with you today can be made using the traditional stovetop method and a pressure cooker!
It's one of my go-to rice side dishes that can be enjoyed with curries, stews, and more.
Read on to learn how to make coconut milk rice. Although it's a little sweet, it still goes well with all savory dishes.
What is Coconut Milk Rice?
Coconut Milk Rice is a delicious rice side dish made of coconut milk instead of water as it's traditionally done. It's an incredibly popular dish in many parts of Asia, including South East Asia like Thailand, and even South Asia like India.
In Thailand, they use jasmine rice to prepare Coconut Milk Rice, which tastes super amazing, but I am using Basmati rice in this recipe because today's recipe is from India, and it's a little different in preparation than the Thai version.
In India, basmati rice and sometimes short grain rice are cooked in coconut milk to make this delicious savory rice dish.
A long time ago, I shared a recipe on how to cook rice in coconut water, that was a delicious delight too, but the recipe I'm sharing now has a more intense flavor.
This is because the rice is cooked in coconut milk made from the grated meat of a mature coconut and has a thicker texture and more fat.
In this post, you learn how to cook coconut milk rice on the stovetop and in a pressure cooker. I like the pressure cooker method, it takes much less time, and you know that the rice is all fluffy and perfectly cooked.
However, using the stovetop method correctly will result in delicious rice too, but it will take longer.
What Exactly is Coconut Milk Anyway?
Coconut milk is derived from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts, the fruit of the coconut tree. The milk has a thick consistency and a luxurious, creamy texture.
This milk is commonly used in Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines. It is also popular in Hawaii, India, and some South American and Caribbean countries.
It should not be confused with coconut water, which is naturally present in immature green coconuts.
What Makes This Coconut Milk Rice Recipe Special?
This recipe is not only incredibly easy but gives perfect results each time - a lot like my perfect parboiled rice recipe.
With this recipe, you'll get coconut rice that's light, fluffy, flavorful, and absolutely delicious. And you'll get all of this with just a few simple ingredients in under 25 minutes!
This rice side dish pairs so well with different cuisines and dishes from around the world, including Indian curries, Thai appetizers, tropical dishes, and just about anything you can imagine.
It has an intense yet mild coconut flavor that complements so many dishes. Whether you have it with a curry or a stir fry, you will love this recipe!
What Type of Rice Do I Need to Make Coconut Milk Rice?
You can use just about any rice you want to make Coconut Milk Rice, but my recipe calls for basmati rice, a long-grain white rice variety from the Indian subcontinent.
What You Need to Make Coconut Milk Rice at Home
Making this delicious, fluffy Coconut Milk Rice is super easy. Here's what you need to make it at home:
- Rice: As I mentioned above, you can use any kind of rice you like the most, but I'm using basmati rice in this recipe since it has Indian origins and is not a Thai dish per se. But feel free to use whichever one you already have in your pantry.
- Coconut milk: We'll be needing full-fat coconut milk in this recipe. Try to get your hands on the ones sold in cans, not cartons. The ones sold in cartons tend to be quite watered-down and lack the flavor, fat percentage, aroma, and natural sweetness we need for this recipe. Shake your can well to homogenize the cream before using it for the recipe.
- Water: We'll also need some water if you're going for the stovetop method in this recipe.
- Sugar: To enhance the flavor, we'll add regular white sugar to our rice dish. Trust me; it really takes it to the next level.
- Salt: We'll also need salt to balance out all the flavors and make this recipe versatile enough to have with just about any dish or cuisine you like! I've added a teaspoon, but you can go for a pinch of salt if you're reducing sodium.
How to Make Coconut Milk Rice Step by Step
This recipe can be made using either the stovetop or the pressure cooker method. Here's how to make Coconut Milk Rice step by step using each of these two methods:
How to Make Coconut Milk Rice on the Stovetop
- In a pot or pan, add all the ingredients except the rice. Bring the liquid to a boil on medium heat.
- Add the rice and stir. Wait for it to come to a boil again. Reduce heat to the lowest and cover tightly, letting the rice simmer.
- After 16 minutes, uncover and gently mix the rice from the sides. Cover and cook for another 12 to 14 minutes (depending on the basmati rice you are using, you may not need the additional 12 to 14 minutes, and it will be fully cooked within 16 minutes). Turn off the heat and let the rice cool while still covering until the liquid is absorbed. Using a fork, fluff the rice gently.
- Your delicious Coconut Milk Rice is ready to be served.
How to Make Coconut Milk Rice with a Pressure Cooker
You can make a pressure cooker or instant pot coconut rice quite easily! This recipe will work with traditional or electric pressure cooker brands, including Instant Pots or Ninja Foodi. Here's how to do it step by step:
- You don't have to soak the rice using a pressure cooker, just wash it and drain it.
- In a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients, close the lid, and pressure cook on high until you hear a whistle.
- After hearing the ONE whistle, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to be released naturally; this will cook the rice evenly.
- Your delicious Coconut Milk Rice is ready to be served.
Tips for Making the Best Coconut Rice Ever
Rinsing Rice: It is essential to give the rice a thorough rinsing to remove any excess starch on the surface. This surface starch is primarily responsible for making rice sticky, lumpy, and mushy.
Soaking rice: Soaking basmati rice is always recommended because it allows the grains to absorb moisture and expand to a fluffy texture. But since the method changes in pressure cooking, you don't need to soak the rice but rinse it!
How to Serve Coconut Milk Rice
This easy Coconut Rice goes well with various cuisines.
Don't be misled, though, just because it goes so well with these foods! Any dish that needs a touch of coconut flavor can be paired with this side dish.
This rice dish is also great on its own, and you can sprinkle some chopped, toasted nuts or sesame seeds or with a drizzle of honey if you're in the mood for something sweet.
For a savory version, garnish it with chopped green onions before serving with your favorite curry.
How to Store Leftover Coconut Milk Rice
This delicious coconut rice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don't recommend freezing it since it'll alter the flavor and texture of the rice.
Coconut Milk Rice on Stove Top and Pressure Cooker
- 1 cup basmati rice washed and soaked for 15 to 20 minutes
- 1 leveled teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water if using stove top method, add another ½ cup of water
- ½ cup coconut milk not coconut water
STOVE TOP METHOD
- In a pan, add all the ingredients except the rice. Let it come to a boil.
- Add the rice and wait for it to come to a boil again. Reduce heat to the lowest and cover tightly.
- After 16 minutes, uncover and gently mix the rice from the sides. Cover and cook for another 12 to 14 minutes. Turn off heat and let the rice cool a little while still covered. Using a fork, fluff the rice gently.
PRESSURE COOKER METHOD
- You don’t have to soak the rice if using a pressure cooker, just wash it and drain it.
- In a pressure cooker, add all the ingredients, close the lid and cook on high until you hear a whistle. After hearing the ONE whistle, reduce heat to low and let it cook for 30 seconds then turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to be released naturally, this will cook the rice evenly.
- Use canned coconut milk, it has more flavor.
- Instead of basmati rice, use the rice you prefer but not brown rice since it takes longer to cook.
- Replace honey with sugar if you wish.
- This post was published in 2017 and is updated with more information and tips.