This post contains a base chia pudding recipe with only a little vanilla for flavoring and no sweetener. It is good if you want something simple or if you aren’t into sugar. I think it tastes fine like this and is a good everyday healthy breakfast recipe – but when I want something special or if I want my children to eat it, I do the sweetened base with one of the flavors in this post – chocolate, banana or strawberry.
What I love is how easy it is to make this. Trust me. I’ve made it tons of times and it didn’t take long to memorize the base recipes because there are so few ingredients. There are only four ingredients to the base, one more to the sweetened base and the flavor variations only have one or two more ingredients.
I usually start it at night so it will be ready to grab in the morning, or since I tend to do most of my meal prep in the morning, I often make it in the morning and have some for dessert that night and the rest for breakfast the next morning.
What ingredients do you need?
Plant-based milk – my personal favorite is homemade cashew milk. That’s what I took these photos with and what I almost always make for myself. My daughters slightly prefer refrigerated coconut milk though so sometimes I’ll mix things up and make it with coconut milk . I have more notes down in the recipe about the different kinds of milk.
Chia seeds – these are the star of this recipe. When I first started making and eating the pudding I couldn’t believe how many seeds you put in and how crazy filling it is. It must be because they are 40% fiber by weight.
Vanilla – this isn’t totally necessary but I’ve been using vanilla a lot more in my cooking and I can’t believe how much better it makes things taste.
Sweetener – my favorite sweetener is real maple syrup because it gives it a deep, rich flavor and my body does well with it. I did list in the recipe notes several sweetener and their approximate 1 Tbsp equivalent so you can use your favorite sweetener.
Add-ins – I really can’t choose a favorite flavor between these three recipes. I tried several other flavors when making this post and they just didn’t get me or my children excited, but all three of these are so good!
How do you make basic pudding with chia seeds?
- I generally start by blending some cashew milk and adding just about everything but the actual chia seeds to the blender to save time. This works especially well with the banana flavor.
- Add the cashew milk mixture to an airtight refrigerator container like a Weck jar or one of my 17-ounce freezer containers (I have a ton of on hand for freezer meal prep).
- Add the chia seeds and stir or shake the container.
- Put the refrigerator until the pudding is the consistency you like. I prefer to let it sit overnight, but it can be done in as little as 15 minutes.
- Take out and add any toppings you would like.
After a day spent testing one too many recipes (seriously there was a lot of pudding in my fridge!) I finally came up with this winning combo, and to say that it’s mind-blowingly good is an understatement.
Because, friends, this tastes like actual chocolate pudding – but it’s actually pretty healthy. It’s creamy and not watery at all; it has a sweetness punch that’s not overpowering and the perfect dose of crunchiness to keep things interesting. We often top it with raspberries or strawberries to put it over the top. Or sometimes I give it a protein boost with a 1/4 cup of almond butter (put it in the blender at the beginning so it gets evenly distributed.)
Banana Bread –
I love this banana bread flavor and my favorite part is it doesn’t have any added sweetener. I think the bananas add enough sweetness on it’s own, although you may want to add a little sweetener to taste, but a Tbsp should do it.
I love the subtle hint of cinnamon. Feel free to add a little more if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor. Sometimes I add bananas on the top and that reminds me a bit of banana cream pie or sometimes I eat it without the bananas on top or add chocolate chips so it tastes a bit like banana bread with chocolate chips .
This is just the sweetened base over some strawberries pureed in the food processor or smashed with a fork. It’s simple and good and I love the contrast of the slightly tart strawberries with the vanilla pudding.
You could easily substitute your favorite fruit, like raspberries, blueberries, peaches or blackberries – or even mix a few of them. I often just use some frozen smoothie mix and sit it on the counter to unthaw for about 15 minutes. When they unthaw, they smash really easy or I don’t bother smashing them and just put them on top and have a little with each bite.
Tips for making the best pudding
- If you haven’t noticed yet. this recipe is perfect to customize just how you like it. If it isn’t thick enough for you, add a few chia seeds and wait 15 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a little milk. You can even do it a little different every time if you want.
- If it doesn’t thicken – try stirring then give it more time; your seeds may be old and may just take longer.
- If you don’t like the texture of the whole chia seeds , you can blend your pudding after it’s done soaking. I tried blending the chia seeds with the cashew milk and hated the texture so I wouldn’t recommend that.
- I will often add a tablespoon or two of collagen powder to get an extra boost of collagen protein when making this.
- White or black chia seeds will work. As far as I can tell, the only difference is color.
- Older seeds may take more time and some brands work better than others. I had better luck with ones from the bulk section at the grocery store than the Trader Joe’s brand for some crazy reason. They don’t get as plump and are kind of crunchy.
How Long Does it Take to Thicken?
