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DIY Coconut Milk

diy coconut milk

I hadn’t thought of making coconut milk from shredded coconut until I read Sarma Melngailis’ book Living Raw Food.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Sarma has great recipes and tons of fabulous information for everyone –you don’t have to be raw to enjoy this book.

I also want to recommend Sarma’s products from her company One Lucky Duck.  I haven’t ever met Sarma (or spoken to anyone at her company, I place all of my orders online) however I think she’s really onto something.  I found out about her through my Mother-in-Law, who loves Sarma’s Manhattan restaurant Pure Food and Wine, though I have yet to eat there.

If you do order from One Lucky Duck, Sarma’s living food company, then you might like her Grawnola and her Cheese-y Quackers –those are my favorites and the boys love them too.

DIY Coconut Milk


  1. Soak coconut in water for 1-2 hours (do not discard water)
  2. In a vitamix, combine coconut, water, vanilla and stevia and process on highest speed
  3. Strain liquid through a fine mesh paint strainer bag, discarding solids
  4. Serve

Now, you might be wondering why we keep the soaking water in this recipe and not in my Almond Milk recipe.  Well, there’s a reason and it’s a good one.

When we soak the almonds, it is to release their phytic acid which is an enzyme inhibitor that can interfere with digestion.  That’s why some folks soak all of their nuts and nut products (I do not find it necessary to do so for myself and my family).  If you have questions or want more information on this, I would highly recommend looking up Sally Fallon and her book Nourishing Traditions, another one of my favorite cookbooks.

With this coconut milk, there is no need to discard the soaking water because, as far as I’ve been taught, coconuts do not contain enzyme inhibitors.  This recipe is a little messy to make,  however, I like it since it’s a heck of a lot easier than cracking open a fresh coconut and scooping out the “meat,” etc.  And, it helps me avoid canned coconut products.  I don’t like to eat food out of cans (see BPA), though that’s another story, or post perhaps.

This Thursday, at 8:45am I’ll be on Good Day Colorado demonstrating the (gluten free) Strawberry Shortcake recipe from my book, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.

One last note, Boulder’s own Dessert Diva from Boulder Weekly appeared on Daybreak on the Deuce to make my Gluten Free Almond Butter Brownies from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Watch the video here!

posted on April 13, 2010, 68 comments

  1. Jennifer @ EFTHypnosis.com

    Perfect! This helps me solve the coconut milk conundrum, too. I’m also avoiding BPA lined cans and, while our grocery has started carrying unsweetened coconut milk in a carton (are they lined with BPA, too?!), it’s not organic. Many thanks, Elana, for all of your wonderful posts!

  2. ~M

    This is so fabulous, not only for BPA but also for Passover. What do you with the solids after straining/draining from your mesh painters bag?

    • karina

      I have just made coconut milk today. I learned (from another site) that you can save the ground up coconut flakes, give them a good squeeze with the bag to remove the water and then dehydrate. That way you will have fragrant, yummy gluten-free coconut flour.

  3. Chandelle @ realfood365.com

    I don’t think there’s any reason to soak your almonds if you’re using them for almond milk. The enzyme inhibitors are found in the skins, which are discarded if you strain your milk. Similarly, blanched almond flour doesn’t need to be soaked because the skins are removed.

    • Julia

      Hi there,
      My understanding is that phytic acid is present in almond meat, as well as the skin. And therefore blanching, only takes care of part of the phytic acid problem, unfortunately…..

      The Weston Price Foundation website has comprehensive directions on soaking/sprouting (specific to grains, rice, seeds, pulses), updated from the Nourishing Traditions book. The differences being longer soak times, at higher temps, with starters….

  4. Rosie

    I only heard about making coconut milk from shredded coconut recently. I wish I hadn’t bought my big jar of coconut cream! Both can be used to make coconut milk, but milk made from coconut cream is supposedly grittier than using shredded coconut.

