This creamy and silky smooth 5-ingredient coconut jelly is my paleo copycat version of the popular Melo Melo coconut pudding dessert, but made without dairy and refined sugar!

A closeup of a clear jar filled with coconut jelly dessert topped with fresh berries, a Melo Melo copycat recipe that is paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free

What is Melo Melo?

My mom and I share a love of creamy, not-too-sweet, coconut-flavored desserts, and a few months ago she introduced me to the magic that is Melo Melo. She told me about a local Chinese market that makes home deliveries of Asian groceries in the SF Bay Area, and how one of the items that she adds to her orders to reach the $60 minimum for free delivery is a fantastic coconut jelly dessert from an Asian dessert mini-empire in Southern California called Melo Melo. Each jar of Melo Melo’s coconut dessert costs $7.99(!) but my mom assured me that it’s well worth the price. Melo Melo, she exclaimed, is super delicious.

She was right. Once I tried Melo Melo’s coconut jelly, I was completely hooked. Melo Melo’s creamy coconut water jelly has the texture of a fragile silken tofu that breaks as soon as the spoon touches the surface.  Although Melo Melo sells a number of coconut jelly varieties featuring different fresh fruit purées, I like the single coconut jelly and double coconut jelly best because I can customize them by pairing them with my favorite fruit combinations.

Dairy-free and paleo Melo Melo copycat

After indulging in far too many jars of Melo Melo, I had to come up with a paleo, dairy-free version—mainly so I could save some money and reuse all the glass Melo Melo containers littering my kitchen counter. Unfortunately, the Melo Melo website is pretty coy about the ingredients—the only two components listed for its coconut jelly are “fresh coconut water and milk,” which didn’t explain how the dessert actually gels or how it’s sweetened.

But after some extensive experimentation, I came up with my own version that may even be an improvement on the original Melo Melo coconut dessert because I use just 5 wholesome ingredients and the end result is even more creamy and coconut-infused than its inspiration!

An overhead shot of four jars filled with coconut jelly desserts, two are topped with mandarin oranges or fresh berries.

In fact, my mom shared my paleo coconut jelly puddings with some of her friends (all picky Asian moms) and they told her they preferred my version over Melo Melo’s. Considering the source, that’s high praise!

Can you make it vegan?

Perhaps! I haven’t tried it myself, but I bet you can switch out the gelatin with some agar agar (start with ⅓ to ½ the amount of gelatin) and use agave syrup in place of the honey. Please note that the agar agar will yield a stiffer, more rubbery gel than gelatin! If you have successfully substituted agar agar in this recipe, please leave your version in the comments so others can benefit from your experimentation.

Can you make it keto and low carb?

Yes! My dad has diabetes so I’ve made this coconut jelly with liquid allulose in place of honey numerous times. Because allulose is not quite as sweet as honey, I use ⅓ cup of liquid allulose in the recipe. Both my picky parents like the taste of this keto version and actually prefer it to the honey-sweetened one! I learned about allulose a few years ago from Dr. Peter Attia’s podcast  and prefer allulose to other keto sweeteners because it doesn’t have a weird aftertaste. 

Tips for making the best coconut jelly dessert

  • Quality matters! Buy the best coconut milk and coconut water you can find because your coconut jelly will only be as creamy and coconut-y as the ones you select. I’ve shared my favorite brands in the ingredients section below.
  • Don’t boil the coconut milk and water mixture! When you heat up the coconut pudding ingredients on the stovetop, just warm it enough to dissolve the honey and melt the gelatin (~body temperature or 100°F). If the coconut mixture is heated too much, it can separate. It’s natural to have a little separation at the bottom of each jar once it cools, but you should see only about a half-inch of clear gel at the most.
  • Make sure you don’t use too much gelatin! One of the reasons folks love Melo Melo is because the texture is so soft and delicate—if you add too much gelatin to it, the texture will be too stiff and more like firm Jell-O than silky Melo Melo.

Ingredients

An overhead shot of the raw ingredients to make paleo and dairy-free coconut jelly, a Melo Melo copycat recipe
  • Coconut water: Obviously, coconut water from a freshly cracked open young coconut is best but I don’t have that readily available to me. For this recipe, my favorite brand of store-bought coconut water is Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water in the glass bottles. It has a delicious, fresh coconut flavor and it won’t turn the coconut dessert pink like Harmless Coconut Water.
  • Full fat coconut milk: My favorite brand of full-fat coconut milk is Aroy-D in the green tetrapak boxes that can be found at most Asian markets. The coconut milk is super creamy and coconut-y but I just learned that it may not be 100% additive free, despite what it says on the label. Native Forest Brand Simple Organic Coconut Milk is purported to be 100% coconut milk with no additives, but it’s not quite as creamy in my opinion.
  • Gelatin: My preferred brand of unflavored powdered gelatin is Great Lakes beef gelatin. Make sure you don’t use collagen peptides instead because your desserts won’t gel.
  • Honey: Use a light colored honey to keep the coconut jelly as white as possible. 
  • Vanilla extract: The coconut flavor is accentuated with vanilla extract!
  • Fresh fruit: You can just eat these coconut desserts unadorned, but I love to top them with fruit, like fresh berries or canned tangerine segments packed in 100% juice.

