Ending up with leftover coconut milk is pretty common. Many recipes call for less than a can or carton, so what can you do if there’s no immediate use for what’s left? Can you freeze coconut milk? Short answer: yes! As convenient as it might seem, there are some things you need to know before deciding if this is the right option for you.
You can find coconut milk in cartons, which is the drinkable version, or in a can, which is typically used for cooking and desserts.
Coconut milk is expensive and even if it weren’t, reducing food waste is always a good idea. Considering it can spoil pretty fast, freezing it is an excellent idea!
Can You Freeze Coconut Milk?
Coconut milk is used for so many things: as a non-dairy, vegan coffee creamer, for curries, Asian dishes, drinks and smoothies, cocktails, and an endless list of desserts such as ice cream, cakes, pies, and puddings.
Very often, it’s mistaken for coconut cream, which has a richer and thicker consistency. On that note, the cream that rises to the top of canned coconut milk, is, in fact, coconut cream.
More often than not, recipes will call for less than a can, leaving you with leftovers. You can definitely freeze coconut milk, but there are some drawbacks.
You might wonder what happens if you freeze coconut milk? The cream will separate from the coconut water, just as it does in the can. Of course, you can get back the right consistency by simply giving it a good stir.
After thawing, you might also notice the texture becomes a little grainy. For smoothies, baked goods and other dishes where you won’t notice the graininess, you can use it as is.
However, if you plan to add it to a curry or similar recipe, you’ll want to restore coconut milk’s original creamy texture before using it. You can do that by blending it using an immersion blender for 30 seconds.
Also, the flavor of frozen coconut milk will be slightly different compared to fresh coconut milk.
How To Store
Before you freeze your coconut milk, consider if there’s any chance of using it within 7 days. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week, so you have a decent amount of time to figure out a use for it.
Homemade coconut milk is super easy to make and money-saving too! Being all-natural and free of preservatives, you can store it in the fridge for 3-4 days. Our recipe uses coconut flakes, which are affordable and easy to find.
If you have unopened cans of coconut milk, they can be kept at room temperature, in a dark place like the pantry or a cupboard. It will be good for several months, but check the label for an exact expiration date.
Even if it’s in a carton, many of these products are shelf-stable and don’t need to be refrigerated as long as the packaging is intact.
How To Freeze
For long-term storage, freezing coconut milk is the only safe option. There are several ways to do this, and all of them are easy!
Plastic storage containers – If you have a larger quantity of coconut milk you want to freeze, you can portion it in small containers.
You can even measure the coconut milk using cups before dividing it. This way, you can take out the exact amount required by a recipe and avoid waste.
Tip: Don’t fill the containers all the way up. As it contains a lot of water, coconut milk will expand when freezing.
In the original carton – You can freeze coconut milk in the carton it came in, as long as it’s not full (just like for plastic or any other containers).
Individual plastic freezer bags – This method will save space in the freezer so it’s great if you are still dealing with a large amount of coconut milk. Once you portion the milk in the bags, lay them flat in the freezer until they firm up.
Ice cube tray – To use leftover coconut milk for drinks, smoothies, soups, stews, and curries, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray, place them in freezer bags and seal.
Coconut milk will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months. Whatever method you use for freezing, be sure to label the containers or bags with the contents and the date.
The thawed coconut milk can be stored in the fridge and should be used within 2-3 days.
How To Thaw
Wondering how to use frozen coconut milk? In most cases, thawing is needed and you have various options to choose from.
Overnight, in the fridge – If you have a recipe using coconut milk planned for the next day, you can thaw your coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Simply place the frozen coconut milk in the refrigerator and it will be thawed within 24 hours.
Cold water – The cold water method is much faster, so if you didn’t have time to plan today’s meal, it’s just as reliable as fridge thawing. Place the container or freezer bag in cold water and it should be fully thawed within a few hours.
Microwave: Did you start cooking only to realize you need some of that frozen coconut milk? In this case, the microwave is your best friend!
Place frozen coconut milk in a microwave-safe container and warm in 30-second intervals, stirring in between.
No thawing: For any recipe requiring heat, you can just dump the frozen coconut milk in the pot and it will melt as the food is cooking. The only drawback is that coconut milk can separate during freezing and you might notice some small grains or lumps in your dish.
That’s why blending is always recommended after thawing coconut milk, which isn’t possible if you use it frozen.
Tips For Freezing And Thawing Coconut Milk
- Think about how you normally use coconut milk before freezing. For drinks, smoothies, or as a coffee creamer, it’s best to freeze it using ice cube trays. For recipes such as soups, and curries, it can be frozen in a container or a freezer bag.
- Whether you use containers, freezer bags, or ice cube trays, it’s always a good idea to measure the volume of your leftover coconut milk before freezing. Knowing how many tablespoons is one coconut milk cube, or how many cups are in your bag/container can be of great help when using it in a recipe.
- Label your containers with the date and contents. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what’s in a frozen bag and almost impossible to remember the exact date you put it in the freezer.
- Thawed coconut milk can be returned to its original creamy consistency by blending it for 30 seconds.
- Avoid using coconut milk that was frozen on its own. After freezing, the flavor will be slightly off.
Don’t miss the Can You Freeze Cottage Cheese and Does Vinegar Freeze? We love to use our freezer to save food and minimize waste. Freezer Inventories and Freezer Tips 101 and Editable Freezer Labels.
How Can You Tell If Coconut Milk Is Bad?
Frozen or fresh, coconut milk can go bad, like any other nut milk. Here’s what to look for:
- Rancid or sour smell.
- Chunky texture (for coconut milk drinks).
- Changed color, and/or discolorations.
- Metallic taste (for canned coconut milk).
- Bloated can or carton (unopened).
Keep in mind that separation of fats from the liquid is natural for both canned and frozen coconut milk. The creamy texture can be quickly restored by stirring or blending the milk.
Best Ways To Use Thawed Coconut Milk
As I already mentioned, you might notice some degree of separation and a grainy texture in your thawed coconut milk. Doesn’t mean you can’t use it!
Our freezer smoothies recipe is an excellent way to get rid of that slightly unpleasant texture since it requires blending. Just move a smoothie jar from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before, and it’s ready to drink in the morning.
Coconut milk adds that delicious creaminess to smoothies and you can use a similar blend to make strawberry banana smoothie popsicles or try other fruit combinations you love.
Even for fresh summer smoothies, you can replace whatever milk you use with thawed coconut milk.
Another excellent way to use thawed coconut milk is in baked goods. These coconut muffins can be made with coconut milk and trust me, they won’t last long!
The solids in coconut milk separate from the liquid when freezing. Considering the texture is affected after freezing once, refreezing is not recommended.
If you don’t mind the pronounced texture and flavor change, you can refreeze coconut milk.
Yes, you can! Remember that coconut milk frozen by itself can separate when thawed and some separation can occur when freezing coconut milk curry as well.If your curry has a large amount of coconut milk compared to the rest of the ingredients, the separation and grainy texture will be more noticeable. Regardless, it will be safe to eat for up to 3 months.
Yes, it’s possible to freeze coconut milk soup for up to 3 months. However, expect a different texture after thawing and reheating.
Tip: For the best texture and flavor, cook and freeze the soup without coconut milk and pour it in when reheating.
Coconut milk drinks can be frozen and are safe to consume for up to 2 months. It’s best to freeze them in portions. Once thawed, give them a good stir.
If you notice a grainy texture or separated fat solids, blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.
Freezing coconut milk and then thawing it can cause it to separate. You can easily fix this by running it through a blender, but it won’t be quite as good as fresh coconut milk.
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