How to Thicken Coconut Milk in 5 Easy Methods

Coconut milk can be found in the pantry aisle or in the refrigerated section of your grocery store and is already a slightly thicker consistency. It provides a rich, creamy texture to your recipe and an unmistakable nuttiness that can even be slightly sweet.

Depending on what you are using the coconut milk for, you may need to thicken it. This can be achieved by doing a variety of methods, such as: boiling it down to reduce, by adding a thickening agent, like coconut flour or cornstarch, or even whipping it. 

What is Coconut Milk? 

Let’s start with some background on what coconut milk actually is. Coconut milk is a liquid made from the coconut flesh, or meat, along with water. It is a creamy sustenance that contains many vitamins and nutrients, is high in fat, and offers a slightly nutty flavor. 

When using canned coconut milk, natural separation does occur and it can be stirred or shaken to combine. If you are using the coconut milk from a carton, whether refrigerated or not, it is typically thinner than the canned coconut milk. This is because more water is added to achieve a more pourable consistency. 

Why Thicken Coconut Milk?

Depending on how you are using your coconut milk, you may need to thicken it. Coconut milk is great in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes, and sometimes is needed to be thicker. 

For example, if you are baking a cake using coconut milk, you may not want to add a large amount of liquid to your batter. Thickening coconut milk will not only help keep your ingredient ratios in check, but it will also provide a more pronounced coconut flavor. 

Coconut milk can also be whipped in replace of dairy cream for a delicious dairy free (and vegan friendly!) topping for desserts.If you are cooking a savory soup, you may want your soup to have a thicker consistency and therefore thickening your coconut milk is a good idea. 

Curries and other dishes using coconut milk may need to be thickened so you do not have a soupy mess. Also, if you are using the coconut milk from a carton, you will probably need to thicken it more than coconut milk from a can.

Related Posts  Does Cinnamon Expire? The Ultimate Guide to Cinnamon Shelf Life and Storage

How Do You Thicken Coconut Milk?

There are several methods you can use to thicken your coconut milk. Depending on the application of the coconut milk, may determine how you want to thicken it. 

Method 1: Adding Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is derived from a coconut and so it seems natural to use this ingredient to thicken coconut milk, as it will not alter the flavor of the coconut milk. It is usually found with other specialty flours in your grocery store or even ordered online.

Steps

  1. Pour your coconut milk in a sauce pan and turn to medium low heat.
  2. Place some coconut flour in a small glass bowl (1-2 tablespoons should be plenty for 1 can of coconut milk).
  3. Once the coconut milk is steaming, carefully ladle some into the bowl with the coconut flour and stir with a fork or whisk until combined.
  4. Add the coconut flour mixture back into the hot coconut milk and continue to cook until thickened to the desired consistency. 

Using warm coconut milk will help to ensure the coconut flour is not lumpy and help you have a smooth and creamy consistency. 

Method 2: Using Cornstarch

Making a slurry with cornstarch and coconut milk is similar to the above method, but you use a cold liquid with the cornstarch. This method is a great way to thicken coconut milk without altering the taste and cornstarch is readily available, most people have some in their pantry, and it is less expensive than coconut flour. 

Steps

  1. Pour your coconut milk in a saucepan, reserving about 1/2cup of the liquid. 
  2. Mix together 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch with the reserved coconut milk and stir with a fork to make a slurry.
  3. Once the coconut milk in the saucepan starts to steam, whisk in your slurry.
  4. Continue to stir until mixture is thickened. 

You can also use water, instead of coconut milk to make the slurry. Cornstarch is a great way to thicken soups and sauces without altering the flavor of the dish.

Method 3: Reducing Coconut Milk

Reducing your coconut milk is one of the easiest ways to thicken your coconut milk, as there are not added ingredients. However, it does drastically decrease the volume since you are reducing down the liquid. Keep this in mind for your recipe you are using. 

Steps

  1. Pour your coconut milk in a tall saucepan.
  2. Turn the heat to medium high and allow to boil.
  3. Continue to boil until desired thickness is reached, being careful not to burn the coconut milk. 
Related Posts  Do Bananas Have Seeds?

