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.
After stumbling upon fresh rambutans, test kitchen assistant Jake Cohen used this Malaysian tropical fruit to make this spicy and sweet summer curry.
Get the recipe for Summer Rambutan Curry »
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) »
Anna Watson Carl relies on sweetened condensed milk to add richness to this frozen dessert flavored with coconut milk, lime zest, and toasty pistachios. Simply macerated peaches provide a fresh, fruity counterpart.
This version of the classic Mexican rice-based drink, which writer Sara Deseran adapted from one at Fresno’s El Mercado Super, is made with a mix of coconut milk and coconut water for a beverage that is both luxurious and refreshing.
Get the recipe for Coconut Horchata »
This sticky-sweet cake, made with semolina flour and coconut milk, is commonly served at holidays and special occasions in Myanmar.
Get the recipe for Sesame-Topped Semolina Cake with Coconut (Shwekyi Senyinmakin) »
“Filipinos love anything with adobo sauce, and kangkong is one of my favorite vegetables to eat.” – Leah Cohen of
Pig & Khao Get the recipe for Philippine Vinegar-Braised Greens (Kangkong Adobo)
This vegan ice cream from Brooklyn’s
Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream takes a classic flavor combination, peanut butter and chocolate, and uses cashew milk to make for an extra rich ice cream. Get the recipe for Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream »
A classic piña colada gets an extra deep flavor with the addition of smoky roasted cherries.
Get the recipe for Roasted Cherry Colada »
Part Spanish, part Filipino, made with rich coconut milk and hard-cooked eggs for garnish.
Get the recipe for Philippine Paella »
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 »
For this vibrantly spiced Balinese dish, finely shredded grilled chicken is tossed in an aromatic sambal with lime juice and toasted coconut.
Get the recipe for Grilled Chicken and Toasted Coconut Salad (Ayam Jeruk) »
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.
Coconut Lime Custard Pie
Coconut milk imbues this pork satay with a subtle sweetness.
Get the recipe for Thai Pork Satay (Muu Satay) »
Chewy, pleasantly salty caramels are flavored simply with coconut milk and sugar.
Rich coconut milk and tangy lime meld in a sweet tropical spread from Stéphane Mazières, former chef at
Hôtel Le Toiny in St. Barths. Get the recipe for Coconut Lime Preserves »
At Turtle Bay Estate House on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, chef Anthony Dawodu enriches lentils with sweet coconut milk.
Get the recipe for Coconut Beluga Lentils »
Coconut milk gives these donuts from Seattle’s Top Pot donut shop a super-moist interior and a gratifying crust.
Get the recipe for Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts »
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.
This satay gets its tangy fieriness from red curry paste and tamarind.
Get the recipe for Southern Thai-Style Mussel Satay (Hoi Malaeng Puu) »
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 coconut cheesecake with a thick whipped cream topping looks typical enough, but it’s perfumed with musky, flowery aromas and flavored with notes of caramel and smoke.
Get the recipe for Smoked Coconut Cheesecake »
The dried spices in this complex, coconut-enriched Thai curry from chef Andy Ricker of
Pok Pok reveal its South Asian origins. Ricker’s advice, from his October 2013 article The Star of Siam: “Follow the recipe exactly the first time, then adjust the seasonings and the coconut milk. Put your stamp on it. After all, that’s what the Thai do.”
In Goa, a tiny, palm-fringed state on the western coast of India, seafood is central to the cuisine. Beloved regional specialty sembharachi kodi, or shrimp in a coconut curry, is prepared a number of ways, but always with the freshest local shellfish simmered in a rich, chile-spiked coconut sauce.
Get the recipe for Goanese Shrimp Curry (Sembharachi Kodi) »
This cloudy, coconuty version of a bellini comes from Manhattan restaurant
This Balinese-style tuna satay is adapted from Janet De Neefe’s
Fragrant Rice. Get the recipe for Balinese Tuna Satay (Satay Lilit) »
Ground macadamia nuts enrich this spicy Singaporean-style shrimp satay.
Get the recipe for Shrimp Satay (Satay Udang) »
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.
Whole garlic cloves perfume the braise for this tangy beef dish from Marvin Gapultos’
The Adobo Road Cookbook (Tuttle, 2013). Get the recipe for Filipino Beef Short Ribs Adobo »
Typically steamed in intricately folded banana leaves, these Thai fish custards are baked in leaf-lined ramekins set in a water bath.
Get the recipe for Steamed Thai Fish Custard »
Fresh basil, oregano, and sage lend their fragrance to this hearty soup loaded with five different types of seafood.
Get the recipe for Seafood Soup (Iraü Lau Juyeirugu) »
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.
Chicken thighs can also be used to make this aromatic Indonesian curry.
Get the recipe for Padang-Style Chicken Curry (Gulai Ayam) »
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.