The Best Coconut Milk Options

Coconut Milk Tonic

I have received many questions about what coconut milk products I use, so I thought I would finally address those questions.

My Favorite Canned Coconut Milk Brand

I have found, by far, that the best brand for canned coconut milk is Thai Kitchen’s Organic Coconut Milk. This coconut milk, when compared to other brands I have bought, is so much more creamy and rich. The reason? They are the only company I have found that doesn’t add water to the coconut milk. So although it is a bit more expensive then the other brands, I figure I am just paying for water with the other ones. If you want to make it stretch a little farther, you can always add water yourself.

We will do this by making coconut milk tonic, or by simply adding around the same amount of water to coconut milk. We use this mixture to add to hot teas, hot chocolate, to make smoothies, and I use it in baked good recipes as well.

See all of that beautiful cream on top of the can? I find that usually 2/3 to 3/4’s of the can is full of this thick and creamy coconut cream. That’s what you want to see when looking for a quality brand. I have heard that you can actually buy just coconut cream, but I have only been able to find sweetened coconut cream.

Where I Buy It

I try to watch for sells at my local health food store, but I usually order coconut milk through Azure Standard, because they have great prices! I save a significant amount ordering through them. Their current price is $18.05 for 12 cans ( their prices do change).

I have been told by some readers that some of the poor quality coconut milks have sulfur dioxide in it, so be aware when buying coconut milk that you should be reading the labels. The only additives to Thai Kitchen’s coconut milk is guar gum and soy lecithin (they don’t have the soy lecithin on the label, but my understanding is that there are small quantities of it in the product, but I may be wrong).

However, one disadvantage to buying canned coconut milk is that, like almost all canned food, there are BPA’s in the lining of the can which can leak into your product. So there are other options, some of which I am looking into for my family.

Other Options

    • Another option that I have used, is Let’s Do….Organic’s Organic Creamed Coconut. This comes in a solid block, which you mix with hot water. It’s a fairly frugal choice and works very well for savory dishes. I don’t find the texture as smooth, however, as canned coconut milk. But it’s an excellent option that is dairy free (the only ingredient is organic coconut). If you can find it at a local store, it will probably be cheaper, but they do sell it here. I should also mention, for those trying to avoid plastic, this is also wrapped in plastic. But once again, it’s not liquid, so it shouldn’t be as much of a problem.
    • You can also make your own, but I would recommend that you buy a coconut grater to help you with that task.
    • Other readers mentioned buying frozen coconut milk at local Asian stores. This, I am assuming is not an organic choice, but it is supposed to be very cheap. Once again, plastic covered, I am sure (we can’t get away from it in this market!).
    • Tropical Traditions has a coconut cream concentrate that they claim you can mix with water to replace coconut milk. I haven’t used it personally, but did try someone else’s. It seemed like it could be very watery and not very rich, but I couldn’t say for sure, because I haven’t tried it personally.

    So those are the options I consider good options, but I would love to hear from you all. Do you know of a good brand or option that I have missed? Or have you used some of the options I have listed with good results? Do share with us all.

    This post is part of Kitchen Tip Tuesday

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    I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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    Comments

    1. Alison @ Wholesome Goodness says

      I agree with you about Thai Kitchen’s organic coconut milk. It is so far superior to the other brands I’ve tried. All of that wonderful cream on top is just fabulous, the texture is better, and even the taste is more pleasing.

      I must say that I’m completely jealous of the price you’re getting through Azure. I have to pay around $2.40 per can. :-( I eagerly anticipate the day Azure expands to Texas (I looked into shipping options already, but the shipments have to come so far, it completely negates the low product prices).

    2. Anonymous says

      Tropical Traditions coconut cream concentrate is wonderful!!! It is thick very thick and hardens in cooler weather, as all good coconut products should. Just put the jar in a pan of hot water and it softens right up.
      I actually put it in my tea daily, as well as eat it right off the spoon. Num!!
      Thanks for your wonderful blog. This is my first comment but read your blog daily. It has been such a blessing to me and my family. Thank you!!!
      leemomofthree

    3. Lauren says

      Tropical Traditions coconut concentrate has no water in it–it’s just pure coconut, ground into a smooth paste. Tastes a bit like coconut frosting with a nice natural sweetness. You have to add more CO as you get through the jar because it can be a bit dry, but it is a wonderful quick source of energy.

