Vanilla Chia Pudding – This easy vanilla chia seed pudding makes a perfect meal prep breakfast or healthy snack. Don’t miss all our toppings to try below! (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Chia pudding isn’t for everyone (my kids don’t love it), but if you’re a chia pudding fan, it doesn’t get much more classic than a good vanilla chia pudding!
Perfect as a healthy meal-prep breakfast, easy grab-and-go snack, or nourishing dessert, a bowl of vanilla chia pudding is about as versatile as it gets!
Here’s all you need to get started on our vanilla chia seed pudding recipe…
Our Vanilla Chia Pudding Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What Goes Into Our Vanilla Chia Pudding
- Chia Seeds. These little beauties are the backbone of chia pudding. They’re very tiny (just a little bigger than poppy seeds) when dry, but they absorb several times their own volume when mixed with liquids. They puff and gel, which thickens the pudding and gives it its signature texture.
- Coconut Milk + Almond Milk (Or Your Favorite). I love to use a mix of a little full-fat coconut milk + unsweetened almond milk for dairy-free vanilla chia pudding. The coconut adds a velvety richness to the texture, while the almond milk keeps the flavor nice and neutral. You can absolutely use whatever milk your family uses and enjoys—non-dairy milk, cashew milk, dairy milk, soy milk, oat milk, etc. (Just don’t use anything you wouldn’t drink or use on cereal!)
- Pure Maple Syrup. For a little sweetness, I use maple syrup. You can absolutely use honey or agave if you prefer! Follow your tastebuds here, and feel free to use more or less than I suggest based on your preference.
- Vanilla Extract Or Vanilla Bean Paste. We most often use vanilla extract to add vanilla flavor, but if you have it on hand, vanilla bean paste gives INCREDIBLE flavor to vanilla chia pudding.
- A Tiny Pinch Of Salt. Lastly, a tiny little dash of salt helps balance the flavors. It won’t taste salty at all—it’ll just bring out the vanilla & sweet flavors even more.
- Yummy Toppings! My favorite part! I love how you can dress vanilla chia pudding up with all kinds of yummy toppings to make things interesting or make the most of seasonal fruits. (More on this in a second!)
What’s The Deal With Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are often nicknamed a ”superfood” because they contain fiber, plant-based protein, Omega-3 fatty acid (healthy fats), and can help with digestion and satiety (the feeling of fullness). Their gelling properties makes them great for chia pudding, but they can also be used as a vegan egg substitute in many recipes. They come in regular (dark) and white varieties, and either works for chia pudding. I use black/dark chia seeds 99% of the time.
How To Make Vanilla Chia Pudding, Step By Step:
- Combine The Ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine chia seeds, almond milk (and coconut milk, if using), pure maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.
- Whisk + Rest + Whisk Again. Give the chia mixture a good stir with a whisk, then let it rest about 5 minutes. Whisk again to distribute the seeds evenly, then pour vanilla chia pudding into jars or containers.
- Let It Chill To Thicken. Pop the chia pudding into the refrigerator and chill at least 30-60 minutes, or overnight, to thicken.
- Top With Your Favorite Toppings & Enjoy!
Yummy Toppings To Try On Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding:
The toppings are my favorite part! Just like when you build an ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream as the base, it’s easy to change the flavor by mixing and matching different toppings. Here are a few of our favorite chia seed pudding toppings to mix and match:
- Fresh Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, you name it! ALLLL of the fresh berries are delightful on vanilla chia pudding.
- Sliced Bananas. Bananas are another easy option. I basically always have them on my counter!
- Kiwi Or Golden Kiwi. I love mixing kiwi with blueberries or strawberries. Such bright, happy flavor!
- Fresh Peaches Or Nectarines. I add peaches & nectarines to chia pudding all summer long. That vanilla + peach combo is a total winner!
- Mango. If I have mango on hand, it makes a delicious topping for chia pudding! I like the yellow/Atulfo/champagne mangos best.
- Peanut Butter Or Nut/Seed Butter. A dollop or drizzle of some drippy peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, mixed nut/seed butter (like Nutzo), sunflower seed butter or pumpkin seed butter can all be delicious. Use them on their own or pair with berries or bananas.
- Cacao Nibs or Mini Chocolate Chips. Gimme that crunch! I love the little crunch some cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips add. You don’t need many to make a big impact!
- Nuts Or Seeds. Get your crunch with goodies like toasted almonds, salty peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and more.
- Granola. Or, keep it simple with a sprinkle of granola. One of my forever favorites! I can’t get enough!
- Hemp Seeds. A recent fave! A light sprinkle of hemp seeds (hemp hearts) on top of berries or bananas + pb is totally delightful.
- Yogurt. This might sound weird, but a friend got me onto this! Sometimes I’ll add a little layer of vanilla yogurt on top of the chia pudding before adding my toppings. It’s tasty!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Vanilla Chia Pudding:
What Does Chia Pudding Taste Like? To me, the texture is most like a tapioca pudding. Instead of tapioca pearls, you’ll have tiny gelled chia seeds. Once they soak & thicken the pudding, they shouldn’t be crunchy or crispy anymore. Instead, they’ll soften, thicken the pudding and create a gelled, thickened texture. The flavor can vary based on the recipe, but this recipe has nice vanilla notes.
A Trick To Keep Your Chia Seeds From Clumping. Our technique is my favorite for avoiding clumps of chia seeds. I recommend whisking the ingredients + letting the chia mixture rest 5 minutes + whisking a second time before transferring to a jar or container. This distributes the seeds more evenly & prevents clumps! Woot!
How Long Does Chia Pudding Last In The Fridge? I recommend you eat your chia pudding within 3-4 days for best results. Chia pudding continues to thicken with time, so if you like yours thinner, you may choose to loosen it up a bit with a splash of milk right before eating, as needed.
Can You Freeze Chia Pudding? Yes! Strange as it may seem, you can totally freeze chia pudding. I’ll separate a tiny bit upon thawing, but a quick whisk or stir with a fork will bring it back together in a flash. Store in freezer-safe mason jars or bags and keep for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator before eating.
What’s The Ratio Of Liquid To Chia Seeds For Chia Pudding? Everyone has their own preference, but I generally like 4 parts liquid to 1 part chia seeds. In this recipe, I’m using 1 cup milk + 1/4 chia seeds. (You could also double it and use 2 cups milk + 1/2 cup chia seeds). If you like yours thicker, use less milk. If you like it thinner, add more!