Breakfast Raw & Fermented Snacks Treats

Easy Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt

Easy Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt

If you are dairy intolerant, vegan or paleo, you can get all the benefits of yogurt by making it from coconut milk. Making your own coconut milk yogurt is easy, fun, delicious, and cheap—often costing less than 30 cents a cup!

Yogurt is a very healthy, mildly fermented food which contains one or more strains of friendly gut bacteria. This fermentation process also improves the nutritional quality of any milk you use, resulting in about 20% more protein, and lots of enzymes and probiotics that can help your digestion.

Choosing the Right Coconut Milk

Most people use high-fat, organic coconut milk for this recipe, either in cans or in tetra-paks. You can find this at Whole Foods, better grocery stores, or online.

However, one major drawback to buying canned coconut milk is that, like almost all canned foods, there is usually toxic BPA in the lining of the can which can leach into your food. (Here’s where to get canned 100% coconut milk in BPA free cans.)

Another option is to get full-fat coconut milk and cream in Tetra paks or cartons. I prefer to do this because I don’t like the taste of canned coconut milk. But you should know that many of these products contain guar gum or carageenan, which can cause digestive distress. (Here’s where to get my favorite additive-free coconut milk in tetra paks.)

Be sure NOT to use the coconut milk “beverages” available in the cereal aisle. This kind of coconut milk contains many additives and is far too watered down to make good yogurt.

You will need a yogurt starter culture to introduce the fermentation bacteria to the milk. If you’re vegan or dairy intolerant like we are, then you can use a non-dairy yogurt starter. (Here’s where to find non-dairy yogurt cultures online).

You can also use 2-3 capsules of any high-quality, dairy-free probiotic that contains bacterial strains called L. bulgaricus, S. themophilus and L. casei.

Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3 BPA-free cans coconut milk OR 1 liter TetraPak full-fat coconut cream
  2. 1/4 tsp. non-dairy yogurt starter/probiotic OR 2-3 dairy-free probiotic pills (where to find online)
  3. 1-2 Tbsp. honey, maple syrup OR coconut sugar
  4. 1-2 Tbsp. unflavored grassfed gelatin, agar agar OR 1-2 cups puréed young coconut meat.
Instructions
  1. Sterilize your yogurt containers, mixing spoons and other utensils with boiling water.
  2. In a saucepan, bring coconut milk to 180 degrees F, then remove from heat. Do NOT boil the milk; watch it closely. Your coconut milk must reach 180 degrees or you risk contamination with Burkholderia cocovenenans or other harmful bacteria.
  3. While the milk is still hot, thoroughly mix the gelatin or agar agar into your batch. You might need to experiment a little to find the exact amount of thickener for your taste.
  4. Add maple syrup or honey and stir thoroughly. The sweetener provides food for the bacterial culture and your yogurt will not ferment well without it.
  5. Cover and cool the milk to 95-100 degrees. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the bacterial culture you are going to introduce.
  6. Remove about 1/2 cup of cooled coconut milk, and mix in your starter culture or probiotic. Stir well.
  7. Thoroughly mix the inoculated batch back in with the remainder of the cooled coconut milk.
  8. Pour cultured milk into your sterile yogurt maker jars, or any sterile glass or enamel containers that work for you.
  9. Cover and ferment at 105-110 degrees for 7-9 hours.
  10. Check for taste at 7 hours, and ferment longer for a more sour, less sweet, taste.
  11. To keep the correct temperature for the culture, use an Excalibur dehydrator set at about 105 degrees, and place the containers on the bottom, away from the heating element. You can also use a temperature-adjustable heating pad, or put a 60-Watt bulb in your oven and leave the light on with your containers wrapped in a towel to hold the heat. You can even make the recipe in a crockpot, but you'll need to adapt these directions a bit. (Remember, too high a temperature will kill the bacterial culture; too low of a temperature will prevent proper fermentation.) You will know you have done it right by the proper yogurt-sour smell and taste.
  12. After fermenting is done, stir to an even consistency and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. You must refrigerate for the gelatin to thicken your yogurt.
  13. If you want even thicker yogurt, you can pour the yogurt into a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag and let it drip for 6-12 hours over a bowl in a cool area. The longer you let it drip, the thicker it will become. What drips out is coconut water, not whey, so add the liquid to a smoothie or discard. Carefully scrape the thickened yogurt from the bag into a jar. (Messy!) Cover and refrigerate.
  14. If your yogurt separates after chilling, either stir it briskly with a spoon, or whip it with a stick blender for a light and fluffy treat.
Tools
  1. Yogurt maker, box-style dehydrator, cooler with a programmable heating pad, OR other means of maintaining an exact temperature of 110 degrees F.
  2. Candy thermometer - very important! (where to find online)
  3. Glass or ceramic containers with lids (Do not use metal.) I use these leakproof containers for easy lunchbox packing.
  4. Nut milk bag - optional if dripping your yogurt (where to find online)
Small Footprint Family http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/
Recommended for This Recipe