    As for how much shredded coconut, is the amount you’ve listed packed or sort of a loose cup?

    • Michelle

      Rosie – where did you get your big jar of coconut cream? What is the brand? I’m looking for coconut cream NOT in a can – that sounds perfect for me. Thanks!

    • mc

      Am making garbanzo bean curry this evening and didn’t have coconut milk–was delighted to find this recipe. Can’t wait to get her GF cookbook!
      If you’re looking for interesting and inexpensive gifts or a special something to soothe your soul, look at the Rustyksoul shop on Etsy.com.
      The talented artist has a small but unique collection of handmade jewelry,yard art, crosses, etc.

  5. Dear Elena,

    I always love your posts! I’ve been stopping by for over a year and always enjoy just looking at the recipes if not making them. I was just saying this morning how I’d forgotten to buy coconut milk, and now I won’t be without it. I’m going to post a link to your site on my blog about making peace with food.

    Thank you!


  6. MzRobare

    Do you have the nutritional values for this recipe? I’m type2 and am also trying to loose weight.

    • Aura

      I just wanted to add to what Brandon was saying about the link between coconut and weight loss, for those interested, Eat Fat Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig is a wonderful resource of information and recipes, centered around coconut and other nutrient dense foods.

    • Nissa

      I use my fitness pal and put in all the ingredients for a recipe to find out the nutritional content

  7. I use to use dry shredded coconut (unsweetened) to make coconut milk. However I know take the time to shred fresh coconut these days. I have been been reading information on the effect that drying has on coconut–apparently a mould tends to form around the dried coconut (copra) and produces what are called “mycotoxins”.

    These toxins have been linked to the development of cancer, autism, diabetes…the list can go on. I am trying to find some links to back up what I am saying, but the information online seems to be very limited. I know if you search “mycotoxins” on Dr. Mercola’s website, he seems to back me up by saying that copra (dried coconut) contains mycotoxins.

    I’m looking at NutritionData.com and it says that coconut hasn’t a glycemic index at all, meaning it won’t raise your blood sugar levels. I kind of figured this, as the carbohydrate content is extremely low–much of the calories comes from fat.

    However it is the good kind of fat! The MCFA’s (medium chained fatty acids) in coconut is a good fat that has been shown to speed up the metabolism, nourish the thyroid and aid in weight loss. If you type in “coconut oil, weight loss” in Google Scholar, you’re bound to find some studies that show this. Good luck!

  8. This recipe is perfect for me. I LOVE coconut milk to death, but am not a fan of canned goods. I have 2 cans of Thai coconut milk left. It will be a pleasure when I see those gone so I can simply make my own coconut milk with shredded coconut.


  9. Beth

    I will also be using up my canned coconut milk and switching to doing it this way.
    What a great idea!

  10. Tenina @ tenina.com

    You can also use fresh baby coconut, add water and blend to oblivion using a Thermomix or Vitamix, strain as directed. Actually healthier than a dried coconut option as the additives they use to preserve dried coconut are quite scary!

  11. Jennifer

    Thank you for the beautiful website and recipes. Fresh coconut milk is an absolute dream! I want to encourage everyone to try using a young coconut and view an online video for instructions before. It’s totally do-able and I use a chef’s knife; probably something you already have. Price for each coconut ranges from $1.69 (local Asian market) to $1.99 (local WFM). Remove plastic, lightly shave off top until you see brown, whack a few spots with pointed end of knife (near handle), pry open. Blend water and scraped flesh for coconut milk. This is a base for all my smoothies and the kids love it too.

    For those avoiding cans, also be aware of the frozen milk, it has preservatives.

    When you can’t use a young coconut, Elana’s recipe is a sure-fire winnter.

    To everyone’s health!

    • Beckie

      Does anyone know an easy way to get a coconut open straight from the coconut tree? We have one in our yard, but the only way we’ve been able to get them open is to crack them open with a hammer, and we usually lose the coconut water in the process.

