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How to Make Fresh Coconut Milk

Updated on October 26, 2015

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Why should you make your own coconut milk when you can conveniently buy it in a can? First of all, most brands of canned coconut milk use Bisphenol-A (BPA) in the lining of the cans. BPA, a chemical that has been linked to cancer and infertility, can leach into the coconut milk and pose health risks to consumers. Although research studies on the dangers of BPA in canned foods still haven't been widely conducted, it may be wise to try to stay on the safe side and make your own coconut milk when you can. Secondly, some brands of canned coconut milk contain guar gum, which might upset the stomachs of those with sensitive digestive tracts. Thirdly, fresh coconut milk does taste better than the canned version. Its aroma is much nicer as well. And finally, let's not forget that it isn't at all difficult to make your own. If you can't find fresh coconuts, packaged coconut flakes are a good alternative.

Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk
Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk | Source

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: about 3 cups

***It will only take about 5 minutes if you use packaged coconut flakes. However, fresh coconut from a shell makes nicer coconut milk with a richer aroma.***


  • 1 fresh coconut, or 1 1/2 cups packaged coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 3 cups hot water, (should be pretty hot but not scalding)

***Fully ripened coconuts make the creamiest and most flavorful coconut milk. To check coconuts for freshness, make sure all three eyes are closed. You should also be able to hear plenty of liquid sloshing inside the shells. The more liquid, the fresher.***

Puncture an eye of the coconut to drain the liquid
Puncture an eye of the coconut to drain the liquid | Source
Open the coconut shell
Open the coconut shell | Source
Remove coconut flesh from the shell
Remove coconut flesh from the shell | Source
Process coconut flesh and hot water in a blender
Process coconut flesh and hot water in a blender | Source

How to Make Your Own Coconut Milk

  1. There are three "eyes" on a coconut. Find a soft one that you can easily puncture with a screwdriver or an ice pick. (If you are using packaged coconut flakes, skip to step 5.)
  2. Either discard the coconut water inside or serve as a beverage.
  3. Open the coconut shell with a hammer or a large knife. (See coconut opening tips below.)
  4. Use a paring knife to scrape the coconut flesh off the shell. It's okay if a little bit of the soft brownish part inside the shell comes off with it; it will later be strained anyway.
  5. Put half of the coconut flesh into a blender and process until coarsely chopped. Add half of the hot water and process again until the mixture is thick and creamy.
  6. Strain into a large bowl through a clean, moistened cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth to make sure you extract all the remaining liquid.
  7. Repeat the process with the rest of the coconut flesh and hot water.
  8. Fresh coconut milk, if not used immediately, should be covered and refrigerated. It should stay good for 5 - 7 days in a refrigerator and much longer in a freezer. Coconut milk that has been stored in a refrigerator will separate into 2 layers. The thicker top layer is called "coconut cream." The thinner bottom layer is what we know as "coconut milk."
Strain through a cheesecloth
Strain through a cheesecloth | Source
Squeeze all the remaining liquid
Squeeze all the remaining liquid | Source

Easy Way to Open a Coconut

Some people have no problem smashing a coconut open in one blow with a hammer or a knife. For some reason, though, I have never managed to do that. To make it easier for me, I usually put a coconut into an oven preheated to 350° F for about 10 - 15 minutes, then let it cool briefly before attempting to open it. The heat makes the shell crack slightly and therefore much easier to open.

Coconut Fun Facts

  • Legend has it that the coconut was named by Spanish or Portuguese traders, who thought the three eyes on the coconut shell resembled the whimsically eerie face of a goblin. The word "coco" can be loosely translated as "grinning face."
  • Although it contains the word "nut" in its title, the coconut is actually considered a fruit.
  • Lounging under a coconut tree can be dangerous. Falling coconuts kill over a hundred people yearly, which is more than the number of people killed by sharks!
  • In the U.S., May 8th is the National Coconut Cream Pie Day.

Thai Dishes Using Coconut Milk (Click on the Link Below Each Photo to Find the Recipe)

Click thumbnail to view full-size


Submit a Comment
  • monia saad profile image

    monia ben saad 

    5 years ago from In my Dream

    Really useful information and pictures fantastic. I always ask how I get a drink of coconut inside. Thanks very much

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @healthmunsta - Thanks a lot for dropping by! Hope you give my black rice pudding recipe a try soon, using your own homemade coconut milk :)

  • healthmunsta profile image


    7 years ago

    Alright! I just found your black rice pudding recipe, and mama mia, it looks so tantalizing and healthy! Thanks! :)

  • healthmunsta profile image


    7 years ago

    Wow! Loved this! Do you have a black rice pudding recipe? Would totally have that as a light dinner or as part of breakfast!

  • Journey * profile image

    Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

    7 years ago from USA

    Om Paramapoonya, thanks for sharing this information with great photos.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @passionate - Thanks a lot! Very glad you found these instructions and tips helpful.

  • passionate77 profile image


    7 years ago

    its nice and easy to understand step by step guide for making coconut milk at home. really i was in search of this post and came across your hub, nice and informative hub, i bookmarked it, thanks for sharing dear, blessings!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @RTalloni - Your friend is absolutely right; fresh coconut milk is indeed fabulous! Thanks for your comment and pin :)

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Just saw this on Pinterest and put it on my Ways w/ Food: Cow's Milk Free board. My new friend from Brazil tells me that the fresh made is fabulous and I hope to try it one day.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @rose-the planner - Yeah, it looks pretty easy, doesn't it? Thanks for your kind words and vote!

