Coconut Milk Rice


5 from 5 votes
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Fluffy and never mushy, this is the perfect coconut rice recipe for those who like to keep it simple with their side dishes. 

coconut milk rice.

Why you’ll love this coconut milk rice recipe

This classic rice recipe features aromatic basmati rice cooked in coconut milk with a small amount of sugar to enhance the subtle sweetness of the dish. 

  • Only 5 ingredients. You need five ingredients for this coconut rice recipe. No spices, onion, garlic, or oil are needed to make it. 
  • Takes 30 minutes to cook. It takes around half an hour to cook a delicious side dish that works well for both lunch and dinner. 
  • Perfect for meal prep. Rice can be eaten multiple times a week and with any protein of your choice. This makes rice recipes great for meal prep. 

If you have tried our sweet-savory rice salad and curry fried rice and are now looking for something simpler, then this mild-flavored coconut rice is what you should try making. 

Ingredients needed

  • Basmati rice. Rinse the rice and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes if you have time. 
  • Coconut milk. Canned coconut milk is the type of milk you should use to cook rice. 
  • Sugar. To give the rice a mildly sweet flavor. 
  • Salt. A pinch of salt to balance all flavors. 
  • Water. As coconut milk is too thick, mixing it with water helps cook the rice grains evenly. 

How to make coconut milk rice

  1. Make the base. Stir together the canned coconut milk and water in a saucepan and add salt and sugar. Put the pan over medium heat and mix for a minute to dissolve the sugar. 
  2. Add rice. Add the rice and bring it to a boil. Once bubbling, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed.
  3. Rest and fluff. Let the rice rest for 10 minutes, covered, before fluffing with a fork.
coconut milk rice.

Flavor variations

You can change the flavor of coconut rice by using different spice blends and ingredients. Omit the sugar when using the following savory combinations:

  • Chili flakes, turmeric, and fresh ginger
  • Cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, and cardamom
  • Garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper
  • Lime zest, lime juice, and fresh cilantro

What to serve with this grain 

Coconut rice is the perfect side dish for hearty curries, such as lamb vindaloolamb rogan joshand shrimp curry. Vegans can pair this rice with vegetable korma, while vegetarians also have the option of serving it with paneer tikka masala.  

Baked salmonshrimp, and baked tofu go well too.  

Storage instructions

To store. Store leftover coconut rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

To reheat. The easiest and best way to reheat leftover rice is in the microwave. Transfer the rice into a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with food wrap, and reheat at 20-second intervals until the rice is heated through. You can also reheat leftover rice on the stove over low heat by adding a splash of water to it. 

Recommended tools to make this recipe

  • Saucepan. A durable and slightly larger saucepan to cook the rice perfectly.
  • Spatula. Always stir the rice with a spatula- no forks or spoons!
how to make coconut milk rice.

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Use canned coconut milk. Canned coconut milk is richer and creamer than fresh or carton milk. Also, avoid using low-fat or fat-reduced milk for the best flavor. 
  • Rinse the rice lightly. Avoid over-rinsing the rice, as this can yield gluey and thick rice. A simple rinse is fine. 
  • Do not stir. As tempting as it may be, do not stir the rice throughout the cooking process. When made correctly, no rice will stick to the pan’s bottom. 
  • Let it rest. The secret trick to perfectly fluffy rice is not to remove the lid once removed from the heat. Keep the lid on for 10 minutes, then fluff the rice. 
coconut milk rice recipe.

Coconut Milk Rice

5 from 5 votes
The fluffiest basmati rice cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with curry spices. This complex carbohydrate choice is the perfect accompaniment to your lunch or dinner.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 21 minutes


  • 1 cup basmati rice white or brown
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Lightly rinse the rice.
  • In a saucepan, add the coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt, and give it a stir. Add the rice.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat. Once bubbles start to appear around the sides, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Let everything simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork.


TO STORE. Store leftover coconut rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
TO REHEAT. The easiest and best way to reheat leftover rice is in the microwave. Transfer the rice into a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with food wrap, and reheat at 20-second intervals until the rice is heated through. You can also reheat leftover rice on the stove over low heat by adding a splash of water to it. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 295kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSodium: 303mgPotassium: 211mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 39g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Arman
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Frequently asked questions

Is coconut rice healthier than white rice?

While coconut rice contains more calories than white rice, it has more vitamins and a lower glycemic index. The latter means that it is digested slower and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. 

Does coconut rice taste like coconut?

Coconut rice only has a mild coconut flavor coming from coconut milk.

Can I use other kinds of rice?

You can use brown basmati rice, as well as brown or white jasmine rice for this recipe. Make sure you adjust the amount of coconut milk and water when using brown rice as it does absorb more liquid than white rice.

