This creamy dairy-free dessert risotto was originally submitted by reader Heather Kessler for a recipe contest that we hosted. She infused and topped her arborio rice pudding with sweet coconut. The double dose was a little too sweet for us, and we know some of you don’t love coconut. So we’ve updated her recipe and this post with several options and suggestions.
Dairy-Free Dessert Risotto Recipe, also known as Arborio Rice Pudding
Heather’s recipe is pretty straight forward, but I want to make sure we have as many of your questions covered as possible!
Can I Use Another Milk Beverage?
Like Heather, we love coconut milk beverage for cooking. It tends to boil well and is richer than many other types. You can use a different type of milk beverage, but if you do have any problems with curdling, odd thickening, or a watery finish, the culprit is your milk beverage. Be sure to use a variety that you have had success with on the stove top and/or with boiling. We like richer almond milks and cashew milks that don’t have protein added to the ingredients. Also, note that Heather uses a sweetened vanilla milk beverage. If using an unsweetened variety, and omitting the coconut, you might need to add sweetener, to taste.
Can I Use Canned Coconut Milk?
Yes! If using full-fat coconut milk, use just 1 cup of the coconut milk plus 2 cups of water. You might opt to add little more vanilla, and you might want to add a little more sweetener, to taste.
What if I Want Coconut-Free?
See my notes above for substituting the coconut milk beverage. Then you can simply omit the coconut flakes throughout the recipe. Add more sweetener, as needed, to get your desired taste. If you still want some texture, you can add sliced almonds or other crushed nuts are great options.
Can I Use Another Type of Rice?
If you use a different rice, it won’t be dairy-free dessert risotto, it will officially be rice pudding. And not all types of rice thicken equally. If you want to use another type of rice, I recommend perusing our selection of dairy-free rice pudding recipes for the right fit.
Can I Use a Different Sweetener?
Yes, because you are adding the sweetener after the rice is cooked, you can use whatever type you prefer. I would avoid coconut sugar, which might not dissolve as well. But most other granulated sweeteners, liquid sweeteners, and even sugar-free alternatives should work well. As long as they suit your personal tastes!
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Dessert Risotto
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and top food allergy-friendly. See above for coconut-free tips.
- 3 cups vanilla coconut milk beverage (Heather uses So Delicious)
- ¾ cup arborio rice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ to 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes (see Coconut Note below)
- 1 mango or other fresh fruit, peeled and diced
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Add the coconut milk beverage and rice to a large saucepan, and place the pan over high heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer for 18 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and mixture is thick.
- While the rice is cooking, spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 8 to 9 minutes, checking in often to stir and ensure it doesn't burn.
- Place a smaller bowl inside a large bowl filled with ice and water to create a water bath.
- When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla, salt, and ½ cup toasted coconut.
- Pour the coconut rice into the small bowl of water bath, and stir until chilled, about 5 minutes.
- Dish the risotto into 4 serving bowls and top with mango pieces and ½ cup toasted coconut (2 tablespoons per serving), if desired.