How to Make Coconut Milk


I love coconut milk! Don’t you? It’s so tasty and an excellent, nutrient-dense addition to your diet. Rich in vitamins, minerals and a fantastic source of lauric acid (a nourishing fat found in breastmilk), coconut milk is indeed a superfood.

But, until recently, I’d only purchased organic coconut milk in BPA-free cans (Native Forest and Natural Value brands)- I’d never made my own. I knew this was a compromise and that many important enzymes and fragile vitamins were lost during the canning process. There is also the issue of additives (like guar gum in Native Forest) that can be irritating to some, and is not GAPS-legal.

It’s easier than you might imagine to make coconut milk at home and quite a cost savings.

Here are two methods I use, neither of which involve having to crack a fresh coconut on your kitchen counter:

Method 1: Frozen shredded coconut and blender method

1. Buy frozen shredded coconut and thaw
You can buy fresh shredded coconut in the freezer section of many stores and certainly at almost all Asian or ethnic foods stores. I get a pound of fresh shredded frozen coconut (with NO other ingredients) for less than $3. Thaw the packages enough so that you can get the coconut out easily.

2. Blend with water (1:1 ratio)
Put it in your blender (may need to work in batches) with about 1 cup or so filtered water (I find warm is best, but not boiling) to each 1 cup of coconut. Blend until all broken down and mixed well.

3. Strain and Squeeze
Strain into a glass bowl, pouring through layered cheesecloth, butter muslin or a nut-milk bag, wringing it out to remove all the milk (and leaving the coconut solids in the bag/cloth).

4. Bonus- coconut flour!
You can even take this a step further and then dry the coconut solids (in dehydrator or low oven) and then throw the dried coconut in a food processor and voila! coconut flour.

This is a really economical and easy method- and from a pound of coconut, I end of with several cups of fresh coconut milk and at least 2 cups of coconut flour FOR LESS THAN $3!!!

Method 2: Dried Coconut and Hot Water

This is pretty much the same as above, except that you are using dried, also called dessicated, coconut (unsweetened!) shreds or pieces. You will do the same steps as above, but use hot, but not boiling water, soak and blend carefully in smaller batches.

1. Buy dried or dessicated (UNSWEETENED) shredded coconut or coconut pieces
Just make sure there are no other ingredients other than coconut. (preservatives, sugar, etc)

2. Soak in hot water (1:1 ratio)
In a large glass bowl, add dried coconut and then cover with very hot, but not boiling filtered water in a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup coconut. Let it sit about 15-20 minutes.  (Cool water could also be used, but warmer water extracts more of the coconut oil)

3. Blend
Pour your soaked coconut and its soaking water into the blender (may need to work in batches)  Blend until all broken down and mixed well.

3. Strain and Squeeze
Strain into a glass bowl, pouring through layered cheesecloth, butter muslin or a nut-milk bag, wringing it out to remove all the milk (and leaving the coconut solids in the bag/cloth).

4. Bonus- coconut flour!
You can even take this a step further and then dry the coconut solids (in dehydrator or low oven) and then throw the dried coconut in a food processor and voila! coconut flour.

So easy!

Of course, you CAN also make coconut milk with fresh coconut, following the steps of the first method. You will have to crack open and peel the coconuts, which can be a bit challenging, though fairly simple in theory. Once you’ve got the coconut meat, chop it in the blender, add your water, blend, strain and that’s it.

Homemade coconut milk will last a few days in the fridge, but needs to be used rather quickly. I store mine in small Mason jars and fill below the jar shoulders and freeze. I’ve never had a jar break. I thaw on the counter at room temp or in the fridge, not under hot water. I’ve successfully frozen coconut milk for a couple of months without issue in recipes or taste.

Have you made coconut milk from scratch before? What method did you use?

