Coconut Milk Pudding Is the Grown-up Version of Your Favorite Lunch Box Treat

Photo: Getty Images/Nortonsx
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As a kid, if you got a pudding cup in your lunch box, it was definitely a good day. Whether you favored tapioca or chocolate, the dessert was up there with DunkARoos and Fruit Gushers as the end-all, be-all of sweet treats. But pudding hasn't always been considered an adult-friendly food—until coconut milk pudding, an off-shoot of the alternative yogurts trend.

"Coconut milk is great for pudding as it is naturally thick and creamy," says Simple Roots Wellness founder Alexa Schrim. "It holds flavor well, without being overpowering and can really be cooked to the consistency of your liking. Plus, coconut is a powerhouse of nutrition containing healthy fats plus immune-boosting vitamins and minerals." It's a great option for dairy-free eaters, or really anyone who wants to revisit a classic.

Brands like Sun Tropics and Jell-O make ready-to-serve coconut pudding options, but going the DIY route ensures you get a higher-quality, less-processed outcome. Schrim has mastered making coconut milk pudding herself and happily shares her expert tips with anyone who wants to try it themselves. Here, she reveals four major tips to keep in mind. Keep reading for her intel:

Expert tips for making next-level coconut milk pudding

1. It's all in the wrist. According to Schrim, the key to ending with thick, stick-to-your spoon pudding is buying full-fat canned coconut milk—and being a master whisker. "The trick to getting the consistency just right is to whisk it long enough over low heat," she says. "It takes a little bit to get the thick creamy consistency of pudding, however, the benefit of homemade pudding is you can stop the heat whenever it arrives at your desired consistency." She says it's important not to give up too soon or else you'll end up with runny pudding. "Make sure you wait it out [and] continue whisking until it thickens up," she says. (Consider it your arm workout for the day.)

2. Go slow. Similar to making risotto, Schrim says making coconut pudding requires almost constant attention, especially at key points in the recipe. (Good thing cooking is so meditative!) "Mixing the coconut milk with the eggs is where the magic happens," she says. "Take your time with this process, mixing a ladle full of coconut milk in the egg mixture before adding it to the pot. Stir continuously as you do this to prevent clumping."

3. Hedge your bets with arrowroot powder. Whisking is key, but you also need to add a thickening agent like cornstarch to get the texture you want, Schrim says. "I prefer arrowroot powder over tapioca or cornstarch for nutritional purposes but also for a more smooth consistency. It doesn't have quite the tendency to clump as the other thickening agents do." Go to know.

4. Don't be afraid to experiment. While it's helpful to have a coconut milk pudding recipe on hand to follow, Schrim says not to shy away from making it your own. "The beauty of coconut milk pudding is there are a hundred variations," she says. "From adding some cocoa powder to cinnamon or even topping it with sautéed bananas, you can transform coconut milk pudding into a number of different yet simple, healthy, and delicious dessert or snack options. Try it out and then get creative with it. I think you'll love it."

Ready to make coconut milk pudding yourself? In addition to her own recipe, below are three more  recipes to start with.

3 coconut milk pudding recipes to try

A healthy, low-FODMAP tapioca pudding recipe
Photo: Getty Images/SherShor

1. Low-FODMAP chia tapioca pudding

If you're sticking to a gut-healing, low-FODMAP diet, give this recipe a try. All of the ingredients are a-okay for the eating plan, so you don't have to worry about anything causing any unwanted digestive distress. And it's really yummy!

vegan coconut milk pudding
Photo: The Spruce Eats

2. Old-fashioned vegan coconut pudding

This recipe is simple and sweet. It does call for cornstarch—just like Schirm says most do—so swap it out for arrowroot powder to follow her tips more closely. The end result will still be a creamy, satisfying dessert.

chocolate coconut milk pudding
Photo: The Kitchn

3. Chocolate coconut pudding with coconut flakes

More of a chocolate fan? This one will hit just the spot. The combo of chocolate and coconut milk blends together tasting like an adult version of Coco Puffs. You'll be licking your spoon clean.

For more healthy dessert ideas, check out these low-sugar options. Plus, nutritionists spill on what they eat for dessert

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