substitute for canned coconut milk

Find the best substitute for canned coconut milk for your recipe.

With canned coconut milk becoming an ever-increasing staple in many family homes it is no surprise it has started to weave its way into any recipes from curry to smoothies to baked goods and desserts.

However, what canned coconut milk substitute can you use if your sweet or savory recipe calls for this ingredient if you don’t have it on hand?

Find the perfect alternative in this list. We have hand-picked these alternatives for you to allow you to make the best choice when it comes to coconut substitutes.

Even the non-coconut ingredients on here can work in most dishes.

How To Get A Coconut Flavor Without Coconut Ingredients

If you are craving that all-important coconut flavor you can replicate the coconut and use other ingredients in your dish to achieve this:

  • Add coconut oil
  • Top your dish with shredded coconut, this also gives a nice crunchy and texture to your dish.
  • You can add them straight from the bag or lightly toast them in a non-stick frying pan until golden.

How To Get Thicken Your Dish Without Coconut Cream

thick soup

Canned coconut milk is a popular ingredient in a lot of worldly dishes. Including curries, sauces, smoothies, baking, and even luxury iced coffees.

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Coconut milk is not only popular in making vegan dishes creamy as it is naturally dairy-free, but it also adds a gorgeous rich flavor and a thick texture to any meal.

Coconut milk is popular in Asian cuisine due to its creamy texture which is perfect for a curry sauce that is both runny but also thick and syrupy.

It’s an ingredient we recommend you always have to hand in your cupboard.

If the recipe is too runny, add in a little cornstarch to increase the overall thickness of the dish.

Finding A Dairy-Free, Vegan Alternative

dairy free

We realize that sometimes you just need to find a substitute for canned coconut milk.

Maybe the store is just out of luck and the shelves are empty of your usual staple, or maybe you are avoiding coconut for dietary reasons or simply just not a fan of the taste.

The majority of this list is also dairy-free and suitable for those following a vegan diet or cooking for plant-based friends and family members.

We have marked the vegan-friendly and therefore dairy-free options with an asterisk (*) for your convenience.

Top 10 Best Substitute For Canned Coconut Milk

Some of these alternatives are best when you need a subtle taste with a creamy texture and some are best when you want to add in a deep flavor.

These ingredients will vary in taste and viscosity to canned coconut milk, so please keep this in mind when you are choosing your perfect alternative.

Here are our top 10 best substitutes from similar coconut ingredients, plant-based milk, and unique alternatives you may have not thought of.

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Coconut Cream*


Coconut cream is the concentrated rich and creamy part of coconut milk. It is usually between 70-80% coconut extract with minimal water.

This means it will be solid at room temperature. Yet, it will turn into a creamy liquid upon cooking.

This is our top recommendation for a coconut milk substitute as it will give you the most similar end result in both texture and flavor.

Due to the very low water content, coconut cream is also a great alternative in dishes that you do not wish to reduce.

If you are in a hurry or don’t want the rest of the ingredients in your dish to overcook, then coconut cream would be a great go-to ingredient to have on hand in your pantry.

Coconut Milk Powder*

coconut milk powder

Coconut milk powder is a decent alternative to bring a dish to life with a creamy, coconut flavor.

To make simply add the powder with warm water and mix till you create your desired consistency.

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You can customize the consistency by adjusting the volume of water used.

This is a great alternative to use when you are cooking single-serve or smaller portions, as you can weigh out the exact quantity you need and reduce waste.

Plus, you can keep this coconut milk alternative in your cupboard even after opening it!

This is our top recommendation for a backup plan or for students on a budget.

Nut Butter*

nut butter

Although you won’t get the coconut taste you can certainly replicate the creamy texture of canned coconut milk with a variety of nut butter.

Simply mix one part nut butter to three parts water in a bowl. Mix with a whisk or in a small blender till you create a smooth consistency.

You can then use this to add a depth of flavor and thickness to your dish.

We find that almond butter, cashew butter, or tahini work best across the board or if your dish can handle the more intense flavor of peanut butter then this is another great choice.

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Cow’s Milk

When using cow’s milk as an alternative to coconut milk, it is best to find milk with the highest percentage of fat you can.

Whole milk is ideal and will replicate the richness of coconut milk in your cooking.

You may find less is more, even when using whole milk, the thickness will not equally match coconut milk. Add in a little at a time till you reach your desired taste and texture.

Greek Yogurt

If you get to the end of your recipe and then realize your dish just needs a little creamier texture then greek yogurt (or a vegan alternative such as soy yogurt) can be just what you need.

Especially if you can get hold of a coconut-flavored Greek yogurt. However, it is best added at the end of a dish due to its tendency to split if it is heated or boiled to a high temperature.

Yogurt is usually lower in fat content than coconut milk so you may find your dish will be a little thinner than usual.

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Although don’t be tempted to add in extra yogurt to compensate as it may add an undesired tangy taste. If this happens, add in a small amount of liquid sweetener to balance the dish.

Soy Milk*

soy milk

Similar to yogurt, soy milk has a lower fat content compared to coconut milk.

Saying this, it still works as an excellent alternative in most recipes, unless you specifically need a thick sauce.

Soy milk is also high in protein so can be great for hitting your protein goals for the day without compromising on great tasting food.

Just be sure to check the label and opt for unsweetened soy milk as the sweetened varieties may throw off your recipe.

Almond Milk*

Dishes that compliment a nutty taste would benefit from almond milk. Unless you are allergic to nuts of course.

You could even use a combination of almond milk and almond butter to increase the flavor and thickness compared to using nut butter solely with water.

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If you are worried about losing creaminess with almond milk, why not add some coconut flour or cornstarch in a bowl before adding it to your recipe.

This will thicken your milk and therefore resulting in a super creamy final result.

Cashew Cream*

Cashew cream, unlike the plant-based milk options listed, will have a high-fat content. Making it a superb substitute for coconut milk.

Cashew milk is also another alternative to check out if you are vegan or dairy-free.

It works great as a substitute for canned coconut milk in soup, due to its smooth texture.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream would be our top substitute for canned coconut milk in curry sauce.

This is because it holds a much higher content than most of the other non-coconut-derived ingredients on this list and therefore will create a thick, tasty curry sauce that you and your family can enjoy. Sour cream can also work well.


Silken tofu, otherwise known as soft tofu, is a great alternative for vegans and people avoiding dairy in their diet.

It is made using soy milk that has been compressed.

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It makes an excellent creamy, smooth substitute for soups, sauces, and even as an egg replacement in a vegan fresh toast.


It is super versatile and due to its mellow flavor, it can be seamlessly added into most dishes as a one-to-one ratio swap with coconut milk. Plus, as an added bonus, silken tofu is also a fantastic source of protein and low in fat.

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Now To Begin Cooking

These ten alternatives can be used as a substitute for canned coconut milk. Coconut milk is incredibly versatile itself, and therefore many ingredients can be used as a substitute in your favorite recipes.

Choose an alternative wisely depending on your taste preferences, dietary requirements, or what the recipe calls.

Opt for different ingredients depending on the recipe’s needs and get back in the kitchen.

This post was all about the best substitutes for canned coconut milk.

But what do you think? Comment your thoughts on these substitutes or send us a message on Instagram.

We’d love to chat about all things food, cooking, and getting creative in the kitchen with you!