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Restaurant Style Coconut Rice

This coconut rice will quickly become your new favorite way to enhance the flavor of your everyday white rice. With just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time, you’re on your way to a new level of cooking your whole family will appreciate!

Cooked coconut rice in white pot.
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Easy Flavored Rice

This coconut rice recipe is an easy way to jazz up your everyday white rice. This South Asian-inspired side dish gives the rice a delicate coconut flavor without becoming too overwhelming. It’s slightly sweet, light, fluffy, and just so darn good!

If you’ve ever had Thai or Indian food, you may have had the pleasure of having coconut milk rice, it’s often used to jazz up pineapple fried rice. We love to serve this with butter chicken, my chicken tikka masala recipe, bang bang shrimp recipe or kung pao shrimp. Cooking rice in coconut milk is popular in many Caribbean countries as well and if you think you can only have it when you order it at a restaurant, well think again!

Enjoy restaurant-style coconut rice at home on a budget with just 4 simple ingredients and a recipe that couldn’t be easier. Top it off with a bit of toasted coconut and you’ve got the added crunch factor that just takes it up another notch.

Knowing how to cook rice on the stove is not hard, but it does take a bit of know-how in the “follow the instructions as directed” department. Once you’ve got that down, you can start seasoning it in a variety of ways. Enhancing your rice by using this coconut milk rice recipe is one of our family favorites because I know my kids love it!

Why Can’t I Just Use Only Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk, while it is a liquid, is also quite thick. In the amount of time it takes to cook the rice, it will not have absorbed enough of the coconut milk. Adding water will help dilute the coconut milk, thinning it out. This helps with absorption.

You might wonder if it makes sense to use coconut milk from a carton rather than a can because it’s much more diluted. It does not, so don’t do it! It won’t have the same flavor richness and it doesn’t come with the coconut cream (full fat) which adds to the flavor and texture as well.

Just 4 Ingredients

Rice and coconut milk on table.

Find the full printable recipe with measurements below.

  • Jasmine rice: Native to Thailand, this long-grain rice provides a buttery backdrop to the tropical coconut flavor.
  • Coconut milk: Extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts, this rich milk adds a creaminess and elevates any rice dish.
  • Water: Very important to help the rice cook and soften.
  • Salt: A little bit of salt helps enhance the flavor of the rice and coconut milk.

Variations for Coconut Rice

  • If you like yours a little sweeter, add in sugar with the coconut and water you cook the rice in. Keep in mind, better quality coconut milk will always be a bit sweeter, so you may find you don’t need added sugar depending on the brand.
  • You can use full fat or light coconut milk, depending on your preference. For extra coconut flavor, I love added toasted coconut flakes on top.
  • Jasmine rice is great for this recipe, but you can also use basmati or long-grain white rice.
  • Brown rice can be used in place of white, however, the cooking time will be longer
  • Chopped cilantro and lime are a nice addition and would be a vibrant balance to the otherwise sweet coconut. Case in point, check out my cilantro lime rice!

How to Make Homemade Coconut Rice

The process of making coconut rice in a four step photo collage.
  • Bring to a boil. Over medium heat, add water, coconut milk, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Add in the rice, then stir one time. Let set and bring to a boil. If you would like to sweeten your rice, add in 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Cover and simmer. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for about 17 to 20 minutes. During this time, do not remove the lid while it is cooking.
  • Fluff the rice. Remove the lid and allow for the water to evaporate. This will take a few minutes. When ready to serve, use a fork and gently fluff the rice.

Expert Tips

  • Rinse your rice well. The secret to light and fluffy (and not clumpy) rice is getting rid of the extra starch that it comes with.
  • Cans of coconut milk can be found at your local grocery store, sometimes found in the “international food” section. Thai Kitchen is a great brand that doesn’t come with a bunch of unnecessary additives.
  • Fluff and season. After your rice is done cooking, fluff the rice gently with a fork and then place the lid back on for 1-2 minutes. Then season to taste.
Cooked coconut rice in white pot.

Serving Recommendations

Spruce it up by adding in some extra ingredients for flavor and texture. Then, serve it on the side of one of the following for a complete and delicious meal that rivals any restaurant order!

Recipe FAQs

Can you make coconut rice in the rice cooker?

Yes! Place all ingredients together in the rice cooker. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Cover the rice cooker with the lid and set it at COOK.

After it has cooked and setting is at WARM, let the coconut rice sit for 8 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork or using chop sticks to stir the rice with out sticking together.

Can you make coconut rice in an Instant Pot?

Yes! With an Instant Pot you only need to use 3/4 cup water. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes long. Then use the natural release for 5 to 10 minutes. The longer it sits, the fluffier the rice will become.

Why does my coconut rice come out mushy?

There could be two reasons. It is best to use only long grain white rice or Jasmine rice. Other rice varieties will cook at longer times. Don’t skip rinsing or soaking your rice. This will help remove starches that coat the grain and could cause your rice to turn out mushy or gooey.

Can I freeze leftover coconut rice?

Cool rice completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer safe bag. Freeze rice up to 3 months. To serve, thaw rice in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave. If your rice seems dry, add a splash of water or reheat covered with a damp paper towel.

Cooked coconut rice in a white pot with wooden spoon.

Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Store: Leftovers can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat: Heat on the stovetop with a splash of extra liquid (water or coconut milk) to add back in the moisture and to avoid the rice burning the bottom of the pan.
Cooked coconut rice in white pot with coconut.

Love rice recipes? Try fried rice, cilantro lime rice or this Mexican rice recipe!

More Dishes to Serve With

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cooked coconut rice in white pot

Coconut Rice

5 from 7 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Coconut rice will quickly become your new favorite way to enhance the flavor of your everyday white rice. With just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time, you're on your way to a new level of cooking your whole family will appreciate!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt , plus more to taste
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar , optional
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice , rinsed
  • Ground black pepper , to taste (optional)

Optional: Toasted coconut, Chopped parsley or cilantro


    • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the water, coconut milk, salt, and sugar, if using for added sweetness. Add the rice and then stir once. Bring to a boil.
    • Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, without lifting the lid, for 17 to 20 minutes.
    • Remove the lid and allow the water to evaporate a few minutes. Just before serving, gently fluff the rice with a fork. Salt and pepper, to taste. Top with coconut and herbs, if desired.


    Variations: You can use light coconut or full fat coconut milk. If you’d like extra coconut flavor, I recommend adding toasted coconut on top. 
    Instant pot coconut rice: To cook in the instant pot, only use 3/4 cup water. Then cook on high pressure for 3 minutes and natural release for 5-10 minutes (the longer the fluffier it will be).
    Brown rice: If you prefer to use brown rice, only use 1 1/2 cups. You’ll also want to add an additional 8 minutes to the cooking time. I like to stir and then keep the lid on an additional 5-10 minutes as well to make it soft.
    Storage: Store leftovers in a covered container up to 5 days in the refrigerator.


    Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 335mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Asian

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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