For Better Coconut Milk, Make Your Own

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2014

For certain applications, like Thai chicken soup, homemade coconut milk is worth the extra effort.

Homemade is almost always better than store-bought, and we wondered if that’s the case with coconut milk made from scratch. We compared a homemade batch with one of our recommended brands of canned coconut milk, tasting it plain, as well as in our Thai Chicken Soup and a Thai curry.

The homemade coconut milk wasn’t worth the effort in the curry, where there were competing flavors and textures, but tasters unanimously preferred the from-scratch milk when tasted both plain and in the soup. The homemade milk was thinner than the store-bought, though no one minded.

Without any stabilizers, our homemade version did tend to curdle if heated to a simmer, but we found a quick fix: Add a little baking soda, which makes the milk more alkaline and discourages milk proteins from clumping.