How to Make Coconut Milk

how make coconut milk homemade coconut milk

Do you want to know how to make coconut milk? If you regularly use coconut milk in your cooking, learning how to make coconut milk will save you a considerable amount of money.

That’s because it’s hard to find coconut milk that’s not only organic, but also free of guar gum and other additives, and packaged in BPA-free containers.

By making coconut milk at home, you can meet all this criteria and save money. What’s not to love?


How Making Coconut Milk Saves Money

I can buy organic, guar gum free, BPA-free coconut milk for about $2.75 per 14oz container, or $1.57 per cup.

I can buy organic, unsweetened coconut chips for about $17.50 per 3 pounds. That makes 48 cups of coconut milk, so it comes to $0.36 per cup!

That’s a huge savings simply for learning how to make coconut milk at home.

how make coconut milk homemade coconut milk

How to Make Coconut Milk

Inspired by this video recipe from Radiant Life. Makes about 2 cups.

The Players

The How-To

1. Heat water on the stove until it’s hot, but not boiling.

2. Put coconut chips in blender (I recommend and use this one.) Pour hot water over the chips.

3. Blend on high for 2 minutes, or until you get a creamy, thick homemade coconut milk.

4. Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth. Pour the coconut milk through the lined strainer into a bowl. This will remove any larger remaining coconut meat. When you’re done pouring the coconut milk through the strainer, ball up the cheesecloth and give it a good squeeze to press the remaining liquid through. You can use your residual coconut caught in the cheesecloth in a recipe that calls for coconut, or you can toss it.

5. Transfer your homemade coconut milk from the bowl into a mason jar or other container. Use the homemade coconut milk immediately, or keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.

When you make coconut milk this way, it’s delightfully fresh, creamy, thick, and full-bodied. You won’t go back to store-bought milk again!

Where to Buy Organic Coconut Chips

how make coconut milk homemade coconut milkI get the organic coconut chips I use to make coconut milk from one of my sponsors, Radiant Life.

Their coconut chips are sustainably harvested, organic, and low-temperature dehydrated to preserve nutrients.

They’re also completely additive-free with no hidden sweeteners or preservatives.

(Click here to buy organic coconut chips.)




(top photo: elanaspantry, middle photo: givengrace, bottom photo: radiantlife)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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58 Responses to How to Make Coconut Milk
  1. Mandy
    August 26, 2013 | 8:30 pm

    I buy the Nutiva coconut manna (have also used Artisana) to make coconut milk. 1 part coconut manna (also called butter) + 2 parts water in the blender. Works great!

  2. Suzanne
    August 26, 2013 | 9:24 pm

    How do you make coconut cream?

    • Laura
      August 27, 2013 | 10:06 am

      I’m pretty sure you put that new milk in the fridge and the cream will harden a bit and come to the top, just like in the can. :)

  3. Lisa
    August 27, 2013 | 7:32 am

    How do you make coconut milk with fresh coconut?

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 10:31 am

      It’s pretty much the same, but you would use one brown coconut per 2 cups of hot/warm water. You just have to add in the added step of cutting the coconut open and removing all the meat.

      I did that once and decided it was too much effort for this busy momma! It turned what normally takes me 5 minutes from start to finish into a project that took 25 minutes.

  4. Matt
    August 27, 2013 | 8:42 am

    I noticed that Radiant Life offers larger chips or smaller flakes. You mention both in your recipe. Which have you had the best outcome with? Have you made ice cream with the coconut milk?

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 10:35 am

      I have the best outcome with coconut chips. Sorry if my language was confusing! I went back and edited it so that it’s clear I’m referring to chips the whole time.

      (I was saying “flakes” not in the sense of labeling the product, but as a descriptive term for what handling them is like. I can see how interchanging them was confusing.)

      And finally, yes you can use this coconut milk just like you’d use any other (including for making ice cream).

  5. Zsolt KÖVESSI
    August 27, 2013 | 9:14 am

    Hello, hello,
    I don’t buy dried coconut chips. I buy coconut. I think my coconut milk / kefir / flower are cheaper. And it’s easy to crack the nut open.

