From Types to Techniques: All About Coconut Rice

October 3, 2023

Did you know that there is more than one type of coconut rice? There are versions from all around the world including Thailand and Jamaica.

Adding coconut milk to rice is nothing new in India, but I was interested to learn about all the other cuisines that also made some form of this dish. Naturally, I had to test them all out and give you the recipes to the best ones.

In this post, I cover Jamaican rice, Thai rice, and coconut and garlic rice too. They are pretty simple dishes and I have created detailed instructions so that you can get each of them right.

Let the discovery begin!

Best Coconut Rice Recipes

Here are some of the top coconut rice recipes you can try out for yourself:

Thai Coconut Rice


Yields 3 cups

  • ¾ cup of water
  • ½ cup of coconut milk
  • 1½ tbs. of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 cup of jasmine rice


Step 1: Add Base Ingredients to Pan

In a pan, add the water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt.

Stir to combine.

Step 2: Heat Ingredients

Over medium heat, heat the ingredients.

Cook until the liquid is warm and the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Mix well to combine ingredients.

Step 3: Add Rice

Add the rice and stir to break up any clumps.

Cover and cook on medium heat until the liquid begins to simmer.

Reduce the heat to low and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.

Once done, remove from heat.

Fluff and serve while warm.

coconut rice with veggies

Jamaican Rice and Peas


Serves 6

  • 2 tbs. of vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1½  tbs. of grated ginger
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½  Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, seeded
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced


Step 1: Sauté Aromatics

Add the oil to a large pan and heat.

Add the onion and the ginger and cook over medium heat until the onion is softened.

Step 2: Add Rice and Beans

Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring until all the grains are coated with oil.

Add the kidney beans and chiles.

Stir in the coconut milk and water. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Cook the Rice and Beans

Cover the pan and cook over low heat.

Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Remove from heat, fluff, and stir in the scallions. Season further with salt and pepper.

Rice and Gravy Garnished With Coriander

Coconut Garlic Rice


Serves 3

  • 1 tsp. of oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 sprig of coriander leaves , finely chopped 
  • Salt, to taste


Step 1: Cook the Garlic

Heat the oil in a large pan.

Add the garlic and cook until the garlic begins to brown.

Don’t let the garlic burn or blacken.

Step 2: Add the Rest of the Ingredients

Add the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt.

Stir well and cover.

Step 3: Cook the Rice

Lower the heat and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.

Take the rice off the heat.

Fluff and toss with coriander leaves.

Person Mixing The Rice In Stainless Steel Bowl

How to Make Coconut Rice – Breaking Down the Ingredients

The actual process of making coconut rice is simple enough. What you need to be aware of, though, are the ingredients that go into this dish. It is these that can make or break a recipe. Here is a breakdown of the main components:

The Rice

Virtually all recipes will call for a type of rice known as long grain rice. Most of the Asian and Caribbean dishes will require basmati, while the Thai dishes are best cooked with Jasmine rice. You should be aware that the rice you choose can alter the texture of the recipe.

This is because Jasmine rice tends to have a gummier texture than Basmati. Not to mention, each kind of rice has to be cooked in a particular way. Apart from this, though, there shouldn’t be too much of a difference between the rice types.

The Coconut Milk

As you are probably aware, there are various kinds of coconut milk. Coconut rice recipes require coconut milk for cooking. Also, make it a point to select the full-fat version as it offers a better taste and fat content. Don’t use low fat milk as you will be adding water to the recipe and this will cause the flavor to be diluted even further.

Related Reading
How to Make Coconut Milk - A DIY Guide, Tips, Recipes, and More!
A Guide To Coconut Cream vs Coconut Milk: Which Is Which?

Now, you may be wondering if you can use coconut cream for rice. Yes, it is possible, but you will need to use a smaller quantity and add even more water to the recipe to dilute the coconut cream. As a whole, you will be better off using coconut milk, though.

Related Reading
Best Coconut Milk for Curry: The Search for Creamy Goodness
An Overview of the Best Coconut Milk Brands (Your Non-dairy Substitute)
Your Guide to Uncovering the Best Canned Coconut Milk

How to Make Coconut Rice in a Rice Cooker

Many people cook rice in a rice cooker than on a stove. Thus, you may be trying to figure out if you can make coconut rice in this manner as well – yes, you can. You don’t really have to alter the recipe either. As long as there is enough of liquid to cook your rice, you should end up with the same results.

Of course, if you are planning on adding herbs or aromatics to the rice while it is cooking, then a rice cooker may not be the best option. When cooking rice in a cooker, you will have to wait until the rice is done, before adding the aromatics or other ingredients to it.  

cooking coconut rice in a rice cooker

What is Coconut Rice?

Well, as mentioned, there are a number of different types of coconut rice. For the most part, though, coconut rice refers to a rice dish that is made with coconut milk and water. In some instances, these are the only three ingredients. In other cases, other herbs or spices may be added.

So, how is coconut rice eaten? Well, it is typically eaten in the same way as traditional rice dishes. It can be eaten with curry chicken, veggies, seafood, and numerous other dishes. In short, it can serve as a side dish for a wide variety of foods.

Where is Coconut Milk Rice From?

Coconut rice may be associated more with some cuisines than others. However, this dish can be found across the globe. This is because both coconut and rice are indigenous to a number of countries. As such, coconut rice is a natural product of these traditional ingredients.

Just some of the places that make coconut rice are:

  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Panama
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Caribbean

While these coconut rice dishes do share some similarities, they can differ quite a bit as well. For instance, in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, the rice is cooked with coconut milk and shredded coconut. In Venezuela, sugar and spices make it into a dessert known as arroz con coco.

In Thailand, the rice includes sugar and salt, but the dish is meant to be eaten with savory or tangy foods to help balance out the sweetness. In India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the rice can be slightly spiced but tends to be a milder base for meals.

This is your ultimate guide to making coconut rice. As you can appreciate there is quite a bit to learn about this dish, including the different techniques available to you.

If you enjoyed this post, you should head over to our Pinterest page. We have tons of other coconut recipes for you to try out.

An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.
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