How to Make Coconut Milk (It’s easy, really.)

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Have you ever made something from scratch that you would normally buy at the store and and then kicked yourself in the shins because it was easy and cheaper and healthier than its store-bought counterpart?

I have many times.

Only I didn’t actually kick myself. Shin kicks are brutal. I prefer mental kicking.

Making my own taco seasoning was a revelation! I haven’t bought one of those packets in years.

So was making chicken broth. When I started buying cleaner chickens it eased the pain knowing the higher price also included 4 quarts of broth from the leftover bones.

And homemade vegetable broth simply blew my mind — making broth from scraps that would normally get tossed? GAH. Why hadn’t I been doing this all along?

I make and freeze pasta sauce, too. I loved all of these homemade staples that I made a category in my index called Homemade Staples just for such things!

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And now I can add coconut milk on my list. Making coconut milk (and almond milk) were major reasons for buying a jet-powered blender.

I think you could use a regular blender for this, but the milk might not be as rich. (I’ll try it soon and let you know.)

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After you blend up the dried, unsweetened coconut and water, put the mixture into cheesecloth or a really thin kitchen towel (like the flour sack kind. I love those.)

While you’re squeezing it out, your 5-year-old daughter might walk by and tell you it looks like you’re milking a cow.

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Note to self: take her to see an actual cow being milked.

Ahem.

Then put the squeezed coconut back into the blender with half the water you put in the first time.

Proceed to “milk” it again. *snicker*

Sweetening and/or flavoring the milk is optional. We used vanilla and a little maple syrup once and it was fabulous!

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Print Print

Homemade Coconut Milk

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups unsweetened, dried coconut
3 cups hot water
Flavorings and sweeteners, if desired (vanilla, cinnamon, fruit puree, honey, maple syrup, etc.)

Directions:

Set up your workspace by placing a colander in a large bowl. Cover the colander with a piece of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel (like the flour sack kind).

Blend the coconut and hot water for 2-3 minutes or until throughly processed. Pour the mixture into the kitchen towel, twist up, and squeeze as much milk as you can from the towel.

Put remaining coconut back into the blender with 1 cup of hot water. Process again, and squeeze more milk out. If you do this a third time, your coconut milk may be very thin. Add sweeteners and flavorings if you like.

Store in an airtight jar and refrigerate. Fresh coconut milk doesn't have the shelf life of regular milk, so use it up in 4-5 days. After sitting in the fridge, the "cream" will begin to separate from the milk. Just shake it up to blend it back together before you use it.

Note: If you'd like to use this as a beverage, thin it out 1:1 with water or until it suits your taste.

Adapted lightly from TropicalTraditions.com


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52 Responses to “How to Make Coconut Milk (It’s easy, really.)”

  1. 1

    Stacy YarringtoN — February 7, 2013 @ 5:42 am

    How much more expensive is it to make your own vs buying a can? Same with almond milk, wouldn’t it be a lot more expensive?

    [Reply]

    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 7th, 2013 @ 8:51 am

      When I figured it in my head, I thought both might be cheaper. I never got out a calculator, though. I think it also depends on where you live. I can’t find good coconut milk for less than $1.50 a can. I’ll get out my scale and figure out exactly! Thanks for reminding me!

    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 7th, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

      Ok, I did my math. This recipe makes about 2 cans worth at .30-.40 per can. That’s if your coconut is 2.50-3.50 per pound. Not sure about almond milk yet.

    • Tabitha replied: — June 23rd, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

      You can also dry the coconut pulp and then make some coconut flour. I’m sure you would do better than break even if you do that. I’ve heard of people making almond meal/flour after making almond milk, too. I’d been making crackers from the pulp after seeing a recipe on Elana’s Pantry. HTH

    • Dee replied: — October 31st, 2013 @ 6:25 am

      Individual situations also enter into it. Having a bag of dried coconut around (watch the use by dates) can be a lifesaver. Because a can of coconut milk becomes very expensive if you have to factor in taxi rides to the nearest grocery. I’m learning to make some of these staples (like oat/almond milk) because I can have milk in 40 minutes no cow needed. And if I have to get to a supermarket, I have to call a taxi (there’s no convenient bus and they closed the only grocery within a mile and a half of me and unfortunately walking is out of the question). Get what I need, grab a gypsy cab and come back so my $1.50 or $2.00 can of coconut milk now costs $18.50 and 40 minutes of time. So much for convenience. If I have some in the house, great. But if I need coconut milk and don’t have any, this is MASSIVELY more convenient and cost effective!

