Homemade Coconut Milk

April 23, 2012 in Categories: , by

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Coconut milk is an absolute staple in my house.  I use it in baking and in curries.  I like to let a can of full-fat coconut milk sit for a while then scrape the creamy top half of the can out and use it as a pudding or whipped cream substitute.  I use coconut milk in smoothies and I use it to make my own homemade coconut milk kefir and yogurt (recipe coming Wednesday!).  But coconut milk is expensive!  The cheapest canned full-fat coconut milk that I have found is 365 Brand at Whole Foods for $1.99 per can.  And it’s not organic and has guar gum as an additive.  Guar gum can be a gut irritant and given how sensitive my digestion is, I prefer to avoid it (I get a stomach ache if I have regular full-fat canned coconut milk).  I tried the light coconut milk that Trader Joe’s cells for $0.99 per can that is guar gum-free, but light coconut milk is just not the same and definitely not worth my money.  So, given that I average a can a day, an alternative was desperately needed in my house.

As I started to play with homemade coconut milk recipes using organic, unsweetened finely shredded dried coconut as my base (using fresh coconut was cost prohibitive), I discovered that method really matters.  Methods where you soak the coconut in cold water first just don’t extract the fat from the coconut very well (and what’s the point if you’re not getting the fat!!!).  So, when I happened on methodology that used freshly boiled hot water instead, I was excited.  The hot water allows the fat to release from the dried coconut.  The pulp is then strained using an Extra Fine Mesh Strainer, a Cheesecloth draped over a sieve or colander, a Nut-Milk Bag or clean Paint Strainer Bags (which are virtually identical to Nut-Milk Bags but without a drawstring yet are substantially cheaper and available at most hardware stores).  Once discovering this technique, the trick for this recipe was really just figuring how much coconut to add to how much hot water to achieve the half and half creamy stuff to watery stuff that’s in a can.  And given how many recipes use “1 full can’s worth” of coconut milk, I needed to figure out how to replicate that perfect 13.5oz volume.  So, here is my recipe.  It costs less than a quarter the price of organic guar gum-free full-fat canned Coconut Milk and about half the price of the cheapest full-fat coconut milk (that contains guar gum and isn’t organic) that I can find.  It doesn’t require planning in advance (unless you are going to want it chilled).  It separates just like canned coconut milk if you want to make pudding or mock whipped cream from the top layer (in fact, the top layer is maybe even a little thicker than canned coconut milk), see the photo.  It has a cleaner taste than canned coconut milk and doesn’t contain the potential gut-irritant guar gum or contribute estrogen-mimicking compounds to your diet.  Plus, it makes great yogurt!

This recipe is perfect for the large cup of my Magic Bullet.  It makes the equivalent of one half of a can (slightly less than 1 cup of coconut milk).  If you have a larger Blender, go ahead and double the recipe to make the equivalent of one whole can.

Homemade Coconut Milk


1.    Place coconut into the large cup of a Magic Bullet or bottom of a Blender.
2.    Add freshly boiled, very hot water to coconut.
3.    Blend on high for 5 minutes (with the magic bullet, I blend for 45-60 seconds at a time, give the motor a few second break, and then repeat).
4.    Pour pulp into a Nut-Milk Bag or Cheesecloth (or other chosen strainer) suspended over a glass bowl, mason jar, or measuring cup (have your strainer suspended over your bowl before you pour in the pulp).
5.    You can either let gravity do its thing or you can squeeze the pulp through your bag or cheesecloth to release to coconut milk (I suggest waiting for the pulp to cool a little before doing this).
6.    If not being used immediately, store coconut milk in a glass jar in the fridge (the jar is great for shaking up later).  Enjoy!

