Runny Chia Seed Pudding? You're Probably Making One Of These Mistakes

Chia seed pudding

Tips For Making The Perfect Chia Seed Pudding

If you've never had chia seed pudding before, let me be the first to tell you that you are majorly missing out. You've probably seen pictures of this delicious concoction on your Instagram or Pinterest feeds, perfectly smooth and topped with colorful berries or granola. It is a seriously yummy and nutritious way to start your morning. According to Healthline, one 1 oz. serving of chia seeds contains about 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Who knew you could pack so much good stuff into such a little seed?

Everywhere I looked, it seemed like health and food aficionados were sharing their snaps and recipes of this yummy (and pretty!) little snack, so I knew it was time for me to roll up my sleeves and make a batch myself! I mainly referenced the posts and stories of people I follow on Instagram and the ingredients and instructions seemed simple enough. Mix some things together, let it sit overnight, finish it off with your favorite toppings the next day, snap your much-deserved IG photo (I don't have a problem, you have a problem), and voila! Simple.

As I learned the hard way, there is totally a right and wrong way to make chia seed pudding (Hint: I did everything the wrong way my first time around). There is nothing more frustrating than diligently planning and prepping your breakfast the night before only to open your fridge the next morning and find watery, runny pudding. Yep. My "pudding" did not set AT ALL, and to make matters worse I accidentally spilled the container all over myself (and the kitchen) with no chance to properly clean up because I was running very behind schedule. Let's just say it was a rough day that later ended with me coming home and scraping dried chia seeds off the floor, cabinets, and side of the fridge.

The good news that comes out of all this messy misfortune is that you guys now have the benefit of learning from my mistakes. I learned very quickly exactly how not to make chia seed pudding, and while it's not quite as simple as dumping some ingredients into a mason jar and going about your business, there are a couple small steps that you can take to ensure your pudding comes out at the perfect consistency!

Chia seed pudding flatlay

Use the proper ratio.

This is not something I have personally had problems with, but it's important to address to make sure things get off on the right foot. Having the correct ratio of chia seeds to liquid is something you want to have right from the beginning. As a quick Google search will show, there are many different recipes out there, all with their own recommendations on what ratios to use. For me personally, I have found that using about three tablespoons of chia seeds to one cup of liquid yields a nice smooth consistency. Simply double this if you want to make two batches. I like to use vanilla-flavored almond milk but you can use any type of milk you like such as oat, coconut, or dairy milk. For a slightly healthier version, you can use opt for unsweetened milk and add your own flavoring such as vanilla extract, honey, or maple syrup.

Chia seed pudding with berries and granola

Add your chia seeds and other dry ingredients first.

This was a mistake I made right out of the gate when first mixing my ingredients. Instead of adding my dry ingredients first, I filled my container with almond milk and then poured the chia seeds on top. Chia seeds are incredibly hydrophilic, and begin to gel up and expand almost instantly after exposure to liquid. By adding my chia seeds last I found that they stuck together and clumped much more easily. If you are having this problem, try instead to add your chia seeds and other dry ingredients (such as cinnamon or cacao powder) to the container first and then slowly stream in your milk, stirring as you go to prevent clumping. Whisk in any additional inclusions like vanilla extract or maple syrup last.

Note: If you are considering adding some heavier inclusions like chocolate chips, wait to stir these ingredients in until right before serving to allow your pudding to properly set.

Mix your ingredients with a whisk.

The second mistake I made was stirring my mixture with a spoon rather than a whisk. A whisk goes a long way in getting your chia seeds evenly incorporated, and also helps combat lumps. I highly recommend using a whisk and not a fork, however, if a fork is all you have then roll with it.

Granola and berry food styling

Stir, stir, stir! 

Notice all of your chia seeds immediately sinking to the bottom? This is perhaps my #1 frustrations with the recipe, and also one of the biggest things that will instantly ruin your pudding. To combat this, you will be doing a fair bit of stirring (don't worry, its nothing too crazy). For this, I like to switch from a whisk to a fork and then stir in an elliptical motion from bottom to top to really bring up those seeds. Stir the mixture up until all the seeds are suspended in the milk (about 30 seconds or so). Stop stirring and wait a few moments to see if your chia seeds sink back down to the bottom (mine always do). Once they sink, let the mixture sit for about a minute, then stir it up again. You will repeat this process of stirring and waiting, stirring and waiting until the chia seeds stop sinking to the bottom.

After a couple of stirs, you will start to notice the chia seeds sinking slower and slower. This is because, throughout this process, the chia seeds are continuing to expand and develop their characteristic gel-like coating. Eventually they will become thick enough to stay suspended in the liquid. I typically have to repeat this process about five times before my chia seeds swell enough to stay suspended in the almond milk. How long this process actually takes (if you even have to do this at all!) may depend on how fresh your chia seeds are. If you are like me and have a bag of chia seeds that may or may not be getting on in their shelf life, your seeds may absorb liquid a little more slowly than fresher seeds would.

When you are satisfied that the chia seeds are properly mixed in, you may refrigerate for 3 hours or (preferably) overnight. If you still aren't sure that your seeds are properly mixed, refrigerate and go about the rest of your day (or bedtime routine if you are prepping this the night before), and come back to it right before going to bed to check on it. If your chia seeds have sunk a little or you have a thick layer of liquid on top of your setting pudding, go ahead and give it another quick stir.

By the next morning, your chia seed pudding should be smooth, firm, and ready to top with your favorite fruit, nuts, seeds or granola. Bon appetit!

Chia seeds with raspberries, granola, blueberries

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