The finder of lost things, the answer to all your questions, the journey to end your searching…It’s homemade coconut milk, y’all! We’re about to get real intimate with these tropical creatures- learning the ins & outs of how to make coconut milk at home- 4 different ways!
People. Let’s get coconutty!
There are 4 ways to make homemade coconut milk:
Here are the basic tools you’ll need to make all 4 of these recipes:
- A high powered blender (We do list several food processor substitutions!)
- Nut milk bag to strain the fresh coconut milk
- A sweetener (optional), if using the coconut milk for a sweet application
- Additionally, if using a fresh coconut- A sharp kitchen knife, hammer, and patience!
From A Fresh Coconut
First up, how to make coconut milk from a fresh coconut? This process sounds simple but it does require finesse. Steps: You need to crack open the coconut, remove the meat, and blend the meat with water. Sounds easy, right?
Mature coconuts are key here, you’ll want to pick up a brown, fuzzy coconut- not a young Thai coconut. The young coconuts have sweet and delicious coconut water but zero or low amounts of coconut meat. The coconut meat is what we’ll use to make coconut milk.
Tidbit: If you want to be certain, gently shake the coconut near your ear when you are choosing a coconut to purchase…. you should hear water sloshing around! Young Thai coconuts, also called ‘drinkers’ or ‘poppers’ are nearly filled to the brim with coconut water– you won’t hear the sloshing sound. As coconuts mature the amount of water inside decreases! Thus you’ll unmistakenly hear the ‘sloshing’ sound in a mature coco– this is perfect!
Also: As coconuts are shipped in (at least in the PNW) from a land far, far away and are not a kitchen staple I would opt for purchasing 2-3 coconuts from the grocery store. 1 in 10 coconuts I’ve purchased from a standard grocer has been bad. (Sorry, real talk) This may not be the case everywhere, but a quick heads up! I’d hate for you to get your heart set on making this, finally crack the coco open only to learn it’s spoiled.
The ratio for coconut milk from a fresh coconut is: 1/2 a fresh coconut and 2 cups of water.
Open sesame! This is where a hammer is NEEDED! You’ll need to tap all around the circumference of what we call the ‘equator’ of your brown, fuzzy coconut!
On one end there will be 3 ‘eyes’ (3 dots arranged in a triangle)– we’ll call this the north pole. Begin tapping your hammer around the equator, turning the coconut as needed. Hey, you-be gentle! You don’t want to puncture the coconut! Within 1 minute you should see/feel a crack forming where you are tapping and you may even hear a small pop or whiz sound!
It requires experience to learn to gauge how hard you’ll need to tap, tap, tap the coco to get it to open. It’s okay. (I lived in Hawaii for 10 years and I’ve husked over 3,000 coconuts my dears! It takes time!)
Once you have a solid crack around the equator, open the coconut over a bowl as a small amount of liquid will drain out. The meat inside should be white and firm- no pink, no brown, no moldy spots- otherwise you’ll get to practice opening one up again!
This is the hard part. When I did this for a living, my BFF was this gadget called ‘The Coconut Tool.’ Google it. But, for the average home chef how in the world do you get the coconut meat out? Very, very carefully!
The best method I know is to make little triangular cuts on the coconut meat and pry small pieces out as pictured above. Please, be so careful if you use a knife! We recommend make the cuts with a knife, then try to do the ‘prying’ with a spoon!
The meat will have a tough, brown outer layer. You can use a vegetable peeler to remove it but it’s fully aesthetic- we don’t bother with that, we’re ready to make coconut milk!
Coconuts do vary in size, but my standard rule of thumb is one whole coconut mixed with 4 cups of water in a high-speed blender to make coconut milk from a fresh coconut!
From Shredded Coconut
Ok, next we’ll focus on how to make coconut milk from desiccated coconut? This method is very simple as shredded coconut is already in a usable form. Simply add the desiccated coconut, water, and a pinch of salt to a blender or food processor and blend for 45-60 seconds. You don’t have to strain this through a nut milk bag but we usually do to remove any fibrous texture.
The ratio for coconut milk from shredded coconut is: 1 cup of desiccated coconut and 2 cups of water.