    • kyle replied: — August 13th, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

      so every where i read about making coconut milk from shredded coconut they always say not to boil since it would loose more of it’s raw nutrients, which obviously i understand to be the case. however i made a few batches and the one where i did boil the fakes in the water, it came out 3-5x’s richer and creamier. if one is going to use it for cooking, whipped cream, or just like’s the extra fat, wouldnt boiling be the better method for more extraction? or is there another reason why the flakes shouldnt be boiled. soaking in luke warm water would be the bear minimum i’d do. i’v yet to make milk from the raw juice and meat of a fresh coconut, now with this i wouldnt want to boil or even use hot water since it’s a fresh coconut might as well keep it that way, then maybe heat or boil the 2nd go round with the once alrdy extracted pulp. anyway im curious to see how the fresh batch will come out

  2. 2

    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — February 7, 2013 @ 7:08 am

    Uhhhhhm I totally need to do this!! So cool!

    [Reply]

  3. 3

    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — February 7, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

    I just got a Blendtec and this is so intriguing!!! LOVE!

    [Reply]

  4. 4

    kathryn — February 7, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    this is why I want one of those fancy-schmancy blenders, too! It’s not just the cost issue, but apparently there are downsides to using store-bought almond/coconut milks. They have ingredients in them that aren’t the best for us (like carageenan). I would love to be able to make my own!

    [Reply]

  5. 5

    Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out — February 7, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

    I’m with you on those homemade staples – I love making my own taco seasoning! And I wish I had a bigger freezer so I could store more homemade broth. I also wish I had a high-powered blender so I could try making this! You’ll have to keep us updated on how the regular blender situation turns out. :-)

    [Reply]

  6. 6

    Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily — February 7, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

    What about using fresh (young) coconut? This would be fun to make and home made is always better IMHO although I’m intrigued as to the true cost comparison especially when using packaged, dried coconut. Let me know what you think, my math skills are nill ;)

    Man, I don’t think my kids have ever even seen a real cow, let alone one being milked. Where have all the farms gone?

    [Reply]

    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 7th, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

      Man, you’re hard core. I think that’s a little (ok a lot more) homemade than I’m willing to go for something I use a lot of. I do have a coconut on my counter. Maybe I’ll do it once just for kicks. Ps. Using dried coconut would be about .30-.50 per can. :)

  7. 7

    Joanne — February 8, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    Maybe I need to ask for a blender for my birthday because I have some serious envy right now! This homemade coconut milk is seriously TOO easy not to incorporate it into my life.

    [Reply]

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  9. 8

    Claire L — February 8, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

    Whoa. You are brilliant! I’m always out of coconut milk just when I need it, but we always seem to have unsweetened coconut around. Never buying coconut milk again. I’m so excited! Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  10. 9

    DessertForTwo — February 8, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    So genius! I’ve got to try this! We go through at least a few cans each week!

    [Reply]

  11. 10

    Michele — February 8, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

    I have some unsweetened coconut in my pantry , I totally want to make this!! I’m wondering how it compares to coconut milk from the carton. Is it really as thick as the canned coconut milk?

    [Reply]

    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 8th, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

      Hi Michele! It depends on what brand of coconut milk you’re comparing it to. I’ve seen canned coconut milk come in both super thick and watery consistencies. Mine came out to be like 2% milk. Creamy, but not like heavy cream. Canned coco milk also has thickeners added (carrageenan) so that’s something else to consider. Good luck! Hope you like it!

