I know chia seed pudding has official jumped shark from health food fad to bonafide kitchen staple when my own mother asks me how to make it. I had tried a few store-bought varieties over the years, but never attempted it at home until recently.
On a mission to make a creamy, vegan chia seed pudding that rivals the classic pudding, I found a powerful combination of non-dairy milks and a super-reliable ratio made for the creamiest, dreamiest chia seed pudding that only requires a mixing bowl and an overnight soak.
Creamy Chia Pudding: Watch the Video
What Is Chia Seed Pudding?
Chia seed pudding is a cold, creamy dessert made when any sweetened liquid — milk, coconut milk, or fruit purée — is thickened with chia seeds until a pudding-like texture is achieved. Chia puddings general have a ratio of four parts liquid to one part chia, making them thicker than chia drinks but thinner than chia jams. Chia seeds are practically flavorless, so don't worry about upping the ratio for a thicker pudding.
Since chia seeds can thicken nearly any liquid to a pudding-like consistency, it is very easy to use any non-dairy milk to make a passable pudding. But if rich, creamy, vegan chia seed pudding is your goal, you'll need a combination of non-dairy milks and vegan-friendly sweeteners.
But wait, what are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are a member of the mint family and are as popular for their ability to gel liquids as they are for their reported health benefits. Yes, these are the same grassy seeds know for growing your own terra-cotta chia pet! These seeds are high in fiber, omega-3s, and protein. When combined with liquids, the seeds swell, creating a jelly-like texture.
Read more: Inside the Spice Cabinet: Chia Seeds
The Keys for Making the Best Chia Seed Pudding
- Use a one-two non-dairy punch. To make a creamy and rich pudding of any kind, you need fat. Classic cornstarch puddings use eggs and butter with milk, but for vegan pudding, combining almond milk and full-fat coconut milk makes a creamy base for the chia seeds to thicken.
- Get your ratio right. This is probably the most important thing you need to know about making chia seed pudding: A high ratio of seeds to liquid will give you a thicker, more delightful pudding. Fewer seeds in more liquid will result in a slimy texture.
- Mix the liquids and sweeteners first. Overmixing can also lead to a sticky rather than creamy pudding, so whisk together the milks, sweeteners, and other flavors before adding the seeds.
- Don't blend the seeds. We're big fans of blending chia pudding for the chia-adverse, but for this classic variation, we want the pop of the tiny seeds against the cool creaminess of the pudding.
- Chill chia, chill. Chia pudding is set when the seeds swell to almost double their size and have an opaque area of gel around them. This is best done in the fridge overnight.
For a smoother pudding, try this: Vegan Chocolate-Almond Chia Pudding
How to Serve Chia Seed Pudding
I like to layer the pudding with fresh fruit or fruit purée — not just for the pretty visual, but because my kids devour it this way.
For dessert, consider topping individual ramekins of chia pudding with chopped toasted nuts or coconut chips to make this new classic feel even more special.
How To Make Chia Pudding
What You Need
unsweetened canned coconut milk
unsweetened almond milk
sweetener, such as maple syrup, agave nectar, cane sugar, or coconut sugar
white chia seeds (1 1/2 ounces)
For serving: fresh fruit, toasted coconut flakes, toasted macadamia nuts, or almonds
Measuring cups and spoons
1 glass pint jar with lid
Combine and blend. Stir the coconut milk, almond milk, sweetener, vanilla, and salt in a pint glass jar. Whisk in the chia seeds until evenly dispersed. Seal the jar.
Chill to thicken. Refrigerate overnight to thicken the pudding. Chia pudding is set when the seeds swell to almost double their size and have an opaque area of gel around them. Serve with fresh fruit, toasted coconut, or toasted nuts.
Make ahead and storage: Chia pudding can be made the night before and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For a fruit parfait variation: Blend 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) frozen fruit with 1 tablespoon of water. Pour the purée into a serving bowl. Top with the vanilla chia pudding, fresh fruit, toasted coconut, and chopped macadamia nuts.