A Tutorial: How to Make Coconut Milk

Ever wondered how to make coconut milk? No, not the tinned stuff; rather, have you ever wondered how to make truly fresh coconut milk?  While tins of coconut milk do just fine – a compromise food that balances the traditional with the modern, the flavor of a true homemade coconut milk is unsurpassed. Take the time and the effort to learn how to make coconut milk at home, and your work will be well-rewarded.

Coconut, traditionally eaten across the South Pacific and in parts of Asia, is a powerhouse of nutrients.  Coconut is rich in trace minerals including manganese which is essential in metabolism, healing and collagen formation, copper which plays a role in immunity and bone health as well as selenium, a nutrient which is critical to thyroid function as well as developing healthy skin, nails and hair.  Beyond these trace minerals, coconut is a potent source of lauric acid – a wholesome and nourishing saturated fat with strong antimicrobial properties which may help to bolster immunity and even show promise in the treatment of acne1.

So, there you have it: coconut is a beauty food which makes learning to how to make coconut milk a worthwhile pursuit, no?  Consider it a beautifying tonic, essential in your routine like an afternoon beauty rest or a tonifying French clay masque.

how to make coconut milk how to make coconut milk how to make coconut milk

Better than Store-bought: Learn How to Make Coconut Milk

If you’ve read Nourished Kitchen for any length of time, you’ll know we don’t take much of a liking to any canned or processed food which makes coconut milk a bit of a quandary; after all, it’s a rich source of lauric acid – a deeply nourishing fat which is otherwise only available in human breast milk.  It’s also a good source of minerals and for those who avoid fresh raw milk by necessity or preference, coconut milk makes an excellent alternative – substantially better than high-glycemic oat and rice milks, undoubtedly better than hormone-disrupting soy milk and better still than nut and seed milks which tend to be high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids.  In many ways, those cans of coconut milk are a compromise food – and one of the only canned foods recommended by the Weston A Price Foundation, a nutritional advocacy group, though it is not recommended for GAPS patients.  Add the challenge of cans lined with bisphenol-A, a known human endocrine disruptor2 and probable carcinogen3,4, and you couple the degradation of nutrients by high-heat canning methods with the adverse effects of endocrine-disrupting. Canned coconut milk is, at best, a compromise.

Fresh, homemade coconut milk is also richer in vitamins, food enzymes and nutrients than coconut milk from a tin.  Indeed, fresh coconut milk contains three times as much vitamin C as canned coconut milk and is richer in thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and panthothenic acid.  Moreover, fresh raw coconut milk contains vitamin E, a heat-sensitive, fat-soluble vitamin that is otherwise absent in canned coconut milk.  Learning how to make coconut milk is, indeed, worthwhile for its nutrition benefits alone, let alone the culinary pleasure you’ll experience in tasting something truly fresh, creamy and markedly lacking in that unpleasant dull metallic aftertaste that comes from any tinned food.

Fortunately, learning how to make coconut milk is easy.  So you can drop the cans and pick up a fresh coconut, widely available at most grocers as well as online, and make your own.

how to make coconut milk

By Jenny Published: January 2, 2011

  • Yield: about 1 quart.
  • Prep: 20 – 30 (preparation) mins
  • Cook: 5 (blending) mins
  • Ready In: 25 mins

Learning how to make coconut milk is easy. Select a ripe coconut by holding it up to your ear and gently shaking it; if you hear the sweet slosh-slosh of liquid, you’ve got a good one. In this recipe for homemade coconut milk, we call for hot water which produces a richer coconut milk that’s higher in coconut oil; however, if you’re intent on making an unheated coconut milk, you can use cold filtered water.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Pierce the eyes of the coconut with a sharp knife and drain coconut water into a mixing bowl. Split the coconuts by covering in a kitchen towel and smashing with a rolling pin or hammer.
  2. With a sharp knife, pry the coconut meat from its husk, then peel off any remaining brown bits of skin that adhere to the coconut meat. Place the coconut flesh and coconut water in a blender, adding three to four cups hot water Blend until the coconut and water forms a smooth slurry.
  3. Pour coconut mixture through a butter muslin or nut milk bag into a mason jar or pitcher. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and transfer the coconut milk to the refrigerator.

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What people are saying

  1. Christopher says

    Hi Jenny!
    I have been making my own coconut milk for quite some time now, and indeed, the flavour is unparalleled! This had led me to ponder, however, whether or not it’s possible to make coconut yogurt from the milk. You are so knowledgeable when it comes to food, so if anyone can answer my question is you. So, would it be possible?

    Christopher

    • Jenny says

      Yes! It is possible. Now, you have two choices: 1) you can make cultured coconut milk and thicken it with gelatin OR 2) you can culture fresh young Thai coconut meat and puree it. Culturing coconut milk along will only provide a very thin probiotic coconut milk.

  2. wilfredo alfonso says

    i would like to know what is the process of making a frozen coconut milk. what is the shelf life of this product if i introduce it to the market place, will it be a good idea, shall i just use the milk without any other mixture of water?
    please help.

  3. Iris says

    I’m living in Belize right now and there are coconuts everywhere and canned coconut milk in the stores, but I want to make my own coconut milk. I do not have a blender…ideas?

    • says

      i live in southeast asia & people here make coconut milk all the time. buy a few coconuts & shred them (or have someone shred them with a machine – surely someone there can shred them for you, as this is a ton of work). mix the freshly shredded coconut with water & mix it around, squeezing it in your hands for a few minutes. then, as you’re squeezing, remove the pressed coconut meat from the bowl into another bowl. once most of the coconut meat is removed, pour the milk through a sieve. then repeat the process with the coconut meat. hope that helps!

