Caribbean coconut rice recipe - Stove top and Instant pot

6.12.23 | Recipe by Renz

This creamy Caribbean coconut rice recipe is a family favorite. It is easy to prepare and great to pair with just about anything.

Coconut rice in a white bowl, with scallion and a yellow napkin on a red counter top.

A good rice dish is a must-have in Caribbean cooking. We love pairing white rice with some good stew or curry. But sometimes you want a little more flavor than just the easy plain rice so now you want to up the ante.

Here's a delicious dish that gives you additional flavor with not too much more work.

Coconut rice is always a great option to bring some flavor-filled rice to the dinner table in the easiest way. It's a simple recipe with a big flavor of rice simmered down in thick coconut milk with fresh herbs and spices.

I will go ahead and show you this quick and tasty dish with two different cooking techniques: on the stovetop and in the instant pot.

I know you will just love this coconut rice recipe. Just as much as you like my rice and peas recipe.


Ingredients needed for coconut rice

This Caribbean rice really doesn't need many things. Here are a few key points on some of the ingredients.

Ingredients needed for making Caribbean coconut rice.

  • Rice - The kind of rice you use can be your personal preference. I always lean towards long grain rice because I buy that a lot. Other good options would be using brown rice, Jasmine rice, or basmati rice.
  • Coconut milk - this can be fresh coconut milk you make yourself or canned. Just make sure if you do use canned to use full fat coconut milk.
  • Fresh herbs: Some stalks of green onion and fresh thyme are what will be used to amp up the flavor.
  • Seasonings: Salt, and hot pepper. The hot pepper can be a whole scotch bonnet pepper or a habanero pepper. We just want it to give the dish a little kick of heat not have intense heat, so we won't be cutting it up.
  • Butter (optional)

How to make coconut rice

I said I would present this recipe to you so that you can cook it in different ways. So here are the stove top and instant pot versions.

Stove top version:

In a large Dutch oven, on medium heat, add the coconut milk, scallions, and thyme to the pot and bring to a boil.

A pot of coconut milk with scallion on top of a red counter top.

Wash your rice with some cups of water, rinsing out until clear. Add the rice to the pot along with the whole pepper and give it a stir.

Bring the pot of rice back to a boil, then turn to low heat (simmer), cover, and steam till the rice is cooked. Took me about 25 minutes.

A deep pot with coconut milk, scallion, washed rice and a scotch bonnet pepper ready on a red counter.

When completed, take a fork and fluff the rice grains up.

Serve this delicious rice hot. Well after removing the scallion, thyme, and pepper.

Steamed coconut rice in a pot on a red counter top with the pepper on the inside.

Instant pot version:

If you don't feel like standing and cooking rice, then this instant pot version (or any electric cooker) is for you. Here are the quick steps to get this flavorful dish on your table.

  1. Rinse your rice until the water is clear.
  2. Add the coconut milk, washed rice, salt, scallion, and thyme to the inner pot of your electric cooker.
  3. Give it a good swirl then add the whole pepper.
  4. Close the top and make sure to seal the pressure valve.
  5. Select "rice". This will give you 10 minutes
  6. Let the pressure build and allow it to cook to its time.
  7. Once released open and fluff rice.
  8. Remove the pepper, scallion, and thyme. And serve hot.

You just made the perfect side dish.

What tastes good with coconut rice

For this flavorful side dish, I love to pair it with some curry main dishes. It's perfect with some Trini pepper shrimp, or some kind of curry like curry goat, lobster, or lamb. Or if you prefer some Jamaican jerk chicken or brown stew chicken.

Adding some peas of some sort to the side, like black beans, stewed gungo peas, or lentils will also be the perfect accompaniment.

Don't forget the coleslaw.

The best way to store

You don't want to leave this cooked rice out for too long. Once any leftover rice is cooled, place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge.

It can also be frozen. Place in Ziploc bags and put in the freezer. It will hold well for up to 1 - 2 months.

To reheat, you can add the rice to a pot with a little water and steam it till heated. You can also use the microwave.

Optional add-ins

Here are options to add more layers of flavor:

  • Try adding some bay leaf to the pot when boiling. No more than 2 fresh leaves. Remove before serving.
  • Pimento berries, also called allspice berries are also a good addition. Throw in a couple into the milk to add more flavor.
  • Add in a little bit of vegetable broth or chicken broth. Lessen the amount of coconut milk and replace the difference with broth.
  • You can also do half and half with coconut water. I personally prefer to use coconut milk only.
  • For some additional coconut flavor, add some coconut flakes to the rice when completed.

Coconut rice on a green plate with pepper and scallion on top a red counter.


Here are a few notes to consider when making this recipe:

  • Depending on the rice you use you will need to adjust cooking time for doneness.
  • If using canned coconut milk make sure to give the tin a good shake before opening.
  • If you are worried the hot pepper will be too hot, try a less spicy pepper or omit it.

Frequently Asked Questions for this Coconut Rice

I have coconut cream and not coconut milk, can I use it?

Coconut cream has a much thicker consistency than coconut milk. If you only have cream you will need to thin it out a bit. So just add some liquid, it can be water or broth thin out the cream to match the amount of milk needed. Just be wary of the fat content of the type of cream you have. It can vary by brand.

​My rice is cooked but it's mushy

If your rice is mushy at the end, this happened because you didn't wash your rice out to get rid of the extra starch. Coconut milk is thicker than water so we will need to get rid of the excess starch.

A bowl of pepper shrimp and coconut rice on top a red counter with a yellow napkin.

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