    • Hi ReneeAnn, thanks for your comment- I’m glad it helped- enjoy your coconut milk! Healthy and easy on the budget! 🙂

    • Hi ReneeAnn, thanks for your comment- I’m glad it helped- enjoy your coconut milk! Healthy and easy on the budget! 🙂

  • OK. It’s time for me to do it! I’ve seen so many posts on this recently that it’s time for me to make my own. BPA free and a major savings on the pocketbook!!! Thanks for being the one to give me that final push! 🙂 ~Jessica

    • Go, Jessica, go! You will be SHOCKED at how fast and easy this goes together. What really sold me, besides the taste, was the cost savings. I’m paying $4 a can and at least $10 for a small thing of coconut flour. This is about 3 cans worth of coconut milk and 1/3 container of flour for less than $3! Sign me up! Let me know how it goes and what method works best for you. 🙂

  • OK. It’s time for me to do it! I’ve seen so many posts on this recently that it’s time for me to make my own. BPA free and a major savings on the pocketbook!!! Thanks for being the one to give me that final push! 🙂 ~Jessica

    • Go, Jessica, go! You will be SHOCKED at how fast and easy this goes together. What really sold me, besides the taste, was the cost savings. I’m paying $4 a can and at least $10 for a small thing of coconut flour. This is about 3 cans worth of coconut milk and 1/3 container of flour for less than $3! Sign me up! Let me know how it goes and what method works best for you. 🙂

    • Hi Anne! I get it at an Asian store just down the road. There are two packages inside one pouch and it’s a pound. I think it’s $2.79. They have three or four different brands for the same price. Guess I should stock up then!

      It is not as thick as the canned stuff, but will have more oil if you use the hot water. I would also use less water to make sure it’s thicker. Hope that helps! 🙂

      Thanks for your comments! Glad you stopped by…

    • Hi Anne! I get it at an Asian store just down the road. There are two packages inside one pouch and it’s a pound. I think it’s $2.79. They have three or four different brands for the same price. Guess I should stock up then!

      It is not as thick as the canned stuff, but will have more oil if you use the hot water. I would also use less water to make sure it’s thicker. Hope that helps! 🙂

      Thanks for your comments! Glad you stopped by…

  • So, I made some today. I had to go to a couple of Asian markets to find some good stuff – the first couple I went to had the frozen coconut, but it looked so freezer burnt and full of ice crystals that I didn’t buy. Finally, I found some that looked good. 3 pounds for $4.25. From that, I got two quarts of milk and would have had about 10-12 cups of shreds, except I ended up spilling a whole sheet pan of the shreds all over the floor and the oven when I was removing one of the pans. BOOOO.

    Not 100% sure about the flavor yet. I’ll have to test it tomorrow when it’s fully chilled. But, it was definitely a lot more economical!!! 🙂

  • So, I made some today. I had to go to a couple of Asian markets to find some good stuff – the first couple I went to had the frozen coconut, but it looked so freezer burnt and full of ice crystals that I didn’t buy. Finally, I found some that looked good. 3 pounds for $4.25. From that, I got two quarts of milk and would have had about 10-12 cups of shreds, except I ended up spilling a whole sheet pan of the shreds all over the floor and the oven when I was removing one of the pans. BOOOO.

    Not 100% sure about the flavor yet. I’ll have to test it tomorrow when it’s fully chilled. But, it was definitely a lot more economical!!! 🙂

  • Hi!

    I am so time-challenged that I just use the shredded coconut, water and blend method to make coconut milk. But I am tempted to try to get out the solids so that I can have coconut flour.

    Here is a link to my instructions: http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/make-your-own-coconut-milk/ (I hope it’s OK to leave a link since you asked how we do it :-))

    Can you tell me where you get butter muslin, or nut milk bags most reasonably? And how many layers of cheesecloth one needs? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Adrienne!! 🙂 I order my butter muslin from Cultures for Health, and I’ve gotten nut-milk bags off Amazon. I got a three pack, they are super reusable, and I’ve had them 3 years with no problems! 🙂 I would have to guesstimate on the cheescloth, as I’ve not used it, but enough so that the solids get trapped and the liquid can be squeezed through- maybe 4-5? Hope that helps!

  • Hi!

    I am so time-challenged that I just use the shredded coconut, water and blend method to make coconut milk. But I am tempted to try to get out the solids so that I can have coconut flour.

    Here is a link to my instructions: http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/make-your-own-coconut-milk/ (I hope it’s OK to leave a link since you asked how we do it :-))

    Can you tell me where you get butter muslin, or nut milk bags most reasonably? And how many layers of cheesecloth one needs? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Adrienne!! 🙂 I order my butter muslin from Cultures for Health, and I’ve gotten nut-milk bags off Amazon. I got a three pack, they are super reusable, and I’ve had them 3 years with no problems! 🙂 I would have to guesstimate on the cheescloth, as I’ve not used it, but enough so that the solids get trapped and the liquid can be squeezed through- maybe 4-5? Hope that helps!