Pro Tip: You can make homemade coconut milk with shredded coconut in a food processor! A high powered blender does a better job of this but if you don’t have a blender you can still play this game!
PSA: If you avoid additives in your food, check the ingredient panel when you purchase shredded/desiccated coconut as unfortunately many brands have a lot of those difficult-to-pronounce words.
From Coconut Butter
Oh yeah- it’s real and it’s delicious! The coconut milk recipe using coconut butter is the silkiest and most flavor-packed, in our opinion… All you need is coconut butter and water!
**This is our favorite method of making homemade coconut milk! We make a big batch of homemade coconut butter and use that to make coconut milk for the next few months- very creamy, very easy and zero gums/additives/weird ingredients!
The ratio for coconut milk from coconut butter is: 1/3 cup of coconut butter and 2 cups of water.
DIY coconut milk using coconut butter can be made in a blender or a food processor! As with the shredded coconut milk process, we like to strain this through a nut milk bag as there can be a fibrous, pulpy texture- this is entirely optional!
From Canned Coconut Cream
We weren’t going to include this option originally but we remembered times we have been cooking dinner, been in a pinch and only had coconut cream on hand- no coconut milk. What to do? WHO do you turn to?!Can you turn coconut cream into coconut milk? Yes, you can. And we shall!
Never fear– the remedy is here! You can make this version in a blender or food processor, and you do not need to strain this through a nut milk bag!
The ratio for coconut milk from canned coconut cream is: 1 can of coconut cream (5.40 oz) and 2 cups of water.
We’re thrilled to see interest in homemade alternative milks! We hope the information detailed above can help you to be more resourceful and experimental in the kitchen! Try all 4 ways and report back which method tastes best to you and yours <3
Before you go… check out these common questions regarding homemade coconut milk!
Coconut Milk FAQs:
- How long does homemade coconut milk last? If kept in a sealed container in the fridge this will last 3-6 days. Homemade coconut milk from a fresh coconut will last 3 days.
- Can you use coconut oil to make coconut milk? No, not that we have come across!
- Is coconut milk keto? Yes.
- Can you make homemade light coconut milk? Yes. Increase the ratio of water to coconut, for the following recipes we’d suggest starting with 1 additional cup of water and tasting.
- How do you make coconut milk not separate? Homemade coconut milk doesn’t have gums, stabilizers, or fillers so it will separate in the fridge. Simply shake and use! Some forms of coconut milk have a very thick cream on top that won’t disperse by shaking- pour the contents into a blender for 30 seconds prior to using!
- How to make coconut milk without a blender? You can make coconut milk from shredded/desiccated coconut or from coconut butter in a food processor- not recommended for a fresh coconut.
- Can you make this coconut milk for a curry? Yes. Homemade coconut milk definitely works in a curry recipe!
- Is homemade coconut milk full fat? Yes. Increase the amount of water for lower fat coconut milk options!
- How to store homemade coconut milk? Store in a sealed jar or container in the fridge. We recommend a wide-mouthed jar or container in case the coconut cream solidifies, so you can remove and blend to reincorporate (especially if using coconut butter or a fresh coconut!).
- What’s the difference- homemade versus canned coconut milk? Canned coconut milk has additives like stabilizers and preservatives to lengthen the shelf life whereas, with homemade coconut milk recipes, you are only using whole foods!
- Is coconut cream the same as coconut milk? No, coconut milk has a higher water content than coconut cream. Coconut cream is concentrated fats and proteins- the coconut cream is the white, solidified mass inside canned coconut milk if placed in the fridge!
4 Ways To Make Coconut Milk
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: recipe
- Method: Blender, Food Processor, Nutribullet
- Cuisine: Vegan
Consider this the encyclopedia on how to make coconut milk at home. We’ll show you 4 different ways to make homemade coconut milk: from shredded coconut, coconut butter, fresh coconut, and coconut cream!
- 1/3 cup coconut butter OR 1 cup shredded coconut OR 1 can coconut cream OR 1/2 mature adult coconut
- 2 cups water
- pinch of salt
- Optional: sweetener of choice, vanilla extract
- Place coconut, water, and salt into blender or food processor. Blend for 45-60 seconds.
