3 Best Substitutes for Coconut Milk

Half a coconut filled with coconut milk

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Coconut milk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk. It is made from pureeing coconut flesh with water and straining out the pulp to reveal a creamy coconut-flavored liquid.

Coconut milk is available in cartons in the dairy aisle of most grocery stores as well as cans in the canned goods or Asian-cooking section. Canned coconut milk is typically thicker and creamier, making it ideal for cooking and baking.

Whether stirring it into your coffee or incorporating it into curries, coconut milk is a versatile ingredient and a staple in many households. For the times when a coconut milk substitute is needed, there are a number of alternatives you could try.

Why Use an Alternative?

Although coconut milk is often one of the top non-dairy milk alternatives, there may be instances where a substitute for coconut milk is necessary. For instance, food allergies are a common reason to avoid certain ingredients such as coconut-based products.

Coconuts fall under the umbrella of tree nuts, which is one of the most common dietary allergies. However, most people with allergies to tree nuts can safely enjoy coconuts. In the rare case that a coconut allergy exists, substitution is warranted.

Some people want an alternative to coconut milk simply because they do not like the taste. Coconut adds a strong flavor to many dishes. Some describe it as overpowering and one of the more dominant and noticeable flavors in a recipe. If you prefer a milder flavor, you want a coconut milk substitute.

Nutritionally, coconut milk also can be high in fat. People who follow a low-fat meal plan or want to reduce the amount of dietary fat in their diet, they may choose to swap coconut milk for an alternative.

Others may choose to substitute coconut milk because of the expense. When it comes to non-dairy milk, coconut milk tends to cost more than other types. Canned coconut milk can be especially pricey, making some substitutes more cost-effective.

Coconut Milk Nutrition

This nutrition information for 1 cup (240 grams) of coconut milk beverage is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 74.4
  • Fat: 4.99g
  • Sodium: 45.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7.01g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 6g
  • Protein: 0.504g

Popular Substitutes

Non-dairy milk makes for excellent coconut milk substitutes because they are also dairy-free and usually have a similar liquid consistency. Most can be substituted at a one-to-one ratio, but coconut milk tends to be thicker and creamier than other non-dairy milk, so you may need to adjust accordingly.

Soy Milk

Soy milk was the first non-dairy milk alternative. It originated more than a century ago and it is still popular today. Soy milk is a sound substitute for coconut milk because it is creamier than other options.

When used in cooking and baking, soy milk has a more mild flavor than coconut milk. Nutritionally, soy milk offers more protein and less fat. It also contains more calories, carbohydrates, and micronutrients.

Almond Milk

Much like coconut milk, almond milk is made by pulverizing almonds with water, straining the pulp, and leaving behind a smooth almond-based liquid. It is commonly used in coffee, cereal, and other foods instead of cow’s milk.

Almond milk can also be used instead of coconut milk in many recipes. It has a nutty flavor like coconut milk, so it is a great substitute, though the flavor will not be as pronounced.

Compared to coconut milk, almond milk has fewer calories, fat, and carbohydrates. There are also more varieties of almond milk than coconut milk, such as original, vanilla, chocolate, sweetened, and unsweetened making almond milk more versatile.

Oat Milk

Oat milk has recently gained popularity in the world of non-dairy milk alternatives. It is known for having a creamy consistency, making it a common choice to add to coffee. Those looking for a nut-, and soy-free alternative may be drawn to oat milk. Compared to coconut milk, oat milk is higher in calories and carbohydrates. But it is also higher in protein and fiber.

Like coconut milk, oat milk can come at a premium. It also tends to be expensive. However, oat milk can be made at home for a more budget-friendly option. Most people blend oats with filtered water for about 30 seconds and then strain it several times until it has a smooth texture.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you are following a recipe and run out of coconut milk or you are whipping up a new dish in the kitchen and need an alternative, finding the perfect substitute can be stressful. That's why it is important to have some ideas in mind should you find yourself in that situation.

Plus, canned coconut milk can be expensive, difficult to find, and too bold in flavor for some people’s liking. It can also be an allergen for some people. Fortunately, soy, almond, and oat milk are excellent substitutes since they are naturally dairy-free and have a similar consistency.

So, you don't have to worry if your recipe calls for coconut milk. You can easily swap in another non-dairy milk for coconut milk at a one-to-one ratio.

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5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Kids With Food Allergies. Tree nut allergy.

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Beverages, coconut milk, sweetened, fortified with calcium, vitamins A, B12, D2.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Soy milk.

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Almond milk, unsweetened.

  5. USDA, FoodData Central. THE ORIGINAL OAT-MILK.