  • We used the fresh method while living in the Philippines. We never used the blender though. We just scraped out the white coconut flesh with a jagged metal tool that was sold in the market there, soaked it in just enough water to almost cover it, then strained and used in cooking. You most likely could get two presses with this method. Coconut milk is a primary ingredient in many Filipino dishes.
    Here in the states I would do the same with the dried, unsweetened coconut flakes.

  • We used the fresh method while living in the Philippines. We never used the blender though. We just scraped out the white coconut flesh with a jagged metal tool that was sold in the market there, soaked it in just enough water to almost cover it, then strained and used in cooking. You most likely could get two presses with this method. Coconut milk is a primary ingredient in many Filipino dishes.
    Here in the states I would do the same with the dried, unsweetened coconut flakes.

  • How do you possible get 10 cups of milk when you are blending 1 cup of meat with 1 cup of water? That’s impossible. Could you clarify this for us please. Thank you.

    • It’s in the ratio of 1:1, that is that for every 1 cup of coconut, we use 1 cup of water. When we make coconut milk, we do it in batches, using more than 1 cup of coconut (and 1 cup water)…you can make as much as you want, keeping the same ratio.

      • That still doesn’t make sense, though. A pound of frozen coconut is definitely not 10 cups of shreds. Are you saying you use 10 cups of water per pound of frozen coconut? Doesn’t that make very thin milk?

  • How do you possible get 10 cups of milk when you are blending 1 cup of meat with 1 cup of water? That’s impossible. Could you clarify this for us please. Thank you.

    • It’s in the ratio of 1:1, that is that for every 1 cup of coconut, we use 1 cup of water. When we make coconut milk, we do it in batches, using more than 1 cup of coconut (and 1 cup water)…you can make as much as you want, keeping the same ratio.

      • That still doesn’t make sense, though. A pound of frozen coconut is definitely not 10 cups of shreds. Are you saying you use 10 cups of water per pound of frozen coconut? Doesn’t that make very thin milk?

  • since i live in the philippines were there are plenty of coconuts,I always have fresh coco milk at my disposal.I use it for cooking everyday and so yummy.i also drink a lot of young coconut water.I made a contraption where you grind the coco meat manually into finer pieces and I save a lot too.The dried left over coco meat,I feed to my belgian malinois and she love the coco.I have my milk,feed my dog and did excercise while grinding the coco meat.Great!!!

  • since i live in the philippines were there are plenty of coconuts,I always have fresh coco milk at my disposal.I use it for cooking everyday and so yummy.i also drink a lot of young coconut water.I made a contraption where you grind the coco meat manually into finer pieces and I save a lot too.The dried left over coco meat,I feed to my belgian malinois and she love the coco.I have my milk,feed my dog and did excercise while grinding the coco meat.Great!!!

  • I just made this and it was so simple and it’s absolutely delicious. I just added it to a smoothie and it tastes amazing. This is after bringing it to room temperature. I am wondering though, how it will be when keeping it in the fridge. I hate how coconut milk hardens when chilled. I’m assuming this will do the same. Any suggestions to get it back to liquid form when this happen? I have found that I can never get the same consistency back from a can.

    • Great!! Glad you liked it- we do, too. This won’t harden as much as canned coconut milk (which often has thickeners/gums in it) You can try to blend it up after removing from the fridge either with a blender or immersion blender… I do that with the canned if we ever use it to make it a nice consistency (rather than some thick and some thin)… bringing it up in temp a little bit wouldn’t hurt either. The fresh stuff doesn’t last long- only 2-3 days at most- but it’s so good it goes fast anyway!

  • I just made this and it was so simple and it’s absolutely delicious. I just added it to a smoothie and it tastes amazing. This is after bringing it to room temperature. I am wondering though, how it will be when keeping it in the fridge. I hate how coconut milk hardens when chilled. I’m assuming this will do the same. Any suggestions to get it back to liquid form when this happen? I have found that I can never get the same consistency back from a can.

    • Great!! Glad you liked it- we do, too. This won’t harden as much as canned coconut milk (which often has thickeners/gums in it) You can try to blend it up after removing from the fridge either with a blender or immersion blender… I do that with the canned if we ever use it to make it a nice consistency (rather than some thick and some thin)… bringing it up in temp a little bit wouldn’t hurt either. The fresh stuff doesn’t last long- only 2-3 days at most- but it’s so good it goes fast anyway!

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