      Thanks for sharing your source for coco milk. Will be linking to this post from my dairy-free hot chocolate post. :)

    4. Kimi Harris says

      LeeMomofThree and Lauren,

      Thanks for the feedback about Tropical Traditions. Perhaps I should give it another try. :-) I actually have WFN’s coconut spread (lovely as well) which I think it very similar. I wonder how they compare?

      Lauren, I realized I wasn’t very clear. :-) I meant it could taste watery if you tried to make coconut milk out of the coconut concentrate. They certainly don’t tell you to put a lot in! So that’s why I was thinking it could be a little thin compared to the thick Thai Kitchen coconut milk. Have you ever tried it?

      Thanks for the link, by the way!

    5. Penny says

      HI Kimberly, loved the info about coconut products! Thanks!

      When you use the coconut milk do you mix the more solid cream part up with the liquid before you measure out the amount you need? Or how do you use it?

      Thanks alot, Penny

    6. Anonymous says

      HI Kimberly, loved the info about coconut products! Thanks!

      When you use the coconut milk do you mix the more solid cream part up with the liquid before you measure out the amount you need? Or how do you use it?

      Thanks alot, Penny

    7. Kimi Harris says

      Penny,
      You are so welcome!

      I do mix the two together. If it is quite cold, the oil in the cream may be a little hardened, so then I will sometimes use my hand held blender to make it nice and creamy. :-)

    8. beth says

      I think it is BPA in the can linings that is the concern (bisphenol A). I have read (but can’t confirm) that Native Forest says their cans do not contain BPA. I’d love more info on whether that is true.

      I just opened some powdered coconut milk from Wilderness Family Naturals. I put it in a curry (in the crockpot) and it was awesome. I haven’t tried liquifying it for other purposes, but it made for a nice curry!

    9. Kimi Harris says

      Beth,

      First, thanks for catching my typo. ooops!

      And thank you also for the feedback on WFN product, I am really curious to try it now!

      thanks!

    10. Jeanelle says

      I also like the brand, Thai Kithchen’s Coconut Milk. It is rich and creamy and I purchase it at our local health food store, Sprouts. Thankfully, it does go and sale!

    11. Anonymous says

      Hi- There is a recent study that says that ALL cans have BPA. I’ve been looking for a non-canned option so thanks for this post. FYI: Organic is not really an issue with coconuts because the pesticides are on the surface of fruits and the skin is so thick on coconuts that it doesn’t much matter. Of course any pesticide use at all won’t get organic certification…

      • green girl says

        Pesticide use IS an issue whether or not you consume it through your food. Its use affects the ecosystem the plant is growing in, which affects the immediate human community, then all of us.

        Understand the power of a single action!

    12. Kimi Harris says

      Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for the comment. I would love to read that article, could you send me the link?

      I still choose to buy organic whenever possible, but I had heard that thought about coconuts before on some forums. In fact, I use non organic young coconuts, because I can’t find any organic ones (and their price would probably be through the roof in my area, if I could).

      I never saw any conclusive evidence however, that it was true that it didn’t matter as much. Do you know where I could find this?

      Thanks. :-)

    13. Karen T. says

      Here in Houston, I can buy 365 Organic (Whole Food’s brand) organic coconut milk for 1.59 per can. It also only has guar gum in it and side by side I can’t tell the difference between it and Thai Kitchen. The best part is that I can buy it by the case (24 cans) and get a 10% discount. I have been making yogurt out of it instead of or 50-50 with my raw milk. It is heavenly!

      • Brandy T says

        Hi Karen! I know this thread is several years old, so I’m not sure if you’ll get this or not, but I would love to hear how you make your coconut milk and. 50/50 yogurt!