One of my followers suggested using hot unsweetened coconut water instead of regular water in this recipe for an even better tasting coconut milk.  Definitely worth a try if you plan on drinking this milk or pouring on paleo granola

Homemade Coconut Milk 2


I followed the directions to the letter and got no fat/cream. I purchased “Organic Coconut” in a bulk bag from the health food store. Nothing else on the label. Any suggestions? The milk isn’t bad but it just doesn’t work the same in the recipes where I’d used the canned stuff before. Really don’t like using the processed/canned stuff.

In Sarah’s recipe for full fat coconut milk it does yield cream or fat, etc. I have made it and mine separates out with the cream on top. The pulp that is strained out is the flour. Coconut butter, which is sometimes referred to as creme is made from coconut that has not been made into milk. Perhaps the person used defatted coconut as that will not get the creamy fat.

I have found that it depends on the appliance you use whether you get the solidified cream on top or not. I get it with my blender (cheap Oster) and a short amount of blending time but I never get it using my food processor or Magic Bullet. I have also strained the milk with my masticating juicer to yield the most liquid and fat but that didn’t work either. I don’t know why it’s that way but it just is.

I’d be afraid that now you have to worry about how much plastic residue you’ve got from hot boiling water in the plastic bullet. mmmm…

I wonder if it would work by heating it a bit in the pan, letting it cool, and THEN putting it in the plastic… I will have to try it. I have to look for a strong hand-held mixer. I avoid boiling water in plastics and would probably choose the additives in coconut milk over the plastic residues. I run into the same problem adding hot bone broth to recipes. I let it cool first.

I reacently brought fresh coconut from our trip to Hawaii. I used the recipe using the fresh soft coconut in my vitamix for less than two minutes. I ended up with absolutely no pulp. I even strained and had nothing. It tasted good. And is pretty thick. Maybe small pulp will come to the surface after being in the fridge for a bit?

When reading the older comments, some people posted that they had used it to make coconut flour. — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

First thanks for you site! Its making things much easier for planning and whatnot. With 8 kids, 1 who may be Celiac, and a hubby with Type 1 diabetes money is tight around here. So while we may not be able to go full Paleo and are more paleo”ish” I am looking forward to seeing how this helps my hubs and at least my one child.

I have been making my own coconut milk and almond milk for a while. I used different ratios than what you have, I think it was a 2:1 ratio(water:coconut) and this last batch I did i twice with the same pulp b/c there was more fat in the flakes. I soaked the first batch for a couple hours and then blended it up in my ninja blender and strained. Then I warmed the pulp on the stove with more water and blended again and strained.

Put it in the fridge and later had the hard fat that had separated up on top. It was not spoon-able off though. Is this the fat that is spoken about for making cream and stuff?
If I am not going to use it right away is there a way to store it? Does this make the milk below become “skim” milk. If I am trying to get more good fat into my husbands diet should I just leave it in there and find a way to re-blend it in?
Also hubs doesn’t like the taste, what would be an ok way to flavor it a bit..for drinking. I would make a separate batch for cooking. Sorry for all the questions.

You can store the milk longer-term by freezing it, and blend the fat back in for full-fat milk (the liquid that separates out is basically coconut water). The hard layer on top is the “creamed coconut” or “coconut cream” referred to in many recipes. You could try flavoring it with pineapple, lemon, lime, or any other flavor you like. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been making my own coconut milk for a while and it is always thin. I despaired of ever finding a recipe that would adequately substitute for canned coconut milk. Thank you for making this possible! I will try it soon!

try adding in some guar gum. The canned version allmost all from what I have seen have a thickening agent like guar gum, careegan, xnathum etc

Carageen is an inflammatory. I would make my own just to avoid this ingredient. And in the article, guar gum is avoided as a gut irritant.

This is amazing! It was so unbelievably easy and its delicious! Thank you for posting this, I will be sharing this recipe with everyone I know :)

[…] Milk has sugars, proteins, and fats that can be tricky to swap out. Almond milk often works well, but it’s hard on Evan’s stomach and I like, but don’t love, the taste of almond milk. Coconut milk can work well, (like Paleo Parents’ Chai) but when heated it has a tendency to separate if it doesn’t have a lot of binders in it. And the best coconut milk is the kind that you make at home (Like PaleoMom’s Recipe). […]

Would this work in a juicer, vs. a blender? I have a decent Cuisinart blender, but it’s so big and bulky I never use it. Thanks for this, I’m excited to try it!