Troubleshooting

  • Your yogurt should smell and taste sour—like yogurt. If you notice any “off” or foul odors, mold, or hints of grey or pink on the surface, throw it out and try again. This suggests the equipment was not thoroughly sterilized, or that the starter culture died from temps too high or too low, and foreign “bad” bacteria colonized the batch.
  • Coconut yogurt initially comes out much thinner than cow’s milk yogurt, but there are two ways to thicken it: Add a dissolved thickener like gelatin, agar agar, etc. to your milk before fermentation, OR after it is done fermenting, drip all the liquid out of your yogurt the old fashioned way using a cheesecloth, cotton or nut milk bag. This guide to thickening yogurt makes it more clear.
  • Once fully cooled, your yogurt may separate again, with some of the coconut oil hardening on top and a clear or cloudy liquid on the bottom. This happens especially with homemade coconut milk which hasn’t been homogenized and emulsified with factory machinery. This is usually not a problem, as long as everything else smells and tastes OK. Just mix well with a spoon or stick blender, and enjoy.
  • The new tetrapaks of coconut milk for drinking and cereal (like So Delicious) are NOT appropriate for making yogurt because they are mostly water and very little fat. Choose a high-fat coconut milk or cream made for cooking.
UPDATE: There are TONS of tips, tricks and advice from readers in the comments section below that will answer just about any question you could have about making coconut milk yogurt. Please check them out!

About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.

336 Comments

Click here to comment. (Please note our comment policy. Comments close after 30 days.)
  • Is there any reason not to use young coconut meat to make the milk for the yogurt? I understand that you use brown mature coconut flakes, as does Anita for her fabulous yogurt.

      • Thanks Dawn for the link. I had read that but couldn’t remember where on your site.
        I am using exotic superfoods frozen young coconut meat, and their frozen coconut water with your recipe….

        new experiment is on… will report when yogurt is “cooked”

  • Followed your instructions, Dawn, save for adding thickeners. I one liter of coconut cream from Aroy-D, 3 probiotic pills from Megaflora, and “cooked” it at 110ºF for 9 hours. It tastes good, not as subtle as Anita’s, but that may be because her yogurt is cultured for a shorter time. It separated, as expected from reading the comments, and was thin, but in the range of typical yogurt texture before I mixed it. Pretty watery after mixing. I will try letting drip through cheesecloth and see if I get a better texture.

    Anita’s yogurt has a similar consistency to sour cream or greek yogurt. She adds coconut water to it as well.. no sugar either. Here is her ingredient list: http://anitas.co/faq/

    I did read that she uses mature coconuts, v young ones… which is too bad because fresh young organic coconut meat is readily available made by Exotic Superfoods.. it is expensive but I was going to try using that to make my own milk and add their fantastic coconut water which is unpasteurized and comes frozen. May still give that a go as I have mega amounts of Megaflora probiotics.

    Dawn, do you have any thoughts as to how Anita’s yogurt gets a thick texture, given the ingredients?

    • Glad it worked out for you! She’s probably pureeing the meat with the water and/or straining it. To get my recipe to thicken up, you do have to refrigerate so the gelatin will gel. It can be quite thick then.

      • Interesting analysis of Anita’s process… bet you are right… The coconut water has enough sugar in it so she does not have to use sugar. Also from her FAQ sheet, she implies that she does not strain off the liquid.

        I did refrigerate mine, but am not interested in adding thickeners. So, I put it in cheesecloth and let it drip for about 8-12 hours.. It came out too thick! The consistency is like cream cheese. The volume was reduced by a little less than half.

  • Your recipe looks great Dawn, and I will try it once I get the coconut cream you recommend in the recipe. I recently discovered coconut yogurt (Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt) and love it. Yogurt is one of the things I miss having been on a dairy free diet for the last two years.

