There are plenty of options if you’re out of coconut milk, allergic or just don’t like the flavor! These 8 ingredients work as substitutes for coconut milk in curry.
Perhaps you’re out of coconut milk, or allergic to coconut. Or maybe you don’t like the flavor! Whatever the case, never fear: your curry is not ruined! Many curry recipes call for coconut milk to thicken a sauce and make it creamy: it also adds a subtle coconut undertone. But all is not lost without it! Here are our top substitutes for coconut milk in curry:
8 substitutes for coconut milk (in curry, smoothies & more)
1. Greek yogurt
We’ll start with the dairy substitutes! Greek yogurt adds creaminess and body much like coconut milk does in a sauce. It’s a little tangier than coconut milk, so use a modest amount.
2. Heavy cream
Some curries or Indian dishes call for heavy cream as a thickener, so this is another choice that works well. Heavy cream adds a richness that’s perfect with curry. Use 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part water to substitute for the consistency of coconut milk.
3. Sour cream
Sour cream is yet another dairy product that works well as a thickener in curries! Sour cream has a sweeter, more distinctive flavor than Greek yogurt, so use it moderately.
We’d suggest a milk with a higher fat content to mimic the richness of coconut milk, like whole milk or at least 2%. The consistency will be more watery than coconut milk, so use less than the recipe calls for. If you like a coconut flavor, add a little coconut oil.
5. Cashew cream
Now for the dairy-free options! Cashew cream is a thick creamy paste made from soaked cashews: you can make it in your blender! It’s perfect for making plant-based recipes creamy. Here’s our recipe: Cashew Cream.
6. Almond milk
Almond milk works as a substitute for coconut milk in curry, but the main drawback is that it has a much thinner consistency. (Some brands of almond milk are almost like water.) Before adding you can mix in 1 teaspoon cornstarch, which would thicken the entire sauce. Another option if you do like coconut flavor is to add coconut oil as well, which would also add richness that almond milk lacks.
7. Soy milk
Same notes as above: while soy milk is a little thicker than almond milk, it’s still runnier than coconut milk. Consider using it and adding cornstarch to thicken or coconut oil for richness.
8. Oat milk
Lastly, oat milk is becoming a more widely available non-dairy milk! Same caveats as almond and soy milk: the texture is rather runny. Mixing in cornstarch and adding coconut oil for richness would be our recommendations.
And that’s all: your curry awaits! Let us know if you try any of these substitutes in the comments below.
A few curry recipes
Here are a few of our favorite curry recipes (and soups!) that feature coconut milk:
- Vegan Chickpea Curry
- Butternut Squash Curry
- Quick Coconut Lentil Curry
- Coconut Cauliflower Curry
- Creamy Coconut Curry Soup
- Cozy Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Coconut Curry Easy Shakshuka Recipe
About the Authors
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.