How to make coconut jelly

Bloom the gelatin

Pour ¼ cup of the coconut water into a small bowl. Add the gelatin and whisk until well-incorporated. Set aside to let the gelatin bloom and rehydrate.

A small bowl is filled with coconut water and powdered gelatin.

Heat up the coconut mixture

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining coconut water, coconut milk, and honey.

Adding honey from a small bowl into a small saucepan filled with coconut milk and coconut water.

Heat the coconut mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until the honey is dissolved and the coconut milk is hot but not boiling.

A hand is mixing the coconut mixture in a saucepan with a yellow spatula.

Add the gelatin and vanilla

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the reserved hydrated gelatin and vanilla, making sure there are no lumps.

A yellow spatula is adding rehydrated gelatin into a saucepan filled with coconut milk and coconut water.

Strain the coconut mixture

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup to catch any unmelted lumps of gelatin or honey.

The hot coconut milk mixture is poured from the saucepan into a liquid measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve.

Skim off any bubbles on the surface with a fine mesh strainer.

Using a small mesh sieve to remove the bubbles from the top of the hot coconut milk mixture

Pour into jars

Then, evenly divide the coconut milk mixture into 6 small (6-ounce) glass jars.

Pouring the hot coconut jelly liquid into glass jars

Refrigerate the coconut jelly

Chill the jars in the fridge for 1 hour uncovered and then add the lids and chill until solid, about 4 hours.

A woman holding a tray of 6 jars filled with coconut jelly liquid

Adorn with fruit

When you are ready to serve, top with fresh fruit if desired!

Photo of a hand placing peeled orange segments onto a jar of coconut jelly dessert

Eat it up as a snack or dessert!

Four jars filled with paleo and dairy free coconut jelly desserts, a dairy-free Melo Melo copycat recipe

How do you store the coconut jelly?

If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, these coconut jelly desserts can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. This simple fact also means that you can make these delectable treats ahead of time and serve when needed!

Looking for more Asian-inspired paleo desserts?


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Coconut Jelly Dessert (Dairy-Free Melo Melo Copycat)

4.78 from 99 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Chilling time4 hours
Servings 6
This creamy and silky smooth 5-ingredient coconut jelly is my paleo copycat version of the popular Melo Melo coconut pudding dessert, but made without dairy and refined sugar!

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup coconut water divided (I like Taste Nirvana brand in the glass bottle)
  • teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
  • cups full-fat coconut milk I like Aroy-D brand in the tetrapak or Native Forest Simple Organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup honey light colored (or use ⅓ cup liquid allulose to make it keto)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups sliced fresh fruit optional

Instructions 

  • Pour ¼ cup of the coconut water into a small bowl. Add the gelatin and whisk until well-incorporated. Set aside to let the gelatin bloom and rehydrate.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the remaining coconut water, coconut milk, and honey. Heat the coconut mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently until the honey is dissolved and the coconut milk is hot but not boiling.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the reserved hydrated gelatin and vanilla, making sure there are no lumps.
  • Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup to catch any unmelted lumps of gelatin or honey. Skim off any bubbles on the surface with a fine mesh strainer.
  • Then, evenly divide the coconut milk mixture into 6 small (6-ounce) glass jars.
  • Chill the jars in the fridge for 1 hour uncovered and then add the lids and chill until solid, about 4 hours. When you are ready to serve, top with fresh fruit if desired!
  • Store the coconut jelly in sealed containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Video

Notes

  • Quality matters! Buy the best coconut milk and coconut water you can find because your coconut jelly will only be as creamy and coconut-y as ones you select. I’ve shared my favorite brands in the ingredients section.
  • Don’t boil the coconut milk and water mixture! When you heat up the coconut pudding ingredients on the stovetop, just warm it enough to dissolve the honey and melt the gelatin (~body temperature or 100°F). If the coconut mixture is heated too much, it can separate. It’s natural to have a little separation at the bottom of each jar once it cools, but you should see only about a half-inch of clear gel at the most.
  • Make sure you don’t use too much gelatin! One of the reasons folks love Melo Melo is because the texture is so soft and delicate—if you add too much gelatin to it, the texture will be too stiff and more like firm Jell-O than silky Melo Melo.

Nutrition

Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 20g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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72 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a fabulous recipe. I used what’s in the pantry in Australia – TCC and Trident premium coconut milk and it turned out creamy, white and delicious. The coconut did not separate. Thanks for the recipe.