No matter how much I love my store-bought coconut milk, it doesn’t even come close to fresh homemade coconut milk. The taste of fresh coconut milk is so clean, so refreshing, and so fragrant.  It’s just like fresh coconut in the creamy liquid form.

coconut milk

A fun fact about coconuts.

In Sanskrit, the coconut tree is known as “kalpa vriksha”, which translates to a “tree which gives all that is necessary for living.” And it’s true. You could literally live off of coconuts for several months if you needed to. But very few people have ever actually eaten a fresh raw coconut, besides that one time in Mexico, of course. So why don’t we eat fresh coconuts more often? Well, I would guess that you’re probably not growing coconuts in your backyard. And even if you were, it’s pretty hard to crack them open. Once you open them, you can use all that beautiful white flesh to make coconut milk.

While having milk from fresh coconuts is out of this world, there are other ways to make coconut milk at home. You can use already cracked and peeled coconuts (i.e., intact young coconut meat with coconut water still inside), dried shredded coconut, or coconut manna. Be aware that the flavor of homemade coconut milk is much more pronounced than that of a store-bought. So if you want more neutral-tasting plant-based milk, go for homemade almond milk instead.

homemade coconut milk

Tips for Making Fresh Coconut Milk

Ingredients

  • Coconut: you have two options when it comes to coconut – fresh coconut (brown-mature or white-young) or dried coconut (flaked or shredded). Depending on your location, you might have difficulty finding fresh coconuts. While I can get fresh coconuts in the store all year round, they are not the cheapest. Another advantage of using dried coconut for this recipe is that it’s much faster and easier. Sometimes you don’t have the time to crack the coconut open, drain the coconut water, extract the coconut flesh from the hard shell, peel the brown bits, chop the flesh into smaller pieces … you get my point. 
  • Water: I’ve seen many recipes calling for coconut water as the base liquid for coconut milk, but I find the flavor of coconut water really strong. It completely overpowers the mellow flavor of coconut milk. So, use plain water. Also, the hotter the water, the better. The hot water softens and steeps the coconut, resulting in an easier blending and better flavor.
homemade coconut milk ingredients

How to Make Coconut Milk

Making homemade coconut milk is easy! All you need is coconut and a high-speed blender. Sure, you can make this recipe with a regular blender too, but the flavor of the milk won’t be as well-rounded and full. Here’s how to get the most out of that coconut flesh:

  1. Blend the ingredients. Add the coconut and water to a high-speed blender and blend on high until the coconut has broken down and the mixture becomes frothy.
  2. Strain the coconut. The milk will look creamy but still have little coconut pieces. So, set a nut milk bag over a large bowl and pour the milk in. Bring the top of the bag together and use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. The squeezing part is really important. You want to squeeze the coconut flesh as hard as you can. You should essentially end up with very dry and tasteless coconut flesh. You could also use a piece of cheesecloth, but it’s not very practical – it needs to be doubled or tripled; otherwise, it comes apart and is nearly impossible to wash. Nut milk bags work so much better because they are already bag-shaped, don’t stretch over time, are resistant to picking up stains or food odors, and can be easily washed.
blending coconut milk
straining coconut milk

How to Use Coconut Milk

Coconut milk works well for both sweet and savory dishes. 

You can blend it into a smoothie, pour it over granola or cereal, stir it into a chia pudding, bake with it, or drink it with ice.

Perhaps the most classic use of this non-dairy milk is in curries and vegetable stews. You can also incorporate it as one of the liquid ingredients when making a soup, such as this butternut squash soup.

How to Store Coconut Milk

  • Refrigerating: transfer the coconut milk to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. If separation occurs, shake before serving.
  • Freezing: transfer the coconut milk to an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months. You can also pour the milk into ice cube trays and freeze it.

Coconut Milk Variations

The thickness of the coconut milk really depends on your needs. Always start with less water and add more as you go.

My go-to ratio is 2 cups/180 g of shredded coconut to 4 cups/960 ml of water. A high ratio of coconut to water is ideal for desserts where you want to replace the taste and texture of canned coconut milk. A lower ratio of coconut to water is best for drinking or pouring over cereal. 

coconut milk recipe

More Nut Milk Recipes

  • Almond Milk: homemade almond milk is a very popular dairy-free milk alternative. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a beautiful bright white color incomparable to the store-bought variety.
  • Cashew milk: my favorite dairy-free milk is cashew milk. It’s slightly sweet, smooth, and creamy, with a beautiful white color. It’s also easy to make at home as it requires no straining.
  • Tigernut milk: this plant milk is naturally sweet with a mellow nutty flavor (despite tiger nuts not being a nut). 

Did you make this recipe? I would love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a review and rating below.

coconut milk
5 from 1 vote

Coconut Milk

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 (½-cup) servings
No matter how much I love my store-bought coconut milk, it doesn't even come close to fresh homemade coconut milk. The taste of fresh coconut milk is so clean, so refreshing, and so fragrant.  It’s just like fresh coconut in the creamy liquid form. You can use it to enhance the flavor of a myriad of dishes – from smoothies and shakes to soups and stews – or sip it on its own.

Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups (180 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3-4 cups (720-960 ml) water

Instructions
 

  • Blend the ingredients. Add the coconut and hot water to a high-speed blender and blend on high until the coconut has broken down and the mixture becomes frothy. The milk will look creamy but still have little coconut pieces. 
  • Strain the coconut. Set a nut milk bag over a large bowl and pour the milk in. Bring the top of the bag together and use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You should end up with very dry and tasteless coconut flesh.
  • Store. Leftover almond milk keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer-term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Notes

*Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 6, Calories: 52kcal, Carbohydrates: 2.4g, Protein: 0.7g, Fat: 5g, Fiber: 1.6g, Sugar: 0.6g
Course: Drinks, How-To
Cuisine: Thai
Keywords: coconut milk, coconut milk recipe, homemade coconut milk, how to make coconut milk