    • Kendra Schofield says

      Hi iris, I live in Belize too and make coconut milk all the time. You can get a coconut grinder (manual wind up grinder) from one of the Chinese stores. They are inexpensive and easy to use! Once you grind the coconut, add water, knead coconut meat with the water, strain off liquid, and you are good to go.

  4. Giuseppe says

    Instead of using hot or cold filtered water, could one substitute with the coconut water that is drained from the two coconuts? I imagine this would lend a sweeter taste to the coconut milk.

  5. lubna says

    hello jenny….my son has gotten allergy with milk and things made with milk..he has leaky gut as well…kan you please tell me how to make cultured coconut milk that is good probiotic ?i will be very greatful..greetings God bless
    Lubna

  6. says

    Hi … I’m fairly unfamiliar with coconut and coconut milk … wondering … what do you use it for? Just drinking??? How long does it keep? Thanks :)

    • Charlotte Daly says

      Its really good in curry or marinate meat in it for a few days. The taste is amazing and it makes it tender. Perhaps try making beef rendang or a add to justabout any curry. My fav is adding it to red Thai curry or laksa.

    • suzu says

      I use it for coffee and my morning banana milkshakes. I really really recommend trying it in your coffee. It is beyond amazing!!

    • Richard says

      I use coconut milk almost anywhere you would use milk. Great on cereal, in soups and sauces. Gives a different flavor than milk, but to my mind is much tastier and rich.

  7. Gigi says

    i, too, was wondering what to do with all the pulp after you drain out the coconut milk. it has to be good for something!

  8. chrispy says

    I know with making almond milk you can dehydrate the almond meal after putting it thru the nut bag….why couldn’t you do that with the coconut? i’m sure it would work and can be used in baking recipes somehow!

  9. Barbara says

    Has this ever happened to anyone else and what can I do about it? I made coconut milk and put it in the fridge and the next day it was hard on top where the fat had seperated and water on the bottom. It would not mix, I had to heat it a little.

    • Amy says

      Barbara, That’s completely normal. Coconut oil/fat solidifies in the frig so you’ll need to either reheat it like you did, or pull it out of the frig far enough ahead to let it warm up. Then just shake the jar to remix.

  10. Nena says

    I want so badly to make coconut milk. I have a Soyajoy that I use to make almond milk and it is great. Can I make coconut milk in this machine? When I get that made I want to make the coconut yogurt. Love this website!

  11. Nicole says

    I don’t own a blender (yet- we’re saving for Vitamix) any chance a food processor would work? Thanks for this tutorial :)

  12. Tracie says

    Ok, I hope I’m not the only one out there that doesn’t know what a nut bag is and where you would get one, but can anyone help me? I have several recipes that call for canned coconut milk but can’t find it here, this may be my solution. Thanks

    • Becky says

      Hi Tracie, Nut milk bags are fine mesh bags that you can use for straining or even sprouting seeds. I bought mine from Amazon. Just enter Nut Milk Bags in the search bar on Amazon and you will find them.

    • Leanne says

      II finally broke down and bought “chinois” (NOT a china cap!), after being so tired of the mess and expense of cheese cloth. I’m so glad I did–use it for broth, coconut milk, anything really that needs to be well strained!

      • Stephen says

        Thanks Leanne for tip. I’m about to start making my own coconut milk and wasn’t looking forward to washing out the cheese cloth each time!

    • Jennifer says

      Hi, I just wanted to share. I bought a curtain at a thrift store for $1 that is the exact same material as my last nut milk bag was and made 4 big nut milk bags for $1!! Super easy and stronger bc we surged the edges twice and added a draw string to the top where the curtain rod would normall go :)

  13. Henry Exhaust says

    No “radiation” in microwaved food. Your information via Google is incorrect.
    Learn what microwaves are before making decisions about something you know nothing about.

    • Jennifer says

      Yes, that is how I do it. I use 3 cups of flakes per 4-5 cups water. I boil the water, turn off, then add flakes and cover for several hours. This re-hydrates them. Then I blend and strain. I also dehydrate the pulp afterward and then grind with my grain milk into coconut flour and use in recipes.

  14. pix says

    after piercing the “eyes” of the coconut and draining the water, pop the whole coconut into the freezer for couple of hours. Make it easier to crack open with hammer and the white flesh could be prised out much easier.

  15. Leea says

    What should be used to strain the coconut water because I was getting all of the brown bits off of the coconut shell into the water while draining?

  16. says

    I was making fresh coconut milk just a few days ago and I had my water all nicely heated. I poured it all into my food processor and then noticed one of the pieces to my food processor was missing (eek!). I quickly dumped everything out into a bowl and went searching for the missing piece.
    By the time I finally found the piece my water was cold.
    I didn’t want to strain the water and reheat it so I just used it cold and something interesting happened, all the coconut oil stuck to the sides of my food processor.
    I was able to use a finger to scrap off about 4 tablespoons of coconut oil from one coconut.
    Of course this coconut oil is a little less pure than regular coconut oil because it has a bunch of coconut fibers in it but it seems like a good way to collect the oil instead of leaving it all to stick in the cheesecloth!

  17. Ann dyer says

    I made coconut milk…the recipe said 3-4 cups of water. Question…how do I know what consistency I want the milk to be for recipes…when it calls for canned coconut milk? How much of the thick fat part of the coconut milk to how much coconut water?

  18. William m stadler says

    I have read that fresh ripe coconuts from Asia are irradiated to increase shelf life for the journey to foreign markets. I use organic dried, shredded coconut to make milk. 1.5 ounces weighed coconut per cup of water makes a rich and creamy drinking milk. Heat the water to 120 degrees, add to coconut and let soak for one hour. Blend in a high-speed blender for a minute or two and strain with a nut milk bag. Delicious!

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