Looking for a simple coconut milk substitute? Here are seven coconut milk replacements you can use with recipe tips!
Given the growing popularity of coconut milk, you’ve likely seen it included in all sorts of recipes, including many of mine! It’s an incredible dairy free alternative to milk or cream, and can be used to make everything from coconut milk smoothies to healthy soup! Whether you have an allergy, don’t have any on hand, or aren’t a fan of the flavor, it’s very easy to find a substitute for coconut milk.
What is Coconut Milk?
While you can’t milk a coconut, you can create a milk from coconut meat! Coconut milk is simply shredded coconut flesh puréed with water. The end result is a rich and creamy liquid with a fat content ranging from 9-15%. Because there is a big range in the water content and how it’s made, you need to understand what a specific recipe is calling for before making substitutions.
Can I substitute coconut cream for coconut milk?
Because coconut cream has a higher fat content, all you need to do is add a little bit of water to coconut cream when using it as a substitute for coconut milk. I recommend mixing coconut cream with equal parts water. So if you have 1/2 cup coconut cream, add about 1/2 cup warm water and blend until smooth. Add more water if needed until its thinner and pourable. Read more about the difference between coconut milk vs coconut cream.
Before using a coconut milk substitute, you need to understand what type of coconut milk a recipe is calling for. Canned coconut milk is much thicker and creamier, whereas coconut milk from a carton is more watery.
In general, if a recipe calls for canned coconut milk, you’ll do better using heavy cream, cashew milk, or yogurt. If a recipe calls for coconut milk from a carton, you can basically use any dairy free milk, including almond milk, oat milk, or cashew milk!
7 Best Coconut Milk Substitutes
1. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is a creamy nut milk that has a slightly higher fat content. It’s my favorite substitute for coconut milk because it’s a little thicker and has more flavor.
Use cashew milk as a 1:1 swap for coconut milk.
2. Almond milk
Almond milk is a dairy free milk made from almonds. Store-bought almond milk tends to be pretty thin and watery, so it’s best for replacing coconut milk in recipes that don’t require coconut milk for thickening, like smoothies, soups, or baked goods. Make sure to use unsweetened almond milk in recipes. You can make almond milk a little thicker and creamier by making it a home! The Almond Cow or ChefWave almond milk makers are great for this.
Use almond milk in a 1:1 swap for coconut milk.
3. Oat Milk
Another dairy free milk alternative, oat milk is made from—you guessed it—oats! It typically consists of steel-cut oats that are soaked in water, blended, and then strained with a cheesecloth. Oat milk is pretty thin and watery, just like almond milk, so it’s best for recipes that don’t require coconut milk for thickening.
Use oat milk as a 1:1 swap for coconut milk.
4. Greek yogurt
If you tolerate dairy, Greek yogurt has a great thick and creamy texture, just like coconut milk. It’s best used in sauces, smoothies, and curries! Note: If your recipe requires simmering, do not use yogurt as a substitute it will curdle when heated.
In most cases, greek yogurt can be used as a 1:1 swap. To thin it out a bit, just add a tablespoon of water at a time until it’s creamy and pourable.
5. Cashew cream
Cashew cream is thick and creamy, just like coconut milk! It’s made from soaked cashews that have been blended with water. It’s a great dairy free alternative to coconut milk when you need a thicker consistency. And it’s pretty simple to make! Here’s a great recipe if you go this route.
Use cashew cream in a 1:1 swap for coconut milk.
6. Heavy cream
For those who tolerate dairy, heavy cream is a great stand-in for coconut milk as it has a texture that is super similar to coconut milk. It’s rich and has a great flavor.
Heavy cream can be used as a 1:1 swap for coconut milk.
7. Coconut Cream
Coconut cream is basically just coconut milk with a higher fat content. As a result, you can thin coconut cream with a little bit of water to use it as a substitute! For more info about the difference, check out coconut milk vs coconut cream.
To use it as a substitute, just mix 1/2 cup coconut cream with 1/2 cup warm water. Blend until smooth.
What’s the best coconut milk substitute in curry?
The best replacements for coconut milk in curry are cashew milk, cashew cream, or heavy cream. Make sure to use a creamier milk that can be simmered. Yogurt is not a good substitute in curries because it will curdled when simmered or boiled. You can use a lighter dairy free milk like almond milk or oat milk, just make sure to add about 1-2 teaspoons of arrowroot or cornstarch if not already included in the recipe to thicken up the sauce.
Coconut Milk Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite curries, soups, and smoothies that use coconut milk:
- Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala
- Mango Coconut Milk Smoothie
- Healthy Zuppa Toscana
- Coconut Milk Overnight Oats
- Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili
Of course, nothing is a perfect substitute for coconut milk, but there are some great alternatives to try in different recipes. Let me know how these work for you, and if you have any other great ones to share!