    You say that thickener is needed, but the Anita’s ingredients are: organic coconut milk, organic coconut water and live probiotic cultures. Her yogurt is super creamy and thick. Since trying it I have been looking at the labels of other coconut yogurts and they all have guar gum and other emulsifiers, all no good for me. I am determined to make a yogurt as good as Anita’s as it is soooooo delicious, without any thickeners, because hers is very $$$$. Maybe she puts it in cheesecloth and drains the water out..

    Any thoughts?

    My first attempt at making yogurt, a couple of days ago came out pretty mediocre. I used Nature Value coconut milk and 1/2 cup of Anita’s yogurt as starter.. heating the milk to 180F and then adding the starter once the milk was around 115F. The texture was ok but not great flavor.

    I ordered aroy-D coconut cream from your Amazon link, and will use Megafood Megaflora probiotic capsules, as I already have them in my fridge, and they contain the necessary cultures L. bulgaricus, S. themophilus and L. casei.

    I will let you know how it turns out!

  • Hi. I have yellow spots on the top layer of my yogurt. … Any ideas? I did use organic cane sugar which is a little yellow in colour. Also, if there is any pink, does that mean the whole batch is bad or can I scrape off the little bit of pink and use the yogurt still?

  • Hi Dawn, thanks so much for this post. It’s really helpful. I’ll try your recipe next time I try to make coconut milk yogurt.

    If my coconut milk didn’t turn into yogurt, can I just move it to the fridge and use it anyways? I don’t want to throw food out.

    Let me explain: I tried making coconut milk yogurt last night with regular drinking coconut milk and probiotics. I now realize it was way too think to work out. Also, as I don’t have a yogurt maker or anything like that, I had to leave it in my over with the light on. I had a thermometer in there and this morning noticed it was marking 89F, so less then it should’ve been. 12h of incubation and the milk still looks and smells the same as before.

    I might just start a new recipe now, but I don’t want to throw this milk out, I rather use if for a recipe or something. Do you know if this is ok? I couldn’t have spoiled being left between 89F – 112F for the whole 12 hours, right?

    Thank you!!

    • There should be no problem using it if it has no mold and smells fine. Cook with it if you feel unsure. For the next batch, you will definitely need a full-fat coconut milk, and a thickener like gelatin or agar agar, plus a warmer heat source. Good luck!

  • What does it mean if it seperates during the fermenting process? I kept it in my Excalibur but it’s very seperated. Smells and looks okay.

    • Mainstream commercial yogurts made from milk have few bacterial strains and might not culture coconut milk the way you might hope. Try a tablespoon and see how it works.

  • Hello everyone, So I just stumbled upon this website. I like the name but am a little confused. This is about healthy living and taking care of the environment, having a “small footprint.” Yet, you are talking about buying coconut milk in the grocery or health food store. The coconut milk comes from some tropical place, probably not too close to where you live, is transported to a processing plant, which hopefully is using solar panels and not dumping too toxic waste water, then shipped to the store. Why not use what is local to you? I eat and drink coconut and its water because they are alllll over the place where I live, Mexico close to the border with Belize, very tropical. I understand we cannot completely avoid processed foods but the coconut milk you are using here is well, processed. Just something to ponder. PS: There is a good bad troubling video on youtube showing how monkeys have been enslaved to pick coconuts because it is such a popular product now.

  • Hi- I’ve made this yogurt many times before with no problems. This time I got a pink and gray film on top so I threw it out. I hate to do that! But don’t wanna get sick. I used raw honey which is unpasteurized. Do you think that could have been why? Does the honey need to be pasteurized? And shouldn’t it be added BEFORE the milk is heated to 180, so that any bacteria in the honey is killed too?

  • After weeks of failed attempts, I have something that at least doesn’t smell or taste horrible… but no matter what I do, it doesn’t thicken. I added gelatine, let it sit in the fridge for two days and even dripped it through a cheese bag for two more days… it still has the consistency of milk. Help?

    • You can use your own, it will just create a thinner yogurt. I used 3 cups coconut to 4 cups water. Boiled the water and added to the coconut and let it soak for 30-45 minutes (the longer it soaks, the more water the coconut absorbs). Also the lower the water: coconut ratio is, the thicker it will be (i.e. 1:1). Put in blender and blend for a couple minutes to make it into milk. I also used 2 tsp grass-fed gelatin. My first attempt at yogurt worked out fairly well considering, but it isn’t scoopable yogurt, it’s great for smoothies. I also added the gelatin too late, so I think my revisions (as written above) will make it better

  • Thanks for the reply. One jar was mouldy and revolting so I ditched the lot. The temperature maintained well and I’m confident sterilization was perfect so will make sure I don’t kill the probiotics this time 😉

  • I think I’m a bit late to the party BUT crossing my fingers someone can answer! I cooled the coconut milk to 37° Celsius (according to the thermometer) then proceeded as per the recipe, however it seemed too hot to me, there was a little steam coming off. The jars are sitting in the oven with the light on… If in the morning (after approx 18 hours) it hasn’t worked, granted there is no mould etc, is it ok to bring up to 37° again and add more probiotic powder to culture a second time? Or is this asking for trouble?!