I have not heard of using a juicer for coconut milk, but do see some comments from others that have tried it and say it works. For best results, Sarah recommends following her recipes as written. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

I can’t tolerate the full fat canned milk (even the one w/o guar gum) so I typically make my own. I was looking for a “shortcut” for when I run out an don’t have time to make my own. I bought a can of Trader Joe’s “lite” coconut milk and I actually liked the flavor and consistency a lot. I added a 1/3 of a cup of coconut manna to add back some of the fat. I was wondering what are your thoughts about that?

I hate to waste anything so i’ve found ways to use it. I’ve added it to stir-frys. I’vemixed it with fruit salad, mixed it into smoothies, sprinkled it on salad and even put it on a pan and toasted it in the oven. Be adventurous! It’s great to add a little texture and fiber to almost anything.

My reply above was in reference to Tanya’s question about using the pulp after you strain off the coconut milk. Rereading it a few days later I realized without that reference it looked like I was writing abt what I use coconut milk for—and what I really meant was what I do with the coconut pulp. I had hit the ‘reply’ link in Tanya’s post and thought that my reply would be connected to her post as well. I’m new to this posting stuff–and yet I thoroughly enjoy seeing everyone else’s ideas and questions!!

Thanks for a great site!!

Hey! So, i make my own coconut milk from coconuts…i live in west africa and can get the coconuts easily and cheaply enough. Here is my problem…i can’t seem to get that nice thick cream everyone raves about…here is how i have been doing it. I cut up fresh coconut (the brown dry coconut, not the green young coconut) put that in my blender with enough water and blend for quite a while…i used to add hot water, but just use room temp water now and heat then a bit on top of the stove, sieve, and then refrigerate.. It will separate but there is no thick cream. Any tips or suggestions as to how to make that happen would be great! Thanks!

I live in South Florida and fresh coconut is available just about anywhere… including our yard! This recipe seems amazing, but based on previous comments, it doesn’t seem I will get the same results if I use fresh coconut…

Please, can someone tell me what I would need to do to get the same results using fresh coconut for this recipe?

You have to use mature coconuts. Drain and save coconut water, break the coconut into pieces, pry out all the pulp (you will need a good knife & gloves), then process in a blender with 2-3 cups water (use reserved coconut water plus enough filtered water to measure total 2-3 cups – less water yields a creamier milk). Run blender for 1-2 minutes then strain through very fine mesh sieve or cloth.

When we where I Fiji they made it at a cooking class I went to. They used young coconuts saved the water and chopped up the white flesh put It into some muslin cloth smashed it a bit with the side of a cleaver then just squeezed the bejebers out of It. It made beautiful coconut milk/cream. add the coconut water if to thick

*We use dried coconut flakes and always get the half half cream milk*

I tried making this for the first time tonight and doubled it like Sarah suggested to get the equivalent amount to one can. After letting it sit for about two hours and having my husband squeeze it through a cheesecloth, I got maybe 4 ounces. And that’s being generous. I made it in a Vitamix, which I assume is fairly similar, if not better, than the Magic Bullet. Any ideas as to what I may have done wrong since I clearly did not get the amount I should have? I used the exact coconut she linked to from Let’s Do Organic and I blended it for 5 minutes in 1 minute intervals. Thanks!

Thanks for the reply. We did squeeze it through the cheesecloth as soon as it wasn’t too hot to handle. Then we let it sit to “let gravity do its thing” as Sarah said. :) I guess we weren’t sure how long that would take. Perhaps we’ll have to give it another try sometime.

