I have a confession to make: I have become ridiculously obsessed with coconut milk. I love it in my coffee, in my smoothies, on my cupcakes, and in my cooking.
I find myself googling “recipes for coconut milk” or typing “coconut milk” in the Pinterest search bar to see what new thing I can find to try. So far, I have loved every single thing I have every made using it, and it seems like the possibilities are endless.
It’s a great and convenient ingredient that’s available in many formats, from full-fat canned coconut milk to coconut milk beverages.
I especially fall in love with every soup made with coconut milk I find! This includes a wide variety of delicious, creamy chilled soups that are absolutely perfect for quenching the summer’s heat.
Yummy in My Tummy, Good for My Body
Not only is it great for every conceivable use in the kitchen, but coconut milk is even pretty healthy for your body as well. It has a ridiculous amount of nutrients that are so good for you.
For starters, it has a whopping 5 grams of fiber per cup, and that’s something I know the vast majority of people need more of in their diets.
This lactose-free dairy substitute is also high in vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. Vitamins C and E both give your immune system a boost, and vitamin E is also really good for the health of your skin. B vitamins are all essential for providing energy.
Additionally, there are pretty high levels of some essential minerals: magnesium (helps to regulate the heart’s rhythm and nerve cells’ function), potassium (helps repair tissues in the heart, kidney, brains, and muscles), phosphorus (keeps your bones and teeth healthy and strong), and iron (necessary for red blood cells and carrying oxygen through the body).
Funny enough, even with all the healthful qualities, medical experts seem divided on this front. While they all agree that coconut milk has a lot of nutritional value, some feel that the fat content is too big a downside to recommend using it more than once or twice a week, or even less.
From what I have read, though, the high fat content can be mostly overlooked because it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), specifically lauric acid.
MCFAs aren’t broken down in the stomach but are sent straight to the liver where they are rapidly metabolized and used for energy by the body.
Because of the nature of how the body processes MCFAs, little to no fat ends up being stored by the body. For this reason, it is a very popular dairy substitute for people trying to lose weight.
Additionally, the fact that most of the fatty acids present are lauric acid is also a benefit. Lauric acid is converted to a compound called monolaurin when it is broken down by the body. Monolaurin is both anti-viral and anti-bacterial and fights off all sorts of disease-causing organisms.
There are only two slight drawbacks for using coconut milk regularly that I can find. First, if you have high cholesterol, this may not be the best choice for you. Coconut milk has been shown to raise good cholesterol levels, but it also may raise bad cholesterol levels as well. So, if you are trying to keep your cholesterol in check by diet alone, I wouldn’t recommend using it as much as I do, maybe once a week, if that.
Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk
Also, sadly, all the coconut milk in the cartons has nasty additives, like carrageenan (which has been shown to cause cancer in animals). The only other commercial alternative is to buy it in the can, but unfortunately, the vast majority of cans are still made using BPA (bisphenol A), which has been linked to reproductive disorders, heart disease, decreased brain function, etc.
So far, I have addressed this by transferring my milk to a container in the fridge as soon as I get it home to stop any BPA from further contaminating it. I have found a couple of brands on Amazon, Native Forest Organic and Natural Value, that use BPA-free cans.
Homemade Coconut Milk
You can always make your own coconut milk yourself, though. You can either buy fresh coconut and grate it or buy unsweetened flakes.
If you go the fresh route, take the flesh and liquid from one coconut and place that in a blender with 1 cup of water. Puree for about 5 minutes or so. Transfer the contents of the blender to cheesecloth and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the liquid out into a storage container.
Once you see that the pulp in the cheesecloth is as dry as can be, you’ve probably squeezed it enough.
If you buy the coconut flakes, you need 4 cups of hot water to every two cups of flakes. Simply place them in a blender with the hot water and puree for a few minutes until you see it get thick and creamy.
Pour it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any larger pieces of pulp, then strain through cheesecloth to filter out any smaller pieces.
Whichever route you take, the resulting milk can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
A Few Recipes to Try
My Favorite Thai Coconut Soup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 stalk lemon grass cut into a few large pieces
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 5 cups coconut milk about three 13.5 ounce cans
- 1 pound chicken cooked and shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro choppled
- In a large pot, bring the oil to temperature over medium heat. Add the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Once the mixture is good and fragrant, pour in the chicken broth and whisk well to fully incorporate the curry paste. Then add the fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and cooked chicken and allow the soup to simmer for another five minutes.
- Stir in the lime juice, and then taste. You may or may not feel like it needs salt. Fish sauce is pretty salty all by itself. Add salt if needed and serve with chopped cilantro.
- For a heartier meal, ladle the soup over a ½ cup of rice (I use brown, but you could go the traditional route as well and use white).
* Click here to learn how to make your own homemade chicken broth and stock.