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 10:47 am

      Likely so. I’ve made coconut milk from brown coconuts before, but found the process too time consuming for me as a busy momma. It takes an extra 20 minutes or so to crack the nut open and remove the meat — turning something that’s a relatively instant process into something that requires actual planning and TIME.

      One of the ways I manage to feed my family real food is by taking my breaks where I can get them.

      In this case, I source coconut chips from a reliable source and radically reduce both my costs and my time spent in the kitchen.

      Also, I can’t find brown coconuts for less than Radiant Life’s Coconut Chips where I live. I can when I’m in Houston, visiting family, and go to their large Asian markets. But here in small town Texas, outside of Austin, brown coconuts cost about $1.50 each. Each one only yields about 2 cups of coconut milk, so that’s $0.75 per cup (twice what I pay by using coconut chips).

      Anyhow, if you have access to cheap fresh coconuts and the inclination to crack them open and remove the meat and process it into coconut milk & flour, more power to you!

      I’m just glad to have found a solution that’s pretty accessible to everybody — regardless of where they live or how little time they have.

  6. Shari W
    August 27, 2013 | 10:08 am

    Is there anyway to turn the leftover coconut into coconut flour? At the rate we go through the milk, we would end up throwing out a LOT of flakes. But if it could be turned into flour – that would be a wonderful benefit!!

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 10:49 am

      Yes, just dehydrate it. If you want it to have an even texture, you can pulse the dehydrated leftovers a few times in a food processor. Just be careful because if you pulse it too long, you’ll turn it into coconut butter.

    • Gretchen
      August 27, 2013 | 10:50 am

      YES! I just did this yesterday! You spread the leftover coconut on a baking sheet (or place it in your dehydrator) and set your oven at the lowest temp (mine is 150) and dry anywhere from 2-12 hours until completely dry. Mine only took 3 hours and I stirred it around once. Then you take the dried coconut and place it in a coffee/seed grinder (in batches) and whiz it around for about 30 seconds. Voila! Coconut Flour!

  7. Gretchen
    August 27, 2013 | 10:54 am

    When the coconut cream rises to the top and hardens in the refrigerator, it makes it kinda chunky to drink and my kids hate it… Any suggestions? I don’t want to let it out to soften because I’m afraid that hastens spoiling and we like it cold. Also I’m not real fond of removing the hard cream because isn’t that where all the good medium chain fats are? Thanks!

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 11:23 am

      No. Maybe another reader? We always use our coconut milk in recipes and don’t drink it.

    • Terran Murphy
      August 27, 2013 | 12:55 pm

      Stick blender! Store the coconut milk in a container you can fit the head in. You get creamy, dreamy coconut milk in seconds! (Just don’t blend too long or you will have a loose whipped “cream!”)

    • monica
      August 27, 2013 | 2:06 pm

      We let the oil/cream rise to the top and then I remove it and put it in a jar in the fridge. Then whenever a recipe calls for oil, I use this. Sometimes I just munch on it. It’s mostly oil from what I have experienced.

  8. Katie
    August 27, 2013 | 11:16 am

    Has anyone done a cost comparison? I assume you save making your own coconut milk.

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 11:20 am

      Yes. I shared a cost comparison in the section of this post called “How Making Coconut Milk Saves Money.”

  9. Morwalk
    August 27, 2013 | 12:05 pm

    I am so glad step #1 wasn’t “Go buy yourself a coconut.” I’ve tried that, and after some dinged up kitchen utensils and bowls, most of the coconut was buried in the back yard.

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 12:07 pm

      Ha ha! Right? It’s kinda like opening up fresh oysters. You need the right tool and a lot of practice. Otherwise, it’s a lot of work.

  10. V
    August 27, 2013 | 12:07 pm

    What’s wrong with guar gum?

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 12:10 pm

      Maybe nothing. It’s been shown to cause digestive distress in people who already have digestive issues (1 in 3 Americans, according to the latest surveys).

