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Thai Coconut Custard Dessert (Khanom Tuay Recipe)

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This Thai coconut custard dessert, or khanom tuay recipe, is a sweet and creamy pudding-like treat. It’s made with rice flour, and it’s gluten-free and vegan-friendly, making it perfect for the family.

Thai coconut custard, khanom tuay, in small ceramic bowls.

Some Thai desserts, like luk chup and khanom tom, are quite time-consuming. What you’ll love about this Thai coconut custard recipe is how quick and easy it is to make.

You can make this on a Friday afternoon in less than 40 minutes with the kids. They’ll stay fresh in your fridge for several days, so you’ll have sweet treats for the weekend to come!

What is khanom tuay

Khanom tuay is a traditional Thai dessert that resembles a coconut milk custard and is typically served in small ceramic cups.


The word khanom in Thai translates to dessert, and tuay translates to cup or bowl. When combined, khanom tuay can be described as dessert in a cup. In Thailand, it can sometimes be found at noodle soup stalls.

Thai coconut pudding

Some people might say this is a coconut pudding rather than a custard because it’s creamy and soft. I think what matters the most is just enjoying the delicious coconut taste and the creamy, smooth texture!

Thai coconut custard dessert

In This Thai custard dessert recipe, we’ll make the boraan version. Boraan means it’s a classic, ancient dessert, and we’ll stick to the old ways of making it with two layers: white and golden. The white layer comes from coconut milk, while the golden layer gets its color from palm sugar.

These days, there are lots of variations with pandan, pumpkin, or even butterfly pea flowers, turning the golden layer into green, orange, or purple.

Thai coconut custard dessert in ceramic cups with plumeria flowers.

Making this dessert is easy if you think of it in two steps. First, we’ll create the golden layer, and then we move on to the white layer.

After creating the first layer, we will steam it right away to save time. While it’s steaming, we can make the second layer.

By the time we’ve got the coconut mix ready, the golden layer should be almost done steaming. Just pour the white layer over the golden one, and that’s all!

Ceramic khanom tuay bowls

This dessert is traditionally prepared in small ceramic bowls with a blue border. The creamy custard is poured in just below this blue line.

Traditional Thai coconut custard is prepared in ceramic cups with blue border.

These specific ceramic bowls can be found on Amazon, but feel free to use any small bowls you have. You might also find these bowls at your local Asian grocery store.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for Thai coconut custard labeled: coconut milk, coconut sugar, rice flour, water, tapioca starch, and salt.

Bottom layer

  • Coconut sugar – Adds a rich, caramel-like sweetness to the golden layer.
  • Coconut milk – Brings a creamy richness and velvety texture.
  • Tapioca starch – Tapioca starch makes the bottom layer smooth and a bit chewy, and slightly thickens it so it’s not too firm or too runny.
  • Rice flour – Gives the golden bottom layer a soft, pudding-like texture.
  • Water – For dissolving the palm sugar and blending the ingredients.
  • Pandan leaves (optional) – For fragrance, totally optional.

Top layer

  • Coconut milk
  • Rice flour
  • Water
  • Salt – The top layer is a bit salty and the bottom layer is sweet. Combine the two in one bite for a perfect flavor balance.

How to make Thai steamed coconut custard

Heat ceramic cups

Ceramic bowls placed in a steamer.

Step 1: Warm your ceramic bowls in a steamer over medium heat for 10 minutes. This will prevent the custard from sticking to the cup.

Bottom layer

Pandan leaves with coconut sugar in a bowl.

Step 2: Use your hand to mix coconut sugar, water, and pandan leaves (if using) in a glass bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Coconut palm sugar and pandan leaves in a glass bowl.

Step 3: Knead coconut milk into the sugar mixture until well combined.

Whisking bottom layer mixture

Step 4: In another bowl, blend tapioca and rice flour together. Slowly whisk in the coconut sugar liquid.

Sugar mixture being strained.

Step 5: Strain the combined mixture to remove any lumps.

Steaming Thai coconut custard bottom layer.

Step 6: Pour just over a tablespoon of this mixture into each bowl. Steam for 10 minutes, then get started on the next layer.

Top layer

Rice flour mixture in glass bowl.

Step 7: In a new large bowl, mix rice flour with salt.

Water whisked into rice flour mixture.

Step 8: Slowly add water and coconut milk to the flour, whisking as you go.

Straining coconut milk with sieve.

Step 9: Strain the coconut milk mixture to ensure it’s smooth.

Spooning top layer on bottom layer in ceramic cups.

Step 10: Once the bottom layer is firm, carefully spoon the white layer mixture on top until it reaches just below the blue border. Steam for 5–10 minutes until firm. Some people like it better when the coconut oil separates, you can achieve this by steaming for longer. Allow the dessert to cool before serving.

Kitchenware

  • Small ceramic bowls or cups like the ones found at Amazon
  • Mixing bowls for preparing the two layers
  • Whisk for mixing the ingredients
  • Sieve to strain each mixture
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Steamer

Kanom tuay serving suggestions

You can choose to serve your custard with coconut milk immediately or store it in your fridge for later. I think it goes great with some fresh fruits like ripe mango or pineapple, and you can pair it with other make-ahead desserts like Thai lotus flower cookies and agar agar jelly.

Thai coconut milk custard storage

Store any leftover custard in the refrigerator, covered, to keep it fresh. In Thailand, the desserts are typically stored by flipping one bowl on top of each one, this method prevents the custard from drying out.

Enjoy it within 3 days for optimal freshness. Before serving, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.

Frequently asked questions

Is coconut custard healthy?

Coconut custard can be a healthier dessert option when made with less sugar.

Is coconut custard vegan?

All ingredients used in this Thai coconut custard recipe are vegan-friendly.

Why does my coconut layer have cracks?

It’s normal for cracks to appear on the top layer of Thai coconut custard. This happens during the steaming process, avoid steaming for too long to limit cracks.

Authentic Thai coconut dessert recipes

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Thai Coconut Custard Dessert (Khanom Tuay Recipe)

Thai coconut custard, khanom tuay, in small ceramic bowls.
This Thai coconut custard dessert is easy to make and always a hit with the family. This recipe yields 20 khanom tuay, ideal for serving a family of 4.
Praew
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Dessert
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

BOTTOM LAYER

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar see notes
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 pandan leaves optional

TOP LAYER

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Warm your ceramic bowls in a steamer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • Use your hand to mix coconut sugar, water, and pandan leaves (if using) in a glass bowl until the sugar dissolves.
  • Knead coconut milk into the sugar mixture until well combined.
  • In another bowl, blend tapioca and rice flour together. Slowly whisk in the coconut sugar liquid.
  • Strain the combined mixture to remove any lumps.
  • Pour just over a tablespoon of this mixture into each bowl. Steam for 10 minutes, then get started on the next layer.
  • In a new large bowl, mix rice flour with salt.
  • Slowly add water and coconut milk to the flour, whisking as you go.
  • Strain the coconut milk mixture to ensure it’s smooth.
  • Once the bottom layer is firm, carefully spoon the white layer mixture on top until it reaches just below the blue border. Steam for 5–10 minutes until firm. Some people like it better when the coconut oil separates, you can do this by steaming for longer. Allow the dessert to cool before serving.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • The top layer is a bit salty and the bottom layer is sweet. Combine the two in one bite for a perfect flavor balance.
  • Coconut sugar

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5 Comments

  1. Hi there! Great recipe. I found that the top layer wasn’t setting after 10 minutes. Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you! Did you use the Thai ceramic cups? If you’re using different (larger) cups, the top layer will need more time to set.

5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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