Does your recipe call for coconut milk and you ran out of it or you’d rather skip the coconut flavor? Look no further: our list of substitutes for coconut milk includes vegan, dairy-free, and dairy alternatives so you’ll surely find one that works for you!
Coconut milk is not just an Asian cuisine staple, it’s also an increasingly popular ingredient used in vegan and dairy-free diets. Even if you’re not on a special diet, it’s an excellent addition to soups, sauces, smoothies, and desserts!
🥥 What Is Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is made by pureeing coconut flesh and water. The resulting creamy liquid has around 17% fat.
Coconut cream is made from the same ingredients but less water is used, so its fat content is around 24%. If you’re looking for a coconut cream substitute, take a quick look at our guide!
Another type you might come across is coconut milk in a carton. It is diluted with water so compared to the coconut milk in a can, it has a much thinner consistency and less fat. Also, it often has added preservatives to
It’s important to know the differences between coconut milk vs coconut cream vs coconut milk in a carton.
Coconut cream mixed with water can be used as a coconut milk alternative (more on that later) but coconut milk in a carton is not suitable for recipes.
The lower fat content and higher water content will likely thin out your dish and the coconut flavor won’t be as strong.
Coconut milk in a carton is mainly used for drinking, as a dairy-free alternative to regular cow’s milk.
The most important thing to remember? Recipes calling for coconut milk require the one in a can, not in a carton.
15+ Best Substitutes
There’s no shortage of coconut milk replacements and they include other coconut-based mixtures, nut milk, plant-based, and dairy options.
Whatever recipe you’re trying to make, I’m sure you’ll find at least one coconut milk substitute that’s suitable.
In a rush? Here’s an overview of the substitutes:
|Homemade Coconut Milk
|Blend 2 cups shredded coconut + 4 cups water until smooth.
|Coconut Cream + Water
|Mix 2 tablespoons coconut cream + 1 tablespoon water.
|Light Coconut Milk
|Macadamia Nut Milk
|Has a distinct flavor. Use in dishes with stronger flavors.
|Doesn’t curdle when exposed to heat.
|A sweet and nutty flavor that goes well with desserts.
|Blend tofu with water until it reaches the same consistency as coconut milk.
|Heavy Or Whipping Cream
|Dilute Greek yogurt with water until it reaches the same consistency as coconut milk.
|Only for recipes that benefit from a tangy taste. Can be diluted with water to reach the proper consistency.
|Can be used straight or thickened with flour, cornstarch or another thickening agent.
Made from other coconut products, these alternatives will retain the coconut flavor of your dish.
Just keep in mind coconut milk in a carton lacks the creamy consistency and rich flavor of the canned variety. Try a different option if you think it will change your dish too much.
Shredded Coconut (+Blender)
If you can’t find coconut milk nearby or you need a quick alternative that still delivers the coconut flavor, you can do it yourself!
Making homemade coconut milk is incredibly easy! You need unsweetened, shredded coconut, water, and a blender. Shredded coconut is more available in stores and cheaper than coconut milk too.
We also used agave syrup and vanilla extract, which is perfect for desserts. If using the milk for a savory dish you can skip these ingredients.
Coconut Cream + Water
Coconut cream is basically a more concentrated form of coconut milk. If you mix the right amount of water with coconut cream, the result is coconut milk.
To make coconut milk from coconut cream mix 2 tablespoons coconut cream + 1 tablespoon water.
This alternative is best used in a 1:1 ratio when replacing coconut milk.
Light Coconut Milk
Light coconut milk is thinner and has a lower fat content than regular coconut milk. It only works for some recipes, especially drinks, smoothies, and other cold preparations.
Try one of the substitutes above if you need to replace coconut milk in soups, sauces, curries, or baked goods.
In general, light coconut milk can be used in a 1:1 ratio. For a thicker consistency, you can add a bit of coconut flour, wheat flour, or another thickening agent.
Nut Milk Substitutes
Nut milks are typically made for drinking and most come in a carton.
Similar to coconut milk in a carton, they share similar processing methods, a thinner consistency, and lower fat content.
They can also be thickened using cornstarch, coconut flour, wheat flour, or another thickening agent.
You can use any nut milk as a coconut milk substitute but none of them have the coconut taste and some have a neutral flavor.
If you actually wanted to avoid the taste, these might be just what you’ve been searching for!
Unsweetened almond milk has a neutral flavor and a low fat content so it works as a 1:1 replacement in drinks and smoothies.
I love using almond milk for my overnight oats as I find it delivers the perfect creaminess for a healthy and delicious breakfast!
You can thicken almond milk with cornstarch, or even coconut flour if you enjoy the taste.
This is a creamy nut milk with a higher fat content compared to other kinds.
The neutral flavor of cashew milk makes it suitable for a variety of dishes. It will add a rich and creamy texture to soups, sauces, and curries.
It also works for desserts! These coconut muffins taste just as good made with cashew or coconut milk instead of regular milk.
Cashew milk can replace coconut milk in a 1:1 ratio. For an even closer substitute, you can use cashew cream with a higher fat content, similar to coconut milk.