      It doesn’t personally affect me, but I think it gives my middle child stomach aches.

  11. Joanna
    August 27, 2013 | 12:54 pm

    Hi Kristen, Thanks for the recipe for coconut milk. Another concern I have is that coconut milk is high in fat. Do you know anything about this or how one could reduce the fat content?

  12. Nicolette Bohannon
    August 27, 2013 | 2:05 pm

    What is the difference between using coconut chips vs. coconut flakes?

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 2:31 pm

      You can use either, but the quantities may need to be adjusted a little.

      I’ve also found that the milk made using the chips comes out creamier. Maybe because they’re thicker when dehydrated, they have more fat?

  13. Shelby
    August 27, 2013 | 2:22 pm

    Can you just use regular shredded coconut from the health food store?

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 2:34 pm

      Yes, you can. Just make sure it’s unsweetened, low-temperature dehydrated, and has no fillers or additives. Also, I’ve had better consistency with the chips, which is why the recipe recommends them instead of shredded coconut.

      • Shelby
        August 27, 2013 | 2:49 pm

        Ok, great! Thank you. I have a nice bag of good shredded coconut that I might use to make this! :)

  14. kris
    August 27, 2013 | 5:49 pm

    Could you freeze the milk to extend shelf life?
    I am not sure that it would be used within four days.

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 5:58 pm

      You could try it and find out.

      But honestly, that’s why the recipe only makes 2 cups — so that it can be used quickly for whatever recipe you have in mind. (And if you need more for something in particular, it’s easy to keep the proportions right when you double or triple it.)

      It’s pretty much the perfect amount for a few days’ worth of coffee creamer, the perfect amount to add to curries or soups or stews. It’s meant to be made and consumed quickly.

  15. soury
    August 27, 2013 | 6:32 pm

    Is it possible to make this in anything other then a vitamix? We do have a smoothie maker with a sharp blade, would that work?

    also, you mentioned low-temp dried coconut….do you know how low that should be? My supplier says the coconut is dried anywhere between 190-270F.

    • Kristen
      August 27, 2013 | 7:42 pm

      Absolutely any blender will do. If it *had* to be the Vitamix, I would have named the brand and listed it as necessary equipment for the recipe.

      Low-temperature at or below 118F. It keeps the coconut technically “raw,” preserving the enzymes and other heat-sensitive nutrients.

  16. mrfreddy
    August 28, 2013 | 7:12 am

    I may go buy some cheesecloth and try this! One question, what does one do with a used cheesecloth? Toss in into the laundry?

    • Kristen
      August 29, 2013 | 12:09 pm

      You could also use a thin, clean cloth diaper. (The old-fashioned kind that you have to fold many times.) They sell those at Wal-Mart and Target, so they may be easier to come by.

      And yes, you can generally toss it into the laundry and treat it gently (like you would pantyhose or other delicates).

  17. Misti
    August 29, 2013 | 1:09 pm

    I’ll have to try this with coconut chips – but I make it every few days with shredded coconut and it works fine. (Though I find that the texture is better if I use tepid water. Somehow the texture is always slimy when I use hot water.)

    Note that flour sack kitchen towels also work fine for strainung the milk…

    Thanks, Kristen!

  18. Quincy Aragon
    September 1, 2013 | 10:56 am

    I just tried to purchase the 3 lb bag of coconut chips for $17.50. The shipping cost was $76.11. That kinda kills the 36 cents a cup goal here doesn’t it?

    • Quincy Aragon
      September 1, 2013 | 6:17 pm

      you guys ignoring me?

    • Kristen
      September 1, 2013 | 6:23 pm

      Where are you trying to ship to? Standard shipping everywhere in the contiguous 48 states is usually $8 or less.

      Plus, I always place bulk orders, so I get free shipping from them.

      • Quincy Aragon
        September 1, 2013 | 6:29 pm

        shipping to CO, that’s it. I even emptied out my cart a coupla times and same thing.

        • Kristen
          September 1, 2013 | 6:36 pm

          How weird!

