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 Instagram posts 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 as my liquid 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.

Not everyone will agree with me on this one, but I swear it makes a difference.

The first couple times I made chia seed pudding, I filled my container with almond milk first and then poured the chia seeds on top. The result always seemed to be a pudding that was a little clumpier and thinner than I like.

Chia seeds are incredibly hydrophilic, meaning they're highly attracted to water. When exposed to liquid, the seeds begin to gel up and expand almost instantly. 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. Then you can slowly stream in your milk, stirring with a fork or whisk as you go to prevent that dreaded clumping. Mix 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.

Use fresh chia seeds.

I believe that this was my #1 mistake when making chia seed pudding. A couple tablespoons of chia seeds goes a long way. As such, a whole bag of chia seeds tends to last me a very long time. Too long, in fact.

If your chia seeds have been in your pantry for a long time, it's worth checking the expiration date on the bag. In my experience, stale chia seeds do not mix in as well as fresh ones. They expand much more slowly in the milk and have a tendency to sink to the bottom rather than mix. This is because the freshness of the seeds impacts how long it takes them to develop their characteristic gel-like coating.

I regret to admit that the bag of chia seeds I used recently was about a year past the expiration date. Womp womp. Ever since replacing them with a fresh batch, I've had far fewer consistency issues.

Granola and berry food styling

Stir your pudding mixture thoroughly.

Until recently, the bulk of my consistency issues stemmed from using stale chia seeds that had trouble mixing with milk properly. Even with fresh chia seeds, however, you want to give the mixture a really thorough stir before you leave it to set the rest of the way. 

I like to stir my pudding mixture more than once before covering and putting it in the fridge overnight to thicken. After my initial stir, I like to let the mixture sit on the counter and settle for a couple minutes. Doing this gives me a chance to observe whether or not my chia seeds are sinking to the bottom. If they are, this is an indicator that my pudding needs another stir.

Stir your chia seed pudding as many times as it takes your seeds to stay suspended in the liquid rather than sinking to the bottom. If you're using fresh chia seeds then you may only need to stir once or twice. If you're using older chia seeds, you may have to stir a little bit more.

When you are satisfied that the chia seeds are properly mixed in, refrigerate your pudding for 3 hours or (preferably) overnight. If you still aren't sure whether 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 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 toppings. Bon appetite!


Chia seeds with raspberries, granola, blueberries

My Go-To Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Serving size:

Total time: ~10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbs. chia seeds
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tbs. honey
  • Fresh berries (I like raspberries and blueberries)
  • Granola

Directions

  1. In your container of choice (I like to use a mason jar), add the chia seeds and cinnamon powder.
  2. Slowly stream in the almond milk and stir with a fork or whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir in the honey and let sit for about 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Give your chia seed pudding another stir to break up any clumps or mix in any seeds that have settled to the bottom. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Right before serving, top your chia seed pudding with fresh berries and granola. Enjoy! 

Notes

  1. Typically, the chia seeds and almond milk are the only ingredients I actually measure. Everything else, such as the cinnamon and honey, I typically eyeball. Use as much or as little as you want!
  2. Pure maple syrup also serves as a delicious sweetener. If added sugar isn't a discouragement for you, sweetened almond milk also does the trick!


 
 

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