Elevate your rice game with this easy recipe for coconut basmati rice.
The addition of the creamy coconut milk gives plain old rice depth, richness and a lovely tropical vibe. No wonder coconut rice is such a popular side dish all over our beautiful globe, spanning various cultures and cuisines.
You can change the rice to match your meal by adding different things to it, like sliced spring onions, chopped coriander, lime wedges, fried onions, pineapple and more! There are so many ways to customise this basmati coconut rice recipe.
For more delicious rice dishes, try this South African yellow basmati rice, the perfect accompaniment to Bobotie. Also see this healthy brown rice salad, or this hearty sweet potato and kale salad where we're using cheat's microwave wild rice!
What's to love about this recipe
- Takes no more than 25 minutes from start to finish and you only need a handful of ingredients.
- Basmati rice with coconut milk elevates plain rice to a whole new level.
- Very hands-off dish to prepare.
- It's the perfect side dish for a huge variety of dishes from Indian curries, stir fries, Jamaican jerk chicken and most Asian dishes.
- Dairy free.
- Gluten free.
Key ingredient notes and substitutions
**Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients.
We love white basmati rice for its nutty flavour and almost floral aroma. It should be your first choice, but if you're in a pickle, you can replace this with any other white long-grain rice. Jasmine rice would also be a good choice.
This recipe does not work well with brown basmati rice, unfortunately.
Full-fat coconut milk will give you the richest, creamiest result.
We have not tried it with light coconut milk, but if you do and it works, let us know in the comments.
The sugar compliments the tropical flavour of the rice. It's a very small amount and you won't be overly aware of it, it's just there in the background, doing it's thing.
If you're sugar-free, leave it out.
We find a teaspoon salt a good midway, but adjust this according to your taste.
You can also replace plain water with coconut water.
If you usually enjoy adding butter to your cooked rice, you can continue to do so. Alternatively, you can substitute butter with coconut oil or olive oil.
How to make coconut basmati rice - Quick summary
- Rinse the rice to get rid of the extra starch.
- Place the rice along with the coconut milk, water, salt and sugar in a large, lidded saucepan. Give it a good mix.
- Over a medium heat, bring the liquid to a boil and give it another quick stir. Place the lid on tightly and reduce the heat to low.
- Let the rice cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. Remove it from the heat.
- Allow the rice to rest for an additional 10 minutes without removing the lid. Then, fluff it with a fork and serve while still warm.
- We absolutely love using a big, sturdy cast iron saucepan with a lid as our go-to pot for cooking rice.
If you happen to have one, give it a shot for your rice preparation - it'll make a world of difference!
- When it comes to cooking rice, it's best to opt for a saucepan that's bigger than you initially expect.
Rice has a tendency to boil over if the pan isn't spacious enough, so it's better to be safe than sorry!
- It sounds like extra effort, but washing the rice first makes a big difference to the final texture. You will get a light, fluffy texture with no sticky grains.
- To ensure a smooth consistency, give the rice a gentle stir as it begins to boil.
This will help break up any lumps in the coconut milk, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the other ingredients as it melts in the heat.
What can you add to your coconut rice?
- Sautéed Vegetables: Add a variety of colourful sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, peas, corn, broccoli or courgette.
- Fresh Herbs: Add chopped fresh herbs like coriander, parsley or mint.
- Nuts: Toasted almonds, cashews or pistachios can add a nice crunch to the rice.
- Dried Fruits: Include dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries or apricots to introduce a hint of sweetness.
- Spices: Enhance the rice with spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon or cardamom.
- Garlic and Ginger: Sauté minced garlic and ginger in a bit of oil before adding the rice to infuse it with their aromatic flavors.
- Lime or Lemon Zest: Grate some lime or lemon zest over the rice to give it a refreshing citrusy taste.
- Chilli Flakes: Sprinkle over chilli flakes for a spicy kick.
- Coconut Flakes: Toasted coconut flakes can add both flavour and texture to the rice.
- Pineapple: Add diced pineapple for a tropical twist.
- Turmeric: Incorporate turmeric powder to give the rice a vibrant yellow colour.
- Onion: Sauté chopped onions until caramelised and mix them into the rice for added sweetness.
- Crispy fried onions: Sprinkle with crispy fried onions for a more intense onion flavour.
- Curry Powder: Add a dash of curry powder to the rice.
