Sustainability made simple

Black Rice Pudding: Homemade & Vegan Recipe

Black Rice Pudding
Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia

Black rice pudding is a common breakfast and dessert in Thailand. Scroll down to discover the health benefits of black rice, and learn how to make vegan black sticky rice with our easy recipe.

If you have ever experienced the joy of eating Thai mango sticky rice, it’s time to give black sticky rice pudding a try. Similar in texture, the black rice gives a nuttier flavor and has a natural sweetness. In its most simple form, you only need black glutinous rice, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt to prepare black rice pudding. It can be eaten as a dessert or for breakfast, plain or with toppings. Either way, it is delicious and the purple-black color looks especially striking with some coconut cream drizzled over the top.

But what’s the difference between black rice and white rice? And how come some rice turns out sticky, while others don’t? How sustainable is the production of rice? Read on to find out, and make your own vegan black rice pudding with our recipe below. 

Black Rice vs. White Rice

Black sticky rice is actually a mixture of colors before cooking.
Black sticky rice is actually a mixture of colors before cooking.
(Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia)

Rice, or Oryza sativa is eaten regularly by roughly one half of the world’s population, and a staggering 95 percent of rice is grown to be consumed by humans. 

Although they come from the same family, black rice and white rice are actually quite different when it comes to nutritional benefits. White rice is milled which removes the germ and bran layer of the grain, which is where most of the B vitamins and iron heavy minerals and fiber are found. Black rice, on the other hand is not processed in the same way. It is usually left un-milled or only minimally processed, allowing it to remain a whole grain and retain the valuable vitamins and minerals.

White rice has a fairly high glycemic index (GI) of around 89, while black rice is low at around 42 – low GI foods are under 55. Lower GI foods tend to be broken down by the body more slowly than high GI foods, and therefore cause a more steady rise and fall of blood sugar levels.

Black rice is naturally dark in color with a rich, slightly sweet-nutty flavor. The black-purple color comes from the naturally occurring anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants. Foods and plants that have a red or purple pigment such as red cabbage and berries contain anthocyanin and often have anti-inflammatory properties and could help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, many foods and edible flowers that contain high levels of anthocyanins have been studied for their medicinal value.   

Sticky Rice

Glutinous rice is naturally sweet, chewy and sticky.
Glutinous rice is naturally sweet, chewy and sticky.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Huahom)

Not all black rice is sticky, just like not all white rice is sticky. To make the best Thai black rice pudding, you need to use the sticky type.

Sticky rice, or glutinous rice is grown and eaten predominantly in Southeast Asia – and contrary to its name, glutinous rice doesn’t actually contain any gluten. All rice contains two starchy molecules: amylopectin and amylose. However, glutinous rice contains a high percentage of amylopectin, and only one percent of amylose, which is why the rice sticks together when it is cooked.

You may have come across Chinese black rice, or ‘forbidden rice’, which is not glutinous rice and therefore will not stick together in the same way as Thai sticks rice.

Thai Black Rice Pudding

Black rice pudding with salted coconut cream makes a great desert or breakfast.
Black rice pudding with salted coconut cream makes a great desert or breakfast.
(Foto: Amy Mason / Utopia)

Black sticky rice pudding is traditionally vegan and can be prepared with only a few simple ingredients! Delicious and nutty, it can be drizzled with coconut cream, topped with fresh mango, toasted coconut flakes or with any seasonal fruit from your local market. It is essential to not only rinse your rice, but also to soak it for at least four hours, or overnight if possible. This is not only for the health benefits, but it will reduce the cooking time and therefore will save energy. To make sure your black rice pudding is vegan, make sure to use organic sugar.

Cook Time: 45 minutes  Servings: 4


  • 1 cup black glutinous rice
  • 2 tbsp. white glutinous rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pandan leaves (or 4 kaffir lime leaves if you can’t find pandan)
  • 3 tbsp. organic brown sugar (you can add more if you like)
  • ½ cup full fat, organic coconut cream or thick coconut milk
  • large pinch of salt


  1. Rinse the rice, cover with cold water and soak for at least 4 hours.
  2. Strain the rice and add to a medium sized pot. Add the water and pandan or kaffir leaves and bring to a boil.
  3. Skim any foam from the top, stir, and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Stir occasionally for the first 20 minutes, and then almost constantly for the last 15-20 minutes.
  4. The consistency should be thick and creamy, cook for a little longer, stirring constantly to stop it from sticking to the pot.
  5. Once the consistency is perfect, stir in the sugar. Taste for sweetness, and add a little more if desired, then remove from heat.
  6. Ladle into bowls, stir the salt into the coconut cream or milk and spoon over the top of the rice.
  7. Top with fresh fruit, and enjoy. 

    Rice Sustainability

    Although rice requires a lot of water in it's production, it provides sustenance for billions of people every day.
    Although rice requires a lot of water in it’s production, it provides sustenance for billions of people every day.
    (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Quangpraha)

    Agriculture has an effect on the planet, no matter how it is carried out, and rice production has its pros and cons. Studies have shown that non-organic rice production has ten times more negative environmental impact than organic. Although there are a number of organic rice farms in the USA, it may be quite difficult to locate an organic, locally grown black sticky rice. Lundberg Family Farms grow organic rice in California, and they import organic Thai black sticky rice, available in stores or from Amazon**.

    Although rice has one of the smallest footprints of a food staple when looking at greenhouse gas production, the microbes that are present in flooded paddy fields produce around nine to nineteen percent of the world’s methane emissions. However, when all greenhouse gas emissions from food are taken into account, rice emits less greenhouse gases per calorie than fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat, or dairy. 

    Rice also requires a massive amount of water in its production, which can be problematic for drought-prone areas, such as California. Less post harvest steps are required to produce black rice than white rice, meaning that theoretically black rice is more sustainable than white rice.

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