- Strain through a nut milk bag.
- Store in a sealed container in the fridge & enjoy as needed!
** A food processor may be used for coconut butter, shredded coconut, and coconut cream methods. A food processor is not recommended for fresh coconut.
** Coconut cream method does not require straining.
** Homemade coconut milk will last 3-5 days in the fridge.
**This can be frozen for up to 1 month, if frozen right away! Defrost fully prior to use.
Keywords: coconut milk, how-to make coconut milk
Used this recipe 2 times. Made the coconut cream version and the coconut butter version. I like how easy the coconut butter one is but my coconut butter is always hard.
Thanks for the 5 stars, Erin!
My coconut butter is always hard too, I simply use a spoon and scrape it across the top of the solid coconut butter until I get 1/3 cup full.
I have always used shredded coconut- I didn’t know coconut butter or cream would work but I had some coconut cream in my pantry so I tried it and it tastes perfect! I always add some vanilla extract and a pinch of sugar to my coconut milk.
Used shredded coconut to make this as I’m not grocery shopping much right now with all the covid happenings- it worked GREAT!
How would you recommend doing coconut milk from fresh coconut to avoid it curdling in the blender?
I haven’t had an issue with the coconut milk curdling, however, it will separate over time. Many coconut milk brands you can purchase at grocery stores have gums or fillers. Give it a good shake before using it.
For fresh coconuts, make sure there aren’t any pink or moldy areas on the fresh coconut meat.
Hope this helps!
This is SO useful! I didn’t have shredded coconut on hand and I was browsing different ways to make coconut milk. I did have coconut manna and used it to make coconut milk after finding this recipe. THANK YOU! Most stores are pretty sold out where I live so now I know I can look for other ways to make coconut milk instead of buying the cans. I didnt strain through a nut milk bag like you suggested so there was a little tiny bit of fiber but this is super fast and super easy. I’m looking at my jar of coconut manna thinking there’s a gallon of coconut milk sitting there! Woohoo. Thanks again!!!!
Is coconut manna the same as coconut butter? Or should i look for actual coconut butter?
Your milk didn’t hardened in the fridge? I tried this method and my milk had hard chucks of coconut butter in it.
I’ve never had this issue but several readers have mentioned it recently so I’m testing different brands of coconut butter– what brand of coconut butter did you use?
I used this to try a couple different ways to make coconut milk. Question for you. If you use canned coconut cream does the milk it makes have a greyish color to it? Is that normal or just me?
Yes! I’ve been using coconut cream lately and I always notice this too. Across at least 2 different brands of coconut cream, this happens to me too. I’m with ya.
WONDERFUL, thank you! Especially now with all this going on!
I was very surprised how creamy this coconut milk was. Previously I have tried to make my own and always felt the canned stuff was superior. I tried both the shredded coconut version and the canned coconut cream one. I preferred 1 can of the cream to 1.5 cups water instead of 2 and I LOVE that you don’t have to strain it.
Hi, I have a question on whether I can use coconut shreds to make coconut cream, as I need to use it for vegan ice cream. If this is possible, could you explain how to do it?
Yes, you can make homemade coconut cream. To make coconut cream, use 6 cups of coconut chips/flakes (the wide stuff, not the shredded or desiccated coconut) and 4 cups of hot water. Blend well and add more as needed to ensure very smooth, flowy blending. Then strain this through cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag and place in the fridge for 48 hours. There will be a thick layer of coconut cream solidified on top of the clear liquid below that you can separate out with a spoon. This does not freeze well- the texture changes and becomes very soft so I’d recommend using it within a couple of days for best taste!
The results vary widely according to the brand of coconut flakes that you use so you’ll need to play around with it and find a brand and method that works well for you! Essentially this is just making a very concentrated coconut milk, so there is an extra thick cream layer on top.
I used the fresh coconut method…the best coconut milk I ever had. Thank you!