          Try clearing your temporary cached files. I don’t know how to do it on a Mac, but on a PC you just hold down ctrl and F5 at the same time on the page you want to reload. So, I’d empty your cart of EVERYTHING, then try clearing the cache, then go shopping again and add the items you want back into your cart.

          Next, make sure you select standard UPS Ground Shipping and input your address correctly.

          If you still have the same issue, I’d contact Radiant Life’s customer support and see if they can help you.

          All I know is that the price you were quoted makes no sense at all.

      • QDog
        September 1, 2013 | 6:31 pm

        Just tried again and same thing. $76.11 shipping.

        Someone else please try it and see what you get. There’s no commitment up to the part shipping is calculated.

      • QDog
        September 2, 2013 | 8:00 am

        OK never mind it was my fault. Somehow the shipping changed to next day air. I know the first time I did it it was normal ground. I did have to do it a time or two cuz I mis-typed something so it must have changed in there somewhere and I stopped paying attention.

        Thanks

  19. chaya
    September 1, 2013 | 3:22 pm

    seems “wasteful” to buy such good quality raw coconut, and then put it in hot water, basically nullifying the raw enzymes. It sounds soo good though, will be trying it raw or not!

    • Kristen
      September 1, 2013 | 3:54 pm

      It will still work with just warm water, particularly in the Vitamix. So, if you’ve got a powerful enough blender, you can keep it raw!

  20. alex clarkson
    September 4, 2013 | 2:55 pm

    a very simple and helpful recipe to make coconut milk at home. will try this soon. Thanks

  21. QDog
    September 10, 2013 | 10:42 pm

    So I tried this the other day and ended with coconut flavored water. Hardly the creamy loveliness that comes out of a can. I purchased the coconut flakes you use and even used more than one cup. Although one cup is kind of up to the individual. One could use a cup of loose chips of pack them down hard. I used a loose cup and then grabbed another handful or two. How exactly do you do it?

    Even more importantly, does yours turn out thick and creamy like the stuff that comes out of a can?

    • QDog
      September 10, 2013 | 10:43 pm

      Sorry, I meant to type “or pack them down hard”

    • QDog
      September 11, 2013 | 10:01 pm

      OK so no love for the QDog?

    • QDog
      September 14, 2013 | 10:10 am

      C’mon y’all, I need someone to help me figure this out. I love a dalop of creamy coconut milk in my morning coffe along with a touch of chocolate.

      • Zandra Brown
        October 11, 2013 | 10:40 pm

        I am wondering the same thing. I just got coconut flavored water. Not thick or creamy. :(

      • Tony
        December 24, 2013 | 5:57 pm

        Real milk separates. It’s what you call an unstable emulsion. Same thing with coconut milk without additives, probably. I imagine after you’ve drained and chilled it, you could remove the water and use only as much you’d like as you blend it again.

  22. Amber
    October 7, 2013 | 7:00 pm

    Am enjoying your site! Do you have a recipe for coconut flour?

  23. Tony
    December 24, 2013 | 5:44 pm

    If you’re not making coconut powder, what do you do with all the leftover pulp? Seems like a waste to throw it out. I don’t have a food processor. Just a blender.

  24. Travin McKain via Facebook
    February 13, 2014 | 8:15 pm

    What do you think of the concentrated coconut cream you can get in the mylar packs, now?

  25. Melissa Mahan via Facebook
    February 13, 2014 | 8:28 pm

    i go to the asian markets and buy this one. just one ingredient, coconut milk, and it’s not in a can http://www.amazon.com/AROY-D-COCONUT-MILK-100%25-ORIGINAL/dp/B0078V4EYC/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1392341221&sr=8-9&keywords=coconut+milk

  26. Melody Davis via Facebook
    April 3, 2014 | 11:25 am

    Is this for drinking, like the type bought in the carton or for cooking, like the type in the can?

  27. Food Renegade via Facebook
    April 3, 2014 | 12:19 pm

    Melody — I use it for both. Its consistency comes out kinda in between the two.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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