Creative Ways To Use Coconut Milk

Whether you're lactose intolerant, vegan, or just enjoy non-dairy alternatives in general, coconut milk has probably made its way onto your radar at some point — and with good reason. Coconut milk has tons of health benefits, and it's super versatile. But before we get started, let's talk about how coconut milk is made. 

According to the BBC, the first step is grating the white part known as coconut flesh and soaking it in hot water. Once the coconut cream rises to the top, it's skimmed off, leaving behind the remaining liquid. The last step is squeezing the remnants through a cheesecloth to extract the coconut "milk." The process is then repeated until the milk becomes thinner.

With that being said, it's important to note that there's more than one type of coconut milk. First, there's coconut milk "beverage," which usually comes in a carton and might be used in things like coffee, cereal, or smoothies. Next, there's canned coconut milk, which is primarily used in cooking and baking (think of it as a vegan substitute for heavy cream). Since coconut milk "beverage" is usually best in, well, beverages, we're going to focus on creative ways to use regular canned coconut milk.

How to use coconut milk in savory dishes

So now you've got a can of coconut milk and some extra coconut milk knowledge to boot, which means we can move onto the fun part: how to use that stuff. Fortunately, coconut milk is naturally sweet and creamy, so it fits in well with most crowds. 

Meghan Telpner, nutritionist and author of the UnDiet book series, dishes out some of her favorite ways to use coconut milk on her blog, starting with elixirs. "Blend coconut milk, coconut oil, and a natural sweetener with a selection of herbs, spices, and superfoods," she writes. Next on the menu is soup. Coconut soup is especially popular in Thai cuisine; it also pairs well with butternut squash

In the mood for some cheesy goodness? Coconut milk can do that too. Yes, we're talking about coconut cheese. According to The Hidden Veggies, you'll only need seven ingredients for this one. Oh, and did we mention you can use coconut milk in rice, oatmeal, chia bowls, and bechamel too? (via MyRecipes) The coconutty goodness never ends — and we're not complaining.

What you've really been waiting for: coconut milk desserts

If you haven't noticed, coconut milk has made quite an entrance in the non-dairy dessert world. So yes, we're going to include coconut ice cream here because let's be honest: it's fantastic. The best part? It's surprisingly easy to make. If you have coconut milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and salt, you're set (via My Darling Vegan). 

You didn't think we'd forget about coconut whipped cream, did you? If you already have a can of coconut milk, you might as well put its cream to use, as well. Chill the can overnight, scoop out the top layer, add some sweetener and vanilla extra, grab your whisk or electric hand mixer, and voila! 

Following a keto diet? No problem. We've got you covered with this decadent keto coconut lime bar recipe. BTW, no one ever said coconut cream pie was out: AllRecipe's version of a coconut cream meringue pie is worth every moment of baking (trust us on this). Craving more dairy-free or vegan sweets? We have some good news — and it comes in the form of a pint of Ben & Jerry's.