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Arroz con Coco Colombiano

Arroz con coco, or coconut rice, is a dish that will take your taste buds on a delicious journey to Cartagena, Colombia. The moment the lid is lifted, the aroma of rich, creamy coconut milk infused with tender, fluffy rice will fill the air, making your mouth water with anticipation.

arroz con coco in a bowl

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Inspired by one of my favorite destinations in Colombia and my favorite Colombian cookbook called Gran Libro De La Cocina Colombiana, each grain of rice is perfectly cooked, with a tender center and a slightly crispy exterior, creating a perfect balance of texture. As you take your first bite, the creamy coconut milk coats your tongue with a velvety smoothness, while the hint of salt brings out the natural sweetness of the rice.

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Table of Contents

What can I serve with Arroz con Coco?

The dish is versatile and can be paired with various proteins such as succulent shrimp, tender chicken, steak, or a vegetarian option like black beans or lentils. You can also add a touch of fresh herbs or cilantro for extra flavor.

This recipe was inspired by my most recent trip to Cartagena, where this arroz con coco is served with a side of freshly pan-fried fish and tostones. Yum!

Top Tips

  1. When cooking arroz con coco, use coconut milk without thickeners like guar gum or fillers. These thickeners will affect the reduction and caramelization of the coconut solids. 
  2. Raisins are optional. However, raisins give this recipe a pop of flavor.
  3. After adding the sugar and rice, stir to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Ingredients and Substitutions


In this recipe, I cooked with organic jasmine rice; you can absolutely cook with jasmine or different medium to long-grain rice. Short-grain rice will make this recipe mushy.

Cane Sugar

I incorporated cane sugar or panela in this arroz con coco Colombiano. You can go with coconut sugar or brown sugar. You can also play around with the sweetness. I made it less sweet with one tablespoon of sugar. However, if you prefer sweeter arroz con coco, you can add up to two tablespoons of sugar.

Coconut milk vs. Coconut Cream

Coconut Milk has less fat than coconut cream. We are looking for coconut flavor without all the fat for this recipe. You can use coconut cream instead of coconut milk if you only have coconut cream. You can use less of the cream and add water to it. 

Storage and Reheating


Arroz con coco can be safely stored in the refrigerator for a few days, a week at maximum.


Warm a serving in a small pot and add a small amount of water – the vapor will help warm the rice.

Equipment for this recipe

arroz con coco in a bowl

Arroz con Coco Colombiano (Colombian Coconut Rice)

Print Recipe
Caramelized coconut rice with raisins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Colombian
Keyword Arroz con coco, coconut rice
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Servings 6 people
Calories 188


  • 1 Saucepan
  • 1 Fine Mesh Strainer
  • 1 Wooden Spoon or Spatula


  • 2 cups Rice
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 Can Coconut Milk
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Cream
  • 2 tbsp Cane Sugar 1 tbsp - optional
  • 2 tbsp Raisins


  • Step 1:
    Rinse rice until there is very little cloudiness in the water. Use the fine mesh strainer to rinse the rice. Set aside.
    Step 2:
    In a pan, set the heat to low to medium heat, and cook down the coconut milk and coconut cream until it's reduced and the coconut solids caramelize to a light brown color.
    Step 3:
    Add in the sugar and raisins (optional) and stir. After a minute or so, add the rice, and stir. Coat the rice well.
    Step 4:
    Pour in the water, and cook until the water evaporates. Cover the pan and reduce to low heat. Cook for five minutes and serve!

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