    @rebeccamealey - Glad you enjoyed the article and found the tip helpful, Rebecca. Opening a coconut is indeed not an easy task!

    @randomcreative - Glad to hear that this hub has intrigued you, Rose! Hope you give it a try sometime.

    @Pamela99 - Thanks for dropping by, Pamela. If he loves coconut, he would very likely enjoy fresh, homemade coconut milk!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @IslandBites - Glad to know you're familiar with coconut milk and have used it in cooking. I'd really love to try Puerto Rican desserts.

    @Kathryn Stratford - Thanks a lot for your kind words, Kathryn. Glad to hear you want to try making your own coconut milk sometime. It's best to use fresh coconuts, but coconut flakes will also work just fine.

    @greatstuff - Yeah, when I lived in Thailand, fresh coconut milk was pretty easy to find. I didn't have to make my own or buy it in a can. Ah, now you're just making me miss my home country.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @Thelma Alberts - Ah, the coconut scraper! My late grandma had one of those. Lots of people in Thailand still use this old-school method, I believe. And it always amazes me to watch them do it. It's quite a meticulous way to remove the coconut flesh from the shell.

    @Angelo52 - That's such a lovely story, Angelo. The idea of using leftover pulp for garden fertilizer is very neat! That way you don't waste anything.

    @younghopes - Yep, coconut milk has many health benefits. For example, it keeps the skin smooth and hydrated, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the immune system and may relieve arthritis as well!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @rajan jolly - Thanks for your comment and vote, Rajan. Glad you stopped by.

    @Vacation Trip - Thanks a lot for your kind words.

    @ChitrangadaSharan - Yep, fresh coconut milk is always better than the canned version.

    @Suzie HQ - Of course! Thanks a lot, Suzie. I'll certainly have to check out your coconut milk shampoo hub. Sounds very interesting!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I have never made coconut milk, but I may give it a tyry. My husband really loves coconut, so I think he would really enjoy it. TYhanks.

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 

    7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I never would have thought to make my own coconut milk, but I'm intrigued now. I'm sure that it is so much fresher than canned coconut milk than I could ever really imagine.

  • rebeccamealey profile image

    Rebecca Mealey 

    7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

    The dishes made with the coconut milk look awesome. I was glad to read your coconut opening tip. I needed that! Thanks!

  • rose-the planner profile image

    rose-the planner 

    7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

    Making coconut milk looks awesome and not very complicated. I loved your images! Thanks for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

  • greatstuff profile image


    7 years ago from Malaysia

    Fresh coconut milk is easily available in the wet market as well as in supermarket that I had taken this for granted. I don't think we have tried your way, but it is the easiest compared to the old traditional method as described by Thelma. Thanks for sharing. Great hub.

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image


    7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

    What a great hub! The photo is so pretty (it looks like it's taken by a professional photographer), and this is a useful thing to be able to make ourselves! I want to try it sometime, with flakes if not fresh coconut.

    I also like your tips on opening it, and cutting it.

    I also love that you have a section showcasing your recipes that include coconut milk in it. That is brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

    Voted up and sharing.

    ~ Kathryn

  • IslandBites profile image


    7 years ago from Puerto Rico

    I grew up helping my parents prepare coconut milk, specially during the Holidays. We use coconut milk to prepare most of Puerto Rican Holidays desserts. Nice hub.

  • younghopes profile image

    Shadaan Alam 

    7 years ago from India

    An interesting and easy way to make coconut milk at home, it is good to know keeping in view the wonderful benefits which coconut milk has for your health and skin too

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    I used to watch my parents prepare coconut milk when I was a kid. Father would peel the husks off, drain the coconut and split it open. Mother would then take over. We kids would eat pieces of the fresh meat and get to drink some fresh water too. The leftover pulp was added to the garden as fertilizer.

  • Thelma Alberts profile image

    Thelma Alberts 

    7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

    Hi Om! I still use the old method of making fresh coconut milk at home in the Philippines. I cut the coconut with the back (to avoid cutting my hand) of a big knife and scrape the coconut meat with an old (owned by my late grandparents) sharp scraper. This sharp scraper has been tied up with a long wood where I can set on it while scraping the coconut with my 2 hands.

    You are right. Fresh coconut is much creamer and healthier than a canned one.Thanks for sharing your method. I´ll try this next time. Happy weekend!

  • Suzie HQ profile image

    Suzanne Ridgeway 

    7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

    Hi Om,

    You got in before me, well done my friend! Thanks for this great and useful step by step. Would like to link this to my Coconut milk shampoo hub if that is ok? votes up +++ shared!

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 

    7 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Very nice and well presented hub! The pictures explain it all. Fresh coconut milk made at home is so much more healthier than packaged one.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Vacation Trip profile image


    7 years ago from India

    I do make coconut milk the same way. Great hub with step by step pics. Thank you for sharing. Voted up.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Om, thanks for sharing the method to make coconut milk at home with easy to understand instructions and photos.

    Voted up.


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