Chia Seed Pudding is a delicious way to get the high power antioxidants and super nutrients of chia seeds into your diet! With only four required ingredients and no cooking, it's a fast and easy recipe, making it a perfect breakfast or snack for busy days. Shall we?
What is Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding is a vegan or vegetarian "pudding." But unlike traditional pudding that relies on eggs, regular dairy, and even starch thickeners, chia seed pudding gets its rich, custardy texture from the natural gel that forms from chia seeds. Depending on the type of liquid you use to make the pudding, Chia Seed Pudding is vegetarian, and can be 100% plant-based, suitable for vegans.
Even though it looks and sounds like dessert especially when garnished with colorful toppings, this recipe for Chia Seed Pudding has no refined sugar.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny, oval-shaped seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family and native to Central and South America. The seeds are a little smaller than sesame seeds, and range in color from white-ish gray to black. Chia seeds are in fact, the very same seeds used to "grow" ch-ch-ch-chia pets!
Though the Salvia hispanica plant is fun to grow as fuzzy "pets," the seeds are recently more valuable as a super food nutrition source. They are rich in dietary fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Health Benefits and Dietary Considerations of Chia Seed Pudding
One 1-ounce serving of chia seeds, which is about two tablespoons of dry chia seeds, provides:
- 10 grams of fiber
- 5 grams of protein
- 4.2 grams of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids
Chia seeds are also a good source of vitamin B and vitamin E and minerals including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
This recipe for Chia Seed Pudding is:
- 100% plant-based / vegan
- refined sugar free
- keto-, paleo-, and Whole30 friendly
What Ingredients You Need for Chia Seed Pudding
Only four ingredients are required for Chia Seed Pudding:
- Chia seeds
- Almond, coconut, or alternative milk
- Maple syrup
- Sea salt
and to enhance the flavor, these are optional:
- Vanilla - adding a drop or two of vanilla to anything makes it seem sweeter without adding any actual sugar, so you can add less actual sweetener. Who knows what the science is there, but it's tested and true!
- Fresh berries, other fruit, and nuts as garnishes/toppings
Best Milk or Liquid for Chia Seed Pudding
Any type of plant-based or regular dairy milk will make a great Chia Seed Pudding. Use whatever kind fits into your dietary and health needs. My personal preference is plain, unsweetened almond milk, though I have made Chia Seed Pudding with all of the following. They all taste great and can have health benefits in different ways:
- Almond milk. My daily choice.
- Coconut milk. Thinner version usually sold in paper cartons. This and the full-fat version give the chia pudding the richest, most dessert-like texture and of course, a coconut flavor
- Coconut milk. Full fat the kind sold in cans that have solids; you will have to blend or whisk the solids together with the "water" to make the coconut into "milk" before adding to chia seeds.
- Oat milk.
- Soy milk.
Whichever milk you get, make sure to get plain flavor, unsweetened so you can control the flavor and sweetness-level.
Additional Ingredients Notes and Resources
- Chia Seeds. There are a few colors of chia seeds. Black chia seeds are the most widely available. You can find organic black chia seeds as Costco!
- Almond Milk. Almond milk comes in a wide variety of formats. Use a plain, unsweetened almond milk or other alternative plant-based milk that fits into your health and dietary needs. The almond milk we use in this recipe is sold in shelf-stable 32-ounce boxes.
- Maple Syrup: A little bit of maple syrup adds that extra boost of sweetness. I use this organic maple syrup that is amber in color and more robust in flavor than lighter colored maple syrups. You can substitute with honey, though the recipe will no longer be vegan.
- Salt. Adding salt to sweet dishes isn't meant to make them taste salty. Salt not only brings out the natural sweetness of other ingredients, it balances the sweetness, too.
- Vanilla. Technically, vanilla is "optional" in the recipe, but is it really? If you have vanilla on hand, use it. This brand of pure vanilla extract is organic. Don't use imitation vanilla flavoring.
Instructions for How to Make Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding requires nothing more to do than mixing all the ingredients together.
The most "difficult" step of making Chia Seed Pudding is waiting for it to gel.
Put all Chia Pudding ingredients in a mixing bowl—there is no specific order. Vigorously whisk or stir together all of the ingredients together in a bowl that you can cover with a lid, plastic wrap, or even just a small plate over the top!
Cover the container of Chia Pudding. It will begin to "gel" within 15 minutes. For a firmer texture, set in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, up to overnight.
Once the Chia Pudding is set, it's ready to eat! You can, of course, zhouzh with garnishes and healthy toppings. Keep reading!
Best Toppings for Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding is pretty delicious straight up on its own, but if you, like me, must always "zhuzh" everything, toppings and garnishes are actually a great opportunity to add even more nutrients to your life! Here's a list of some nutrient dense toppings:
- Berries—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries—are a perennial favorite for their antioxidants and fiber
- Kiwi, which is actually a berry!
