Coconut milk is the white liquid made from coconut meat from brown coconuts.
It’s rich in healthy fatty acids and has a creamy, mildly sweet taste. Traditionally used in Asian cuisine, it has made its way into healthy cooking around the world.
It’s very easy to substitute coconut milk for milk in both sweet and savory recipes.

Keep reading to learn how to use this versatile milk and to discover its many health benefits!
Plus it’s also great for skin and hair treatments, which I cover in the end.


From coconut to milk

Very young coconuts initially only contain a transparent liquid called coconut water.
It’s known for its high content of electrolytes and nutty, sweet taste.
When coconuts mature, part of the coconut water becomes soft jelly. The jelly then grows from soft to firmer and finally into coconut meat.

Coconut milk is made by blending grated coconut meat with water or coconut water and then straining it. This results in a creamy, slightly sweet white liquid.

The byproduct from the grated coconut meat can be dried and ground into coconut flour, which is naturally gluten-free.



Substitute coconut milk for milk


How to use coconut milk

Coconut milk can be used in different sweet and savory recipes such as curries, desserts, soups, smoothies, hot drinks, in baking etc.

Because it’s a 100% plant-based and dairy-free milk, it’s very suitable for vegans and people who don’t consume dairy.

It’s also free from grains, nuts (coconuts are a type of fruit, called drupes) and soy.

Coconut cream is the thicker version of coconut milk. It’s made the same way, but is more concentrated and contains less water. It’s a popular ingredient in desserts and recipes that require a richer, creamier ingredient than coconut milk.




Coconut milk is a very nutritious, healthy beverage, rich in healthy fatty acids called MCT’s.
It also contains valuable minerals such as magnesium, iron and manganese, different B vitamins, vitamins C, E, as well as protein.
MCT’s are an important source of energy and fuel for our brain. They have strong anti-microbial properties, which help protect us against invaders such as bacteria and fungi.

Lauric acid forms about 50% of the MCT’s and is an important immune builder.
Besides coconuts it’s an essential part of breast milk!

Coconut milk helps support a healthy immune system, is good for digestion, our heart, muscles, cells, skin, hormones etc.
It also helps with the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients.

Coconut milk is high in calories, so this is something to keep in mind.  It’s also very rich, so you’ll most likely feel full for a while.


How to make coconut milk?

It’s very easy to make your own coconut milk.
You need 2.5 cups of peeled, freshly grated coconut meat and blend it with 4 cups of hot water. Use a strong blender or food processor for this.

You can grate the coconut by hand or in an electric grater or food processor. Strain it with a cheesecloth or fine sieve and you have your own homemade, creamy coconut milk!




How to make homemade coconut milk?


Buying coconut milk


Another option is to buy a can of natural coconut milk. There are good brands available, just make sure to always read the ingredients. Ideally it should just contain coconut milk and water.
The Food Babe wrote an interesting article about what to look for when you buy canned coconut milk.

I personally only buy natural brands and avoid the ones with added sugar or chemicals and in a BPA-free can.
A good option is this organic one from Native Forest.





How to substitute coconut milk for milk

Coconut milk is a delicious, versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes.
It has a mildly sweet taste, but blends in really well with salty and spicy flavors.

When you bake with it, the coconut flavor tends to fade.

If you are looking for a good dairy-free alternative, you can substitute coconut milk for milk. Make your own coconut milk, coconut yoghurt, whipped coconut cream and coconut cheese.
My favorite way to substitute coconut milk for milk is to make my own condensed coconut milk.

Here is a selection of some of my favorite recipes made with coconut milk (and cream):



Coconut lemongrass soup



Savory recipes made with coconut milk:


Coconut lemongrass soup

Massaman curry with sweet potatoes

Roasted beet coconut soup

Green curry with quinoa

Broccoli coconut cream soup

Cauliflower coconut soup

Coconut green pea soup



Pastel bounty balls with brown and white chocolate



Desserts made with coconut milk:


Chocolate peanut butter fudge

Thai coconut ice cream

Avocado chocolate mousse

Raspberry chocolate slices with date caramel

Rainbow bounty balls

Berry banana nice cream

Arroz con leche de coco

Thai sticky rice with mango



Golden milk turmeric latte



Hot drinks made with coconut milk


Masala chai with coconut milk

Golden milk turmeric latte

Spicy hot chocolate milk



Butterfly pea coconut shake



Cold drinks made with coconut milk


Butterfly pea coconut shake

Green coconut super smoothie

Strawberry coconut smoothie



Coconut mango porridge



Breakfast dishes


Coconut fruit pancakes

Coconut mango porridge 



Vegan banana walnut cake





Banana walnut cake

Coconut cookies



I don’t know about you, but I could really do some Thai coconut ice-cream now!
But back to the subject: what can you use coconut milk for besides for cooking?


Coconut milk for beauty

Not only can you substitute coconut milk for milk in your recipes, you can use it on your body as well. The nutrients in coconut milk that are so healthy, are also wonderful for topical use. Especially for our skin and hair.

Coconut milk has a long tradition in beauty products because of its nourishing, anti-aging, protecting and anti-microbial properties.

It’s a popular ingredient in skin masks, soaps, creams, shampoos, serums, hair masks and more. 


Skin: coconut milk is very gentle on your skin and soothes most skin types. (but as with anything new, always test it first!)
It helps keep your skin soft and its anti-aging properties help minimize wrinkles and dryness.


Hair: due to the special molecular structure of the fatty acids in coconut, they manage to penetrate the hair deeply where they help restore protein loss. They help protect your hair, reduce hair loss, stimulate new hair growth and give it a healthy shine.


Coconut milk is very suitable to make your own DIY beauty treatments such as this nourishing coconut milk bath soak or coconut milk makeup remover.

And here is one for your hair:



Substitute coconut milk for milk



This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you purchase something. This is at no extra cost to you, but it helps me to keep this blog running.
I only link to products that I love, would use myself and have researched. Thank you for your support! 



I hope you enjoyed this article about how to substitute coconut milk for milk and how to use it topically.
What are your favorite coconut milk uses? Share it with the coco community on Instagram and Facebook