Amazingly, the seeds set quite well in only 15 minutes with cashew milk. However, I really prefer to soak them overnight because it is faster in the morning, but more importantly, it tastes better. I don’t really like warm pudding, plus the seeds absorb a bit more over time and have time to soak in the flavor. You could help the temperature of the pudding by doing part of the cashew milk water as ice cubes though and eat it in 15 minutes if you want.
How long does pudding with chia seeds last in the fridge?
They actually do quite well for up to five days, although it starts separating a bit by the third day, depending on the type of milk and mix-ins, etc.
Can I freeze this pudding?
Yes. It works quite well. I put it in smaller containers usually for freezing since one cup is plenty filling for me, so I use my 8-ounce freezer containers . It can last for several weeks and then the night before I want to eat it, I just put it in the fridge to unthaw it.
My children aren’t a huge fan of how the texture changes a bit, but I don’t mind it, and if it seems more off than normal I just use my immersion blender and the texture is all good ahead. You can even use blended pudding as popsicles (the chocolate flavor is my favorite).
I love how most of this recipe is just a matter of waiting for the chia seeds to create all the magic while they are sitting in your fridge. Have you had chia seed pudding before? Please let me know how you like this by commenting below!
More healthy breakfast recipesPrint
My Favorite Basic Chia Pudding Recipe Plus 5 Variations
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total Time: 4 hours 10 min
- Yield: 2 servings 1x
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 cup cashew milk or plant-based milk of choice (see notes)
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp Real Salt
- The equivalent of 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) sweetener of choice (see notes)
- 1 more Tbsp chia seeds
- 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Optional – 1/4 cup almond butter
- raspberries, topping
- 1/2 cup strawberries, plus additional for topping
- 1 ripe banana, plus additional for topping
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl if you are going to eat it soon or an airtight container, such as a 17-ounce freezer container , if you are going to refrigerate overnight. Let it thicken anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight in the fridge (see notes).
- Stir it and check to make sure it is nice and thick and not liquidy. If it is too thick, add a little extra milk. If too thin, add 1-3 tsp and let it set for another 15 minutes to thicken.
- If desired, add your favorite toppings or mix-ins (see below).
- Add the ingredients to the regular base.
- Add the additional ingredients listed above to the sweetened base either before or after refrigerating it.
- Smash the strawberries with a fork or food processor.
- After the sweetened base is done refrigerating layer the strawberries, then the base and top with sliced strawberries.
- Add one ripe banana and the cinnamon to the blender if you are making a cashew base or use a food processor or smash the banana separately if you are not.
- Top with additional fresh bananas, chocolate chips or pecans if desired.
Types of milk
- Cashew milk – makes it light and creamy. You can click the link to the left to get my full recipe but the basic idea is to blend 1/4 cup raw cashews with 1 cup of water in a Vitamix or other high-speed blender. I especially don’t soak my cashews when making the milk for pudding since I know it is going to sit overnight anyway. This is my personal favorite milk for pudding for both taste and ease of use.
- Coconut milk – Refrigerated coconut milk works the best but the brand I use needs 4 Tbsp of chia seeds instead of 3 Tbsps to get properly thick. My children like the taste of refrigerated coconut milk slightly better than the cashew milk. I haven’t had good luck myself with canned coconut milk . If you make it full strength, it is hard as a rock (like you can hold it upside down and it doesn’t come out) and if you mix half milk, half water the consistency is more or less correct but it just wasn’t right. The whole thing has kind of a gray color, the chia seeds didn’t fully absorb and I didn’t think it tasted all that great. A good combo is about 1/4 canned coconut milk and 3/4 cashew milk. You kind of get the best of both worlds.
- Almond milk – makes it light and creamy. I don’t generally use almond milk myself though because the stuff from the store has added ingredients I don’t want to eat and cashew milk is a lot easier to make.
- Dairy milk – regular dairy milk doesn’t work super great for pudding with chia seeds . I don’t understand why, but the chia seeds don’t seem to soak up the milk as well and it makes it really runny, especially at first. If you let it sit overnight it is thicker but still not thick enough and it really doesn’t taste right at all.
How long should I soak my chia seeds?
Amazingly, the seeds set quite well in only 15 minutes with cashew milk. However, I really prefer to soak them overnight because it is faster in the morning, but more importantly, it tastes better. I don’t really like this warm, plus the seeds absorb a bit more over time and have time to soak in the flavor. You could help the temperature of the pudding by doing part of the cashew milk water as ice cubes though and eat it in 15 minutes if you want.
Here are some common sugar substitutes and the amount approximately equal to 1 Tbsp sugar. Pick the one that works the best with your diet and taste preferences. You may always use a little more or a little less than the listed amount to suit your taste preferences. (I personally almost always use maple syrup because it is easy to use, I tolerate it well and I love the flavor. )