Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice

CATEGORIES: Asian and Thai, Kate, Rice

This recipe for Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice is an old-school Our Best Bites classic that is pretty much my go-to side dish with any summery, tropical meal.

sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

It’s one of those recipes I just know by heart and always have the ingredients for in my pantry (if you love tropical rice, another delicious standby is our Lime-Cilantro Pineapple Rice!)

I originally posted this recipe over 10 years ago when my 12-year-old looked like this:

and my 14-year-old had little feet like this:

And my 7 year old wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye, as my dad would say.

So now that we all feel really old, let’s eat carbs!

You’re going to need 2 cups of Jasmine or Basmati rice, a can of coconut milk, some water, green onions, a splash of vinegar, a little bit of sugar, and some salt and pepper.
ingredients for sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

Combine rice, water,

adding water to sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

coconut milk,

adding coconut milk to sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

salt, sugar,

adding salt and sugar to sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

and vinegar, in a saucepan and bring to a boil Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Add green onions, black pepper (if desired), and additional salt if necessary.

sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

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sweet and savory coconut rice from our best bites

Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice

  • Author: kate jones


This Sweet and Savory Coconut Rice pairs perfectly with anything summery or tropical!


2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Splash of white or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
Handful of chopped green onions, plus chopped green onion tops for garnish
Black pepper to taste


Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil Turn heat to low and cover for 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Add green onions, black pepper (if desired), and additional salt if necessary.

Serve with any Asian or tropical-inspired food.

Serve with any Asian or tropical-inspired food, like…


  1. Hope you enjoyed some of the marvelous weather we are enjoying here in the NorthWest!! Off to Seattle tomorrow for a Mariner's game. We eat lots of rice at our house so always looking for a new day to fix it – can't wait to try – thanks!

  2. I was at the store yesterday buying ingredients for the Orange Thai Beef Skewers and that coconut milk was calling out to me. I'm kicking myself now for not getting it now, that rice sounds so yummy!

  3. Ahhh, Seattle. I love those pictures, little M is so cute.

    Okay, I'm going to have to give this rice a second try now that you've provided me with the RIGHT recipe! lol It looks so good- and I love that cute little dish.

    And Memoria- ditto Kate. Seriously just being cheeky with with the man food phrase!

  4. I have to try this because I love coconut…
    Have you ever had the sticky coconut rice that many Thai serve as a dessert with fresh mango? The versions I've had are made with a rice that cooks up almost clear and the texture becomes almost gelatinous or gummy (in a good way!).

  5. Jen, yeah, what is that about the gelatinous, gummy texture in Thai ricey food that's so dang good?? We had spring rolls tonight and I was just relishing in how much I loved the spring roll wrapper, which is really weird because texture is normally a huge issue for me.

    Anyway. To answer your question. I. Love. Mango sticky rice. A few weeks ago, our Kroger here had mangoes for .20 apiece and I went a little nuts. Yummmmmmm…

  6. I am lazy and use my rice cooker. (I highly recommend those. Fix it and forget it is just my style.) Can I just toss this stuff in there, too? I'm guessing yes, so I'll probably try it.

  7. Jess–I would imagine that it would be okay. You might want to check the manufacturer's instructions and see if they have anything to say about using coconut milk because it does effect the cooking time slightly. Just keep an eye on things and I think you should be fine! 🙂

  8. I love coconut rice. My Thai neighbor used to make it for us all the time. Man I miss them, and not just for the food.

    I have a question. Is it unsweetened coconut milk? I want to make sure I pick up the right thing. We're so having this soon.

  9. Michelle–Yep, it's just regular, unsweetened coconut milk. I should make that more clear in the recipe–it would be really bad if someone made it with cream of coconut! 🙂

  10. I've never had coconut rice before. I was a little nervous about making it because after living in Japan for a 1 1/2 years I love just plain 'ol rice. But I just made it tonight in my rice cooker and it tastes WONDERFUL!! Thanks again for all your tasty recipes!

  11. I've never had coconut rice before. I was a little nervous about making it because after living in Japan for a 1 1/2 years I love just plain 'ol rice. But I just made it tonight in my rice cooker and it tastes WONDERFUL!! Thanks again for all your tasty recipes!

  12. Made this tonight with Curried Peanut Shrimp (via Cooking Light) and it was SO good! It will definitely go into our regular rotation. I used jasmine rice and I wasn't watching it quite close enough so it scorched a bit on the bottom, but even with a few burned bits it was still outstanding! I loved the sticky texture and the flavor of the coconut really came through nicely!

  13. this will sound like a strange question, but we are heading to Seattle in a month and I was wondering what beach you took those pictures at? I'd LOVE to hit the beach while we are there!
    Oh-and we are having this recipe with our dinner tonight! 🙂

  14. I actually got this recipe confused with your lime-cilantro rice and added pineapple at the last minute. I thought it made the rice so much more flavorful and added some contrast to the onion and coconut. I'm going to keep this new recipe around for good. We loved it.

