Tembleque is a traditional Puerto Rican coconut pudding which may just have the highest return for effort of any known dessert. The dish uses only 5 ingredients, is vegan, only takes a few minutes to cook (though it has to chill a while), and is fantastically delicious.

The name, tembleque, means to wiggle or shake, a reference to the wonderfully jiggly texture of the dish. Preparation only requires sweetening a couple cans of coconut milk, thickening it with cornstarch, chilling it in the fridge, and then giving it a good dusting of cinnamon. Minimal effort, maximum reward.

If you don’t much like cooking, tembleque is a really easy way to make dessert for a whole crowd with minimal effort and minimal cost. If you do enjoy cooking, tembleque is just an easy, make-ahead dessert that lets you focus more of your energy on the rest of the meal. Either way, tembleque ought to be a regular in your repertoire.



2 cans coconut milk (~4 cups)
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cornstarch
Lime zest (optional)


Put coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a large pot over medium heat, reserving ½ cup coconut milk. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and reserved coconut milk. Whisk in the slurry. continue whisking constantly as the temperature rises. When the mixture thickens (around 165 degrees), the starch is cooked and it is done. Remove it from heat and pour into molds or serving dishes. Put these in the fridge to cool and fully set.

To serve, up-end molds onto serving plates and garnish heavily with cinnamon. If desired, you may also add lime zest, which adds a refreshing complexity.


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