        Thanks,
        Brandy

    14. Pippi says

      I’ve been making coconut milk by combining equal parts unsweetened, grated coconut and boiling water. Then I let it sit for 10 minutes and strain it into a mason jar. To thin it out I just pour more hot water through the strainer with the coconut. I love the coconut milk in the can, but I’m nervous about the BPA in the cans since my 17mo is drinking quite a bit of coconut milk (she has a dairy sensitivity, too).

      KH: I will definitely have to try that! Sounds like it would be a great choice for avoiding canned goods. Is it very creamy though?

    15. Pippi says

      It can be as creamy as you want it to be — the less water you use the more creamy it is. The biggest downside is that when it’s stored in the fridge the cream come to the top and hardens so it doesn’t mix well with the rest of the milk. It works okay for me since we mainly use it in cooking and smoothies (we just break off a chunk of cream and stir it in), but if we were drinking it straight it would get annoying.

    16. says

      You don’t even need boiling water. Warm water does the trick just fine. The best coconut milk is made by using a juice grinder and press. That way you don’t have to add any water if you don’t want to, and this is equivalent to the first pressing which is not available in America. All the canned coconut milk in the US is a combination of the first, second, and sometimes even a third pressing with added gums and water. Lately it seems even the Thai brand has added water.

      Michael
      Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

    17. Yo says

      Hey, has anyone here found a better source of coconut milk recently? I’ve only been able to find So Delicious coconut milk, and the quality doesn’t seem great (also they add lots of stuff, like vitamin D2, that I don’t want to be ingesting all of the time). I live near Chicago, but not close to a health food store with the selection of Whole Foods (and I’m not sure Whole Foods has anything except the So Delicious milk).

      To the author: Why don’t you request that your favorite coconut milk brand use large glass containers and that you’ll get a lot of people to buy from them and you’ll promote them more on your site in return?

      • Lin says

        Looking for coconut milk in Chicago area: try Chaokoh brand. It’s a thai brand: so thick and rich. Any ethnic grocery with a large asian section should have it. I’m in the ‘burbs, and can still find it easily.

    18. Sandra Mort says

      I definitely prefer So Delicious to the canned stuff, for another perspective. It’s better for a straight milk sub, imo, though the canned stuff is better for curries and the like.

    19. says

      I’ve been consuming quite a bit of coconut milk lately, and I am trying to find a better brand in Canada that is reasonably priced. The non-organic cans are about $1.30 so I have been buying those, but organic cost about $4.50 per can, which is out of my budget. Can anyone help me out?

      I was also wondering how quickly the milk has to be used after opening. Will it spoil quickly?

      • Elaine says

        In Canada, Superstore has the lowest price on Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk (& Thai Kitchen organic) as well as other brands. Go to the “Organic” section of your Superstore and you will find an organic brand called “Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk, unsweetened” I found this to be better tasting and creamier than Thai Kitchen brand and I have tried a lot of different brands! It also contains only 100 calories so that is also a plus. Any Organic food store is going to be more expensive & Walmart’s groceries are more expensive than superstore so don’t go there either. I have never paid more than $3.50 at Superstore but I am going by the prices set in Alberta which are lower priced than a lot of other provinces.

        • monkeyfurball says

          the “lite” coconut milk should be avoided. It has fillers to replace the fat and isn’t as healthy. $3.50 is still expensive. $2.40 a can at Vitacost online for Native Forest Org C milk.

    20. says

      I made my own coconut milk today, and it was awesome! It really wasn’t that bad. The hardest part was removing the brown part from the actual meat. Once that is done you just cut it up, drop it in the blender, add hot water and mix. Once it’s blended, use a cheese cloth to squeeze the milk out. Nice!

      • monkeyfurball says

        I’ve done the same thing. Free of all bad stuff this way. Tastes great. Short shelf life however.

    21. AdrianaG says

      I just bought some Thai KitchenS Organic Coconut Milk and it has water and guar gum in the ingrdients list. Stll yummy, thick and creamy and on sale for 3 for $5 at Whole Foods.