Coconut milk reduces rather quickly, be sure and keep an eye on it as it boils. You can lower the heat slightly if you are worried about it boiling out of the pan or burning. 

Method 4: Whipping Coconut Milk

Whipping coconut milk is a great way to thicken it, especially if using it as a dessert topping or icing. Make sure and start with cold coconut milk.

Steps

  1. Remove the refrigerated coconut milk and scoop out the solid coconut fat into a mixing bowl, reserving the coconut water for another use. 
  2. With the whisk attachment or handheld mixer, beat the coconut milk until soft peaks form and slightly thickened. 

Whipped coconut milk should be used right away or refrigerated. If you are having trouble getting it thick enough, add 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch and whip a little longer. Whipped coconut milk is great whether folding it into other ingredients, using it as icing, or other dessert topping.

Method 5: Adding Mashed Potatoes 

Thickening coconut milk with mashed potatoes is a great idea if you are making a soup or curry that already has potatoes in it and you need it to be slightly thicker. 

Steps

  1. Peel and dice one potato to cook.
  2. Place the prepared potato in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the potato is soft, remove the potato to a bowl and mash it.
  4. Add coconut milk to the mashed potato and stir to combine.
  5. Stir your potato and coconut milk mixture into the recipe and allow to simmer to thicken.

The starch of the potato is a natural thickening agent and works well to thicken soups, stews, sauces, and curries.

Which Is The Best Method For Thickening Coconut Milk?

All of the methods provided on how to thicken coconut milk work great, depending on what you are making. Using the cornstarch slurry is the easiest and most practical of all of the ways discussed. 

Most people already have cornstarch in their cabinet or can easily find it and any grocery store. Cornstarch is less expensive than coconut flour and won’t alter the taste or volume of coconut milk. Cornstarch slurries are used to thicken a variety of recipes, both sweet and savory. 

How to Use Thickened Coconut Milk

Now that you have successfully thickened coconut milk, what do you do with it? There are so many uses for thickened coconut milk, let’s explore some of the ways to use it. 

Related Posts  Is Canned Salmon Cooked? Everything You Need to Know

Sauces

Sweet and savory sauces alike can use thickened coconut milk. Making a curry or other similar Asian sauce will benefit from a thickened coconut milk, as well as pasta dishes that are cream based. Making a creme anglaise or chocolate sauce with thickened coconut milk would be delicious. 

Desserts

Many desserts use a milk or cream product and thickened coconut milk can be a wonderful alternative to dairy. You can make a coconut milk based ice cream, pudding, or icing for your cake. 

Coconut milk that has been reduced down makes a tasty coconut cake, giving the right amount of liquid to the batter and providing a wonderful coconut flavor. 

Smoothies

Thick, creamy  smoothies make a great start to your day or afternoon snack. Using thickened coconut milk along with some frozen fruit will make you feel like you are eating ice cream, but is much healthier! 

Soups and Stews

Sometimes you are trying to achieve a thicker soup or stew than what you have and need to thicken it. There are a variety of different soups and stews that use coconut milk as an ingredient and so using a thickened coconut milk would be a great idea without affecting the flavor of the soup or stew.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coconut milk provides a great flavor and consistency to so many dishes. Let’s find out more about it. 

Will coconut milk thicken when whisked?

Yes, coconut milk can thicken when whisked. If doing so by hand, it may take several minutes, but it will eventually start to thicken.

Does coconut milk thicken when heated?

Yes, coconut milk can thicken when heated. You will need to heat it to a boil and reduce it down until it is thick enough for you. 

Does coconut milk thicken when whipped?

Yes, coconut milk can thicken when whisked. Make sure you start with cold coconut milk and just use the white fatty part, saving the liquid for another use. Whisk the coconut milk on high for 1-2 minutes, until the desired thickness is reached. 

Conclusion

Coconut milk is a great ingredient in both savory and sweet recipes. Sometimes your recipe may call for a thickened coconut milk while other times, you may just need a thicker end product. 

There are several methods you can use to thicken coconut milk, depending on what you are cooking. Making a slurry with coconut flour, mashed potatoes, or cornstarch, reducing your coconut milk down, or even whipping it are all great ways to get a thicker product.