Special Pumpkin Smoothie
One of many ways to use pumpkin, this smoothie is something extra special and works great in the fall time to bring in a taste of autumn to your home.
Highly nutritious and tasty – I love this one.
- 1 cup coconut milk about half a can
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 squirts liquid Stevia
- 6-8 ice cubes
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and puree until it reaches a smooth consistency.Pour into a tall glass and add a straw. The end! It tastes like dessert in a glass, but it is so healthy. Perfection!
Lemon Coconut Bread
- 10 ounces softened butter
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest 1-2 lemons depending on their size
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2/3 cup almond meal
- Preheat the oven to 320 degrees and grease and flour a loaf pan.
- Cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl and add in increments to the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the coconut milk.
- Fold in the almond meal and coconut.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Check it at the one hour mark, and bake it for an additional 5-10 minutes if needed, using the toothpick test.
* Still making your zest with a knife? Try one of our recommended zester or microplane models instead.
I have plans to remake this recipe using coconut flour instead of all-purpose, but I haven’t gotten around to fiddling with it yet. I know I’ll have to add more eggs and use significantly less than the 3 cups called for with the regular flour, so it’s going to take some trial and error. I’ll let you guys know if I can get it right!
These are just a few of my favorite recipes using coconut milk. I hope you’ll give at least one of them a try, and I’d love to hear from you with some recipes of your own. Like I said, I am always looking for new things to try!
About Ashley Martell
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.
37 thoughts on “My Obsession With Coconut Milk”
I love coconut milk too! My favorite uses are in curries and tom kha gha soup, but I’ve used it to great effect in baking. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it in coffee though, but it sounds delicious. Coconut milk works really well for me too because I love the flavor but can’t stand the texture of the flakes, so I tend to use it in recipes to substitute if I can get away with it.
I drink coconut milk everyday, because I knew about how healthy it is. However, I didn’t think about the dangerous preservatives added to the cartons and cans. Pouring it into a separate container after you buy it is a great idea, so I will start doing that now. These recipes all sound delicious, too. Thanks for all the useful information.
I had no idea that making your own coconut milk was that simple! It seems far preferable to using the stuff from cans which seems to be full of additives. The lemon coconut bread loos really tasty and I’d be interested to know how you got on with the coconut flour too!
Here where I live it’s almost impossible to find any exotic fruit, and after reading all the stuff you can make with it I gotta admit I’m jealous. The closest I’ve come to tasting it is from candy bars hahaha.
This sounds exactly like what I’m looking for. We’ve tried soy and almond milk, but you’re right – it’s very hard to find versions without carrageenan. I especially appreciate the legwork you have done finding (and sharing with us) the ones that have left that out, and come in responsible packaging!
I’m curious what the “weight” is like. Would it give the same texture as half & half? I’d love to find a replacement for our coffee, but we enjoy the weight of half & half so much that it’s proving difficult.
It’s nice to hear that it’s so high in fiber too. I wonder how it compares to dairy milk for protein. Definitely something I will look into!
I actually didn’t know coconut milk has so many nutrients. It even has iron. It is very interesting how the fats go straight to the liver.
I do like it, but I have been leery since it comes in cans and I shy away from canned foods. I am willing to try the recipe for making my own milk. Thanks for including it.
I use coconut milk in my black beans and it gives them a nice creaminess and flavor. I also use it to make a pina colada drink, with pineapple juice.
I want to try your recipe for the pumpkin smoothie. That seems like it will be tasty and creamy.
I tend to use my coconut milk with more savory dishes than sweet. I guess I just like the complexity of flavours. I’m a big fan of A LOT of milk alternatives. I usually use almond milk in my baking. I know the risk of nut allergies is an issue with almond milk but it can easily be exchanged for soy or rice milk if need be.
What I found most interesting is the fact that coconut milk can be used in bread. In my country, we only use it in “rice cakes” or kakanin. I do wonder what the effect and flavor would be if you used it for bread.
The “residue” or the meat left after making the coconut bread can also be used to make fillings for bread. Add some sweets to it (like sugar or syrup) and put it in a bun. It is fantastic with coffee.
One more thing: What is the fat content of coconut milk? I do know that you cant lower the fat content by allowing the liquid to settle and skimming the oil from the top.
In the same way that coconut milk is good for you, coconut oil is also quite healthy for you as well! Of course one might know about it as perhaps a skin softener, but it can also be used to replace the cooking oils in your food. So instead of margarine or canola oil or corn oil, consider using coconut oil. It has lots of saturated fats, which makes it perfect for high temperature cooking, so use it in sautés or stir-fries.
That lemon coconut bread looks amazing, tempting even…i have never once indulged in coconut milk, after reading the article, am head over heels and my next stop at the grocer’s this coming week will have me buying some coconuts…boy, i’m so excited 😉
P.S; page bookmarked 😉
I love using Coconut milk, having allergies for cow milk and soy, I find Coconut can be used for a whole lot of things.
