I’m slow to embrace new food trends/ideas, like avocado toast and putting steamed cauliflower in smoothies.
This whole late/slow adopter thing isn’t always a bad thing. Take for example the trend of egg white omelets. Need I say more? Yuck! Sometimes (real) food trends, although well intentioned, go horribly wrong.
With that said, today, I’m sharing my take on a food trend that’s been around for a couple of years now: chia pudding.
And while this is definitely a trendy new food idea, the ingredients used aren’t anything new–meaning they’re just good, real, natural ingredients that generations before us used to nourish their bodies. It just took a very creative person to put the ingredients together to create something called, chia “pudding”.
Can I just stop here and climb up on a soapbox for a minute? Yes? Oh good, it was coming…
Aren’t real ingredients amazing? Oh the possibilities! What are the possibilities with processed food? Nothing! A Pop Tart can only ever be one “food”… a Pop Tart. Berries, milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla extract can become a great many (good and nourishing) foods.
If you’re new to the chia pudding idea, here’s what you need to know…
Chia pudding is made with milk (such as: nut milk or coconut milk), chia seeds, and natural flavorings (like berries, honey, cinnamon). When chia seeds come in contact with liquid, they swell–it’s their natural response–which takes a basic liquid from watery to more gel-like. When the chia seeds are swirled into milk, the end result is a thick, gel-like food that reminded the original creator of this trend of, pudding.
Now, let me just stop right here to make a quick note. Chia pudding definitely isn’t the pudding from my childhood, but then again, the pudding from my childhood was exactly real either (Hey, it was the ’80s and ’90s.). Chia pudding definitely has a different texture than a traditional pudding, but don’t knock it (like I did) until you try it.
I like to add a bit of extra dazzle to my chia pudding by placing frozen berries at the bottom of my storage jar and then pouring the prepared pudding mixture over the top. The end result reminds of a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt (yep, another memory from my childhood). Maybe I should call this, “Very Berry Fruit-on-the-Bottom Chia Pudding”? Cue the waiting room music. I’ll be right back to fix that title…
I don’t find that chia pudding fills me up as a meal, so I generally enjoy a pudding early in the morning before a workout (when it’s still too early for a full breakfast), in the afternoon as a snack, or in the evening as a dessert. The pudding needs to be prepped in advance, which means there’s usually one jar waiting in the fridge for me (or another family member) to enjoy whenever we need something light and slightly-sweet.
Very Berry Fruit-on-the-Bottom Chia Pudding
- 1/2 cup frozen berries I prefer mixed frozen berries
- 1/2 cup whole milk such as: a nut milk or coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp sweetener to taste, pure maple syrup or honey (optional)*
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract to taste
- 2 TB chia seeds
- Place the frozen berries in a medium-size bowl. Allow the berries to defrost until they're slightly soft. Slightly mash the berries with the back of a fork. The goal is just soft, slightly-mashed berries; not a berry puree. If there's lots of extra juice (this depends on your berries), set that aside and use it in smoothies or for something else.
- Place the slightly-mashed berries in the bottom of a mason jar (or a tall storage jar with a lid). I use a tall 8-ounce mason jar. Keep in mind, this recipe makes one jar of pudding.
- Using the same bowl, whisk together the milk, sweetener (if using), and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the milk mixture and then vigorously whisk in the chia seeds. Make sure you whisk the chia seeds and milk mixture immediately upon contact, too. There shouldn't be any chia seed clumps at this point. If you see clumps, keep whisking.
- Pour the chia milk over the berries. Give the milk mixture a little swirl with a spoon if the chia seeds begin to settle towards the bottom. Place the lid on the jar, and then place the jar in the fridge. Allow the chia seeds to set, which turns the milk into a thicker consistency. This can take several hours or overnight. Also, if you notice that the chia seeds are clumping together after a few hours, give the chia mixture a stir to distribute the seeds evenly.
- Serve the pudding cold. Optional: Top the pudding with additional frozen (defrosted berries), sliced bananas, coconut or toasted coconut, granola, or nut butter. Or, just enjoy the pudding as-is.
A couple of folks have had issues with the milk and chia seeds not fully setting and reaching the desired thick consistency shown in my photos. I’m honestly not sure what’s happening. I know it’s frustrating to make a recipe and not have great results, and I pride myself on our well-tested and accurate recipes here on Live Simply. I make this chia pudding weekly, using homemade nut milk (cashew or almond milk). I promise my chia seeds and milk aren’t magical ;). I wish I had a clear answer for what may be happening in these cases. With that said, I’ll do my best to offer a few troubleshooting thoughts…
1. The berry mixture should sit at the bottom of the jar and the milk should rest on top of the berries (on the bottom). I use a tall 8-ounce mason jar (as seen in the photos) versus a wide mason jar–I’ve never tried using a different (shorter/wider) container.
2. If the chia seeds aren’t setting at all, then I’m wondering if there’s an acid in the particular milk used that’s interfering with the process, or even the frozen berry mixture. Acids don’t work with chia seeds.
3. If the chia seeds are clumping at the bottom, give the pudding a stir (or a few stirs) to evenly distribute the seeds. Try not to disrupt the berry mixture (or see #4). If that doesn’t help, try adding 1-2 more teaspoons of chia seeds, and stir.