Macadamia Nut Milk
Macadamia nut milk is also a fatty nut milk with the perfect creamy texture to replace coconut milk.
You can use unsweetened macadamia nut milk as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. The subtle flavor goes well with most desserts and other dishes.
Most of these plant-based substitutes are easy to find in grocery stores.
They’re also excellent nut and dairy-free alternatives to coconut milk in case you have allergies, or you’re on a special diet.
This plant-based milk is a lower-fat replacement for coconut milk and you can use it in a 1:1 ratio.
Soy milk has a noticeable flavor so it’s best used in recipes that have stronger bouquets from other ingredients.
Always buy the unsweetened kind, since the sweetened soy milk might change the outcome of your recipe.
Oat milk offers subtle sweetness and doesn’t curdle, even if it’s lower in fat than coconut milk.
It’s high in a fiber called beta-glucan, which makes it foam up. Therefore, oat milk is wonderful as coffee creamer!
Of course, oat milk also works well in cold preparations such as overnight oats.
Because it holds well even when exposed to high heat, it might work for some sauces, curries, and desserts. In most cases, a 1:1 ratio will work perfectly.
Milk made from rice has a watery consistency and is among the plant milks less people are allergic to.
Because it’s so thin, rice milk works best used in smoothies, oatmeal, and some desserts, in a 1:1 ratio.
At the same time, it doesn’t work great for dishes that require a creamy texture and baked goods.
Hemp milk is becoming more used as a plant-based alternative to regular milk, with a decent fat content. It also works as a coconut milk substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
It’s worth mentioning, hemp milk’s sweet and nutty flavor goes well with some desserts but might be overpowering for milder-flavored dishes.
Tofu is condensed soy milk pressed into blocks so it just needs to be thinned out a little to reach the consistency of coconut milk.
All you need to do is blend tofu with any milk (including soy milk) until it has the same thickness as coconut milk. The creamy mixture can be used at a 1:1 ratio.
Coconut milk alternatives include lots of nut and plant-based options, but as long as you don’t mind dairy, these substitutes will add the perfect creaminess to your desserts, drinks, and dishes.
Even better, these are common ingredients you might already have in your fridge!
Heavy Or Whipping Cream
These two types of cream are not exactly the same although both are excellent alternatives to coconut milk.
Heavy cream has at least 36% fat while whipping cream has around 30% fat. To make things even more confusing, both can be whipped. The latter’s lower fat content will produce a lighter whipped cream, great as a topping.
This difference may not be relevant to using dairy cream instead of coconut milk, but it will help you decide which one to buy depending on your recipe.
With that said, the mild milky taste and creamy consistency make heavy and whipping cream perfect for replacing coconut milk in a 1:1 ratio.
Note: Both types of cream have a much higher fat content compared to coconut milk so reducing cooking oils and/or fats a little will balance your dish.
As a low-fat alternative to coconut milk, Greek yogurt needs to be thinned with a little water before being used to reach the right consistency.
The tangy taste might not work for some recipes so keep that in mind when choosing a substitute.
This is a concentrated milk product with subtle caramel notes, that’s made by heating cow’s milk to remove up to 60% of its water content.
Evaporated milk has a thick and creamy texture and you can swap it for coconut milk in a 1:1 ratio.
For dishes that benefit from a little extra acidity, sour cream will also work. Use it in a 1:1 ratio like you would Greek yogurt.
Sour cream might need to be thinned with a bit of water or milk to reach the proper consistency.
Milk is much lower in fat than coconut milk but it still works as an alternative.
At the very least, make sure you use whole milk to get the highest fat content possible.
It can be used straight in a 1:1 ratio or thickened with a thickening agent such as flour, cornstarch, or coconut flour.
If you used a coconut milk substitute that’s not coconut based you can add back some of the lost coconut flavor by using one or more of these ingredients: virgin coconut oil, coconut extract, coconut liqueur, coconut flour, and shredded coconut.
Yes! Choose whole milk or the one with the highest fat content available to mimic the rich texture of coconut milk.
It will still have a thinner consistency and if needed, you can thicken it with flour, cornstarch, or another thickening agent.
For baking recipes and other dishes that specifically call for full-fat coconut milk, it’s best to use full-fat or heavy cream, rather than regular milk.
No. Coconut water won’t give you the creamy texture and intense coconut flavor provided by coconut milk.
In comparison, coconut water has about 50 calories per cup, while coconut milk has over 500 calories per cup.
Macadamia nut milk and cashew milk are types of nut milk high in fat that provide the perfect creamy texture to replace coconut milk in recipes.
However, keep in mind no other milk will have the coconut flavor.
Our Favorite Substitutes
Ginny Collins is a passionate foodie and recipe creator of Savor and Savvy and Kitchenlaughter. Indoors she focuses on easy, quick recipes for busy families and kitchen basics. Outdoors, she focuses on backyard grilling and smoking to bring family and friends together. She is a lifelong learner who is always taking cooking classes on her travels overseas and stateside. Her work has been featured on MSN, Parade, Fox News, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and many local news outlets. She lives in Florida where you will find her outside on the water in her kayak, riding her bike on trails, and planning her next overseas adventure.