11 Ways to Use Canned Coconut Milk

The coconut water boom ushered in something of a coconut milk renaissance. With its delicate tropical flavor and luscious texture, coconut milk remains an enduringly popular dairy alternative and a go-to pantry item for home cooks who love curry.

Coconut Milk Cake with Pistachios, Whipped Coconut Cream and Strawberry Glaze
Photo: Abby Hocking

Here, more ways to put the can in the cabinet to work with sweet and savory recipes.

1. Chicken stew: Balance the bright and spicy flavors from spinach, basil, chiles, and lime juice in Justin Chapple's Spicy Coconut Chicken Stew with Corn.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Stew with Corn
Abby Hocking / Food & Wine

2. Soup: Stir with vegetable stock and let simmer before ladling over noodles for this restorative ginger and turmeric soup.

Ginger Turmeric Noodle Soup Recipe
Jennifer Causey

3. Ceviche: Coconut milk's soft flavor is especially nice with zingy ceviches made from sweet shellfish, like scallops. Similar but even simpler, try Bobby Flay's six-ingredient coconut-crab salad.

Coconut-Crab Cocktail
© Tina Rupp

4. Marinades: Blend it with lots of garlic and spices for marinating chicken; the coconut milk helps create a delicious, blistered crust on the grill. Or add coconut milk to a buttermilk soak for fried chicken, like these panko-crusted cutlets from star chef Marcus Samuelsson.

Coconut Chicken with Pickled Pepper Collards
African flavors shine through in this delicious fried chicken dish. © Antonis Achilleos

5. Dressing: Add tangy lemon juice to top sugar snap peas and mint.

Sugar Snap Peas with Mint and Warm Coconut Dressing
© John Kernick

6. Candy: Blend coconut milk with butter and toasted coconut to make a chewy filling for chocolate-coated candy bars.

Coconut Chocolate Candy Bars
© Matt Armendariz

7. Cocktails: Add it to this lighter take on classic piña coladas.

Fresh and Easy Piña Coladas
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

8. Creamy sauce: Replace a rich curry paste with Jean-Georges Vongerichten's creamy sauce with a caramel base, coconut milk, and fish sauce.

Spiced Chicken with Coconut-Caramel Sauce and Citrus Salad
© Con Poulos

9. Pudding: Add it to tapioca pudding with mango and lime to enhance the dessert's tropical flavor.

Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding
© Quentin Bacon

10. Ice cream: Combine with sweet glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water for pastry chef Jen Yee's simple Japanese dough to make these mochi ice cream sandwiches.

Coconut Mochi Ice Cream Sandwiches
Pastry chef Jen Yee of Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery in Manhattan makes these fun and pretty sandwiches with a simple Japanese dough that combines sweet glutinous rice flour, sugar, water and strawberry jam. You can whip these up and serve them to your summer party guests for an unexpected dessert treat. © John Kernick

11. Glazes: Incorporate it into a cake, its glaze, and a whipped coconut cream to enrich salty pistachios and sweet strawberry with this recipe from Chef Angela Garbacz.

Coconut Milk Cake with Pistachios, Whipped Coconut Cream and Strawberry Glaze
Abby Hocking

Note: The delicious refrigerated coconut milk sold in cartons is best reserved for cereal and drinks — it's not as thick and rich as the canned type typically called for when cooking or baking.

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