Looking for a simple substitute for coconut milk? Here are seven coconut milk replacements you can use depending on the recipe!
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 in curries, soups, smoothies, and baked goods. 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.
Coconut Milk Substitutions in Recipes
Before using a substitute for coconut milk, make sure you 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 thin and 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!
Can I substitute coconut cream for coconut milk?
Because coconut cream has a higher fat content and less water, all you need to do is add a little bit of water to the 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 it’s thinner and pourable. Read more about the difference between coconut milk vs coconut cream.
7 Best Coconut Milk Substitutes + Tips
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. You can use cashew milk as a 1:1 swap in most recipes, including soups, smoothies, and curries.
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.
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.
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, yogurt, and curries! To thin it out a bit, just add a tablespoon of water at a time until it’s creamy and pourable. Note: if your recipe requires simmering, like with my healthy chicken tikka masala, do not use yogurt as it will curdle when heated.
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.
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. In most cases, it can be used as a 1:1 sub for coconut milk in curries and soups! To make it slightly more pourable, just add a little water a tablespoon at a time.
Made from blended sesame seeds, tahini can be thinned out with a bit of water to be a great substitute. It does have a different flavor, so it works best in recipes where coconut milk is more of a binding agent. Artisana is my favorite brand.
What’s the best substitute for coconut milk 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.
Curry, Soup, and Smoothie Recipes
Here are a few of my favorite curries, soups, and smoothies that use coconut milk:
- Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala
- Healthy Zuppa Toscana
- Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
- Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
Of course, nothing is a perfect substitute for coconut milk, but there are some great alternatives to try in different recipes that call for coconut milk. Let me know how these work for you, and if you have any other great ones to share!