Vegan rice pudding is a type of rice pudding that has been modified to suit a vegan diet and lifestyle and which therefore contains no animal products. Ordinary rice pudding relies very heavily on dairy products, and both the flavor and food chemistry provided by those products must be replaced in a vegan recipe. Many different varieties of vegan rice pudding are possible, including both sweet puddings suitable for dessert and savory puddings more commonly served as part of a main course.
Standard rice pudding recipes are generally built on a simple base of rice and milk. Much of the creaminess in rice pudding comes from starches released from the rice as it is cooking. The milk adds both flavor and richness to the mixture as well as providing additional protein and other nutrients.
A vegan rice pudding can rely on the thickening properties of rice starch. Most recipes combine rice with a substitute for the milk that is normally found in rice pudding. Coconut milk is a popular choice, as it adds a great deal of richness and flavor. Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or any other similar product may be used for this purpose as well.
Egg is used in many standard rice pudding recipes. The main function of egg in rice pudding is to serve as a binder and thickener. Vegan rice pudding omits egg but can still achieve a thick and creamy consistency because of the starch contained in the rice. Cornstarch may be used to achieve additional thickening.
Most recipes add extra ingredients to the basic rice pudding mixture. Sweet vegan rice pudding that is meant to be served as a dessert can be sweetened with anything from maple syrup to honey to simple table sugar. Some non-dairy milk products add a hint of sweetness to the mix as well.
Raisins and other dried fruits are often added to ordinary sweet rice pudding and work just as well in vegan rice pudding. Spices such as cloves or cinnamon can be used to compliment the sweet flavors in this style of dessert. Citrus flavors may be added to provide a bit of zing and contrast to the other flavors in vegan rice pudding.
Savory preparations of vegan rice pudding are also common, although less frequently encountered in the west. Conventional savory rice puddings often include cheese, which can be omitted or replaced with nutritional yeast in a vegan recipe. This type of pudding is often flavored with rich spices such as saffron, ginger, or cardamom.