What Is Milk Rice? (Origins, Flavor, Uses + Other Common FAQs)

Rice can be prepared in more than a handful of ways. Sometimes rice can be turned into a main dish, a side dish, or even a dessert, and such is the case when you make milk rice.

If you’re interested in trying milk rice for a change, you’ll want to have a better understanding of milk rice first. What exactly is milk rice? I looked into it, and here’s what I found!

What Is Milk Rice?

Milk rice, also known as kiribath, is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with short-grain white rice and coconut milk. Usually, milk rice is consumed on the first day of the month to signify new beginnings. In other countries, milk rice is similar to rice pudding and rice cakes and can be made with other rice and milk variants.

In case you’re interested to learn more about how to prepare milk rice and how you can make milk rice suit your palate, keep reading!

Where Did Milk Rice Come From?

Milk rice originated from Sri Lanka and is considered an important dish in Sri Lankan cuisine. In their native tongue, Sri Lankans call milk rice ‘kiribath’.

Additionally, milk rice is usually served during special occasions that mark transitions, including the first day of each month.

Milk rice is a popular and highly revered dish in Sri Lanka that has since taken different forms all over the world.

What Is Milk Rice Made Of?

Milk rice is made of short-grain white rice, coconut milk, and salt. Typically, no extra ingredients are used to serve milk rice, but it’s up to you how you want to serve milk rice.

If there is no short-grain rice available, Basmati and Jasmine rice are the ideal substitutes. However, you cannot expect them to be as sticky as short-grain rice.

What Is Milk Rice Used For?

Milk rice is traditionally used in Sri Lanka to mark the beginning of each day or each month, as well as certain events that signify important transitions in life.

In other countries, milk rice can be likened to rice pudding and rice cakes, and milk rice can be consumed as a main dish or a dessert, whichever is appropriate for the occasion.

How Does Milk Rice Taste?

Milk rice tastes mostly like coconut milk, which is sweet and nutty. If you use Basmati or Jasmine rice, the milk rice will be even nuttier or sweeter with a stronger aroma.

Moreover, milk rice has a smooth and chewy texture. When eaten with onion relish, the milk rice yields a pleasant spiciness that contrasts the sweetness of coconut milk.

What Is Coconut Milk Rice?

Coconut milk rice is simply another term for milk rice or kiribath, or rice pudding that uses coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

Additionally, coconut milk rice can refer to a variety of Asian dishes, because sticky rice and coconut milk are common ingredients for making traditional Asian food.

Is Milk Rice Gluten-Free?

Is Milk Rice Gluten-Free?

Since rice and coconut milk are naturally gluten-free, so is milk rice unless the milk rice got contaminated with seasoning that has gluten.

Usually, however, the ingredients added to milk rice are also gluten-free, making milk rice a safe dish for celiacs to consume.

What Does Milk Rice Cake Taste Like?

Milk rice cakes can vary in taste depending on the recipe you’re using. Usually, milk rice cakes are sweet, creamy, and chewy.

However, the thinner the cakes, the less chewy they are. Additionally, milk rice cakes can also be made with a host of other ingredients that can make milk rice a bit salty or nutty.

How Long Does Milk Rice Last?

Rice and milk are ingredients that do not last long once cooked. As such, milk rice can probably last in good condition for as long as two days in the fridge.

As such, it is best to consume milk rice at once and to refrigerate leftover milk rice to preserve milk rice’s quality.

Is Milk Rice The Same As White Rice?

Contrary to popular belief, milk rice is not a type of grain. While milk rice is commonly made with white rice, milk rice and white rice have different tastes and textures.

Furthermore, the addition of coconut milk enhances the rice’s existing sweetness and provides new layers of nuttiness and creaminess.

Moreover, milk rice uses short-grain white rice, and with the coconut milk mixed with it, milk rice becomes extremely sticky.

What Kind Of Milk Can I Use To Make Milk Rice?

Milk rice is traditionally made using coconut milk. However, when making dishes other than kiribath, people can use dairy milk or other plant-based milk as they please.

Is There Brown Milk Rice?

Brown rice can be used to make traditional milk rice or kiribath. Additionally, many people prefer brown rice to make rice puddings healthier.

Another reason to use brown rice is that brown rice is firmer and provides a more earthy flavor to the milk rice.

How Do I Make Milk Rice?

To make milk rice, cook the short-grain rice on the stove using medium heat. Once the rice is cooked, reduce the heat and add coconut milk.

Keeping the heat low so that the rice simmers ensures that the milk rice will achieve the right texture. After a couple of minutes, taste the milk rice and begin to season with salt.

How To Store Milk Rice?

Milk rice requires refrigeration because both the rice and the coconut milk can quickly deteriorate in fluctuating room temperatures.

To preserve the quality of your milk rice, keep the milk rice in an airtight container. This way, the milk rice will be kept away from contaminants inside the fridge.

Read our related articles to find out what milled rice is, what mango sticky rice is, and what mandi rice is.


Milk rice is a traditional Sri Lankan dish that can be served in many ways. Usually, milk rice is garnished with onion relish to add nuance to the milk rice.

In other countries, milk rice is equivalent to rice pudding and rice cake. Depending on your preference, you can use dairy milk or other milk variants.

Additionally, milk rice can be made using brown rice for a firmer and nuttier flavored dish.

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