Easy Homemade Coconut Milk

How to Make Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is often a staple for people with food allergies, as well as an outstanding dairy replacement and healthy fat source for those who are adhere to a raw, GAPS or Paleo diet. Fortunately it is very easy and cheap to make at home.

Coconut Milk Nutrition

Coconut is incredibly nutritious. Rich in trace minerals including manganese, copper, and selenium, it also contains modest amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, thiamin and folate. Coconut is unusually high in healthy, medium-chain fatty acids like lauric acid (found otherwise only in human breast milk) and caprylic acid (a potent natural antiviral and antifungal).

Oil from coconuts is shelf-stable at room temperature, making it resistant to rancidity and perfect for high-temperature cooking, baking or frying. Coconut oil is known to help reduce both your cholesterol ratio and your waistline, and if that weren’t enough, the water in a coconut has the same mineral and electrolyte profile as human blood plasma!

How to Select Coconut Milk

Most people use canned coconut milk in their recipes. However, most brands of canned coconut milk—like almost all canned foodscontains toxic BPA in the lining of the can which can leach into your food. Here’s where to find additive-free coconut milk in BPA-free cans online.

Another option is to get coconut milk in Tetra paks or cartons. Be aware that coconut milk in cartons can contain natural guar gum, carageenan, and fortified vitamins and minerals, if that presents an allergy or digestive problem for you.

Also be aware that most coconut milk in cartons is meant for drinking and is very thin and low fat; too thin for making curries, yogurt, kefir or coconut whipped cream. Here’s where to find additive-free, full fat coconut milk in cartons online.

You can also find quality, full-fat coconut milk flash-frozen or in Tetra paks at any good Asian grocery store.

But, for fresher, less processed and packaged results—not to mention saving a lot of money and environmental resources put into packaging and distribution—it’s easy to learn how to make coconut milk using dry, shredded coconut flakes.

Homemade coconut milk made from fresh dried coconut is far richer in vitamins, food enzymes and nutrients than coconut milk from a can or box. In fact, fresh coconut milk contains three times as much vitamin C as canned coconut milk and is richer in thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate and panthothenic acid, too.

And, if you ferment your coconut milk into yogurt, you’ll get even more protein and nutrition, as well as a lot of probiotics for your digestive health.

Homemade Coconut Milk
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  1. 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut (where to find my favorite flakes online)
  2. 4 cups hot (not boiling), pure water
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  4. 6 drops stevia (optional)
  1. Place shredded coconut in a bowl of very hot (not boiling), pure water. Let soak for 1-2 hours. Do NOT discard the water.
  2. In the Vitamix or blender, combine coconut, soaking water, and vanilla and stevia, if using. Blend on the highest speed for about a minute.
  3. Strain liquid through a nut milk bag, paint strainer bag or very, very fine cheesecloth, pressing out all the liquid you can.
  4. Discard solids or save them for adding to baked treats.
  5. Use immediately or store in the fridge. Good for 3-4 days. Since there are no preservatives or fillers, the fat in the coconut milk may separate on the top if stored in the fridge. Just shake or stir before using.
  1. Vitamix or good blender
  2. Nut milk strainer bag, paint strainer bag or fine cheesecloth
Small Footprint Family
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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.


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    • Coconut milk has 38mg of calcium per cup, which is modest, as it states in the article. Nut and seed milks are not a major source of calcium the way animal milk is, nor would anyone believe that they are. But, for those who can’t drink cows’ milk, coconut milk is an easy-to-make, tasty substitute for wetting cereal, lightening coffee, etc.

    • So glad you like it! And it is a great alternative to those questionable ingredients and containers! Just use it quickly, and be aware that it might separate in the fridge and need a little mixing before consumption!

  • Yum, I make this regularly and really adore it. I am lucky enough to have a little Stevia plant that I use fresh for the sweetener.

  • Just found out So Delicious coconut milk company was sold to Dean Foods a junk food manufacturer. I stopped buying coconut milk at Trader Joes when they were sued in a class action lawsuit for lying on their private label foods. Google All Natural Trader Joes Class Action Lawsuit for details. So many thanks for publishing directions on homemade coconut milk from dried flakes!

  • Would you happen to know the nutritional content of this coconut milk? I was thinking of giving it to my dairy free/soy free toddler and wanted to know what other nutrients I would need to cover.

  • Hi, Dawn. I’ve been giving my 14 mo. old daughter carton coconut milk b/c of her allergies. The carton brand is vanilla flavor which makes it sweeter, and after I made this recipe of coconut milk, it has a very different taste, is this normal? And is the vanilla and stevia favorings safe for a 14 mo old? Thank you!

    • Carton coconut milk is actually a formulated beverage. You will see the ingredients list is quite extensive. However, homemade coconut milk has only two ingredients: coconut and water, so it is going to taste different. You can add vanilla and stevia to see if you can make the homemade version taste closer to the processed beverage, but make sure you choose a natural stevia, as opposed to a chemically formulated stevia.

      • Do you know what the difference of raw coconut milk and cooked coconut milk? I was looking a a different website and saw it, and didn’t know if you knew which one is better for you?

  • Hello! I’m planning on making this recipe for coconut milk for my daughter who has an allergy to cows milk. How hot does the water need to be? Boiling? Or almost boiling? Thank you!

  • Our family is managing Celiac Disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, Fructose Malabsorption, over 25 food allergies combined and many food intolerances as well. I used to NEVER cook ANYTHING, but now I cook nearly everything from scratch. I am just learning to do water kefir (which was a HUGE stretch for me), but the alternative milks I had already regarded as too difficult for me and was sure I would ruin it somehow. I told myself it just wasn’t worth my effort and considered it “off limits”. I knew it would be a waste of money because I would miss some crucial, complicated step and just ruin it. I was seriously afraid to even try. My ASD son is also anaphylactic to Carrageenan, among tree nuts, soy, and many other things, and intolerant to dairy. My two daughters have multiple GI conditions and can’t digest fructose. Two of us are Celiac and nutrient deficient as well. We’re a mess, I know! (We’re doing GAPS). My son is not getting enough healthy food options like smoothies, because I couldn’t figure out what to do about this milk issue and the rest of us are getting things we don’t need in our coconut milk and not getting the things we do. Your post has given me the confidence and encouragement I need to take this final plunge. Thanks so much for a wonderful, positive, truthful, you-can-do-this post! 🙂

    • You can do it! 🙂 The coconut milk will separate in the fridge with the fat on top, but all you have to do is let the fat melt a bit and remix. Best to you all in your healing journey! I’m glad I could be of service just a little bit.

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