If you like the flavors of pad thai, you’ll love this spicy coconut risotto with lime shrimp. It’s sweet, spicy, nutty, herby, limey and shrimpy. It’s easy to customize the spice level based on your taste buds.

Shallow light blue bowl filled with richly orange colored risotto, topped with three large shrimp.

Do any kids like coconut? I know I sure didn’t when I was young. Any coconut-related Halloween candy went directly to my parents as soon as I got home from trick-or treating.

But, I now understand coconut’s charm and adore it. Coconut shrimp is on our menu at least once a month, and frozen chocolate bananas covered with coconut flakes and coconut creme brulee are some of my favorite sweet treats. Shredded coconut is essential in my carrot cake smoothie.

As an adult, I now take advantage of children’s distaste for coconut. Every year at Halloween, I buy a big bag of Almond Joys or Mounds bars “for the trick-or-treaters,” (wink wink nudge nudge) as well as other candy.

In the “before times,” we always passed out candy by holding out the bowl and letting the kids pick which piece they want. Shockingly – at the end of the night, we’re left with a big bowl of Almond Joys. Then I’m forced to eat them. It’s a curse, I tell ya.

This coconut risotto with lime shrimp is my way of making up for those childhood years where I didn’t like coconut. Just like my mushroom and kale risotto and goat cheese risotto, it’s a fun little kitchen project that works well for Sunday dinner.

And it satisfies my coconut craving all year around!

Three large shrimp on top of spicy orange rice dish, garnished with cilantro.

This coconut risotto recipe has a double dose of coconut.

To make up for lost time with coconut after a childhood spent hating it, I incorporated coconut in two ways in this coconut risotto recipe.

First, shredded unsweetened coconut is added at the step where the rice is sautéed, allowing both the coconut and the rice to become slightly toasted and nutty.

Coconut milk is the secret ingredient in my curry potato soup and lentil vegetable curry for good reason – it’s a non-dairy option that adds both creaminess and a subtle sweetness to a dish.

For this coconut milk risotto, I stir light coconut milk in at the end of the rice cooking time for creaminess. This is the coconut milk that you find in a can, for cooking, generally in the Asian food section of the store (not the refrigerated kind that is more of a non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk for drinking).

Personally, I think light coconut milk is plenty to give this dish some creaminess without a ton of extra calories, but if you prefer regular, full-fat coconut milk, feel free to use that.

This is a pretty spicy risotto recipe! But, you can tailor it to your tastes.

Get your taste buds ready – this coconut risotto recipe is unapologetically spicy. Unable to decide between sriracha and sambal oelek, I just went ahead and put them both in there.

After all, sambal oelek is the hot sauce that can do everything! It’s a crucial ingredient in Asian noodle salad, and the wontons in my shrimp wonton soup.

And sriracha is an absolute fridge staple and workhorse in my kitchen, showing up in everything from spicy orange chicken to buttermilk chicken marinade.

So, I decided to stir sambal oelek directly into the coconut milk risotto, and then garnish the entire dish with sriracha. To tone down the heat, feel free to cut back on the amount of either sauce, or eliminate one of the hot sauces altogether.

One easy way to figure out what spice level you like is by stirring the sambal oelek into this spicy risotto gradually (perhaps by the teaspoon), and tasting after each addition until it reaches your desired spice level.

Shallow light blue bowl of spicy rice dish with shrimp, on wooden background.

What could be better than lime shrimp cooked in butter?

If you’ve ever tried beurre blanc shrimp, you know that shrimp + butter is a match made in heaven.

On it’s own, shrimp is super flavorful (especially in seafood pasta salad), but incredibly low in fat. So, cooking it in a little bit of butter can really take it to next level as far as even more flavor and succulence to add on top of this spicy risotto.

Be sure to cook the shrimp until they are just cooked through (opaque throughout). If you have an instant read thermometer, they’re done when they reach 145 degrees F!

Then, stir the lime juice into the shrimp once the shrimp is done cooking.

This coconut milk risotto can be made vegetarian or vegan!

I know firsthand that a vegan dish like lentil ragu, lentil pasta sauce, or pan fried cauliflower steaks can be just as satisfying as a meal with meat or seafood.

To make this coconut risotto recipe vegetarian, simply omit the lime shrimp, or substitute tofu in its place.

And to make this coconut milk risotto vegan, omit the lime shrimp, and swap the butter out for olive oil or coconut oil.

My savory oatmeal is another great vegetarian risotto that can easily be made vegan, too.

Closeup on lime shrimp on top of coconut risotto.
Three large shrimp on top of spicy orange risotto, garnished with cilantro.

Spicy Coconut Risotto with Lime Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

If you like the flavors of pad thai, you'll love this spicy coconut risotto with lime shrimp. It's sweet, spicy, nutty, herby, limey and shrimpy. It's easy to customize the spice level based on your taste buds.


For the Spicy Coconut Risotto:

  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground ginger root
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons sambal oelek, to taste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped cashews or macadamia nuts
  • Sriracha, to taste

For the Lime Shrimp:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound raw 16/20 count peeled and deveined shrimp, patted dry
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice


  1. In a small covered saucepot, heat vegetable stock over medium heat. When simmering, turn off heat and keep covered.
  2. In large high-sided skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add rice, shredded coconut and ginger. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until rice begins to become translucent at edges of grains, stirring constantly.
  3. Add 1/2 cup hot stock to rice; stir constantly until mostly absorbed. Add additional stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring after each addition and cooking until stock is mostly absorbed before adding more.
  4. Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring frequently and adding stock as needed. Stir in coconut milk, sambal oelek, salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare Lime Shrimp: Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until opaque throughout, turning occasionally. Add lime juice; toss to combine.
  6. Divide risotto between 4 shallow bowls. Top with shrimp and garnish with cilantro, cashews and sriracha.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 472Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 2339mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g

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