    (You all need to add the pineapple to this one. Yummy!)

  15. This will go PERECT with the chicken and peanut sauce I am making this week! Looks awesome.

    Think it will cook just the same if I use a rice cooker instead?

  16. I made this tonight with the chile lime chicken and mango skewers. I did a little experiment as I was wondering how the coconut rice would work with LIGHT coconut milk. There is quite a difference in fat and calories. I made one batch of rice with a 13.6 oz can of regular coconut milk (700 calories, 70g fat) and another with the same size can of LIGHT coconut milk (250 calories, 22.5g fat). There was not a huge difference in the taste or texture of the rice. I did a taste test with my family, two of my kids figured out which was the real deal ( the littlest one couldn't tell) but my husband couldn't tell them apart.

  17. Awesome recipe. I made it with the spicy honey chicken and our guests went nuts. This is a new favorite. Love it so much! Will make it often. I was wondering about the light coconut milk so thanks for the tip there. I will try it….especially when we don’t have guests and I will be eating most of it! 🙂

  18. I have made this a few times and my Samoan husband loves it. He would eat it every day if he could as it reminds him of home. 🙂 Thank you!!!

  19. I love this recipe! However, my family just switched over to brown rice. Have any suggestions on how much liquid to add to compensate for the brown rice? Should I double the liquid or just add another cup or so? Thank you!!!

    1. Oh, gosh, I honestly don’t know. *If* it were me, for this recipe, I would swap out the rice for quinoa. You’re still getting the whole grains, but the cooking method, flavor, and texture are more like white rice; you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the liquid amounts or the timing being off, you know?

  20. OK I picked up a half gallon of coconut milk next to the “almond milk” and the “soy milks” at my store is that the right stuff. You mention yours comes in a can???

  21. Sarah, I made this today with your Asian BBQ chicken and it tasted wonderful! Only issue I had was that my rice came out mushy and sticky. What did do wrong? I even added the splash of white vinegar. I did mix it a few times just I make sure the bottom wasn’t burning. This does happen even to plain white rice I try to make. Hopefully someone could help me! 🙂

    1. It might be your rice, try rinsing it with cold water before cooking it. That will remove some the starch that sometimes makes rice sticky.

      1. Also, do you live at a low elevation? I’ve discovered since being in Louisiana that I don’t need as much water or it comes out exactly like you’re describing. Either way, try cutting back on the liquid by about 2 tablespoons and see if that helps.

  22. Gah! I have been dying to make this, but I can’t find coconut milk anywhere. Is coconut milk by chance the same as coconut juice? or cream of coconut? (aka coco lopez) probably not. Yes, I live in the desert where we have like nothing available.

    1. Natasha, coconut milk should be pretty easy to find, most grocery stores sell it these days. It’s NOT the same as coconut juice, or cream of coconut- definitely don’t use either of those. Coconut milk is usually in cans in the Asian foods aisle, or you can now buy it in the dairy section near the milk in a carton (look for Silk brand). If you have any trouble, just as a grocery store employee, you should be able to find it!

  23. if you pop all these ingredients in your rice cooker, it turns out AMAZING! the whole kitchen smells like coconut and jasmine and awesome! My kids come running from all corners of the house and sit at the table waiting for the thing to ding. 🙂

  24. Made this with some grilled chicken tonight and my 4-year-old proclaimed it was the best rice ever and asked when I was going to make it again!!

  25. we are cooking for a ward luau want to combine coconut rice with pineapple can I put all ingredients in rice cooker and then add can pineapple after rice is cooked or should I add all at once I so enjoy your cookbooks Haven’t had anything we haven’t liked!!!

  26. I am wondering if anyone has tried this recipe with brown rice yet? I saw the comment about using quinoa, instead, but am still wondering about brown rice. I did use cauliflower rice last time. I used the liquids as normal and then drained them off after the it fully cooked. It was able to absorb the flavor enough that everyone said it was really good.

  27. Hi. I love adding vinegar to rice now and never make rice without it. Do you know why vinegar makes rice taste so good? What does the vinegar do to the rice?
    Thanks, Shannon

    1. I believe it helps with the texture, but I also think it’s probably adding another flavor dimension to the natural sugar in rice. But I agree, rice is better with vinegar!!

  28. I love making this rice but it seems like everytime I do it comes out crunchy. I follow the directions to a ‘T’ and it never comes out how it probably is supposed to. Any suggestions?

    1. Are you at a higher elevation? I would add an additional 2-4 tablespoons of water and increase the cooking time until all the water is absorbed. I have a rice recipe that took me 45 minutes to make in Utah that only takes 20 minutes in Louisiana! 😬

  29. Anyone else having trouble viewing the photos for this recipe? I’ve tried different browsers and different computers. Recipe images won’t load.

    1. Thank you for the heads up! They weren’t showing up for me today, either, and while the files were still there on the backend, there was something wrong with them. Should be fixed now! Thanks again!

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