More grains to try

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Coconut milk rice is so good and with the addition of those spices – hello 🙂
    New Years is going to be amazing this year, I can’t wait to watch those tourist loving fireworks 😉

  2. I love [almost] anything with coconut and have been craving Indian food lately, so this sounds all sorts of awesome! _> I feel like it should still work! :P).

  3. I was actually scared when I saw this picture on Instagram. All week I have been having the weirdest random cravings for coconut basmati rice (like SPECIFICALLY BASMATI) and then you posted this.. and i was convinced that some sort of telepathy was happening on the two opposite ends of the world. So my new years might be filled with having time to finally sit down and cook some damn basmati rice.

    Also, i made carrot cake nut butter largely in part because it seemed like it would go gloriously on your carrot cake bread. which i made another loaf of. and photographed. and will be making a post appearance soon 😉 and to answer my own question.. carrot cake nut butter on carrot cake bread = DOUBLE WIN! Thank you for making my life taste good. THE END.

    1. YES! Seriously, basmati > jasmine.

      I love your posts, but especially your commentary with it- Can’t wait to see what sexual innuendos this new carrot cake gets. And stop whoring out the carrot-ness.

  4. Ah, here is the rice 😉 Loves yummy! I really do love all these types of flavors and dishes!
    Even though we live like an hour out from the city via train, I have no desire to ever go there on New Years Eve! I will happily watch from the warmth (non-crowded) serenity of my living room thank you very much!

  5. New Years in Times Square for the MIllennium was an experience that I will never forget. I was in 6th grade, and it was just chaos everywhere, all day long. And I got to see my first silver painted person, so there is that. Now, having lived in NYC, I would avoid TS like the plague, haha. I always spend it with my fmaily, usually down at our lake house (at least until I was in high school) but then I started to spend it else where. I can’t say that we have any real traditions to go along with it!
    And love basmati–my favorite non brown rice for sure.

    1. Dude, if I was in that age group I would have been peeing myself. In my older years- I couldn’t handle it!

      They just released a basmati brown rice here. It tastes like punishment.

  6. I have absolutely no desire to go to New York City for the ball to drop… Not a fan of crowds like that. I’m also not a fan of standing in the cold for extended periods of time.
    Chicken salad sandwich on raisin bread? I have never had that… but I want it!! Yum.

  7. Hi Arman! So NYE in New York isn’t as magical as we’d think? Good to know. I’ve never cooked rice in coconut milk, but it sure sounds tasty. Hope you have a great week! 🙂

    1. Hope you’re doing well, Ashley! Don’t go to NYC for NYE…unless I’m there and we can chug Almond milk at midnight.

  8. NYE in NY is one of those things that sounds amazing in theory and sucks balls (dropping balls) in reality. I’ve lived in the area my whole life and I’ve done it once, it was not my best NYE by far. The hardest part for me was having no bathroom for 8 hours. I had a terrible spot too. Just the whole thing was horrible, I cringe recalling it.

    Rice looks yummy!

    1. LOL. The ball drop sucks balls. It really does. My friend went to Starbucks to use the restroom and came back THREE hours later. i swear he just went to a bar for a drink and for me to save his spot…

  9. I cannot believe you did NYE in Times Square. You’re a warrior. All I think of when I think of NYE in Times Square is people wearing diapers because they don’t want to leave their good spots. I don’t think I’m brave enough.
    But wow this rice looks so delicious! We love white rice from my Chinese side and sticky rice from my Laotian side. But I secretly love Basmati rice the best, even though I’m not Persian…

    1. Wait, people wore diapers there?! WHAT! Alison, that was just you, wasn’t it.

      You can be adopted Persian. Or even Malaysian Chinese- Their CHICKEN RICE OMG.

      1. As a half-malay, I completely agree with you that chicken rice is ABSOLUTELY AH-MAZING. As for this flavourful basmati rice, I made it last night and it doesn’t rank too far behind 🙂

  10. Love basmati rice and curry, but my husband doesn’t. I have to wait until he goes away to use curry.

  11. Wishing you a Happy New Year! Love coconut milk in any dish – this sounds wonderful!

  12. I love coconut rice and your addition of spices sounds delish! I lived in Manhattan for 10 years (4 of those on 42nd and 9th- basically in Times Square) and believe it or not, I never did the Times Square New Years thing. Like you experienced, it just seemed too cold and too inconvenient. Happy New Year Arman!

  13. Is it weird that I [think I] only ever heard about the ball drop for the first time when the movie ‘New Year’s Eve’ came out? Please lie to me.
    Rice is a NYE tradition I hadn’t heard of yet but it makes sense for Persian families. The dish with all of its spices sounds good. Yesss to turmeric and cumin.
    One major – and majorly delicious – food tradition my family used to have was eating raclette on New Year’s. Now that we don’t celebrate as a family anymore it’s become a rarity. Time to bring it back?!

  14. Oh my gosh, this looks so good! I’ve never done new year’s in NYC, but I would LOVE to. I don’t care how crowded and crazy it is, I’d love it.