Hello! I was thinking of making this for my one year old who I am suspecting has silent reflux. I was to give him a few days of dairy free, but he’s a tiny fella, and not eating well, so I need to ensure he is getting good calories. Any idea what this 8 oz of coconut milk yields calorically? I would imagine it’s not as easy to figure out as the calories in the 3/4 c. of coconut flakes. Thank you!

Note to anyone using a bullet style blender. I followed the instructions but when I took the container off of the blender it exploded all over. I got some nasty burns on my face and arm.

I hope this is not redundant, as I haven’t had time to read through all of the replies here. How long does homemade coconut milk last in the fridge (if I use a BPA free glass pitcher with hermetic seal)? Also, can i make a really big batch and freeze some or does it freeze well?

When I make coconut milk following the directions it comes out good but often I don’t want to take the time to make it. When I want a smoothie in a hurry and don’t have any homemade I use about 1/2 a can of Trader Joe’s light coconut milk (cheap and no additives) and add a couple of table spoons of coconut oil to make up the fat. Is this OK or am I losing something by not using homemade?

[…] replace them with a tablespoon of pure maple syrup or honey.  Today I used coconut milk (because I made some recently), but I usually use almond milk.  On a whim I decided to throw in some walnuts; once upon […]

Hi. I made your full fat coconut milk recipe this past Sunday to start my almost three year old on a two week dairy free trial. However, I can’t find anywhere what an appropriate serving size is for her. Healthy appetite & eats gluten free & whole foods. Any thoughts from readers and/or you would be appreciated. She was drinking maximum of 8 ounces of organic whole milk a day. Some days we also gave her 4 ounces of keifer.
Thank you! Melissa

Wow…that sounds easy! I might have to try this (haven’t tried making nut milks yet). But, in case you want a stash of canned coconut milk in your pantry for just in case (or for emergencies…no electricity, etc), I have found that Azure Standard is the cheapest place to buy no-additive full fat coconut milk (and it’s organic). And it is almost $10 less per case than Amazon. I buy a ton of groceries from Azure. https://www.azurestandard.com/shop/product/4805//

Thanks for the great recipes!!

I plan to make a big batch of coconut milk, what do I do with the fat on it? Do I freeze it together in a jar or should I separate it before I freeze it and can I freeze the fat by itself?

Another suggestion for bought coconut milk is Aroy Dy in juice-box-type packaging. No additives and it tastes great. It’s expensive online, but our grocery store sells it for under $7 for a six-pack.

I just made some of this coconut milk to make some chocolate peanut butter ice cream. It was easy, and the ice cream was delicious. Then I went to figure out how many calories I had just eaten. WOW!! There are over 400 calories in a cup! I don’t think I’ll be making this again. When someone has 40 pounds to loose to get to a healthy weight I can’t just drink (or eat) 400 calories in a cup of liquid.

Hi there! Thank you for the recipe. I, too, didn’t have any separation with the milk. I followed the recipe above precisely, using the exact coconut she recommended. Sooooo….what’s the trick? I’ve read thru all of the comments, but a clear answer wasn’t available. I want to make sure I’m retaining the fat in the milk (and not straining it out with the pulp in the cheesecloth). (If it’s less time, or lower speed…shouldn’t the recipe reflect that?) thank you!!!

I have been simmering 16 oz water, 16 oz coconut water, 4 tablespoons coconut butter, and 1 tablespoon honey. Once everything is dissolved I let cool and store in and old Strauss brand milk glass container in the fridge. Just give it a good shake before serving and you may need to strain a little after a day or two. My little kids love it and it has allowed me to move them off dairy as well as avoid the emulsifiers. Just wanted to share.

Hi i also follow your method only y do it with fresh shredded coconut. It’s cheaper for us in South America. Ii would only suggest passing it first through a strainer and only afterwards through the cheesecloth because you are leaving part of the good fat in the cloth. That way most of the fat will fall through the strainer with the milk, remaining only the shreds and your milk will be thicker. Good luck

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