      • Hi Becky,

        What I do to open a coconut is I pierce both of the “eyes” (the small dark circles of the coconut) with a sharp object in order to open them. I then let the coconut water fall out into a glass or container. Then I go outside on some concrete (in order to avoid making a mess inside) and throw down the coconut as hard as I can. This usually breaks it open very nicely. You might want to throw it down a couple of times.

        I hope this helps!


  12. This looks great! I’m eager to try it out. Do you think straining the milk through cheesecloth would work?

  13. Rob Wyatt

    I’ve been making my coconut milk this way for a while now. I use honey and a vanilla bean instead of extract and stevia. Very easy and one can control the richness of the milk this way too. For my morning chai, I prefer a lighter coconut milk. If I’m making my coconut milk creme anglaise, I make it richer by adding more coconut.

    Not only are you avoiding BPA-lined cans, but you’re saving a lot of $$$. Canned coconut milk is mostly water. One bag of flake coconut costs a few bucks (the same as one or two cans of coconut milk), yet yields 10+ cans worth of milk. Furthermore, consider how much fuel is used to transport heavy cans of coconut milk from Asia versus light, dried flake.

  14. Erika

    I’m looking forward to trying this and some of the suggestions for using young coconut from the responses.

    Purely FYI: coconut milk IS available in BPA-free cans from a company called Native Forest. My local WFM carries it for ~$2.20/can.

  15. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen @ leftoverqueen.com

    It looks so yummy! I might have to try this! :)

  16. Russell Eaton @ the-coconut.com

    Great coconut recipe. You can get a fabulous collection of coconut milk recipes from a free ebook titled: The Incredible Coconut Book. This ebook is completely free and can be obtained by going to the-coconut.com. The recipes include coconut yogurt and coconut icecream.

  17. We used to have an Asian nanny who taught us how to make fresh coconut milk this way. From then on, we prefer to make our own coconut milk rather than buying those in cans. As there are a hundreds of uses and benefits that we get in coconut milk, the fresh version wins hands down in whatever you use it for.

    Glad to see helpful blogs like this. Thanks.

  18. This recipe really is fantastic! I’m excited to try it soon, I do so much with coconut milk! I’ve actually added this post to my weekly top ten recipe review! :)

    ~Aubree Cherie

  19. JB

    Try juicing a fresh young coconut! many more health benefits!

  20. Judy

    Is there a good recipe for rice cakes…like the crispy kind found in the chips isle? Or health food section. I love them with peanut butter and honey but would like to make my own. That way I know more of what’s in them. I guess they don’t really have to be crispy. I just enjoy the crunch when I bite into them.
    Thanks, Judy

  21. jennifer

    I use my juicer to strain the coconut water mixture. Really fast and easy – I’d rather clean the juicer than squeeze and then clean the bag.

    I also use hot water to soak coconut which softens it a lot faster and keeps the fat emulsified.

    Thanks for this recipe!

  22. Cathy

    Hi Elana,

    Do you know if this homemade coconut milk would freeze well? I like the idea of making it, but would prefer to make a large batch and freeze it in use-able portions for later recipes. Love your website and I own your cookbook…yum!

    Cathy from Severance, CO

  23. Christie

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I’ve taken my 13 month old off cows milk and didn’t want to use soy or almond milk, so we’re doing a combination of coconut milk (for the protein and fat) and rice milk (its fortified with calcium and vitamins).

    Does this recipe retain the fat and protein from the coconut? That’s my primary concern for him right now.


  24. Thanks for this recipe. I just wanted to add that the organic canned coconut milk I buy is in BPA free cans.

  25. Awesome! I love that it doesn’t have soy lethicin in it. Thanks so much for this recipe, can’t wait to try it out.

  26. Angie

    Is the stevia a must or can it be omitted?