  12. 11

    Alison — February 9, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

    Wow, that seriously IS easy!! Mind you, I can get coconut milk for really cheap here (I live in Kuwait, in the middle east), but still… I love the idea of making it!

    [Reply]

  13. 12

    Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen — February 12, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    This is fabulous! I tried a variation of this once with my food processor, but this looks even easier!

    [Reply]

  14. 13

    Ella-Home Cooking Adventure — February 15, 2013 @ 6:27 am

    Happy to find this post, I was actually searching for this recipe.

    [Reply]

  15. 14

    Andie — February 16, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

    I just tried this now and it was so super easy to do and worked out so well! I am definitely going to make my own coconut milk rather than buy it from now on!

    [Reply]

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  17. 15

    Sylvia — February 18, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    Have you tried this with a regular blender?

    Definitely want to try it (love coconut milk in chai) but I only have a regular blender

    [Reply]

  18. 16

    Fiona — March 23, 2013 @ 3:18 am

    Coconut milk is SO soothing and comforting! When I have finished “milking” my coconut, I tip the pulp onto a piece of baking paper, spread it out and dry it in the dehydrator for about 4-5 hours. Guess what? Now I have coconut flour AS WELL as coconut milk! And getting two products for the price of one is just awesome! Thank you for the great photos too!

    [Reply]

    • Lauren replied: — March 27th, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

      Wow, Fiona! Thats a great idea-thanks! Coconut flour is so expensive too!

  19. 17

    Katie — April 2, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    I am sooo excited to try this out!
    What setting did you use on your Blendtec? Did you do the “soup” setting twice?

    [Reply]

    • Natalie Perry replied: — April 2nd, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

      Yes, I did! I think it’s the only setting that goes longer than 49 seconds. Right?

  20. 18

    Katie — April 2, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    My thoughts exactly! I was just worried that it would make it too hot?? I’m relieved that I did it right. :)

    Second question – what does one do with all of the leftover coconut? I saw the suggestion to use it ask coconut flour but I’m thinking that there are other ideas out there too…

    [Reply]

  21. Pingback: 20 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Coconut Oil OR Why the Coconut is the Greatest Food on Earth | Eater's Digest

  22. 19

    Janet — May 4, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

    I am wondering whether to put the incredible investment into buying a Vitamix/Blendtec, or if I can just go with a normal blender for the coconut milk, so I’m very curious to know if you managed to test it out on a normal one..?

    [Reply]

    • Natalie Perry replied: — May 6th, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

      Hi Janet,

      No, sorry, I haven’t tried yet. To be honest, my old blender is in the back of my pantry and I haven’t pulled it out because of sheer laziness. Haha. I have not regretted once for getting a Blendtec. It gets more use out of all the appliances sitting on my counter. I love it dearly. :)

    • Tabitha replied: — June 23rd, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

      I had an Oster (regular) blender before. You can do this in your regular blender. You might just blend a bit longer to try to come close to the creaminess and/or you could also cut the water 1/2 c or 1 c.
      In the US, if you have a Bed, Bath & Beyond near you they sell Blendtec. My husband got one for me using the ubiquitous 20% coupon. We like green smoothies and my husband enjoys not “chewing” his smoothie anymore.

  23. 20

    Janet — May 7, 2013 @ 11:23 am

    :) Thanks for feeding back..

    It’s double the price here in South Africa.. with a crappy exchange rate, so I’m trying to do as much research into the Vitamix vs Blendtec.. it seems those are the 2 that stand out most.. But I intend making lots of coconut milk and using my blender quite heavily, so I do need to take the plunge!

    [Reply]

  24. 21

    2Rae — June 1, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

    Well I just made some of your milk with a regular blender. I wish I had my “old glass top” that it came with. Ended up using a quart jar and the mixer blade attached to it and it worked fine. My first try at it since I can’t tell which “coconut milk” I should buy in the stores – too many ingredients in them so I just leave without buying any. Next I want to try making coconut milk yogurt. That’s for another day.
    Thank you so much for making this available to all of us!!!

