Coconut Rice with Chives: How to Make Fluffy Coconut Rice

how to make coconut rice recipe
The best coconut rice, in my opinion, is made from quality long grain rice (that would be old crop Jasmine rice, if you ask me) and fresh coconut milk extracted from finely-grated mature coconut meat. The rice-liquid ratio is 1:2 or 1:1.5 depending on whether the rice is an old or new crop as the former has lower moisture content than the latter and therefore requires more liquid.

Depending on what you like, several different perfuming or flavoring agents may be added to the rice as it cooks: smashed fresh garlic, bruised fresh pandan leaves, smashed fresh cilantro roots, crispy fried shallots, etc. If you grew up in Southeast Asia, chance are you’ve had at least 4-5 different varieties of coconut rice. Each culture, each sub-culture, each household has its own version.

This one of mine has added fresh chives. It’s not the most traditional flavor, but I happen to think chives and coconut go very well together. Also, the method which I use is a little different from what is considered the standard. That is to say, while most recipes instruct you to cook long grain rice with coconut milk in lieu of plain water, mine holds off on the coconut milk until the very end.

I’m not very picky about the type of rice. (Having said that, I have to say Thai Jasmine rice will forever remain the love of my life. I may sometimes get infatuated with Basmati or Mochigome, but my dalliances with anything but Thai Jasmine have invariably proven short-lived; I always come crawling back to my true love.) I am, however, very picky about the texture of cooked rice. I can’t stand wet, gummy rice – a sign of over-hydration and/or too much starch in the liquid in which the rice is cooked. It’s similar to what happens to pasta when it’s cooked too long in too little water, and we all know how tragic that is.

how to make coconut rice recipe

[Coconut rice served with grilled skirt steak marinated in soy sauce, ground coriander, and garlic.]

It could be just me. Perhaps other people have better luck making nice, fluffy coconut rice with canned coconut milk than I do. While I’ve never had problem making good coconut rice with freshly extracted coconut milk, every time I cook coconut rice with canned coconut milk (even my favorite brand which I normally consider godly and blameless), it often comes out wet and gummy. And since freshly-extracted coconut milk from freshly-grated coconut meat isn’t readily available where I live, canned coconut milk is my only option. As for spray-dried coconut milk powder, I think it has very little taste. The other problem is that regardless of whether the rice comes out wet and gummy or partially undercooked (which sometimes happens when I make a misguided attempt to reduce the wetness by using less coconut milk), the rice at the bottom invariably gets over-browned and sticks to the pot or the rice cooker. This makes me cranky.

I have recently learned to do things differently: I do not add coconut milk until the very end. This is the only method which has consistently yielded perfectly-cooked rice, fluffy and thoroughly perfumed with coconut milk with no hard, brown crust at the bottom of the rice pot. The coconut milk is added at the moment when the rice has absorbed all of the water or broth, yet is still not quite fully cooked, which means it is still capable of taking on additional moisture without turning wet and gummy. The use of broth is optional; it’s just an extra step to enhance the flavor. What’s not optional, however, is the rinsing of the rice. Rinsing helps wash off some of the starch which would otherwise get released into the cooking liquid and cause the gumminess. (Imagine what it’s like to cook your rice in starchy liquid similar to cornstarch or Wonder flour slurry.) I rinse my raw rice until the water runs clear.

how to make coconut rice recipeCoconut Rice with Fresh Chives
(Makes 4-5 cups)
Printable Version

2 cups uncooked long grain rice, preferably Thai Jasmine or Basmati
2 3/4 cups water or unsalted chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup good canned coconut milk, not the “light” variety which is too thin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
3/4 cup snipped fresh chives

  • Put the rice in a heavy-bottomed pot or a rice cooker container and rinse it until the water is clear.
  • Add the water or broth into the pot, stir, and bring the rice mixture to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to one notch above the lowest setting and cover the pot. In about 15 minutes, the rice should have already absorbed most or all of the liquid. Add the coconut milk, salt, and black pepper; stir very gently once and put the lid back on.
  • Let the rice cook for another 10 minutes or until it appears cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Take the pot off the heat and let the rice rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add the fresh chives and give the rice a quick stir; put the lid back on but cover only partially to let some of the steam out.
  • When the rice has cooled down a little, fluff with a fork.
  • This method works well if you cook your rice in a rice cooker as well. You just have to remember to add the coconut milk about 5 minutes before the rice cooker goes ding.
  • 34 Responses to Coconut Rice with Chives: How to Make Fluffy Coconut Rice

    1. doggybloggy June 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

      great – now I have to figure out when it is five minutes before the ding…I have tried to make this before and it was not fluffy so I turned it into coconut rice pudding…thanks for the tips!

    2. Leela June 1, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

      doggybloggy – All you have to do is turn on the rice cooker and let it do its thing. Then you sit right next to it, ignoring your job, your family, etc., and stare at the rice cooker until the rice seems to have absorbed all the water. That’s roughly about five minutes before the ding. 🙂

    3. 5 Star Foodie June 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

      That rice looks so perfect! How wonderful with coconut milk and chives!

    4. Kelly June 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

      That rice looks SO good! I have tried to make coconut rice but it came out icky. I will have to try your recipe. I love the stuff … Thanks!!

    5. TKTC June 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

      I would LOVE to attempt this though I’ll try my luck with the preferred canned milk. I don’t have a lot of experience extracting milk from coconut milk and do find it a bit intimidating.

    6. Leela June 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

      TKTC – This recipe calls for canned coconut milk.

