If You're Not Cooking With Powdered Coconut Milk, You're Missing Out

Over the years, canned coconut milk has become such a staple ingredient in so many dishes, from Thai food to vegan desserts, that many recipes now use the can itself as a unit of measurement. Recipes that call for a full one are often the best because there's no leftovers that you have to weirdly leave inside the aluminum container — but, what if the recipe calls for just a few tablespoons of coconut milk? That sad remaining can will likely sit in your fridge for a few days until it's no longer good and you have to throw it away. But, there is in fact a better way that will solve this problem: powdered coconut milk.

According to Food & Wine, in Trinidad, where coconut milk is a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes, the powdered version became an "instant hit" because of its convenience. The same article mentioned that although fresh coconut milk remains the gold standard in the country, the powdered type has earned a permanent spot in the pantry alongside other common items like breadcrumbs and baking powder. Not only is it shelf-stable, but it also takes up less space in the pantry than its canned cousin and has some other benefits, too.

It's a convenient and dairy-free way to add creaminess and sweetness

According to The Coconut Company, powdered coconut milk is made by combining dried coconut milk and emulsifiers (the latter because 100% pure coconut milk powder isn't shelf-stable and cannot be produced in affordable and reliable ways). Since the process of making it is so simple and there are minimal additives, the natural flavors of the nut are preserved along with all the nutritive benefits.

And even better, it's flexible. So, if a recipe calls for coconut milk, you can simply mix the powdered kind with warm water to return it to its original liquid form. To make light coconut milk, the blog From Hawaii with Love recommends mixing a half-cup of coconut milk powder with 1 cup of warm water. To make coconut cream, the site also recommends mixing 1.5 cups powdered coconut milk with 1 cup of warm water.

A few of The Coconut Company's favorite uses for coconut milk powder include adding it to broths and curries and scooping directly into smoothies to add a lush creaminess without using any dairy. Food & Wine recommends sprinkling the powder on oatmeal along with cinnamon and cardamom for an extra comforting start to your day. Sprinkling the powder directly into dishes may sound like lump city, but another fantastic aspect of coconut milk powder is that it doesn't clump up. And, of course, its other benefits are that it's vegan and shelf-stable, so if you're traveling, you can take it with you, too.

According to Food & Wine, powdered coconut milk lines the shelves at grocery stores in the Caribbean, but it can be more difficult to find in the U.S. The availability varies regionally because shoppers are still catching on to the convenience of powdered coconut milk, though you can find it in abundance online.