10 Ways to Cook with Coconut Milk

August 30, 2017

Good things come in tin cans. Case in point: sardines, whole tomatoes, beans galore—and coconut milk. We've said it before and we'll say it again: Coconut milk is one sexy, dreamy canned good. It's sweet but not cloyingly so, rich but not heavy. It's cheap! It adds depth to the savory and the sweet, from soup to cake. Its creamy, dairy-like qualities make it a vegan's best friend—and it can be your best friend too.

Here are 10 ways to make friends with coconut milk: 

Eat it for breakfast:

Shop the Story

Toasted Almond and Coconut Quinoa Porridge by Gena Hamshaw



Make dinner better:

Sautéed Spring Mushrooms, Chiles + Cilantro in Caramelized Coconut Broth by CarolineWright



Vegan Kale and White Bean Korma by Alexandra Dawson




Cheap Creamy Chicken Curry by Table9



End on a sweet note:

Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Citrus and Ginger by Gena Hamshaw



Vegan Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream by Ashley McLaughlin

Ice cream 

More: Top off your vegan ice cream with a big dollop of coconut whipped cream.


Coconut Cajeta & Chocolate Fondue by hardlikearmour



Coconut Tres Leches by aargesi

Tres leches cake


Your Ten-Minute Bowl of Bananas in Coconut Milk by Nicholas Day



My Favorite Pina Colada by Merrill Stubbs

Pina Colada

This post originally ran July 2015.

How do you use coconut milk? Tell us in the comments!

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  • AntoniaJames
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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


AntoniaJames August 30, 2017
Mallika Basu's basic tomato curry sauce + coconut milk + whatever protein /grains / vegetables you have on hand = dinner. I make triple batches of the sauce and freeze in one and two cup portions for this purpose. Also, that sauce + frozen chopped spinach + chickpeas = chana saag 15-minute dinner (we eat it with brown rice), another great reason to keep this sauce on hand. ;o)
Brittany P. August 6, 2016
I do edamame in coconut milk & sambal with a touch of soy sauce or salt. Delish.
Rachel H. July 26, 2016
Minatamis na Bao. super yum
Scallen July 26, 2016
I do the recipe from P.Deen French Coconut Pie and sub the milk with Coconut milk to give it more coconutty flavor. Easy as pie!
Terri July 9, 2016
If you're interested in the environmental impact of coconut farming, here's some good information:
I am concerned about the transportation costs and environmental effects of tropical fruits when they become so popular we find them in everything. I suggest using it consciously; and buy organic fair trade when possible!
Jori M. July 8, 2016
I cook jasmine rice in coconut milk. Game changer!
Jessica M. August 19, 2015
I love making tapioca pudding with coconut milk and a pinch of cinnamon!
Karen T. July 20, 2015
I use coconut milk to make my veggie pot pie instead of regular milk.
Annada R. July 19, 2015
I use coconut milk as an enriching agent in this asian inspired tomato soup. Heat 3 tsp clarified butter or ghee in pan. Add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and once they stop popping, add 3 tbsp tomato paste and 1 cup of water. Salt and pepper this tomato mix as per your taste. Once this mix boils, add 1/2 cup unsweetened, canned coconut milk and let it boil again. Top it off with some chopped cilantro. I love to drink this rich soup on a cold, wintry day. day.
Author Comment
Caroline L. July 20, 2015
this sounds so delicious! can't wait to try.
Janet M. July 19, 2015
For roti de porc au lait, I substitute coconut milk for cow's mild for simmering they pork. Since coconut milk doesn't curdle, I can add citrus flavorings. (Lemongrass works really well with the pork and coconut milk.) I've also adapted the recipe to use with a whole fryer chicken. You can really pack in the citrus with chicken.
Peet July 17, 2015
Coconut pancakes instead of regular milk coconut milk ....very tasty
Robert July 16, 2015
Canned sugar-free coconut milk (forget the pretend coconut milk in cartons) opens up a whole world for your dairy-intolerant friends and family. Try it in coffee or tea, you will be shocked how good it is. Even traditional dessert recipes can work well, although you will need to experiment to see which of the two types of canned coconut milk — light or the heavier version — works better for you. You'll want to test out several brands as the quality and flavor varies. Trader Joes & Thai Kitchens are good picks.
Carolina J. July 16, 2015
Sorry ... Sugar
theresa C. July 19, 2015
Not any more sugar than what's in cow's milk.
Carolina J. July 16, 2015
Limonada de coco. Milk coconut with lemon juice, sumar and a lot of ice. Its from Colombia
דליה ט. July 16, 2015
Looks great!
MarieGlobetrotter July 16, 2015
Curried rice with coconut milk, unsweetened coconut flakes, apples, banana, and black currants. Creamy and delicious. Recipe my mother used to make when I was a kid (and you can also add chicken to it). Here:
James July 15, 2015
Not sure if posting links from other sites is appropriate here, but here is one of my favorite. Kerala fish curry with coconut milk -
Author Comment
Caroline L. July 15, 2015
thanks for the recommendation!
AntoniaJames July 15, 2015
Interesting recipe! Never heard of kudampuli. Will have to run that down. Thank you for posting the link, James. ;o)
Maria J. July 29, 2015
Thanks for the shout out James :)

Antonia - Kudampuli is a souring agent (like tamarind) and is widely used in fish and seafood preparations in Kerala, South India. Dried kudampuli is soaked in water for sometime and then added to the curry. The combination of kudampuli and coconut milk works really well.