Tembleque (“wobbly” in spanish) is a classic Puerto Rican coconut pudding made with coconut milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and sugar. It’s appropriately named for its wiggly appearance and deliciously smooth texture. For best results, chill the dessert in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

tembleque on a plate with cinnamon falling on it

This coconut pudding has everything you love about pudding (that creamy, rich, smooth texture) paired with classic Puerto Rican flavor thanks to the coconut and cinnamon.

If you like tembleque and Puerto Rican recipes in general, chances are you will love many Puerto Rican desserts.

Recipes like this Coquito, Arroz con Leche, and Puerto Rican Flan, are staples in Puerto Rican cuisine and are known for their similar flavor profiles.

tembleque on a plate with a spoon taking a bite

Grocery List

This recipe is fairly accessible as far as ingredients go.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • water
  • cinnamon sticks
  • cloves
  • star anise
  • coconut milk
  • cornstarch
  • white granulated sugar
  • salt
  • vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon to garnish

See recipe card for exact quantities.

bowls of sugar, coconut milk, cornstarch, and more

How to Make Tembleque

Tip: If your coconut milk is clumpy when it comes out of the can, take extra time to make sure it is smooth and creamy before heating. You can use an immersion blender if necessary to gain that smooth consistency. 

Spice Tea

This spice tea is my favorite element of this Puerto Rican dessert.

Simmering the spices in some water allows them to infuse the water with flavor, creating a deliciously smooth but perfectly spiced tembleque.

To make it, simply simmer the whole spices in the water for a few minutes, or until it becomes fragrant.

If all you’ve got is cinnamon sticks, use them! Use what you have and don’t feel like you have to have all three spices to make the tea.

spice tea being strained

Picking the Right Molds

When it comes to picking your molds, you really can’t go wrong as long as you’re using a glass or silicone container of sorts.

The more traditional tembleque molds are usually small, dome shaped glass containers but I used silicone bundt molds.

I’ve found that the silicone makes it easier to push the coconut pudding out of the mold.

As I always say, use what you have available and don’t feel the need to go buy something if you’ve got something that will work!

You can even use a giant pyrex dish (like the ones we use to make flan) or silicone mold and slice it before serving.

tembleque with a bite taken

Toppings

Cinnamon is the most traditional topping when it comes to tembleque. That said, you can always get creative and add what you like as a garnish.

These are my favorite (totally non traditional) toppings for coconut pudding:

  • toasted coconut flakes – toast up some coconut flakes in a pan over medium heat to really amp up the coconut flavor
  • cinnamon – not only is this a beautiful garnish, it ties into the infusion and let’s people know what to expect
  • fresh fruit – a colorful pop from a slice of mango, zest of fresh orange, or bright red raspberry is always a fun addition if you have it

Buen Provecho,

Salima written in cursive
Print
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tembleque on a plate

Puerto Rican Tembleque (Coconut Pudding)

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  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Breakfast
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Tembleque (“wobbly” in spanish) is a classic Puerto Rican coconut pudding made with coconut milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and sugar. It’s appropriately named for its wiggly appearance and deliciously smooth texture. For best results, chill the dessert in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to garnish


Instructions

  1. Make the spice tea. Start a the water and spices in a pot over medium heat. Simmer until the color begins to turn brown and the spices become fragrant. Cool before straining out the spices.
  2. Mix the coconut and cornstarch. Whisk the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a bowl until the clumps are gone (see note). Whisk in sugar, salt, vanilla, and the cooled spice tea. 
  3. Cook the tembleque. Transfer the coconut mixture to the pot on the stovetop over low heat and continue to whisk while it heats and thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon. 
  4. Set the tembleque. Pour the liquid into your mold/molds, and gently smooth out the top with a spoon. Allow the tembleque to cool down before covering and chilling in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until it appears firm and jiggly.
  5. Flip the tembleque. Using a knife, loosen the edges around the molds before flipping upside down on a plate and topping with cinnamon.

Notes

If your coconut milk is clumpy when it comes out of the can, take extra time to make sure it is smooth and creamy before heating. You can use an immersion blender if necessary to gain that smooth consistency.