    7. duodishes June 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

      Dang, we should’ve read this before we made ours. 🙁 Well we can keep it in mind for the next time! Especially the chives. Good addition.

    8. Jenn June 1, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

      I love my rice!! But I don’t think I’ve had coconut rice before. I’ll have to try this. hopefully it’ll come out like yours.

    9. oysterculture June 2, 2009 at 3:24 am #

      I always love stopping by and learning wonderful new things about Thai cooking. I made coconut rice this weekend, and mine was of the sticky gummy variety, I should have waited until after you posted.

    10. Rick June 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

      Love your blog, it’s must read, everyday!

    11. Ben June 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

      I tried a coconut rice last year and I loved it! But now I have learned a couple of secrets to make it even better. Beautiful pictures!

    12. Leela June 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

      Rick – You read my blog more often than I do. 🙂

    13. lisaiscooking June 2, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

      Your rice looks perfect! So interesting about adding the coconut milk later. Have to try this.

    14. sra June 3, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

      Hi, I enjoyed this post on coconut rice. In South India where I live, there are kinds and kinds of rice and biriyanis prepared with coconut milk, but when we say coconut rice, it usually means plain rice sauteed with some grated coconut and tempering.

      It’s such a coincidence that I saw this post today – only today I learnt that the packaged coconut milk I use (an Indian brand) here in India, the coconut milk actually comes from Thailand!

    15. Anonymous June 4, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

      This is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!

    16. Spoon It On June 5, 2009 at 4:26 am #

      Mmmm! This looks SO good! And great pics as usual!

    17. zoe June 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

      This is my favorite type of rice ever!

    18. we are never full June 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

      you can actually see how perfectly cooked your rice is. i think cooking good rice doesn’t come natural to most people from ethnic backrounds that don’t use rice predominantly in their cooking. maybe i mean americans? either way, over the past few years i’ve been working to improve my “rice game” and i have such a greater appreciation for it now. rice can really be the star of the show instead of mearly a backdrop.

    19. Mochachocolata Rita June 8, 2009 at 9:36 am #

      actually my rice cooker will start indicating how many minutes left before the ding…around 13 minutes to.

      i’ll try this method and pour my coconut milk 5 minutes to.

      Thanks so much for the tips, cant wait to try it.

    20. mrs_vanity September 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      Do you think we can make this with jasmine brown rice?

    21. Admin September 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

      mrs_vanity – Definitely. I have done that many times.

    22. Doug November 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      My first attempt at coconut rice and we ate it with pleasure. But I have to say that it was sticky, and crusty brown on the bottom as well. So definitely some room for the cook to improve.

      Really silly basic question, but I wonder if I’m rinsing the rice properly? Since I began reading your blog, I have been rinsing my rice. But while my rinse water becomes clearer, I could not say that it becomes clear, even after multiple passes?

      • Leela November 5, 2012 at 12:10 am #

        Doug, perhaps “clear” is not the right word even though it’s commonly used in cooking instructions (e.g. roast the chicken until the juices run clear). Maybe “translucent” is a better word as “clear” suggests “transparent.”

    23. maureen February 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

      I am always for looking for new ideas with coconut milk and the pandan sounds great. I have also used it in the broth for khao man ghai- delicious. I would love to have your suggestions for more dishes using pandan leaves. Love your blog!

    24. Anne June 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      I finally tried this today using brown jasmine rice, upping the initial cooking time by about 15 minutes. I think there was too much water, as it came out a bit mushy even after cooking for about 50 minutes total. You mentioned somewhere earlier in the comments that you’ve made it successfully with brown rice before; any changes you recommend?

      • Leela June 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

        Anne – Hmmm. Nope. Looking back, the only thing I can think of is that I’ve always cooked brown rice in a rice cooker. Maybe that’s the reason.

        • Anne June 13, 2013 at 10:48 am #

          That must be it. I almost never cook brown rice in the traditional way (letting all the water evaporate) because I have a hard time getting it to come out. I’ve been using the boil for 35 minutes, drain, let steam for 10 with great success, but that wouldn’t work for coconut rice. I’ve been looking for a good rice cooker, though — do you have a recommendation for one that handles brown rice well?

          • Leela June 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

            Anne – I use a cheapo rice cooker from Target. But most people I know who make rice on a regular basis seem to like Zojirushi. Pricy, though.

            • Anne June 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

              Thanks! Yeah, I had a cheap one from Walgreens in college that actually worked for several years. I’ll have to try the recipe again once I track down a rice cooker.

    25. Francesca Spalluto January 3, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      Hi Leela,

      I was looking if you had a post of your favourite brands of jasmine rice.
      I just moved to the US from Europe and I’m trying to get to know which brands I like better for cooking.
      In the South of France, it was very easy to get Royal Umbrella jasmine rice (also sticky) and not sure if in Thailand is considered a good brand or not, but I thought it was pretty good. Can you find it here or which one do you prefer?



      • Leela January 8, 2014 at 4:27 am #

        Francesca – I don’t have one. I used to, but then over the years, I’ve found that they’ve all become pretty much the same. That said, I usually stick with Golden Phoenix and Elephant (I only buy the 25-lb bags).

    26. Bill June 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      made this tonight and all my guests loved it!!

    27. Shannon July 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

      Fantastic recipe. I found this after Googling “why does coconut rice get so gummy when cooking.” I have ruined countless coconut rice recipes because they ask for too much coconut milk. It just turns out gummy, and I have to throw it away. Thank you for spending the time to create something so simple and perfect.


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