So many choices, and so little time. Let me help you choose the best coconut milk to buy!
There are so many coconut milks on the market right now, and not all are created equal. Let me walk you through some of my favorite coconut milks that are a good option!
Skip regular milk and learn how to use coconut milk for cooking and mixing in your favorite recipes. This is a great way to get away from dairy milk but also receive the health benefits of coconut.
What is coconut milk?
Coconut milk is typically made with one part coconut flesh to two parts water. I love using coconut milk for rice pudding to stir in and help to add a splash of liquid for a creamy base.
Coconut Milk Is…
- Rich in medium-chain triglycerides
- Vegan and dairy free
- Great alternative to soy milk
- Made from mature coconuts and water
- Perfect for Thai cooking
- Available in cartons and canned variety
Canned vs Carton Coconut Milk
Coconut milk that is in a carton can be used as a milk substitute. It has a similar consistency as almond milk and will often be paired with vitamins and used for a drinking substitute to dairy products. Stir your coconut milk into smoothies, pour over a glass of cereal, or even mix into recipes. You will enjoy regular coconut milk as it offers a great taste! Canned coconut milk is full fat coconut milk and has a very thick layer of coconut fat at the top of the can. This type of coconut milk is often used in baking and can be used in place of whole milk, double cream, and half and half. You can read more about this in my full explainer on the differences between canned vs carton coconut milk.
What is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream?
So many ask if coconut milk and coconut cream are the same thing? The answer is no, they are not the same. Let me help you understand the difference between the cream and the milk.
Both coconut cream and milk are paired with unsweetened coconut flesh and soaked in water. The big difference is the ratio of coconut to water. So for a coconut cream you will use around four parts of coconut to one part of water. You are going to find the consistency is very thick and creamy. Coconut cream can be used in Asian cuisine for savory dishes. I find that coconut cream can be similar to a heavy cream in a recipe. With it being a cream you are going to find it does offer a stronger coconut flavor than a milk would. The creamy consistency will really enhance a variety of dishes.
What is Lite Coconut Milk?
Lite coconut milk is lower in fat and isn’t as thick as full fat coconut milk. It contains 5-7% fat and contains approximately 25% coconut extract and 75% water. You can use this type of coconut for light recipes but do nut use for heavy recipes that call for full fat coconut milk. This is my favorite brand of lite coconut milk.
Coconut Milk Shelf Life and Storage
Unopened coconut milk can last a surprisingly long time – canned coconut milk can last as long as five years, while cartons can last as long as 12 months. (And you can just keep them in your pantry – no need to take up valuable refrigerator space.)
Once coconut milk is opened, you should store it in the refrigerator and plan to use in 7-10 days.
Top Coconut Milk Brands
So now that you know what to look for in terms of types of coconut milks, below I’ll share the best coconut milk brands you can buy from the grocery store or online!
#1 Natural Value
Natural value is one of the cleanest brands of coconut milk. You’ll only find simple ingredients in their BPA Free canned coconut milks. This is the best can of coconut milk with a creamy texture and lovely coconut taste.
Ingredients: Organic coconut, water.
- Packed in BPA-Free Lined Can
- No Added Sugar
- No Preservatives
- No Stabilizers or Gums
- Vegan & Keto Diet Approved
- Expensive. Sometimes double the price of other coconut milk brands.
- Availability. Usually only found at health food stores.
My favorite brand of coconut milk. Made with simple ingredients and packaged in BPA Free cans. Coconut Mama’s #1 pick!
#2 Native Forest
High-quality organic coconut milk. This is a great-tasting coconut milk made from the first pressing of fresh organic coconut meat and is mixed with only filtered water and a tiny amount (less than 1%) of guar gum from the seeds of the guar plant.
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk (Filtered Water, Organic Coconut, Organic Guar Gum).
- USDA Organic
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- Packed in BPA Non-Intent Cans
- Organic Guar Gum (may be an issue for some)
- Price. More expensive than a lot of coconut milk at the grocery store.
This is a great-tasting coconut milk made from the first pressing of fresh organic coconut meat. Coconut Mama’s #2 pick!
#3 Trader Joe’s
Trader joe’s organic coconut milk is a great choice if you shop at Trader Joe’s. They have a pure coconut milk that doesn’t have odd fillers like guar gum and xanthan gum. Trader Joe’s has one of the best canned coconut milks available and I love how affordable it is.
Ingredients: Organic coconut milk (water and organic coconut).
- Simple Ingredients (Water and organic coconut meat)
- Availability. Only found at Trader Joe’s. Note: You can purchase this brand from Amazon, but it’s very expensive. I suggest buying from Trader Joe’s store instead.
Pure coconut milk that doesn’t have odd fillers like guar gum and xanthan gum. Coconut Mama’s #3 pick!
#4 Thai Kitchen
This is a good choice for anyone looking for a good budget-friendly natural coconut milk. I buy a case of Thai Kitchen from Costco for the best price! This is the brand I use for all my recipe testing because it’s the same consistency as my favorite brands, but at a cheaper price. Coconuts are not a heavily sprayed crop so you don’t have to worry about buying organic if it’s not in your budget.
Ingredients: Coconut, Water, & Guar Gum.
- Great-tasting canned milk
- Available online and at most grocery stores.
- Not organic
- Contains guar gum
Great budget-friendly coconut milk option. Coconut Mama’s #4 pick!
#5 Pacific Foods
This is unsweetened coconut milk with a thinner consistency that is good for eating with cereal, and baking. This drinkable coconut milk has a mild coconut flavor and taste great alone or added to smoothies or beverages.
Ingredients: Water, Coconut Cream*, Contains 1% Or Less Of: Coconut Water Concentrate*, Gellan Gum, Guar Gum*, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin D 2, Xanthan Gum.
- Great light coconut milk for drinking and using in beverages and baking.
- Dairy-free milk alternative that’s and excellent substitute to cow’s milk
- Carrageenan Free
- Contains some additives like guar gum and xanthan gum
- Not as thick as canned coconut milk
This drinkable coconut milk has a mild coconut flavor and taste great alone or added to smoothies or beverages. Coconut Mama’s #5 pick!
I tested lots of different brands of carton and canned coconut milk and the one’s listed below didn’t make my top 5 cut, but are still great options!
Coconut Milk Recipes
Coconut Curry Chicken | This Coconut Chicken Thai Curry recipe is perfect for a family dinner or a quick weeknight meal. It’s delicious, comforting, and easy to prepare using basic ingredients. All you need is full-fat coconut milk, red curry paste, curry powder, fresh ginger, sweet potatoes, cilantro, chicken breasts, or tofu.
Coconut Ice Cream | This coconut ice cream recipe is made with coconut milk, vanilla, honey (or sweetener of choice), and toasted coconut. This is the best coconut milk ice cream, and it’s dairy-free, paleo, with keto and vegan options. Make this tasty treat with simple ingredients and you don’t need an ice cream machine to make it either!
Coconut Rice Recipe | Coconut rice is made worldwide and is prepared in many different ways. I enjoyed this white rice dish in Hawaii and Mexico, served with tropical fruit and fish.