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Jan 5, 2013 09:09 AM

coconut milk substitute?

I love to use coconut milk for curries and other things but it is way too FATTY for me. Is there a way of substituting another product that is light for this. I am thinking of using regular milk with a little potato starch and some coconut extract?

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  1. Coconut Water is a good taste, but not texture/thickness substitute.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hawkeyeui93

      Thanks. I just found out on google that low fat coconut milk in a can is only 150 calories a cup, while regular is 560 calories. I remember seeing "light" coconut milk so am going to try that. Regular dairy milk has more than that!

      1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

        Just so I am being clear, coconut water is from immature coconuts and is a bit different than either "light" or regular coconut milk.

    2. I would rather use yogurt than milk (or thickened milk); alternatively a smaller portion of coconut milk (or the low fat stuff) combined with yogurt (1/2-1/2, for example), than to use anything too unusual as a substitute. Personally I would avoid coconut extract.

      1. You can thin coconut milk with water to whatever degree you choose.

        3 Replies
        1. re: magiesmom

          thanks, But I think to thin it to the calories in the canned LIGHT coconut milk I just found online, would take 5 cans of water to 1 can - too much. But I appreciate the feedback.

          1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

            well, if you try both you'll see the result is the same and the "lite" is pricier and often has junk added to it.

            1. re: magiesmom

              Some brands of light coconut milk have water as their leading Ingredient. I'm with magirpesmom -- I thin it out myself.

        2. One thing to try:

          Open your "regular" can of UNSHAKEN coconut milk with a rotary can opener.

          The "fat" should be on the top. The clear coconut "juice" below.

          Skim off any fat you want to use. I like to sautee my onions and other veggies in this fat. Omit adding any other fat if you have been doing this in the past. The coco-fat should be enough and I find it quite delicious.

          I then usually stir the rest before proceeding to the curry, but you can try to skim and toss. Would love to hear how this works out for you! (me? I just run an extra mile and call it even-steven).

          Good luck!

          18 Replies
          1. re: pedalfaster

            Thank you pedalfaster - its wonderful that you are young enough to run the extra mile - I am 81 years old and try to exercise as much as I can plus up and down my 13 steps at least 5-8 times a day. But not everyone is young and hearty, even though I am very healthy, no meds, vitamins, herbs, etc. which has kept me young.

            I didn't know about skimming off the fat to use to fry or saute, great idea. if you buy coconut fat in a jar its about $8.00!! I will try that.

            BTW, I made a delicious curry the Indian way the other night and it was wonderful, using greek yogurt and chickpea flour. If anyone wants the recipe, let me know. It has hard boiled eggs but you can use chicken, shrimp, tofu - anything you like.

            1. re: happygoluckyinoregon

              Please post that recipe, very curious.


              1. re: raskolnikov

                6 hard boiled eggs - (tofu would be good also)
                cut in half

                2 TBS flax or canola oil
                2" pcs of chopped gingerroot
                1 TBS garam masala
                1 tsp turmeric
                1 tsp fennel powder
                pinch of salt and pepper

                1 cup chopped tomatoes
                1 cup chicken broth or water or veg broth
                1TBS brown sugar ( optional)

                to thicken - 1 cup plain yogurt - any kind
                2 TBS chickpea flour whisked into it

                Saute all down to the herbs
                Add the tomatoes and broth
                pour in the mixed yogurt,chickpea flour mix

                Stir well and simmer about 5-10 minutes- add eggs
                Serve over brown rice

            2. re: pedalfaster

              Excellent tip about the hard fat on the top of the can.

              "coconut water" as in the current drink fad doesn't taste anything like coconut milk. I cannot imagine using it as a substitute.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                I agree. That's in a carton where you buy the soymilk and not the same thing. I did find cans of Lite Coconut Milk which is half the calories of regular and not more than regular milk for only $1.58 at my supermarket.

                I also purchased a jar of coconut oil for frying and sauteeing once in awhile - for 2 c. at my store it was only $6.30 and it keeps forever. Scrambled eggs are delicious cooked in it. As is salmon.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Del Strofe (sp?) "Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook" has several recipes where he uses the "current drink fad" as a substitute for coconut milk. All coconut water is comprised of is the liquid found in immature coconuts and thus as I stated above, it works for taste, but not texture.

                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                    I drink coconut water -- as in the current drink fad -- and can personally attest that it tastes nothing like canned coconut milk. IMO it would make for a very disappointing substitution.

                  2. re: C. Hamster

                    Here's an article showing uses for coconut water in cooking for your kind review ...

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      That recipe says you can substitute coconut water for only half of the coconut milk in the recipe, not replace it completely. And the only reason they suggest the substitution is to cut down on fat - which you can also do by using reduced-fat coconut milk. Coconut water & coconut milk taste *nothing* alike, and have completely different textures/viscosities. They're not appropriate 1-for-1 swaps no matter what you're cooking.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Wow, yeah. I love coconut milk and coconut water, but there's no way they can be interchangeable.

                        1. re: Violatp

                          That was my point. A substance that doesn't taste like another makes a poor substitute for it.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Had I not actually used it as a substitute, I would completely agree with you, No issues with taste, only a viscosity/thickness issue as I stated above. I know they taste nothing alike until used in cooking. Do note that the OP wanted coconut milk substitutes and exchanging one half of the coconut milk in a recipe with coconut water [as the recipe I attached suggested] might very well do the trick for him/her.

                          1. re: hawkeyeui93

                            Do note that the OP wanted coconut milk substitutes and exchanging one half of the coconut milk in a recipe with coconut water [as the recipe I attached suggested] might very well do the trick for him/her.
                            As would using reduced-fat or lite coconut milk, which would provide the actual flavor of coconut milk and avoid compromising the texture of the dish.

                            My point is that the example you provided isn't a *substitute* it's a partial swap. You can't replace ALL the coconut milk in a recipe with coconut water and maintain the integrity and flavor of the completed dish. A coconut curry made with coconut water - and no coconut milk - isn't a coconut curry. It doesn't taste like it, look like it, or feel like it.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              Have you tried cooking with it or you merely coming up with your conclusions by having drank it? I have ....and I stand by my actual statement that taste is not the issue.

                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                I have, once, and it was a mistake. I was craving coconut curry one night and realized that I was out of coconut milk, but I had an open carton of coconut water in the refrigerator that I needed to use up. So even though I knew it wouldn't be remotely the same, I decided to try it as an experiment anyway. The flavor and body of the coconut milk were conspicuously absent and the dish was a disappointment.

                                I didn't say you can't cook with coconut water, I said you can't use it in place of coconut milk and expect the same results. And I'm hardly the only person here to make that point, so I'm not sure why you're continuing to debate with me on it. If you want to continue using coconut water as a substitute for coconut milk and you believe that "taste is not the issue," that's your prerogative. And it's mine to disagree based on my own subjective taste & experience.

                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                If someone asks for a "substitute" for an ingredient, what is wrong with suggesting a "partial swap"? Swap = substitute. If I'm asking for a substitute and someone gives me a partial substitute, at least that gives me an idea ... then I get to decide whether or not to go with that idea. If you don't like this person's suggestion, don't try it, but there's no reason to be so hateful. (Example: using half Splenda and half sugar IS absolutely a substitute for using all sugar.)

                    2. I just had Blue Diamond's Almond Coconut milk. It tastes like coconut milk but only has 45 calories in one cup. It's very light so I'm not certain if it will give you the creamy sauce that is so lovely but it will likely taste good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lynnlato

                        The fat is important when coconut milk is called for. You don;t want something light, you want something creamy.