    • It’s not necessary to reheat the milk to add the probiotic if it is already a bit warm. It might not work, but fermentation is always a bit of an experiment.

  • Hi Dawn, this looks like a lovely recipe. I do have one question though (I did go through all the comments below, but didn’t find anything, or may have overlooked it?) – I have pure coconut milk powder, and would like to use this. Would I just mix it with water, as I would usually do, to make coconut milk, and then follow your recipe?
    Thank you so much!

    • I have never made yogurt using powdered milk so I have no idea how to do it or if it would work. My fear is it could turn out too watery, as I always urge people who make this recipe to use full-fat coconut milk. But give it a try and let us know how it goes!

  • Made this following your directions exactly and it’s the best yogurt ever. I have really missed yogurt since giving up dairy and now I can have it. Thank you

  • I experimented making a combination coconut/cashew milk yogurt yesterday. I soaked a cup of cashews all day, then blended with 2 cups water until very smooth. Separately, I heated a can of full fat coconut milk in a pan until it reached a slight boil, then I added the gelatin (1 and 1/2 tsp) and stirred it well. After letting it cool to under 110 degrees F (as recommended) I stirred in the probiotic, and then the blended cashew milk. Then I poured into my yogurt machine and let culture for 10 hours at which point I transferred to the fridge. 5 hours later I opened one of the little jars and it’s still completely watery!! Did I do something wrong??? Why didn’t it thicken?

    • You might not have added enough gelatin given how much water (2 cups plus the water in the coconut milk) was in your original mix. You really want to have as little water as possible in the mix, which is why I recommend full fat coconut milk only, with no added water.

  • I made this yesterday – just tried this morning. Definitely fluffy! Expanded over the top of the container I put it in (quart glass Mason jar) but the smell?! Horrid. I used 2 probiotic capsules at 20 billion each. Maybe too much? I don’t even know if I can use this in smoothies, if it is even good?

    Hoping I didn’t just waste $4 worth of coconut milk plus the probiotics COMPLETELY…

    Help?!

    • Coconut milk yogurt does not smell wonderful for some reason, but it shouldn’t smell horrid. And if there is any pink or grey in it, it’s definitely bad. Try a taste, and if it is truly is horrid, spit it out and throw it out. Best to you!

      • I don’t think any pink or gray. I’d love to send you a couple pictures – I’ll try to find you on Facebook.

        • I don’t think pictures will help me much since there can be so much variance in how one makes it. However tasting the yogurt will definitely tell you if its good! 🙂

  • I am using Klaire Labs probiotic (Ther-biotic Complete) because my baby & I are dairy intolerant. However, when I called Klaire Labs they said the product contained “Intactic” an ingredient that keeps the probiotic from digesting in the stomach. They mentioned this may not be good for making the yogurt. Has anyone else heard of this or tried the Klaire Labs (Ther-Biotic) for yogurt. Would I be better off using a few T of SoDelicous plain yogurt?

    • A probiotic that is enteric-coated to pass through the stomach intact is not a good choice for yogurt. I think you’ll have better luck with a few tablespoons of yogurt or a store-bought yogurt culture.

Books You’ll Love

  • DIY Organic Beauty Recipes
  • Indulge - 70 Grain Free Desserts

Meal Plans, Customized for YOU

Want to eat healthier? Going Paleo, Gluten-Free, or Vegetarian? Putting a healthy, delicious, home-cooked dinner on the table is SUPER EASY with the totally personalized RealPlan meal planning app! Learn more »



Pin10K
Share635
Yum17
Stumble3
Tweet
50 Ways to Love Your Mother - Simple Steps for a Greener, Healthier Planet

GET MY E-BOOK FREE!

You'll also get the Monthly Harvest newsletter, full of seasonal tips, recipes AND exclusive "first dibs" on giveaways, discounts and classes that will help you be greener, healthier and more self-reliant.

Thank you! Please check your email now and be sure to CONFIRM your subscription to receive your ebook.