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.

Substitute for coconut milk

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.

4. Milk

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.

Substitutes for Coconut Milk in Curry
Quick Coconut Lentil Curry

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:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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4 Comments

  1. Just wondering, for the Heavy Cream of Sour Cream subs, what should the ratio be? My recipe calls for a 13.5 fl oz can of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I’m out and can’t get to the store for just one thing) and I’m planning to use Heavy Cream, should i also use 13.5 fl oz or should I adjust it?

    1. Good question: I would go 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part water — so you can do 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup water (to equal the 1.5 cups in 13 ounces). Let us know how it goes!