    22. says

      I make my own coconut milk out of dried coconut and it is similar in texture/creaminess to the canned stuff. Its very creamy!! It is so easy I do it in the morning before breakfast. I refridgerate the leftovers and just heat them to warm on the stovetop to combine the cream again when I need it. Here’s a video from tropical traditions on how to do it. I use 2 full cups of water and it is perfect. I don’t even blend as long as they say too, a minute per time each.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpxPoizVT9c&feature=player_embedded

      Is there anything bad about dried coconut that you know of? I get it really cheap at our coop.

      • monkeyfurball says

        Did the dried coconut you purchased have sulfur dioxide in it? Did it have other preservatives in it? I bet it did. By the way, if preservatives like sulfur dioxide are added BEFORE the distributor packages the product, he is NOT required to list it on the label. So, just because it doesn’t say sulfur dioxide doesn’t mean its free of it.

    23. says

      I just bought a 25 pound bulk bag of dried coconut through Whole foods yesterday for 67.28. You get a 10 percent discount for buying it that way. I make it in a ratio of 6 cups of water to 2 cups of coconut. The cream does solidify in the middle but we just take it out and use it when we need to thicken the milk. We use it because of a dairy intolerance. So I did some fun math and figured out that to buy the equal amount of canned milk it would have cost me $528. That is pretty awesome savings! We don’t mind the milk watered down some since we drink it all the time. So it is an idea if you are on a budget.

      • monkeyfurball says

        Did the dried coconut you purchased have sulfur dioxide in it? Did it have other preservatives in it? I bet it did. By the way, if preservatives like sulfur dioxide are added BEFORE the distributor packages the product, he is NOT required to list it on the label. So, just because it doesn’t say sulfur dioxide doesn’t mean its free of it.

    24. says

      I’ve been consuming quite a bit of coconut milk lately, and I am trying to find a better brand that is reasonably priced. The non-organic cans are about $1.30 so I have been buying those, but organic cost about $4.50 per can, which is out of my budget.

      • monkeyfurball says

        Vitacost—$2.30 a can—Organic Thai Kitchen or Natures Fores organic. Free shipping over $49 and they sometimes have free shipping specials with no minimum purchase.

    25. linda says

      you can buy coconut milk in litre containers like cartoned milk so you dont need to worry about BPA and cans that way…

      • monkeyfurball says

        The problem with buying it in those liter containers—even the organic ones is that there are preservatives mixed in. Almost all have tricalcium phosphate, carrageenan, and cellan gum. So, those non metal container brands are probably worse. I’m talking about containers I’ve bought from Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

    26. Ann Waugh says

      Boy, the more stuff I read on the web about coconut milk the more confused and uneducated I get. I don’t understand how you can say that Thai Kitchen is the only brand that doesn’t use water. Isn’t all coconut milk just a water extract of ground up coconut meat. I mean if you take just the coconut meat and grind it up you get coconut butter. If you use a young coconut and grind up the meat with the natural coconut water that is in the coconut then it too will separate out at some point from the fat solids.

      So just how DOES Thai Kitchen process their coconut milk? I agree it’s the tastiest brand–so creamy the stuff right off the top is like whipped cream and can be used as such. So how do they do that? Native Forrest (the one that claims no BPA) doesn’t behave like that. Even if you try to whip the thick white oily part on the top it doesn’t whip up–it just separates more liquid out and leaves fat particles. At least that is what it does with the whisk attachment on my immersion blender. I’m going to try it in my stand-up blender and see if I can make it whip.

      i guess I’m going to have to contact Thai Kitchen to find out how they make theirs. I sure wish they used BPA free cans.
      You can buy Wilderness Family Natural brand in aseptic cartons; haven’t looked at the price yet.

      Anybody else relate to this?

      • monkeyfurball says

        Coconut milk by definition is ground up coconut and added water. That’s what the Thai brand is also—with added guar gum as an emulsifier to thicken the product and keep the oil from coagulating. There would never be enough “coconut water” inside a coconut to make the milk, so they must add water from outside sources. So, yes, ALL “coconut milk” is ground up coconut with ADDED outside water. Thai Kitchen uses guar gum to make their product smooth, otherwise the product would be a mess of water and fat globules.