4. If the chia seeds are still having issues, and you want to start over… try warming the milk first (along with the sweetener and vanilla), and then add the chia seeds. This may help to distribute the seeds, since the milk is warm versus cold. I don’t know if this will help, but a friend told me this is her secret trick.
5. I use homemade nut milk, which is very creamy and slightly thick (not watery). Using a reduced fat milk, or a nut milk from a carton that’s watered down a quite a bit–more like water than milk, may cause issues.
6. If you’re still having issues, try making the milk and chia mixture in a separate bowl or mason jar so you can observe the issues (don’t involve the berries right now). Stir the mixture if needed, add a bit more chia seeds (maybe a teaspoon or two) if the pudding isn’t setting as thick as you’d like, etc. Then serve the chia pudding over defrosted berries, or add everything together once the pudding is set and place the assembled jars in the fridge.
7. This pudding isn’t as thick as some recipes. I personally don’t like the texture of super thick chia pudding. I also think the thickness of the pudding depends slightly on the milk used (some nut milks are thick–for example: homemade nut milk can vary depending on the water to nut ratio). If you’d like a thicker pudding, feel free to add more chia seeds according to your preference.
Finally, if the pudding didn’t work for you, blend everything in a blender to make a delicious, thick smoothie!
Hi! I made this a couple of hours ago and I’m eating it right now. It is awesome! This is my first time making chia pudding, and the consistency is exactly what I’m looking for! And berries on the bottom totally add fun to it. Thank you so much for the delicious recipe, I’m certainly making more in the future!
So glad you’re loving it, Nana!
I made these last night with coconut milk and they came out perfectly. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am not a social media gal so no photos. Don’t know how to upload!. But I topped these with blackberries, mango chunks and raspberries and they were just lovely. Thanks Kristin!
Wonderful, Barbara! I love your toppings.
I have had other chia pudding recipes and i feel like this one came out with a more watered down consistency than another recipes i usually use. i tried this recipe with almond milk but i think i like it better with light coconut milk. but on the plus side i had never used frozen berries before this recipe. i liked the flavor. i think next time i will also thaw the fruit separately as well.
Hey Crystal, A few people have had similar issues with the pudding being a bit too watery. I’m still trying to figure why this may be happening for some folks. Thank you for sharing your experience!
This was really good. After reading the troubleshooting notes and comments I decided to make the pudding separately. I put some frozen berries in a mason jar and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. I made my pudding in a small glass measuring cup, put foil over the top and set it in the refrigerator. It came out perfectly. The next morning I just spooned the pudding over the top of the berries. Thanks for the recipe.
Awesome, Ali! I’m so glad the troubleshooting notes helped out.
How long will these keep in the fridge? Should I use them right away or can I make several to last me a few days?
Hey Rhonda, You can make a few for a few days–they’ll keep about 4-5 days.
I’ve made these three times now and I can’t get the seeds to gel all the way. I’ve followed the recipe exactly, got my seeds from Costco, tried with non homogenized dairy milk and homemade almond milk, put in the fridge overnight. The seeds either sink to the bottom (on top of the fruit) in the jar or float on the top and gel there, but I’m getting straight runny milk in the middle. Any ideas? I really want this to work because it’s so yummy!
Hmmm, Tamara, I’m honestly not sure what’s happening. I’m sorry it’s been so hard to achieve the right consistency–that’s frustrating! Here’s what I suggest…
I’d try increasing the chia seeds by 1 tablespoon, if there isn’t any thick consistency happening. Also, Make sure the chia seeds are really well dispersed in the milk mixture–none of the seeds are clumped together when the mixture is poured into the jar. To do this, make sure the seeds are whisked with the wet ingredients immediately upon contact, because they instantly want to start gelling and clumping when they come in contact with liquid. I’d check on the mixture after about two hours to see how everything is settling–are the seeds clumping? Is the liquid setting? If the seeds are clumping, then give the pudding a good stir (without disrupting the berries on the bottom). If the pudding isn’t setting at all (it should begin to set by this time, although it probably won’t be as thick as it can be), then add a few more chia seeds (maybe a teaspoon, or 1/2 a teaspoon).
Hope that helps! Let me know how it goes!
I made some chia pudding on the night your comment came in, and didn’t have issues. Then I made some last night (for this morning) with mangos, and the chia seeds clumped at the bottom and the milk remained very liquid at the top. This morning, I gave everything a good stir, put the pudding back in the fridge while I jumped in the shower, and now all the seeds are equally dispersed and the mixture is “pudding.” I’d definitely try stirring the mixture if you can continue to have the same issue.
Thank you for working so hard to help me figure this out! I’ve also tried a few more times and have used your suggestion of stirring after a couple of hours. That definitely helped! Interestingly enough the best result was when I kind of accidentally left them in the fridge for 4-5 days and forgot they were there. They were perfect! haha. But to eat right away (next day) the best method seems to be stirring after a bit, and possibly adding some more seeds. Also adding the milk to the jar first followed by the seeds directly to the milk in the jar helped a ton. If I whisked the seeds in the milk first they sink to the bottom immediately and don’t pour out evenly dispersed.
So interesting, Tamara! I truly appreciate the feedback on the recipe.
Yum! These look delicious.
Thank you, Vanessa!