Stir Things Up with Three Very Different Puddings

Plus, a terrific stuffing recipe from our upcoming bread book

Sometimes only silky, soft, and sweet will do. These relatively quiet moments between Halloween and the Holidays seem perfect for a batch of pudding: You know, for after dinner (ideas for which members can find in The Bittman Project Recipe Archive).

Though this post is a bit of a departure from our usual fare, I certainly won't tell anyone if you make one of these your main course or do an over-the-top tasting menu — and call it a tryout for New Year’s Eve.

All three options demonstrate different thickening techniques and flavor variations. The first is a no-cook plant-based chia-seed recipe. Next is Mark's most basic stovetop vanilla pudding, including the option to chocolatize or spin as butterscotch. And for the final spoonful, up the ooohh-and-aaahh factor with panna cotta. Gelatin is the thickener here, so the process is much simpler than its fancy looks.

Piña Colada Chia Pudding

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 5 minutes, plus soaking time

Chia seeds have the capacity to absorb ten times their weight in liquid while creating a gel-like texture. This chia seed–liquid combo can be used as a substitute for eggs. Here I use them to make a no-cook vegan pudding.

Leave the seeds whole, and your pudding will have a delightful, slightly bumpy texture, like a thick bubble tea; it also looks fantastic — serve it in a glass bowl or small Mason or Ball jar if you can. If you prefer a velvety texture, whir the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Use this recipe as a template, changing the liquid or combination of liquids to whatever you prefer; just keep the ratio of 2 cups liquid to 1/3 cup chia seeds. Chia seeds are forgiving, so if you find that your pudding is thicker than you like, add more liquid and stir; the pudding won’t separate. Use any kind of non-dairy liquid you like.


  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (full fat is best but reduced-fat works, too)

  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice

  • 1/3 cup chia seeds

  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted


1. Put the coconut milk, pineapple juice, and chia seeds in a medium bowl or blender. Whisk to combine or process until smooth, depending on the final texture you prefer. If blending, transfer to a bowl. Either way stir the mixture after 30 minutes, as the seeds can drop to the bottom of the bowl before the gelling action starts to take effect. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Spoon the pudding into individual bowls and top each with the pineapple, then sprinkle with the coconut and serve. Best enjoyed within a day or two of making it.


Layered Chia Pudding. To add more flavor and visual pow, layer the pudding with the fruit sauce of your choice, creating bands of color, alternating with pureed raw fruit. One cup of fruit sauce should be sufficient for four servings. Mango would work wonderfully with the main recipe, and vary as you like for the other variations that follow. 

Chocolate Chia Pudding. This would still taste wonderful with the pineapple and coconut toppings but shaved vegan chocolate or dollop of dairy-free whipped cream would be terrific: Omit the pineapple juice, increase the coconut milk to 2 cups (or use any other non-dairy milk you prefer), and add 1/3 cup cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons maple or agave syrup to the mixture before combining. Taste and add up to another tablespoon of sweetener if you’d like.

Matcha Chia Pudding. Delicious (and beautiful) topped with blueberries. And since the matcha flavor grows as the pudding sits, taste just before serving; you might find that you need more sweetener: Omit the pineapple juice and increase the coconut milk to 2 cups. (Or use any other non-dairy milk.) Stir 1 tablespoon green matcha powder with 1 tablespoon hot water in a small bowl until smooth, then add that and 1 to 2 tablespoons maple or agave syrup to the chia mixture before combining.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition

Piña Colada Chia Pudding (1)
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Read on for stovetop pudding, citrus panna cotta, and this week’s budget recipe, a terrific stuffing (with a story) from Bittman Bread., coming out next week. Consider becoming a subscriber for access to these and all of our recipes and more.

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