    27. Vivian says

      I feel like part of the creaminess of the Thai Kitchen is due to the guar gum in it. Because if you look at Asian coconut milk brands such as Dragonfly or Aroy-D, they’re much less viscous and are not sporting guar gum (though they do contain some not-so-good preservatives).

    28. says

      Has anyone just tried diluting the canned Thai coconut milk with plain filtered water and not coconut water/juice mentioned above? Or just used the So Delicious Coconut milk in it’s place? I am new this soaking stuff. We are gluten free and trying to be dairy free due to many allergies. So I can’t follow a lot of these recipes since I am not yet comfortable with all the different GF flour ratios in baking. I tried to follow a GF baked recipe and used the soaking principals I found here but my flour fermented and was AWFUL. It was a very expensive learning experience. I have a GF sourdough starter so I could follow the one of
      the pancake and muffin recipes here if I can just get the coconut milk tonic down. Thanks.

    29. Jason says

      I have tried a bunch of coconut milks and Native Forest classic unsweetened is the best amongst many including Thai kitchen’s organic and non organic coconut milk.

      By the way I don’t know what all the fuss is about guar gum. It is just a type of bean that is ground up that thickens a mixture and prevents the solids from separating from the liquids. They only add a small amount because a little of it goes along way (it has 8 times the thickening ability than cornstarch). It is natural and really doesn’t have any health effects. Unless one eats a lot of the stuff without water, which really isn’t a concern since there is such a small amount in coconut milk and coconut milk contains a lot of water, they may get gas or loose stools, but there is not enough of it in coconut milk to cause such.

      • Dianne says

        I buy Real Thai coconut milk at Superstore in Saskatchewan. It contains coconut extract 85% and water and is $2.00 a can. The Thai Kitchen contains organic coconut milk , water, guar gum and is around $3.00 a can. I find the Real Thai only slightly runnier and every bit as flavorful. It thickens nicely in the fridge with very little liquid. For $1.00 a can……. Real Thai recommends using within 2 days of opening. Their website is http://www.real-thai.com .

    30. monkeyfurball says

      “They are the only company I have found that doesn’t add water to the coconut milk.”

      You are mistaken. Coconut milk by definition is ground up coconut and added water. That’s what the Thai brand is also—with added guar gum as an emulsifier to thicken the product and keep the oil from coagulating. there would never be enough “coconut water” inside a coconut to make the milk, so they must add water from outside sources.

    31. Lynn says

      After reading some Amazon reviews on TK and Native Forest, it seems that in recent months the quality and consistency have changed on these products. A lot of complaints lately. Native Forest has added a facility in Sri Lanka and the product is made differently than the Thailand product. One of the reviewers posted a letter from the manufacturer about it. Also, there is some issue with dented cans and lining of the cans.

      Anyway, I just discovered a video on YouTube on how to make your own coconut milk and it is really easy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpxPoizVT9c&feature=player_embedded

      If the link doesn’t work The user is TropicalTraditions and the title of video is Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe from Dried Coconut

      What is nice is that you can control the quality of water that you use and it can be made free of any additives, etc.

    32. Janis says

      Does anybody have a recipe for making coconut milk using “Let’s Do…Organic” Organic Creamed Coconut? It comes in a 7 oz. box, wrapped in plastic and seems to be in concentrated form so it needs to be re-hydrated. The only ingredient listed is “organic coconut”. How would I find out if there are chemicals or other preservatives? I went to , the distributor’s website, but there was no recipes for reconstituting the product into coconut milk in a quantity for drinking like soy or dairy milk.

