Can I substitute coconut milk for whole milk?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”Can I substitute coconut milk for whole milk?”, and discuss what coconut milk and whole milk is, and also discuss other substitutes that can be used instead of coconut milk or whole milk.

Can I substitute coconut milk for whole milk?

Yes, you can substitute coconut milk for whole milk. It is to be kept in mind that a lesser fat variety of coconut milk should be used when substituting for whole milk.

What is coconut milk?

Coconut milk is a blend of coconut and water. A stabiliser may be added to the blend, to prevent the separation of both ingredients. Coconut milk can be made fresh and can also be found in canned packaging in grocery stores. It has a pleasing flavour and is sweeter than whole milk. 

It has a high nutritional value as it contains good proportions of proteins vitamin C, folate and iron, and can be substituted for whole milk in baking and for vegetarians who do not consume dairy products. It does not contain lactose making it beneficial for patients or individuals with lactose intolerance. 

What is whole milk? 

Whole milk is the type of milk which is commonly consumed and is obtained from animals such as cows and buffaloes. Whole milk is also referred to as whole because it consists of the highest amounts of fats naturally present in animal milk. 

Whole milk is rich in calcium and phosphorus which are beneficial for the growth, development and maintainance of healthy bones and teeth. Whole milks that come in packages in grocery stores also come enriched with vitamin D, as the role of vitamin D is to increase the absorption of calcium into bones.

Animal milk is usually substituted for various reasons; for religious purposes, some may have lactose intolerance as some people do not have the enzyme that is responsible for the proper digestion of lactose in milk. 

Cow milk is not given to infants for the same reasons, as the intestines and the GIT are not developed well enough in the early years to properly release the enzyme in enough amounts.

What are the other substitutes for coconut milk?

Greek yoghurt, heavy cream, sour creams, almond milk, soymilk,  and oat milks can be substituted for whole milk. These can also be substitutes for coconut milk.

Almond milk

If the almond milk is not sweetened. It is a healthy alternative as it provides low calories, and a neutral flavour ideal to be used in cereals and baking. To increase the thickness of almond milk 1 tablespoon of lemon juice can be added to a cup of almond milk.

Cashew milk

As the name suggests, it is a milk made from nuts which has a creamy texture and has a similar consistency of cows milk. The amount of fat present in cashew milk is higher compared to plant based milk such as soybean milk.

Oat milk

Oat milk is an ideal option to be used for making lattes and coffees. The rich presence of beta glucan in oats helps in the formation of foams in coffees and lattes. Another property of oat milk is that it does not curdle at high temperatures, thus can be used in recipes that require high heat.The caloric content of oat milk is however higher than coconut milk.

Hemp milk

Hemp milk is derived from hemp seeds, and contains a good amount of fats and proteins. A unique property of hemp milk is its ability to act as a leavening agent when lemon juice is added to it.

Rice milk

Rice milk is made by combining and blending water with white or brown rice. The addition of water keeps the consistency of the ric milk thinner than coconut or whole milk. It can be used to make oatmeals, smoothies and desserts but isn’t suitable to prepare sauces and recipes that need a thicker consistency.


In this brief article, we answered the question,”Can I substitute coconut milk for whole milk?”, and discussed what coconut milk and whole milk is, and also discussed other substitutes that can be used instead of coconut milk or whole milk.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.