- Currants: Mix in currants for a burst of sweetness.
- Black Mustard Seeds: Tempering the rice with black mustard seeds adds a unique flavour and texture.
- Green Chillies: Add sliced or chopped green chillies for a mild spiciness.
- Ghee: Drizzle melted ghee (clarified butter) over the rice for a rich, buttery taste.
- Saffron: Infuse the rice with saffron strands soaked in warm water for an aromatic and luxurious touch.
- Tofu: Pan-fry or sauté cubes of tofu and mix them into the rice for added protein.
- Pomegranate Seeds: Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the rice to provide bursts of tangy sweetness.
- Fresh Coconut: Add grated fresh coconut to the rice to intensify the coconut flavour and add texture.
- Yogurt: Serve the rice with a side of yogurt for a creamy and cooling element.
- Fresh Lime or Lemon Juice: Squeeze some fresh lime or lemon juice over the rice for a tangy twist.
Dishes that pair well with this easy coconut rice
This is an incredibly versatile side dish that can complement a wide variety of cuisines from across the globe. Here are just a few ideas:
- All curries: Coconut basmati rice complements curries and Indian food in general beautifully. Whether it's a vegetable curry, chicken curry, lamb curry or seafood curry.
- Grilled or Roasted Meats: Serve coconut basmati rice alongside grilled or roasted meats such as tandoori chicken, grilled shrimp, roasted lamb or barbecued ribs.
- Stir-Fries: Coconut basmati rice can be a great accompaniment to stir-fried dishes. Prepare a vegetable stir-fry with colourful vegetables, tofu, chicken or shrimp and serve it over the coconut rice.
- Seafood Dishes: Pair coconut basmati rice with seafood dishes like coconut shrimp curry, grilled fish with tropical salsa or Thai-style coconut curry mussels.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or Brussels sprouts, go well with coconut basmati rice. The earthy flavours of the roasted vegetables complement the subtle sweetness of the rice.
- Salads: Coconut basmati rice can be a delicious addition to salads. Mix it with fresh vegetables, herbs and a light dressing to create a rice salad.
- Stews and Braised Dishes: Serve coconut basmati rice with hearty stews or braised dishes. Whether it's a classic beef stew, a chicken curry stew or a slow-cooked vegetable curry, the rice will soak up the flavours of the dish.
- Roasted or Grilled Vegetables: Pair coconut basmati rice with roasted or grilled vegetables like aubergine, peppers, courgette or mushrooms.
- Indian Thali: Create an Indian thali (platter) with coconut basmati rice, a variety of curries, dal, raita (yogurt-based side dish), poppadom and pickles.
- Fusion Dishes: Coconut basmati rice can be used in fusion dishes as well. It pairs nicely with Asian-inspired flavours, such as teriyaki chicken, sesame ginger beef or Thai-inspired stir-fries.
- Jerk Chicken: Pair the rice with spicy jerk chicken. The aromatic rice balances the heat of the jerk seasoning and complements the smoky flavours.
To store leftover rice, let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
It can be frozen for up to 3 months if stored in an airtight container, or freezer bag.
Divide it into smaller portions for easier thawing. Ensure proper packaging to maintain freshness and to avoid moisture or odours.
When reheating, add a few drops of water and heat through thoroughly on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Yes you can, it's subtle and not an overpowering coconut taste.
Long grain white rice and Jasmine rice.
More rice recipes you might enjoy
Coconut basmati rice
- 500 millilitre basmati rice
- 400 millilitre full cream coconut milk
- 500 millilitre water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Optional - any additions of your choice like chopped coriander, fried onions, lime wedges, pineapple pieces and sliced spring onion
- Tip the dry rice into a colander and give it a good rinse under the tap. Allow the water to drain
- Add the rice along with the coconut milk, water, salt and sugar to a large lidded saucepan. Give it a stir.
- Bring the liquid to a boil. Give the rice a final stir and place the lid on tightly. Turn the heat to low. Allow the rice to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Do not lift the lid just yet, leave it to stand for a further 10 minutes, covered
- Fluff up the rice. Serve immediately or add any additions you'd like to add, like chopped coriander, pineapple, crispy fried onions or pineapple
**Nutritional data disclaimer**
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is calculated by a third party and we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We try our best to give you the most accurate information, but we do not take responsibility for errors that may be present. Also, the nutritional value of the recipe may change depending on the exact brands and products used. We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.