Several years ago, I won a social media “freaky fruits” giveaway from Melissa’s Produce. The bounty they sent was so gorgeous that I had to whip up a sweet, healthy recipe to accompany the vibrant fruit. I decided on dairy-free vanilla chia pudding. Back then, chia pudding was just starting to become a thing. And although its popularity has waned a bit since the peak, I think it’s time to give this everyday recipe an update!
Vegan Vanilla Chia Pudding – No Cooking Required!
I’m a big fan of chia seeds for both nutrition and versatility. Here are a few things you might not know about these tiny seeds:
- High in Calcium – Just two tablespoons (1-ounce) of chia seeds provides a whopping 179 milligrams of dairy-free calcium.
- Balanced with Magnesium – One big problem with calcium consumption, is it’s often not balanced with other nutrients for proper absorption. Chia seeds actually deliver that touted 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium.
- Rich in Omega 3 – That same 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains a full 5 grams of omega 3 fatty acids. They’re actually one of the riches plant sources of those “healthy fats.”
- Seriously High Fiber – Each servings of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber! They’re actually low carb, because almost all of the carbs in these tiny seeds are fiber.
- Egg Substitute – Yes, gelled chia seeds work great as a vegan substitute for eggs in many recipes.
- Instantly Useful – You don’t have to grind or cook chia seeds to use them. When water is added, they soften and create a gel around each seed. I grind them in this vanilla chia pudding recipe for faster thickening, and to create more of a pudding texture, but you can simply stir the chia seeds in, if preferred.
Special Diet Notes: Vanilla Chia Pudding
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, optionally vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, optionally paleo, and generally top food allergy-friendly. Be sure to choose the sweetener that suits your dietary needs.
- 1 cup lite canned coconut milk
- ¼ to ⅓ cup white chia seeds (can sub black chia seeds; see Chia Seeds note below)*
- ¼ cup water, or as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- Generous pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice, or to taste (see Sweetener note below)
- Cut fruit of choice, for garnish or parfaits (optional)
- Place the coconut milk, chia seeds, water, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt in your blender, and whiz until relatively smooth.
- Blend in the sweetener, to taste. Blend in more water, as desired, to thin the consistency.
- If desired, let the mixture chill for a couple of hours or overnight, it will thicken more.
Sweetener: Raw honey (paleo), agave (vegan), maple syrup (adds a maple-y flavor), or plain sugar all work great in this recipe. But to keep the added sugars down, I sometimes use 1 tablespoon honey + 20 drops vanilla stevia.
Lite Coconut Milk Alternatives: I use lite canned coconut milk because it's cheap, convenient, natural, and has a good half and half consistency. You can substitute your favorite dairy-free creamer or milk beverage. If using milk beverage, omit the water, or only add it as needed. The pudding won't be as rich. You can alternatively use full-fat coconut milk, or use ½ cup full-fat coconut milk + ½ cup water in place of the 1 cup lite coconut milk.