Yeah Zhasmina! Welcome to the fresh coco milk club! Thanks for leaving us a review and we hope you get up to some trouble in the kitchen this week 🙂
Hello! Great post. I have lots of fresh coconuts, trying different methods, I tried putting 1 whole coconut and 4 cups water (one of the cups was from the coconut water). Would’ve figured it would be better, reading your post I can see it’s a mistake.
I’m currently trying different ways to make it last longer, any other suggestions?
Hey Adriana– great name, btw!
I think the issue may be using the coconut water– you’ve got your ratio correct! Coconut water is sweet and tasty from young green coconuts but from the brown, fuzzy mature coconuts it is no longer sweet. Mature coconut water can sometimes have a sour or bitter flavor so if you added this to your coconut milk I suspect that could create an off-flavor. This water can still be reserved and added to smoothies, coffee, or juices… or even chilled and consumed on its own if it isn’t too sour.
To help fresh coconut milk last longer make sure your tea towel or nutmilk bag is CLEAN! If you ever make homemade alternative milks that seem to spoil quickly this could be the culprit.
I hope this helps!
Has anyone tried to make coconut milk like the one innocent make? It has 4 ingredients. Rice, coconut and spring water (+pinch of salt) and plant fibre .03. i love it but its expensive and uses plastic bottles so id like to try to make it at home. I currently have some rice in water ready to make rice milk and think i will use the desiccated coconut version of coconut milk on here but im not sure if i will get the ratios right and i dont know what i could use as plant fibre. If anyone else has tried please share.
I’ve never tried this brand… However I did check them out online and it looks like the ‘plant fibre’ is only .3% of total ingredients, I believe by weight, and the site lists ‘plant fibre to make it deliciously creamy’.
I suspect this behaves in some way as soy or sunflower lecithin would. Lecithin helps offer a creamy mouthfeel and stabilizing/emulsifying properties… most health food stores sell lecithin in the bulk section so you can purchase a tiny bit to experiment with!
Hope this helps!
Yum this tastes so great, I did the shredded coconut recipe. Can you do anything with the pulp in the nut bag?
Hi Renae! I’m glad you like the coco milk! If you google ‘nut pulp recipes’ you’ll find recipes for cookies, bars, crackers and such from other recipe sites 🙂 Even though this is coconut pulp, you could still use it I’d guess.
Thank you very much! This recipe was the best and I have tried many that were not to my liking. I have plenty of coconut butter and I will be putting it to good use thanks to you!
Woohoo! Glad you liked it!
Before I started making coconut milk with coconut butter I always had a jar or 2 of coconut butter that I planned to use more often but just never did. Until this!! 🙂 Happy it’ll be put to use at your house too.
I used coconut butter, it came out a bit gritty and the next morning the top was hardened coconut oil. I used 1 litre spring water with 1/3 x2 coconut butter, pinch of salt and some vanilla. What did I do wrong?
Yes, coconut milk made with coconut butter does have fiber and pulp (the grittiness you mentioned) if you don’t strain it through a nutmilk bag. Separation is normal in homemade nutmilks but the layer on top usually isn’t solid, solidified coconut.
Here’s how to save it! Add the contents back to your blender and blend until smooth– break up that separated layer until creamy again– then strain through a nutmilk bag and enjoy! You may have a coconut butter with a very high fat content (great quality). What brand of coconut butter did you use?
Thanks so much for the feedback! Have a wonderful weekend!
I’m planning to use a fresh coconut. Do you recommend shredding it or cutting it into small pieces first so it’s not too tough on the blender or do you find that the blender makes short work of larger chunks with no trouble? Thanks!
If you have a vitamix, blentec, or other work horse of a blender you should be just fine cutting the coconut meat into 1-2” chunks! I even use my nutribullet for this recipe.
Room temperature coconuts are a touch easier to process than those pulled right from the fridge. Happy coconutting!!
Ok… I complex botched the ratios and now I have this grainy, sandy coconut version of applesauce. I hate applesauce. Is there any way to save it? I started with a bag of coconut flakes and 2 cups of water. Then to my dismay I realized 7 oz of coconut flakes is not Even close to the same as 1 cup of coconut flakes. I tried adding more water but now it seems like I’m just watering it down and I’m running out of room in the blender. It separates as it settles which is about 4 oz of clear liquid vs 20 oz of white foamy stuff in a 32 oz container. I’m using a Vitamix.