    [Reply]

  25. 22

    Katie — June 24, 2013 @ 5:48 am

    Can you post the link to your coconut pulp cracker recipe please?
    Thanks!!

    [Reply]

  26. 23

    Tabitha — June 24, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    My bad, Katie. I’ve used almond pulp for crackers and dog treats. http://www.elanaspantry.com/vegan-almond-pulp-crackers/ is the first recipe.
    I’m hoping the coconut flour works fine and will use 1/3 to 1/2 c in baking. I made milk and dried the pulp but haven’t tested the flour yet.

    [Reply]

  27. 24

    Katie — June 24, 2013 @ 6:04 am

    No worries! Thanks so much Tabitha! :)

    [Reply]

  28. 25

    Carol — July 18, 2013 @ 4:09 am

    Using a nut bag to strain the coconut milk will prevent the loss of the coconut oil. Refrigerate the coconut milk, and the coconut oil rises to the top and solidifies. You can use this in all the ways that coconut oil is great for, including pulling it in your mouth for detoxifying and for whitening the teeth. The coconut milk gives me about 3 breakfast smoothies, and a 3-4 day supply of coconut oil for pulling.

    [Reply]

  29. 26

    Maegan — July 20, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

    I was wondering if you have ever tried using homemade coconut milk in ice cream. I am learning all the different ways to use shredded coconut (butter, milk, flour). Now I am trying to pull together recipes for these 3 foods. I cant seem to find any coconut ice cream recipes thats dont call for canned or carton milk.

    [Reply]

  30. 27

    Sarah — August 15, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

    I tried this last night with a regular blender (Oster). I used it for curry but it was way too thin so I had to reduce it for a longer time than I usually cook it and the oil separated out in the pan, making my curry greasy :( Tasted good though! I either need a better blender or need to use more coconut, which will make it more expensive. Where on earth are you finding dried coconut for under $3/lb!? I was pretty thrilled to get two pounds for $10 with free shipping on Amazon!

    [Reply]

  31. 28

    Corrine — August 21, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    I use this same process but use a mature coconut. I drain the coconut water first and refrigerate for a refreshing drink later. I use about 5 cups of water for the flesh of one coconut. Makes delicious milk. I will have to try adding flavour net time.

    [Reply]

  32. 29

    Rachel — October 1, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

    If you’re using dried unsweetened coconut in an regular blender, try grinding the coconut in a coffee or herb grinder first.
    Again, not as good as a jet blender, but gets you closer.

    [Reply]

  33. 30

    Kathy — December 13, 2013 @ 3:28 am

    I love having this recipe, because I cannot find coconut milk that does not have the ingredient carrageenan in it…which is an ingredient in a lot of Organic food, from what I’ve been reading… I recently returned my unopened containers of Trader Joe’s Brand for that very reason and switched to coconut water for smoothies, but today I had a recipe that called for coconut milk, so I thank you for this. Luckily I already had the coconut at home and a fairly new Vitamix Blender.

    [Reply]

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  36. 31

    dental bridges — January 12, 2014 @ 1:36 am

    It’s actually a great and helpful section of details. We are satisfied which you shared this beneficial details along with us. You need to stop us educated in this way. Many thanks expressing.

    [Reply]

  37. 32

    Katie — February 5, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    It says I need three cups of water. Does that mean that I use 2 for the initial blending and 1 for the subsequent blending?

    [Reply]

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  40. 33

    Alet Bredenkamp — July 1, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    Have you ever tried making paneer (Indian cheese) or riccotta cheese? It is so ridiciously easy that I am really annoyed at myself for buying it for years! Basically you boil milk, stir vinigar in and strain the curldles. When making paneer you press the curdles, when making ricotta you use it as is.

    [Reply]

  41. 34

    bar ara — September 14, 2014 @ 11:53 am

    I made terrific almond milk in my new Blendtec and now am making a combination almond/coconut milk.k.The results are divine in my morning coffee. I dried the dry meal in the oven for several hours. Anyone have suggestions for the meal/flour? Also what is the benefit of “milking” the used coconut a second time?
    Barbara

    [Reply]

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