Here are all the best coconut milk recipes! There are so many uses of this plant based milk, from smoothies to curries to ice cream.
Got a can of coconut milk and not sure how to use it? We’re here to help. Coconut milk is rich and creamy, a great way to add body and depth to a recipe. It’s becoming popular in vegan and plant based recipes as a stand-in for dairy. And what’s a great curry without a hefty swirl of coconut milk to make it creamy?
Many recipes that call for varying amounts of coconut milk, leaving you with a container in your fridge that might stay there for days. (Yep, it happens often around here.) So what are the best uses for coconut milk? Here we’ve compiled all our favorite coconut milk recipes, including both recipes that use a full can and ones that use smaller amounts. From curries to smoothies to waffles, you’ll have no shortage of inspiration!
And now, the best coconut milk recipes to use up a can!
Reference the amount of coconut milk needed listed under each recipe.
Curries are one of the best uses for coconut milk! Everybody loves this cauliflower coconut curry recipe. It's ready in just over 30 minutes, featuring sweet potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, and chickpeas. Add to that a sauce of coconut milk spiced with curry powder and garam masala to make your entire kitchen smells amazing. Serve with brown rice for a complete meal.
One of the coconut uses that might surprise you: this coconut whipped cream recipe! You can make dairy-free whipped cream with a can of coconut milk. It turns out beautifully light and fluffy, perfect for topping plant based desserts or vegan pancakes.
A popular use for coconut milk in recipes? Smoothies! You can easily make a dairy-free or vegan smoothie recipe using coconut milk instead of yogurt. This strawberry smoothie has a coconut-scented creamy body and sweet pink berries.
Another great coconut milk recipe to use a can: soup! Adding coconut milk gives soups luxurious body. This curried butternut squash soup is full of colorful healthy ingredient. The Thai flavors of coconut, ginger and curry are the perfect match to this lightly sweet orange squash! Another great soup with coconut milk? This Curry Lentil Soup.
Here's a nice way to use up coconut milk from a can: making "nice" cream! Instead of buying ice cream, throw frozen bananas and blueberries berries into a blender with coconut milk or yogurt! It's instant blueberry banana "nice" cream, since it's a little healthier, perfect for people and kiddos of all diets.
Piña coladas are a festive use for a can of coconut milk! This recipe is the very best. It takes only a few minutes to blend up and only requires 5 ingredients: frozen pineapple, lime juice, coconut milk, rum, and maple syrup. And the flavor? So refreshing.
Got a half-full leftover coconut milk can to use up? You can use it for waffles! This fluffy gluten free waffles recipe is magic. The waffles are lightly sweet, tender and fluffy on the inside, and crispy on the outside. But instead of what you might expect, they're made of almond flour, whipped egg whites and coconut milk.
Here's one of the most interesting uses for leftover coconut milk: in ramen! This tofu ramen uses a bit of coconut milk to make for a creamy, savory broth. It's full of colorful vegetables, lots of savory umami flavor, and topped with crispy tofu (or try a soft boiled egg). Comfort food perfection!
Got a little coconut milk leftover from another recipe? One way to use it is a Thai peanut sauce dressing! Use coconut milk to mix with soy sauce, lime and maple to make a zingy, creamy dressing you'll want to drizzle on everything! This colorful Thai salad is one way.
A more standard coconut milk recipe is this lentil curry! It's become one of our more popular recipes, a fast and easy dinner idea that’s healthy and full of flavor. We hear things like: “This is a new favorite!” and “Absolutely LOVED IT! Definitely am making again.” It’s surprising how much humble brown lentils and coconut milk can inspire so much enthusiasm!
Here's another way to use coconut milk in soup: coconut curry soup! This creamy, dreamy coconut curry soup recipe is not just mega delicious, swirled with coconut milk and spiced with curry powder, cumin, and coriander. It's also made only of ingredients found in your pantry. It's quick to whip up, healthy, and versatile for multiple diets: vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan.
Here's another curry recipe with coconut milk! This one is super quick: it can be made in just 20 minutes. It's bursting with garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry powder, with a bit of coconut swirled in for a creamy body. Serve with basmati rice and it's a true gem.
Did you know you can use coconut milk in popsicles? Yes, this coconut milk recipe also stars peanut butter and maple syrup, frozen together into popsicle molds. It results in a creamy texture (like a fudgsicle), but is 100% plant based. Drizzle with chocolate and it's pretty irresistible.
Here's a coconut milk recipe that usually doesn't contain the plant-based milk: shakshuka! Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce that originates from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. But this spin is a coconut curry flavor, and adds coconut milk and curry powder. It's the perfect mashup!
Last but not least in our coconut recipes...one that uses 2 whole cans. Yes, you can make dairy-free, vegan ice cream using coconut milk! It makes this salted chocolate vegan ice cream impossibly creamy. It's flecked with pistachios and has a salty sweet, chocolaty flavor.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes, then add the sweet potato and saute 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and saute another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon cumin, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower and sweet potato are tender.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. When the vegetables are tender, add the chickpeas and 4 cups spinach and stir for 2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Add another ½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste, adding additional salt if necessary.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.