    33. tina says

      HI Janis,

      I use the Lets Do Organic creamed coconut for everything. I slice off about 1/3 of the bar lengthwise ( so there is a mixture of coconut meat and the oil that usually separates in shipping) mince it into small pieces with a sharp knife, put those in a measuring cup and add enough water to make 1 cup. That gives you a pretty hearty coconut cream. You can of course thin it down for milk. I use it for fudge, hot chocolates, curries, even make
      Easter candy out of it by adding a little honey and different berry puree for color.
      I haven’t tried making whipped cream with it yet, was searching on that when I came across this post.

    34. Penny says

      I just found this comment below on soap.com. Seems like some THAI cans are 100% coconut and other Thai cans add water and guar gum? This could explain why Kimi said it was 100% and others said their cans had added water and guar gum…
      Anyone know about there being 2 different types?
      “Comments about Coconut Milk, 13.66 oz, 12 pk:
      I have been buying this (Organic Thai Coconut Milk) by the single can at a local grocery store for years. I thought I would save some money by buying it by the case from Soap. I bought 2 cases. It never occurred to me that I needed to check the ingredients because the label is identical to what I buy at the store…. almost. The one I buy at the store is 100% organic coconut milk. This one has added water and guar gum.”
      http://www.soap.com/p/thai-kitchen-thai-kitchen-unsweetened-first-pressing-coconut-milk-organic-cans-1366-oz-12-pk-221855?site=CA&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc_S&utm_term=KHR-116C&utm_campaign=GoogleAW&CAWELAID=1323251991&utm_content=pla&adtype=pla&cagpspn=pla

    35. An Asian Who Lives in SouthEastAsia says

      Hi,

      Been reading all the comments. As a person who was born in SEA and grew up here and still living here, and been exposed to a diet regularly perusing coconut milk & coconut products (fresh ones) all my life, I would say please believe monkeyfurball as that cannot be farther than the truth.

      You NEED to use water to squeeze out the milk out of the grated coconut flesh (we normally grate the mature coconut flesh to use the milk though these days we can see an abundant of ready-to-use coconut milk on the shelf at the grocery stores). You can still squeeze some milk out without adding water BUT the most it will produce would be like a Tbsp or two out of a whole coconut so I highly doubt any company would go that route. How thick or thin your coconut milk will depend on how much water you added prior to squeezing. Also adding warm water increases the amount of milk squeezed out but not by so much.

      And….on organic coconuts and the use of pesticides…Never in my life I’ve seen the need to use pesticides on coconuts (but I stand corrected) as coconut trees are normally left to grow on their own without much care. I’ve had few trees growing around my house when I was a kid and we never tend to them, no pesticides had ever been sprayed, no fertilizer had ever been ‘fed’ to the trees, they pretty much took care of themselves and produced nuts all the time. Once ripened they fall onto the ground and we would gather the nuts and use in our cooking. So, if I go by my own experience, I would safely say that ALL coconuts are organic, but like I said, I stand corrected as God knows how companies operate these days.

      Just my two cents… HTH.

    36. Glen says

      I grate and squeeze my own coconut milk. I don’t add water to the first squeeze which makes it pure coconut milk. but I add a cup or two warm water to the second squeeze. Excellent for both savory dishes and desserts. (Not to mention the great upper body workout you’re getting when you make your own). I grew up in the Philippines so I demand the best when it comes to cooking dishes with coconut.

      If you are using canned coconut milk, I highly recommend MAE PLOY and THAI KITCHEN brands for cooking savory dishes. For making desserts like sticky rice w/ mango, I highly recommend BUDDHA’S DELIGHT.

    37. Penny says

      We use Natural Value Organic coconut milk because it has only coconut and water in it and comes in BPA free cans.

      To make whipping cream or frosting from canned full fat coconut milk, pour the ilk into a glass container ad leave it uncovered in the fridge. Then pour it into a blender and blens until you reach the desired consistency.

    38. Chantal says

      I know I’m late to the conversation, but Real Thai coconut milk has two ingredients — coconut (85%) and water. I really like it. I’ve gotten well over half a can of ‘cream’ from it without refrigeration.

    39. Amy says

      Thai brand lists water as the second ingredient on their label. Guar gum is the third and I’ve read that it can be a gut irritant to some people.

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