It is pretty easy to make your own ice cream or sorbet with some egg-white and coconut milk; you can also add some of the curd to it for more texture.
The left over curd, when making your own milk can be finely ground and used as dusting on cakes if you want to avoid sugar but like the appearance of a dusted cake.
It’s also good for replacement of crumbs and to mix with walnuts to create crusty toppings.
In addition it is very good to exfoliate your skin, especially mixed with coffee grounds for your feet.
There has been a lot of hype lately around coconut products. You can’t believe everything you read, but from the sounds of it you’re a firm believer in coconuts! Taste is also very important in a diet, so if you can find something both tasty and healthy, I say go for it!
I really like to use coconut milk to make creamy soups, especially Asian or Indian! It just provides a very smooth texture with the very nice undertone of coconut.
About carragenean and carcinogen though, if you google it further, you’d see that it is not as much of a “scary” food as people would have you believe — from the different studies to the vulgarisations, one can see that it’s not really as carcinogenic as one would be led to believe from reading a few things around.
(“Poligeenan (“degraded carrageenan” in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. ” making the distinction between what was causing effects and what was not)
Of course, even if it was a carcinogen, the next question would be: at what level, how much would we need to consume so that it would have an effect? But it looks like it’s not, and having a nice BBQ could be a much bigger cancer risk than this.
I mention this because food science is fascinating but a lot of wrong information are around on the internet. And it’s good that you teach people how to make their own stuff, but if they do it because they are scared of getting cancer, then we should be fair and say that smoked ribs would have a much higher risk of that.
Crayonelle, I must say that was a well researched and very knowledgeable comment. Would you be interested in writing for Foodal? If so, hit me up on the contact form in the lower right.
Due to the price of coconut milk I tend to not buy it as often as I’d like. However, when I do buy this marvel of a creation, I use it in everything I cook. I own a recipe that has been handed down to me, for coconut water. Whenever I can get my hands on coconut milk, my favorite product to bake is coconut bread. Similar to you, I sometimes add lemons to create that sweet taste everyone loves.
I use a lot of coconut milk when I cook for my family at home. It’s great and it really gives a savory, mild texture to the food. I also love it when I use it exotic dishes.
Another use for coconut milk which isn’t really food related but I wanted to share anyway, is as an organic hair treatment. Just dab it into your scalp with some cotton and watch your hair improve in a week.
I have been trying to stick to a mostly dairy free diet recently. The one thing I just can’t seem to give up is my half and half in my coffee. I have yet to try coconut milk as an alternative. This post is giving me a nudge.
I also had no idea making your own coconut milk was that easy. Do you use this method regularly or opt for the canned product? It’s frustrating that the carton selections are filled with so many additives.
I can’t just run to a store and be sure I’ll find coconut milk in this area, so the tips for making it at home are really helpful. I wasn’t aware of the issues with how it is packaged either, so if I do find some at the store, these things will be good to know. I’ll transfer it to another container. Thanks.
The health benefits are even more than I thought. There are several health and beauty products I’d like to make using it as well.
Homemade coconut milk is amazing! I have Sri Lankan relatives who always buy coconuts and use it in many different ways for great tasting recipes. On top of that, fresh coconuts and the homemade milk you can make from it don’t have any bad additives. It might require a bit more effort than usual if you make milk at home; however, it is definitely worth the effort!
I bought some coconut milk that was dark chocolate favored. It was in a paper carton like chicken stock comes in. I was surprised at how great it taste. I haven’t been able to find it anymore since I first bought it. I wasn’t a usual shopper at the store in which I bought it.
I’m not much of a milk fan, but I love coconut; however, I never knew there could be so many uses for coconut milk! Whenever I need milk, I usually use 2% or whole lactose free milk. Although, after reading this article, I will be making a change! I really like that you put some recipes at the end of the article and I like that you put how to make your own coconut milk. I never knew it was so easy! Thanks!!
Great article and thank you for the recipes! I love coconut and I tried to integrate it in all my cookies, cakes and stuff whenever I’m cooking. I didn’t know that it had all those good vitamins!
Whenever I tried to prepare coconut milk I ended up messing something up. I think I’ll give it a go again, using your tips!
I read the article with interest. Given how cheap coconuts are, I am surprised more people are not making coconut milk. It would certainly be cheaper than the almond or brazil nut milk I occasionally make and it sounds like it would probably be more beneficial in the vitamins and mineral side of life as well.
