Most commonly used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines, coconut milk is the base of several Thai food recipes. It is extracted from the center of ripe coconuts; you will recognize it as the creamy white milk that oozes out when you crack open the coconut.
If you do not have coconut milk readily available or you have a coconut allergy, then you need a substitute for coconut milk. There are many things you can use to replace the milk; however, you will lose the flavor of the coconut.
As you continue to learn about the best substitutes, understand that nothing will match the consistency and flavor exactly; there will be a bit of a change in the end result.
Substitutes for Coconut Milk
Replacing coconut milk is not an easy task as it seems, as many Paleo and other diet recipes use coconut milk to add a creamy texture. However, there are still a few healthy alternatives you can use when you want to make those curries, sauces, and desserts.
1. Spiced Milk
This is the most popular substitute for coconut milk because it provides the creaminess. You make spiced milk by heating your favorite type of milk in a sauce pan and adding nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, curry, or peppers to your desired taste. Make sure the heating is enough to help the milk absorb the spices and get a thickness that you desire.
2. Soy Milk
Soy milk is another common substitute because you can purchase it almost everywhere. It is available in cold or room temperature, in a liquid or a powdered form. One of the perks is that it has fewer calories than coconut milk.
Soy milk is rich in protein and has a neutral flavor, making it a great alternative for people who do not like dairy. Made from soybeans, the milk is very nutrient dense. The riboflavin, vitamin D and calcium it contains can meet 30% of your daily needs. While the vitamin B 12 in just one cup can meet 50% of your daily need.
You can purchase soy, almond, or cow milk yogurt. It has a creamy consistency that keeps the state of your sauce similar to that of coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker consistency, Greek yogurt is a great choice. Try a variety of flavors to decide which you like best. The benefits of using yogurt to substitute for coconut milk is that it has very few calories but is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins.
4. Nut Milks
There are a variety of nut milks, the most common being almond. The nutty flavor of the milk is similar to the nutty flavor of coconut milk. Make sure you use the ones with less added sugars. Adding a bit of gelatin or cornstarch will make it thicker.
5. Silken Tofu
Those who are watching their diets find tofu a great substitute. Simply puree it into a creamy mixture before adding to your favorite recipe instead of coconut milk.
6. Fat + Liquid
Coconut milk adds fat and liquid to any dish, which is why it is commonly used in baking. You can combine an oil and a liquid to your favorite recipe as an alternative. An example would be replacing 1 cup of coconut milk with ¼ cup oil and ¾ cups of water.
7. Other Alternatives
Here are some other common options to substitute for coconut milk:
- Heavy cream: 1 cup of coconut milk can be replaced with heavy cream. You’ll get the textures and a wonderful flavor.
- Low-fat cream cheese: Use ½ cup of low-fat cream cheese mixed with ½ cup of skim milk.
- Evaporated milk: Replace 1 cup coconut milk with 1 cup of evaporated milk.
- Condensed milk: Use ¾ cups of condensed milk when the recipe calls for 1 cup of coconut milk.
Substitutes for Other Coconut-Based Condiments
If you just cannot tolerate any coconut-based products, either because you have coconut allergy or you just don’t like the taste of it, there is always an alternative to go for.
Substitutes for Coconut Flour
Whatever you use as your substitute, you need to remember that the ratio is important. Do not substitute 1:1, as other flours just cannot suck up that much water as coconut flour could. You need to make sure the replacement portion will keep the recipe intact.
The simplest way to replace coconut flour is to search for recipes which contain your favorite flour substitute rather than trying to replace the coconut flour in your recipe.
Some of the most common substitutes for coconut flour in baking and breading are almond, hazelnut, and other nut flours. Tapioca starch and arrowroot powder are great alternates which keep your sauces thick.
Substitute for Coconut Flakes
Adding a bit of chewy sweetness in your cookies and sweet treats is one of the most significant ways of using coconut flakes. If you want to make a change:
Try using other sweet items such as raisins, dried cranberries, and other dried fruits to provide that sweet chewiness that you love. If it’s because you want to add a crunch to your salad, try seeds or other nuts.
Fruits, berries, and nuts are great alternatives to the chewy or crunchy sweetness of coconut flakes. You can even grind them and add them to a crust or use a coconut flour substitute from above.
Coconut Sap/Coconut Sugar
Many people falsely use coconut sugar because they think it is healthier. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree; however, it is still sugar. This may seem like bad news, but it’s not. Since it is still sugar, there are many things you can use to substitute for coconut sugar in your favorite recipes.
Try using honey, molasses, or other sweetener. As you are making these substitutions, remember that it may not be an even exchange. Taste as you go to make sure the food has the right sweetness.