  27. Kara

    Is this coconut milk good for drinking, or is it mostly just for cooking with?

    • sas

      You can do so much with coconut milk! My husband uses it in his oatmeal in the morning (instead of “regular milk”) I use it all the time in my baking (I have a casein allergy) as a substitute for cow’s milk…it is so versatile and wonderful.

  28. thank you for this recipe!!!!

    I’ve been considering going vegan once I have a job and a place of my own but have always been put off by the high cost of vegan-friendly milks…so it’s good that I can save a lot of money and make i tmy self from shredded coconut

  29. also how many cups of milk does this recipe make? I’m trying to figure out the fat content per cup of this homemade milk…..but from what I’m guessing it’s probably a lot of fat because the coconnut i have is like 5 grams of fat for just 1/8 cup of the stuff and this recipe calls for 2 cups….I winder if there’s such a thing as lite or fat-free shredded coconut

  30. jonathan

    shelf life? storage tips?

    FYI…I buy the Native Forest canned coconut milk, no BPA.

  31. I have attempted making coconut milk several times now with dried coconut, most recently following your recipe. The final product tastes fresh and good but instead of a nice layer of coconut cream as you get in full fat coconut milk in the can, I get a layer of what seems more like coconut oil on the top. So once it’s been refrigerated and is cold, this hard layer will not mix back in. And then when heated, leaves an oily film on top. Any tips or suggestions? Or is this normal with the homemade milk? How do you get that yummy cream layer that is perfect for whipped coconut cream? Thanks!

    • Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen @ rediscoverthekitchen.blogspot.com

      This was my experience too.

      I have not tried it as I cannot find it in stores, but I hear coconut cream is a good substitute.

    • Jessica

      I have this problem too and I’ve been asking around trying to see if anyone knows how to avoid this, or what to do with it, to no avail. I’ve seen recipes call for the cream at the top of the can in order to make dairy-free whipped cream. Well I always make my own coconut milk and get that thick, hard layer at the top and I don’t think it will mix up like other coconut cream. I’d love to hear what other people do with it, how to incorporate it better, etc. I don’t want to waste it but at the same time it’s hard to even get to the coconut milk through that tough layer. Thanks!

  32. Amanda

    Is there really nothing to do with the solids leftover?

    • Margaret

      I give a spoonful to the dog – he loves it. And I dry the rest (it takes awhile), then put in my Vitamix for 20-30 seconds. I use this in any recipe that calls for coconut flour, and it seems to work well.

  33. Annisa

    In Indonesia (where we use a lot of coconut milk in our cooking), we make coconut milk by simply adding water to grated coconut, just enough to cover the coconut, and squeezing the coconut to help it release its essence for a few minutes, then letting it sit for 5-10 minutes if it’s freshly grated (or 15-20 if it’s dried). After that, we take a small handful of the soaked coconut and squeeze it as hard as we can over a sieve and into a bowl. This will release more of its essence than the method above (or so my mother tells me :) ). This is the way every household does it and it works perfectly! :)

  34. Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen @ rediscoverthekitchen.blogspot.com

    Thank you so much for this recipe! It tastes so much better than the canned or the carton stuff, and I don’t have to worry about BPA or those weird extra ingredients.

    I don’t have the tools you use so I used a regular blender and cheesecloth, and it came out well.

    Hope you don’t mind but I posted about my experiences with this recipe here;
    Do let me know if posting the adapted recipe like that is ok, or if you want me to only have your link to this post up.

  35. katey @ superfoods @ thesuperfoodsbook.com

    I would replace the stevia with coconut sugar if you do not like stevia. Coconut sugar is very low on the glycemic scale and suitable for diabetics and paleo and gluten free diets.

  36. Elena

    Love it- I’m going to try it today although I don’t want to waste the coconut- can I store it to reuse in another recipe? should I re-dry it or stick it in the fridge? I’ll search your sight for options on what to use it on

  37. Renae

    What a BRILLIANT recipe!!!! So simple and cheap to make and I love the fact that it is preservative and additive free. Well done Elena!