- Cherries—tart cherries are one of the most anti-inflammatory foods available to us! Add fresh tart cherries to your chia seed pudding when they are in season in the summer!
- Melon balls
- Pomegranate seeds
- Tiny scoops of frozen açai or all-fruit sorbets (I love mango for this!)
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are a great source of plant-based protein and omega3s.
- if your Chia Seed Pudding is more of a snack or an end-of-the-day treat, shaved white chocolate is a fun indulgence!
Pro Tips and Techniques
- Portion size. One serving of chia seeds is 2 tablespoons of dry chia seeds, which expands into only about a half cup with liquid. Be mindful of the portion size of the actual chia seed pudding. It is tempting to fill a cereal-sized bowl with chia seed pudding!
- Use small mason jars or covered glass containers as individual servings to help with prep and portioning.
- Meal Prep: Because Chia Seed Pudding is so easy to make and will keep in the refrigerator for five days, it's a great breakfast or snack to meal prep. Make 5 days worth, and either store it in a single airtight container in the refrigerator, or portion the finished Chia Pudding in smaller individual size containers (8-ounce mason jars are great for this). You can add fresh berries or different toppings just before eating.
- Blend Chia Seeds for Smoother Pudding. If you prefer a smoother texture to your Chia Seed Pudding rather than the crunchy texture of whole seeds, grind the chia seeds in a blender or food processor before adding to the liquid. You can also blend the entire mixture in a high-power blender.
There are countless variations of Chia Seed Pudding. You can use a different type of alternative milk, whisk in spices or flavoring, and substitute maple syrup with any number of natural, unrefined sweeteners. Here are some favorite variations:
- Chocolate - To make Chocolate Chia Pudding, substitute in cocoa powder for the matcha powder. Because cocoa powder is less intense in flavor than matcha powder, substitute about three to four times as much cocoa powder.
- Matcha - To Make Matcha Chia Pudding, whisk in 1 teaspoon of matcha powder per serving along with the liquid.
- Chai Spice - substitute out the matcha for about 2 tablespoons of a ground spice blend that includes cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. If you add a spoonful of canned pumpkin puree, it's a Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding!
- Preserved Fruit - If fresh fruit isn't readily available, try swirling a couple of tablespoons of your favorite fruit jam or preserve instead
Tools and Equipment
- Glass mixing bowls
- Mason jars for storage
- Mason jar lids
Advance Prep, Leftovers, and Storage
Chia Pudding is perfect for advance prep and storage. Store Chia Pudding in air-tight containers—glass mason jars with air-tight lids are perfect for this!—in the refrigerator for up to five days. In fact, portioning out single serving-size portions into small 8-ounce glass jars or containers makes it super easy to grab n go from the fridge throughout the week!
Chia Pudding does not store well in the freezer.
Use whichever chia seeds are available and affordable for you. There are two types of chia seeds you will see most often on store shelves, black and white. There is a slight nutritional difference between the two, but the difference is so small, they're virtually identical. Black chia seeds have marginally more protein content and white chia seeds have more plant-based omega3 fatty acids in the form of ALA.
To make your Chia Seed Pudding smoother, blend chia seeds into a powder before mixing with the remaining ingredients, or you can blend all of the ingredients together. I have had smoother results when I blend the chia seeds first.
Chia seeds can begin to set in as little as 15 minutes, but can take up to two hours, depending on the seeds and the type of liquid.
Couple reasons chia seeds may not be setting into a gel. 1) If there is too little liquid, the chia seeds won't be able to absorb and create the gel. 2) If there is too much liquid, the chia seeds might have gelled, but didn't absorb the extra liquid, making the entire thing seem runny. Try to stick to a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 chia seeds:liquid.
It is also possible that the chia seeds are past their prime. Though chia seeds can last for 4-5 years even without refrigeration, make sure your chia seeds aren't too far beyond their "best by" date when making chia seed pudding.
Chia Seed Pudding will keep up to five days in an air-tight container up to five (5) days.
Chia Seeds in General FAQs
Chia seeds last for 4-5 years without refrigeration in a cool, dry area.
No, chia seeds do not have to be ground into a meal or powder for maximum benefits, unlike other seeds like flaxseeds. However, you can grind chia seeds in a high-power blender to make a smoother Chia Seed Pudding.
If you're here for the outstanding health benefits of chia and other "super seeds," try these recipes:
Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk, plus ½ cup to add for consistency (or any other unsweetened alternative milk)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: pinch of sea salt
- fresh berries, peeled and sliced kiwi, figs, and melons
- sliced almonds, toasted almonds, roasted pistachios
- Put chia seeds, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract is using, and sea salt in mixing bowl or large mason jar and stir to combine, making sure to break up any little clusters of chia seeds.
- Cover and let chia seed pudding "set" in refrigerator for at least two hours.
- After setting time, if Chia Pudding is too thick, stir in extra almond milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency of pudding.
- Spoon chia pudding into serving bowls or cups and top with optional garnishes.