I love the looks of the Lemon Coconut Bread, but have a couple of queries? I’m not a fan of coconut flakes, something from my childhood in finding them in a snack I used to have… I assume I could substitute it for grated fresh coconut meat? Also can you tell me if it is a 1lb loaf tin or a 2lb loaf tin please,
Regardless of my intentions to do so, I have not bought any coconut milk yet. I have never tried it, but I have heard a lot of people sing its praises! I have a friend who not only uses it for cooking, but has a hundred differences re pies for beauty products she has made with it. As diverse as the different uses are, I’m really surprised I haven’t tried it yet.
I love coconut milk. It brings richness and enhances the flavor to just about any dish. I have usually used it only for Asian flavored dishes. I like these new ideas and glad to see that it can be used to flavor non Asian type dishes as well. I’m definitely going to try the lemon coconut bread. It looks really good. I’ll save the pumpkin smoothie for fall. It will bring a bit of freshness to a fall drink.
Oh man, I’ve been using the carton coconut milk for the longest without any clue as to what it contains! I’ll definitely try the homemade version 🙂
Btw, it’s great for soap-making and skincare! 😀
It never occurred to me to make my own coconut milk. I am a fan but I typically don’t buy a lot since I’m the only one using it. I will put this on my list of things to try!
I love coconut milk, and always have it on hand. In ant use it as much as I would like because its pretty expensive around here. I have found a lot of uses other than ccoolong. I have recipes for shampoo, lotion, body wash, and even a mask. I love it and really look forward to rying these recipes!
My first experience with coconut milk was when I visited the beautiful islands of Greece. I went to an local restaurant and ordered the usual morning menu. Seeing that it was like my third time in a row there, they offered me some coconut milk, all on the house. Finished it then ordered one more! Coudln’t get enough of it! Now, I barely have the time to get myself some coconut milk, can’t really find it at countryside.
Despite coconut milk being somewhat readily available here, I don’t use it all that often. I really enjoy it when I do, though, plus it’s got all of those useful nutrients. And weirdly, despite having made my own oat milk in the past I hadn’t thought to make my own coconut milk. I do have unsweetened flakes. I’ll have to try it out, because that pumpkin shake looks like it’s right up my alley. Thank you for the tips!
I share your love of coconut milk too – in fact I am coconut crazy. Period. I love anything made with it: yogurt, cake, ice cream etc etc, but since discovering the health benefits in general, I’ve looked at this food more closely. I switched to using coconut oil wherever possible, but I’ve found that incorporating the milk into my diet has been relatively easy, and provided a delicious alternative to dairy in my coffee, and in my smoothies every morning.
Coconut milk is also a very refreshing drink on its own, and provides a real boost on a hot day when I’m flagging at my desk!
I love coconut, but have never tried coconut milk or coconut oil, both of which I want to try. I knew coconut was good for you, but I had no idea it had as many nutrients as listed above. Your recipes look delicious, especially the Thai Coconut Soup and the Lemon Coconut Bread. I might try those when I get some coconut milk, and the homemade coconut milk sounds interesting, as well.
I doubt that coconut “milk” reconstituted from dehydrated flakes has the same benefit as pure whole milk from the coconut? The flakes are made only from the flesh and most of the nutritional value of the flesh must be lost during dessication? If the choice is canned or dessicated, I would go for canned every time.
The pumpkin smoothie sounds great for the upcoming fall season! I’d love to try it in addition to putting coconut milk in my coffee (you had mentioned it in the first paragraph, and I never considered it as a possibility before). As I heard before that you should always have a lemon dessert after a seafood meal (it supposedly gets rid of the fishy taste left in your mouth), I’d pair the lemon coconut bread with some grilled salmon. I never knew that it could have such a nutritional value; I’ll be sure to have it in the near future.
You’re not the only one obsessed with coconut milk. I think I might be just as obsessed if not more than you. I love the thick creamy consistency and because it doesn’t have lactose in it I can drink a lot without feeling queasy. I had no idea about the bpa thing. I usually keep my coconut milk in a can until I’m ready to use it but I see now that’s actually a really bad thing to do. Looks like I need to invest in a huge glass container with a lid. Or maybe I’ll just repurpose an old jam jar. I could never make my own coconut milk though, getting a coconut open and getting all the flesh out is one of the most painstaking activities I’ll ever do. It’s almost as bad as peeling acorn squash. That being said, the Thai coconut soup looks fabulous, I’ll definitely be making it.
Okay, that cake looks ridiculously delicious! I’ve never had coconut milk, but I’ve made a Thai peanut sauce that required some coconut milk in the sauce, but I didn’t have any or any kind of milk for that matter on hand, so I just used water. The sauce was still delicious, but I can only just imagine how the coconut milk would’ve elevated that sauce.
Seriously, coconut milk is filled with so much goodness it’s just amazing. Making your own is something of a no brainer as it provides you with all the benefits with non of the negatives that come with mainstream processing and packaging. Personally only almond milk comes close with regards to taste but coconut milk is just so nutrient dense!