Coconut Milk Rice


5 from 8 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 8 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 Liew
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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  1. as much as I *LOVE* NYC – I do, I really REALLY do – I do not ever wish to be there for NYE. massive crowds concentrated in one place, not moving, in the cold, have never been my thing. ha!

    coconut rice is best. I sometimes cook quinoa in coconut milk. oatmeal too. this looks SO GOOD.

  2. Hey Arman, this looks like a top notch yummy rice dish. We are both looking at this and saying “awesome – let’s make it!”. Saved!

  3. Love the addition of the curry seasonings and the coconut milk. It reminds me of when I eat Middle Eastern cooking, except they have some slivered and toasted almonds in there. The added crunch is just perfect. This looks fantastic as is though. Great idea, and beautiful pictures.

    1. Oh man, another recipe I need to share from mum’s kitchen- ‘Addas pollo’ (google it!)- It’s a vegetarian basmati rice with lentils, raisins and slivered almonds in it!

  4. Oh god, I hate NYE events like fireworks etc. All that queueing up for hours for a few minutes of excitements. Blergh. I’m hopefully going to NYC in July – I can’t wait!!

  5. I don’t have any NYE tradition except trying to make myself stay awake, failing and then waking up at like 1:30AM, wishing myself a happy New Year, knocking back some alcohol and going back to sleep. Cheers!

  6. I can’t even tell you how many NYE I’ve had where I couldn’t feel my feet because of the cold. Canada is no joke! I did always want to experience it in NYC, though… I imagine it’s a lot less cold.

    And you know I’m all over the coconut basmati rice, so this is right up my alley. I appreciate it a lot more than the black eyed peas NYE tradition that is apparently a thing. I think I’ll pass on that and just listen to some BEP music instead…

    1. Compared to Canada, I bet the NYC location would be like Summer!

      YES- I totally had you in mind with this- Now we need you to try curry!

  7. The idea of standing outside in the cold on NYE is SO not appealing to me, so I’ve always avoided it. But I’m getting roped into it this year in Niagara Falls. I think we’ll only be outside for less than an hour though, so hopefully it won’t be totally unbearable.

    Love coconut basmati rice and your twist on it!

    1. Ohhhh wow. I need to be filled in on this, I LOVE Niagara Falls (I had an obsession with them when I was 8….).

  8. I’m pretty sure I could eat this by the bowl, Arman! It looks delicious. In fact, if the clock hits midnight and you can’t find me, then look in the kitchen…I may or may not be housing some of this awesome coconut rice. Happy (early) New Year!

  9. What you need to do is put this in a blender with 80 packets of stevia, then toss some sprinkles on top – Boom! Ice cream! Or whatever the f we want to call it.

  10. Notgonnalie, the thought of NYC on NYE scares me a wee bit. Can we go there together and eat matzo ball soup at Katz Deli puh-leeeeease?! This rice…I need it…on chickpeas.

    1. YES. Well, we shall go to KATZ but to eat their pastrami sandwich. SO. MUCH. MEAT. (You can eat the pickle).

  11. coconut milk and rice sound like an awesome combo! Especially with all of those spices in there too! Hope you have a great new year!

  12. There’s no way I could survive the NYE crowd in NYC. I’d need my personal space. My family’s tradition is to make the most horrible meal ever, one that includes sauerkraut. I haven’t been home for that meal in years, and I will maintain my exodus as long as they continue to prepare it. Also, once midnight hits, Dad fires a few rounds of his shotgun because we are proper Tennessee rednecks.

    1. Dude, sauerkraut is delicious- especially if it’s extra salty and you wake up with a puffy face the next day.

      And no WAY. Add hanging with you on NYE to the list. After crossfit.