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This coconut rice recipe comes out fluffy and scented with delicate flavor! Here are two variations how to make coconut rice.

Coconut Rice
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Looking for a great side dish with bold, tropical flavor? Here’s our go-to Coconut Rice recipe! There’s just something about the subtle fruitiness of coconut that makes each bite of this fluffy rice intriguing. Coconut rice can often come out gummy and waterlogged. Here’s how to make it so it’s fluffy and coconut-scented: two different ways!

Ingredients in this coconut rice recipe

Coconut rice is a dish that’s made in many cultures around the world, including Southeast Asia, India, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and East and West Africa. It’s prepared differently in every cuisine and culture!

This coconut rice recipe is a spin on the classic: we’ve tested a variety of ways to add coconut flavor with a quick cook time. Turns out, it’s difficult to infuse this tropical essence into rice! We’ve found two great ways to do it: coconut milk (the standard way) and unrefined coconut oil (the off-the-beaten-path variation). Here are a few notes on what you’ll need here:

  • Long grain white rice: jasmine if possible, or another long grain variety
  • Full fat coconut milk OR water: to get the optimal flavor and richness, full fat is key; or you can use water and coconut oil instead
  • Unrefined coconut oil: unrefined has the strongest flavor (see below!)
  • Salt and sugar: just a hint of sugar brings out the fruitiness of the coconut
Coconut Rice

Use either coconut milk or oil (or both)

There are two main methods for infusing coconut flavor here: using milk or oil. Interestingly, using actual shredded coconut is not the best: it makes the rice grainy and crunchy. Using coconut milk is the standard way to go, but we also developed a second method using coconut oil. Here are a few notes on the differences between the methods:

  • Method 1: Coconut milk: This method has a subtle backend flavor of coconut. Make sure to stir the coconut milk first to incorporate all the fat into the liquid! For an even stronger flavor, melt in 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil at the end. This method uses slightly less than the typical liquid ratio for rice to avoid gummy grains.
  • Method 2: Unrefined coconut oil: Use water for cooking the rice, then stir n the unrefined coconut oil at the end. It makes for a subtle coconut flavor that you catch on the front end. Unrefined oil is important here, because it has the most forward coconut flavor (go to Refined vs Unrefined Coconut Oil). If you use refined coconut oil, you won’t be able to taste the coconut as well.

How to make coconut rice

It’s easy to make coconut rice on the stovetop: once you know a few tricks! You’ll want to avoid a gummy pot of rice, which is easy when you use too much liquid. Jump to the recipe below to read our method, or review these tips then go to the recipe.

  • Rinse 1 cup rice very well. Place it under cold water and rinse it for 1 minute. This helps to ensure the grains will absorb the liquid.
  • Use either 1 ½ cups water or ¾ cup coconut milk + ½ cup water. You’ll notice that the liquid amount is different with coconut milk: that is intentional! Slightly less liquid is necessary with the richness of the milk.
  • Add a hint of sugar. Adding just 1 teaspoon brings out the coconut flavor (along with ¼ teaspoon salt).
  • Simmer covered 13 to 15 minutes. Bring to a boil, then simmer where it’s just barely bubbling.
  • Allow to stand 10 minutes before adding coconut oil (for water variation). The 10 minute rest is crucial to finishing the cook time! Then fluff the rice with a fork. If you cooked it in water, add 1 to 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, to taste.
Coconut oil recipes
Coconut oil is a quick way to add flavor to rice, but make sure to buy unrefined for the most flavor

Flavor adders and variations

Once you’ve got your pot of coconut rice, you can dress it up in various ways. Here are a few ways to flavor it:

  • Lime zest: add the zest of ½ to 1 lime, to taste
  • Minced green onion: Add 1 thinly sliced or minced green onion
  • Chopped cilantro: Another way to add fresh flavor
  • Shredded coconut: If you like, top with shredded or toasted coconut as a garnish (keep in mind it adds a crunchy texture)

Ways to serve coconut rice

Coconut rice is ideal as an easy side dish that brings in a luxurious nuance in flavor. Here are a few ways to pair it:

More rice recipes

There are so many great ways to turn this whole grain into a stunning side dish! Here are some of our top rice recipes and methods:

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Coconut Rice

Easy Coconut Rice


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups (6 ½ cup servings) 1x

Description

This coconut rice recipe comes out fluffy and scented with delicate flavor! Here are two variations how to make coconut rice.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (jasmine or other)
  • 1 ½ cups water OR ¾ cup full fat canned coconut milk (stirred before using)* plus ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (optional; see notes*)
  • Optional flavor adders: zest of 1 lime, sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice under cold water in a fine mesh strainer for 1 minute. Shake dry.
  2. Place the rice, liquid (water or coconut milk plus water), kosher salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer where it is lightly bubbling. Cover and simmer 13 to 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed (you can quickly uncover and check to make sure it’s at a steady simmer during the cook time). Check by pulling back the rice grains with a fork, then remove from the heat.
  3. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, which completes the rice cooking process. Uncover and fluff with a fork. If you cooked with water only, stir in 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (or use 1 tablespoon or omit if cooking with coconut milk).

Notes

*For a subtle front-end coconut flavor, use water only and stir in coconut oil. For a subtle backend flavor, cook in coconut milk and water. For the most robust flavor, cook with coconut milk and water, and stir in 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil. Unrefined oil is important because it has the most forward coconut flavor (go to Refined vs Unrefined Coconut Oil).

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Rice
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. Kaitlyn spicer says:

    This was so delicious! My husband made it with coconut milk. We will for sure make again. What do you serve it with?






  2. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!