Photo by Mercedes Golip

Creamy Coconut Rice

Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 servings

Arroz con coco was one my favorite desserts growing up, and it always takes me home. Its particular flavor and color comes from panela, an unprocessed brown sugar made from evaporated sugar cane juice, that is very popular in Central and South America, where it’s featured in many dishes and drinks.

Note: Mercedes is participating in the Seed Food & Wine Festival, taking place in Miami and Miami Beach Nov. 2 through Nov. 6, 2016. The premier plant-based food and wine festival in the country, SFWF celebrates delicious plant-based foods, fine wine, craft beer and spirits, lifestyle products and companies, all while raising awareness about conscious and sustainable living. Seed will gather some of the most talented speakers, chefs, celebrities, athletes and authors to savor a week of food, cocktails, parties, seminars and events, including a Grand Tasting, the nation’s first Plant-Based Burger Battle and SEED Summit, a gathering of bloggers, influencers and content creators.


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  1. Place the rice and water on the stove and turn the heat on high and bring it to a boil until the water evaporates, approximately 6-8 minutes; at this point the rice should be al dente.
  2. Add the coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the chopped panela and cinnamon. Turn to medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  3. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. The rice will be ready when it reaches a creamy consistency.
  4. Once ready, add the salt and mix to incorporate. Adjust salt or sugar to your taste if necessary.
  5. You can serve this dessert warm or cold, family-style or as individual portions. Garnish when ready to serve.

Chef Notes

You can find panela sugar at Latin grocery stores. If panela is not available, use dark brown sugar or molasses instead.

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