Alright. Let’s get this. You can save it!!!!
Quick google search states 1, 7 ounce bag of coconut flakes is about 3.5 cups.
3.5 cups of flakes would need 7 cups of water. You need to add 5 more cups of water.
This will most likely overflow your blender SOOOO, pour half of the coconut pulpy-mix into a large bowl. Add 2.5 cups water to that bowl and 2.5 cups Water to the half in your blender. And blend baby blend!
Strain through a nut milk bag into ANOTHER bowl, then blend and strain the reserved other half of the mixture and strain.
Combine the two batches of coco milk together and you should be solid!!!
Trying it! Thanks, I’ll need to get a nut milk bag and just store it in the fridge until then. My sieve is not small enough.
You can use a clean dish towel if you don’t have a nut milk bag!
Wow! The texture changed so much by just adding back in the additional water and blending again. Thanks so much for your help.
My husband was sooo happy to have his first iced matcha latte since March! We were ordering in the Thai Kitchen 2 ingredient coconut milk in the cartons which was phenomenal and they have not been shipping it since then sadly.
This is a miracle by 2020 standards hahaha! So happy it worked out for you 🙂
Thank you so much for your expertise. My coconut tree is overflowing & I want to make natural yogurt from the milk you have taught me to make. Again hthank you. And stay safe
No problem, Brenda!!
Enjoy all those cocos! I miss having coconut trees nearby. Enjoy your weekend 🙂
Thanks for sharing this info. Just made my first coco milk from a fresh coconut. I must say it’s absolutely delish!
What can I do with the remained shredded coconut?
Excellent! You can dry it in the oven for longer-term storage. Or, you can freeze it and use it to make coconut milk as needed!
I dry the leftover pulp in the oven, cool, powder in the coffer grinder then freeze and use as coconut flour
This was such a great find. It came out so good. Thank you for this recipe
thank you for sharing
Could this coconut milk be used for chia pudding? Wondering if it might thicken up in the fridge overnight.
Yes! You can use this to make a chia pudding 🙂
Fantastic tutorial. I make my own coconut milk the same way. It’s so easy and so much better than conventional, store-bought coconut milk in a can.
I just recently started making my own coconut milk and I LOVE it! I use whole coconuts and it’s even cheaper! (and the benefits of the coconut water are worth the effort of cracking it) And I let the oils come up to the top and then break it up and jar it. Coconut Oil! Then I turn the squeezed out meat into coconut flour. I have yet to use it, but it’s there. So many purposes to one little coconut!
Love your explanation on how to extract coconut milk. Thank you!
AWESOME says it all!!! So flavorful, simple to make and everyone enjoyed! I kept reviewing the recipe to make sure I didn’t forget any steps, it was so quick to make.
Is there a recipe for the leftover strained coconut when making shredded into coconut milk?
I used the fresh coconut version, however I must have over blended or had a younger coconut… because there wasn’t anything to strain. I ran it thru the nut bag and it all went right thru… there wasn’t any pulp. Is this ok? I used cold water instead of hot. Blended with my NinjaChef on high for about a minute.
Thank You for the excellent 4-way of making Coconut milk! I came here for the easiest way to make coconut milk from coconut butter. Fount it! Grateful for your sharing. Your writing brought up my fond memory: From Vietnam, I was 10, I used to make coconut milk from fresh coconut using a metal shredder (similar to Plai Na Coconut Hand Grater) then, extracted the coconut milk from its fine shredded flakes by hand squeezing.
I made it with a fresh coconut. Lots of work, but definitely worth it! My husband loved it!
Can you use unstrained coconut milk in recipes?
Hi Lori- You can use unstrained coconut milk in recipes but it the milk with have a gritty/fibrous texture instead of a creamy, silky mouthfeel and this will carry over to any recipes you use it in.
How do you freeze coconut milk?
Hi Karen, to freeze homemade coconut milk I simply place the milk in a freezer-safe container and pop it right in the freezer for later use! Then defrost in the fridge for at least 24 hours and shake well to combine.