Rich and creamy, this classic tembleque recipe is an authentic Puerto Rican dessert made with canned coconut milk, cornstarch and cinnamon. This easy homemade coconut pudding recipe only takes 20 minutes of work, and the fridge does the rest!
Why You’ll Love This Authentic Tembleque Recipe
Whether you’re a fan of creamy coconut, or simply looking for a new dessert to try, this coconut pudding recipe offers a lot to love!
- Authentic: This is exactly how my Abuela taught us to make Tembleque! With two cans of coconut milk, you’ll adore the lusciously creamy, tropical taste that is perfectly balanced with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon on top.
- Simple Ingredients: This dairy free recipe uses just 5 simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
- Easy Prep: Making tembleque doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen. In about 15 to 20 minutes of hands-on cooking time, you can have the mixture ready for chilling.
- Fun Presentation: Use various kinds of molds to make this dessert in pretty shapes, from cute individual servings to a big Bundt pan shape.
What Is the Meaning of Tembleque?
So how did tembleque (pronounced “tem-BLEH-keh”) get its name? The word “tembleque” basically means “trembling,” which is very appropriate for this wobbly, pudding-like treat. Sort of like a creamy jello, this homemade coconut pudding recipe can be molded into different shapes, and the sweet, cold taste is super refreshing.
What Is Tembleque de Coco Made Of?
One of the best things about tembleque is that it’s so incredibly simple with just five ingredients. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Coconut Milk: Your favorite brand of canned coconut milk will work, just make sure to use full fat coconut milk.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch thickens the dessert and helps it set.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar works perfectly.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon goes in the tembleque itself, plus more for garnish. You can also garnish them with coconut flakes, if desired.
- Salt: Just a pinch to bring out the other flavors.
How to Make Tembleque
If you’ve never made a cornstarch pudding mixture, you will love this quick technique! It’s a no-fail recipe – just watch it and don’t let it burn. From there, chill, set, and enjoy.
- Cook: Cook the coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
- Molds: Pour the coconut mixture into prepared molds, or a bundt cake pan, then using a spatula or the back of a spoon smooth out the top.
- Chill: Let the molds cool for an hour at room temperature, and then cover and chill for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.
- Enjoy: Once you’re ready to serve, unmold the tembleque on a plate or platter, dust with a little cinnamon and shredded coconut, if desired!
Tips and Variations
This is my family’s favorite way to make tembleque. While it’s always a must around the holidays, my kids beg for it all year long. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up for making it:
- Cinnamon: I like to add a little cinnamon to the actual coconut pudding, but some Puerto Ricans only like to add it at the end as a garnish. Do whichever you prefer – it’ll be delicious either way.
- Molds and Dishes: You can use any shape of pan you have on hand. You can even use a large pie dish or baking pan.
- Unmolding Tembleque: If you grease your pan well, or use silicone molds, your tembleque should unmold easily. If it doesn’t, you can dip the molds dish in warm/hot water for a few seconds at a time (don’t get water in the dessert – just warm up the pan or mold). This loosens the tembleque.
That’s our family’s recipe for tembleque, but you could change it up in a lot of different ways. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
- Extra Coconut: You can also serve these topped with shredded coconut or toasted shredded coconut. For even more coconut flavor, add half a teaspoon of coconut extract to the tembleque mixture!
- Vanilla: Vanilla extract can also be added to the mixture, giving more depth and sweetness.
- Orange: We found this at a little restaurant in Dorado on one of our visits, and it adds a refreshing lightness to your tembleque. You can use an orange rind added to the saucepan when you start cooking the custard, then discard the rind before pouring into your mold. Or, if you want even more orange flavor, you can add 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest.
How to Store Coconut Pudding
Store leftover tembleque covered tightly in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. It’s best stored in the mold, however, you can place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to help prevent the outside of the custard from hardening.
Can I Freeze This?
I don’t recommend freezing, because the texture of the custard can separate and the texture will not be as pleasant to eat after freezing and thawing. However, if you do freeze it, thaw it out in the fridge before serving. You can use paper towels or a clean flour sack towel to blot up any liquid that has separated from the tembleque.
More Irresistible Coconut Desserts To Try
A few more fun and delicious coconut desserts to try!
- 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Spray individual mini silicone bundt cake molds or a traditional bundt pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Add the coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon and salt to a medium size pot over medium heat and whisk to combine.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick.
- Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into the bundt pan or individual molds. It will be very thick, so use a spatula or back of a spoon to spread into an even layer.
- Let them cool for 1 hour on the counter, then cover and let them chill for 3 to 4 hours (or up to overnight) in the fridge.
- Once they have chilled completely and you are ready to serve them, remove them from the fridge and turn the tembleques out onto a plate or a serving platter.
- Dust them with a bit of ground cinnamon and serve immediately.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.