  38. Pam

    I tried to make my own coconut milk with shredded coconut before and I wasn’t so good at it. (I don’t remember soaking the coconut in water for a couple hours as Elana says, so I think I’ll try it again.) What I learned to do instead is to use coconut butter/manna and extra liquid in my cooked dishes that require coconut milk. To make ice cream I mix the coconut butter with water then put through a nut bag and it gets rid of the grittiness.

    At this point the only thing I need canned coconut milk for is to make whipped coconut cream or coconut custard. I will buy Native Forest coconut milk. However, I called them to find out what they use instead of BPA. It was a long chemical name. When I googled it all the results kept talking about BPA, so I’m not really sure they’re much of a safe option.

    I keep going onto the Thai Kitchen Facebook page and asking them to sell their coconut milk in glass. Perhaps others could make the same request. I also send emails to Trader Joe’s asking them the same thing (though they have more stuff in their coconut milk.)

    Does anyone know of a way to make coconut cream that you can actually whip? THAT would be a GREAT recipe. I tried doing it by adding guar gum and such to coconut milk I made out of coconut butter but it didn’t work out.

  39. Eileen Mulliken

    Too Timely!

    I woke up this morning with the desire to find out how to make coconut milk. Much to my delight I see you have posted a method for doing so!!!! Thank you….and thanks too for putting together a collection of your Paleo recipes. Can’t wait for it to be published.

  40. Marie

    Question: Isn’t all coconut milk gluten free? Also, regarding the BPA’s: Are they used in canned foods? Tin cans? I thought it was just plastics. I had breast cancer three years ago & have to avoid all of these hormone mimickers, but I do buy some canned foods. I couldn’t find the specifics online. Just curious. Thanks for the recipe.

  41. Maria

    Just made some coconut milk, except I boiled the flakes in water for few minutes. While I was wondering what to do with the pulp my mom stepped in and made these awesome cookies with the said pulp. She added some butter and an egg and some of gf pancake mix(the brand name is XO Baking and it has coconut flour, cassava flour, potato starch, cane sugar, b.powder, salt, xanthan gum and vanilla). The cookies came out fantastic, she actually rolled the dough out and used the cookie cutters. I can’t taste the coconut, just crunchy buttery goodness. I am going to try coconut oil instead of butter and mix of coconut and cassava flour next time with stevia and honey as the sweetener. Hope it helps on what to do with the pulp. Cheers.

  42. Kim Kothe

    When you say “coconut milk” in your recipes do you mean: coconut milk beverage, canned coconut milk (low fat), or canned coconut cream (full fat)?

  43. Tara

    O.M.G. I just discovered your beverages section and am so excited and pleased to see the coconut and almond milk recipes. Thank you Elana!!!!

  44. One problem with this – You have to use or drink the coconut milk right away. If you refrigerate it and try to drink it again the next day, it totally separates into a rock hard solid on top and coconut water on the bottom. Microwaving slightly saves it but would be annoying if you needed it to stay cold. What to do? Only make it for immediate consumption?

  45. Jan

    This is my first time making milk. It seemed a waste to get rid of the coconut solids, yet I’m not sure if they have any nutrition left to provide? I mixed them with some cooked buckwheat for breakfast in the a.m., so we’ll see how that works. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Jan, definitely do not throw away the coconut pulp! That is exactly what is used in expensive packaged coconut flour. Once you have squeezed out all the milk, spread the pulp onto a baking sheet and bake at the lowest setting (75C/150F) until dry. I then blend it in my Vitamix (you can use any blender or food processor) until it is a light and fluffy flour. It is fantastic in baking, and can be used any time a recipe calls for coconut flour. The wet pulp is also good baked into macaroons or other baked goods. Tropical traditions has recipes on their Facebook page if you are interested.

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