Rich and tropical with a subtle sweetness, coconut milk appears in all sorts of dishes, from curries to cakes to cocktails. While you can make it yourself, you don't need to—canned coconut milk is readily available in stores. To show off the sweet liquid's versatility, we've rounded up our favorite coconut milk recipes.
Coconut milk is used to thicken and sweeten curries from all over the world. In India, Goanese shrimp curry is made with both grated coconut and coconut milk, and our Telangana chicken is flavored with coconut, lime, garlic, ginger, cardamom, and more.
Moving over to Southeast Asia, we have a coconutty Thai yellow curry with beef, potatoes, and homemade curry paste, as well as multiple meat mains that are marinated with the milk. Across the world in Jamaica, a popular breakfast is fragrant curry chicken with lime juice, garlic, and ginger.
And naturally, coconut milk has its place in desserts. Our coconut cake from Thomas Keller actually uses coconut four ways; desiccated coconut and coconut milk and extract flavor the batter, while sweetened shredded coconut is strewn between the layers and on top. Because of its high fat content, coconut milk is also useful in making vegan ice cream. It mixes with cashew milk to make the base for our vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip ice cream.
Find all these dishes and more in our collection of coconut milk recipes.
If you prefer, you can use canned red kidney beans in this satisfying side dish, served alongside Braised Oxtail with Butter Beans. Simply skip the first step and rinse one 15-oz. can of beans before adding them to the pan in step two.
A hint of rosewater adds sweet, floral aroma to this moist, dense semolina cake, packed with four types of coconut. Refrigerating overnight gives the semolina time to soak up the sweet coconut liquid, resulting in a softer, more tender crumb. Get the recipe for Goan Coconut Cake (Baath) »
Carved out of ten former districts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangan officially became India’s 29th state in June 2014. For this eponymous dish from Telangana home cook Padma Reddy, the skin is removed from the chicken to allow the flavors of the marinade—coconut, lime, garlic, ginger, cardamom, mace and more—to penetrate. Get the recipe for Telangana-Style Curried Chicken Stew »
Bathed in fragrant curry- and ginger-infused coconut milk, this stew is a popular breakfast dish at Kingston cafes.
Steep it for Killer Custard and Ice Cream
Often used in southeast Asian curries and Indian rice dishes, pandan leaf lends a subtly exotic savory note to this coconut ice cream.
Chewy, pleasantly salty caramels are flavored simply with coconut milk and sugar.
Coconut milk is used in chicken stews from Southeast Asia to Africa, from which this fragrant dish hails.
Coconut milk is an essential ingredient in many Garifuna dishes, including this creamy take on rice and beans.
More like a creamy porridge than a pudding in consistency, this sweet dish is commonly eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack in Senegal.
Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller.
Coconut milk gives these long-simmered beans a smooth, supple texture that balances the bright flavors of garlic, onion, and chiles.
This cloudy, coconuty version of a bellini comes from Manhattan restaurant Lievito.
Dishes from the south Indian state of Kerala, along the Malabar Coast, are heavily influenced by the area’s abundant supply of seafood. In this Anglo-Indian recipe from cookbook author and cooking instructor Smita Chandra, mussels gathered from local waters are cooked with tomatoes in a richly spiced coconut broth.
You can buy the green curry paste to make this Thai classic at any Asian market, but it’s so easy to make, and the results are so fragrant and flavorful, that it’s more than worth making from scratch.
This popular Indonesian salad lends itself to creativity; nearly any combination of raw and cooked vegetables, along with rice or thin noodles, can be used. An addictive, aromatic peanut sauce ties it all together.