Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Coconut Milk

Buy Now
Save to Recipe Box
Add Private Note
Buy Now
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Add Recipe Note
Buy Now

What is it?

Coconut milk is not the liquid found within the coconut: it’s a thick, creamy liquid made from combining coconut meat with hot water (or dairy milk or cream) and straining and squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in Thai cuisine, where it’s added to curries to tone balance the spicy heat with its creamy sweetness. It can also be used in many recipes in place  milk or cream, adding a wonderfully rich texture and flavor to everything from hearty soups to delicate desserts.

Coconut cream is the thick substance that floats to the top of the coconut milk and may be spooned off.

Reduced-fat or “lite” coconut milk is just regular canned coconut milk with water added.

Don’t have it?

You can make your own, but canned coconut milk is convenient and is found in most supermarkets, as well as in Asian or Latin American groceries.

How to choose:

Seek out coconut milk from Thailand—it’s consistently the best, fresher tasting than others, with a luscious texture that’s thick and rich.

Do not confuse coconut cream with a product called cream of coconut (Coco Lopez is one popular brand). Cream of coconut is a processed product made with coconut cream and lots of sugar. It isn’t interchangeable with coconut milk or coconut cream and is best used for blender drinks.

How to prep:

Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, vigorously shake a can of coconut milk before opening it. Blending the thick cream on the top with the thinner milk below will make it easier to remove the coconut milk from the can without a rubber spatula.

How to store:

Canned coconut milk will keep for years unopened in a cool, dry place. Once the coconut milk is opened, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate. It won’t last for more than a couple of days.

Click here to purchase


  • Thai chicken skewers

    Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce

    Skewered thigh meat is much more likely to turn out juicy than skewered breast meat. Its inherent richness can handle the dry heat of the grill without losing too much…

  • Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa

    Hot Cocoa with Coconut Milk, Cinnamon, and Turmeric

    Nothing pairs better with holiday cookies than hot cocoa. Here’s a classic version with a healthy twist (both cinnamon and turmeric reputedly have anti-inflammatory properties, and coconut milk is a…

  • Mango Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

    Mango-Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

    Soaked cashews make this smoothie bowl extra creamy and lend a bit of protein. Look for coconut milk with the nondairy milks at the grocery store, either refrigerated or unrefrigerated.

  • Carrot Turmeric Smoothie

    Golden Smoothie

    This bright smoothie is the perfect morning pick-me-up with help from the turmeric and ginger. Carrot juice can be used in place of the shredded carrots—simply add a few more…

  • Recipe

    Double Coconut Cream Pie

    This is truly next-level coconut cream pie. Instead of coconut extract, it gets its flavor from reduced, concentrated coconut milk in the custard. It's paired with a layer of salted caramel…

  • Recipe

    Ginger Coconut Rice

    The addition of coconut milk and fresh ginger and garlic makes a basic pot of rice so much more interesting. Serve with stir-fries and curries.

  • Recipe

    Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Thai Green Curry, Snap Peas, and Carrots

    Perfectly seared scallops stand out in this fragrant curry. There are a lot of ingredients involved in making the curry paste, but they all go right into a blender, which…

  • Recipe

    Coconut Curry Rice Noodle Soup with Shrimp

    This soup—somewhere between a curry and a pho—gets its inspiration from Malaysian laksa. Fish sauce takes the place of the traditional shrimp paste, and jalapeños impart heat. There are many…

  • Recipe

    Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Coconut Milk

    Shrimp and asparagus are often paired in pasta, but the addition of creamy coconut milk adds a fresh twist to the classic combination.

  • Recipe

    Ginger-Sesame Waffles with Indonesian Fried Chicken

    Want to wow guests at dinner? Make this. It’s wild and wonderful with flavors and textures that get better with every bite.


Leave a Comment


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.