Vitumbua – East African Coconut Rice Pancakes

5 from 4 votes
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In East Africa, these Coconut Rice Pancakes called Vitumbua are a common breakfast. They are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, so soft and fluffy! The texture is so incredible, you won’t believe these don’t have any regular flour in them!

several dozen cooked vitumbua on a white tray.

These East African Coconut Rice Pancakes have my whole heart! My whole family goes crazy for Vitumbua! They are slightly crunchy around the edges, so fluffy in the middle. Perfect for serving with tea!

Serve them with chai tea for the full East African experience!

These pancakes are eaten in a number of Swahili countries but especially in Tanzania.

Here is my take on these delicious pancakes! I have been making these with both white rice and brown rice and it goes great both ways. Also, it’s a great way for me to use up the brown rice that has been sitting in my pantry since 2020. Hmmm!

Another popular African snack or breakfast food which you should totally try is Puff Puff. Here is our guide on How To Make Puff Puff.

Rice Pancakes Recipe

This is a Rice Pancakes Recipe that is both gluten-free and dairy free! It is also ridiculously easy to make!

You just dump all ingredients for the rice pancakes into a blender and blend to form the batter. Then let it rest for about 30 minutes before cooking the pancakes.


Here are the ingredients you need for Vitumbua.

Ingredients for Vitumbua on a chopping board.
  • Rice. I used Jasmine rice. Any rice you have on hand would work. Brown rice would work as well.
  • Coconut Milk. The coconut milk should be unsweetened.
  • Sugar. For sweetness. Put as little or as much as you’d like. This recipe yields Rice Pancakes that aren’t too sweet which is great so you can top the pancakes with syrup, honey a dusting of powdered sugar, or any sweet toppings you like.
  • Yeast. For helping the batter rise.
  • Salt. For flavor.
  • Ground Cardamom. For flavor, and an East African essential. Check the spice aisle of you local grocery store for cardamom or you could also get it from Amazon.
  • Oil for cooking the pancakes. Any neutral-tasting oil would work. I used vegetable oil.

See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities.


Trying the following substitutions when making these Rice Pancakes:

  • Brown rice -instead of white rice you could use brown rice which contains more fiber.
  • Milk – use another plant-based milk like almond milk or cashew milk. You could also use regular milk if that works for you,
  • Honey – instead of sugar you could use honey, maple syrup, or agave for sweetening the batter.

How To Make Vitumbua

Here is how to make Vitumbua in 4 easy steps!

Water pouring into rice
  1. Pour water over rice and let it soak in the fridge overnight.
Blending rice pancake ingredients in a blender

2. Place rice and all the other ingredients except the oil into a blender and blend to form the batter.

Keeping rice batter into oven to rise

3. Keep the batter in a warm place to rise. Note that here, my oven is turned off. My oven is often slightly warm so it makes the perfect spot for keeping batter to rise.

Cooking rice pancakes on Aebleskiver pan

4. Place a Vitumbua pan on medium heat. heat up for 2 minutes then add half a teaspoon of oil. Place the batter into each hole and cook on one side for 2 minutes then flip to the other side and cook for another 2 minutes.

Coconut Rice Pancakes on a white plate.


To make these pancakes turn out the traditional shape, you need a Vitumbua pan, also known as an Aebleskiver or Ebelskiver pan. I got mine from a thrift store but you could get it from Amazon.

It also helps to have a high-powered blender to blend all the ingredients into a smooth batter. I love my Blendtec blender for this.


Store the leftovers in an airtight bag in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Also, Check Out These African Recipes

Watch Me Making It

Watch me making Vitumbua, East African Coconut Rice Pancakes in the YouTube Video below. To see more videos of me cooking as soon as they are published, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click on the notification bell.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below & if you really like this recipe, please consider a comment further down. Thank you!

Tray of Vitumbua

Vitumbua – East African Coconut Rice Pancakes

5 from 4 votes
These East African Coconut Rice Pancakes are so fluffy, flavorful, and perfect with a drizzle of syrup, honey, or can be eaten with a dusting of sugar. The perfect breakfast or snack!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 cups rice I used Jasmine rice
  • 14 oz canned coconut milk around 13 ounces is fine too
  • ¼ cup sugar add more if you want it sweeter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or other neutral oil


  • Soak rice in water. Place the rice in a medium bowl. Add water to completely cover the rice. Let it soak overnight.
  • Drain all water from the rice. Put the rice in a blender. Add all ingredients except the oil. Blend until smooth.
  • Rest batter. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm place until bubbles form on top for 30 minutes.
  • Cook pancakes. Put pan on stove medium heat. Let it heat up for 2 minutes. Add half a teaspoon of oil into each hole. Add batter to top of hole being careful not to cause an overflow.
  • Let the batter cook in each pan for about 2 minutes until slightly brown around the edges then use a skewer to flip to the other side and let it cook for another 2 minutes or until completely cooked through.
  • Remove pancakes from pan and repeat the process with the rest of the batter.
  • Serve warm with maple syrup and fresh fruits.


If you do not have the Vitumbua pan, consider cooking the batter like regular pancakes in a skillet or on a griddle. They’ll not be as fluffy as the real deal but it’ll still work.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 167IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 5mg

Additional Info

Calories: 311
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at

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  1. Precious, you pronounced vitumbua perfectly. Can’t wait to try this recipe. I have missed placed my usual recipe. Will let you know how they turn out!

    1. Hi Amy, I haven’t seen one with larger holes. But there are pancake/egg pans on Amazon with 4 holes that could work. Hope this helps.