One of the many ingredients that make Thai food so delicious and unique is coconut milk. It’s a wonderful ingredient that adds sweetness and body to a dish and can bring all the flavors together.

While there are many brands available in the market that are great to use in cooking, you might be surprised that making your own at home can be far more satisfying and actually not difficult to do.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of making your own coconut milk. Then, you can use it in any recipe that calls for its use.

Coconut milk vs. coconut cream

Before we begin, let’s clear up a common confusion regarding coconut milk and how it differs from coconut cream. Both products are similar, but the key difference lies in their consistency. Coconut cream is thicker because it’s made from the first juice extraction, while coconut milk is typically more watery as it comes from the second extraction.

Now that we’ve cleared up the confusion, let’s get to the cooking part!

Recipe: Homemade coconut milk and cream

For this recipe, we’ll show you how to make both the milk and cream. The initial processes to make both are similar, but know that the coconut milk requires a few additional steps to reach the final product.

Also, remember to use mature coconuts for both recipes. Matured ones are usually the brown variety with hard shells and thick flesh inside. Younger, green coconuts are not ideal for making coconut milk and cream.


  • 1 mature coconut
  • 600 ml of tepid water

Utensils needed:

  • Large knife or heavy cleaver
  • Shredding tool
  • Mixing bowls
  • Strainer
  • Measuring cup


  1. Begin by removing the husk on the outer layer with the help of your knife. Once the shell is exposed, set it on a stable surface and, with the edge of your knife, split the coconut open with a rapid, chopping motion. There are other methods to open the coconut, but this one is the least time-consuming.
  2. The coconut water will likely spill out. So, you may set this aside, collect it to drink, or save it for later.
  3. With the flesh now exposed, you may use your scraper to dig out the coconut meat. Scrap out the white parts into a mixing bowl while being careful to avoid the brown flakes.
  4. Measure out half of the water, or 300 milliliters, and pour it over the coconut shavings.
  5. With clean hands, squeeze the coconut with firm pressure to extract its juices while simultaneously mixing.
  6. Once the water has turned white, use a strainer or cheesecloth to separate the coconut cream from the shavings and pour this into another bowl. The liquid you end up with should be thick and creamy. This is the coconut cream that you will get.
  7. Proceed to make the coconut milk by returning the used shavings into the original bowl and add the remaining half of the water. Repeat the process of squeezing, mixing, and straining to end up with fresh coconut milk.
  8. Transfer both the coconut cream and milk separately into clean jars and cover them with a lid. You can store them in your refrigerator for up to five days or use them in other recipes right away.

Wrapping up

As you can see, making your own coconut cream and milk is simple and straightforward. You only need two ingredients and some basic kitchen utensils to do the job. The next time you cook up a Thai dish that calls for either of these ingredients, try to make it yourself, and you’ll enjoy fresher and more flavorful food.

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