The Best Colombian Coconut Rice (Arroz con Coco Colombiano)


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arroz con coco in a bowl

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Arroz con coco, or coconut rice, is a dish that will take your taste buds on a delicious journey to Cartagena, Colombia. When 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. The raisins in this easy and delicious arroz con coco Colombiano give it a pop of sweetness.

Delicious-Arroz-con-Coco in a bowl

This recipe was Inspired by one of my favorite destinations in Colombia and my favorite Colombian cookbook called Gran Libro De La Cocina Colombiana by Carlos Ordeñe Caicedo, 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.

When you walk the streets of the Old City Cartagena in the evening, they’re packed with people traveling from all parts of the world. The restaurants serve fresh fish, coconut rice, and a wildly delicious fish consomme with a side of tostones or maduros.

Streets of Old City Cartagena, Colombia
Old City Cartagena, Colombia

What can I serve with Arroz con Coco?

The dish is versatile and can be paired with many 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. Pair it with this air fryer boneless skinless chicken thigh recipe or veggie, like roasted cauliflower or a creamy pasta salad.

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. You’ll find simple coconut milk at supermarkets like Trader Joe’s.
  2. Raisins are optional. However, raisins give this recipe a pop of sweetness and flavor.
  3. After adding the sugar and rice, stir to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot. Keep the heat low, and remember that sugar will burn much faster, so keep an eye on it and stir.
  4. No additional fat is required. When reduced, coconut milk is also full of fat and is enough for the recipe. Remove or skim some of the fat if you feel it’s too much fat.
  5. I prefer when my rice isn’t too sweet, so I prefer to cut the sugar in half, but the traditional recipe is sweet.
Caramelized sugar and coconut milk

Ingredients and Substitutions


In this recipe, I cooked with organic jasmine rice; you can 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, 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.

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 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 188
Author Olga Muñoz


  • 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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Recipe Rating

2 responses to “The Best Colombian Coconut Rice (Arroz con Coco Colombiano)”

  1. Lily Avatar

    5 stars
    This was so delicious, and it reminds me of my trip to Cartagena before the mess of 2020.

    1. Olga Muñoz Avatar

      Aww amazing, so happy to hear. I love Cartagena.

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