Can you boil coconut milk? (3 Things to Know)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you boil coconut milk? We will discuss whether it is suitable to boil coconut milk and the consequence that boiling coconut milk could have. We also shed light on some common uses and recipes that require you to heat coconut milk. 

Can you boil coconut milk?

You can not boil coconut milk. You can heat the coconut milk at a gentle flame but refrain from subjecting coconut milk to a high temperature. A temperature that nears the boiling temperature of the water could make the coconut milk curdle. Coconut milk coagulates readily upon heating to 80°C or 176°F (4).

However, the 20 percent fat in coconut milk restricts the curdling process to some extent and saves you the worry about causing coconut milk to curdle or break. As the fat content of coconut milk is nearly the same amount as cream, you can cook it to a high temperature without worrying about curdling. 

Canned coconut milk tends to be more stable than fresh coconut milk. Canned coconut milk has stabilizers, such as maltodextrin and gum acacia, added that make it resist heat and the structural changes it brings (5). Also, if you plan on cooking with coconut milk, use regular coconut milk as using low-fat coconut milk would make things difficult for you. 

Low fat in milk makes it susceptible to curdling. Thus, it is recommended to not boil low-fat or light coconut milk. 

Coconuts are cultivated in ca. 3.4 million ha of land throughout 34 provinces of Indonesia, producing ca. 14.3 billion nuts or ca. 2.85 million MT copra per year in 2017 (1).

What is Coconut milk?

Coconut milk is an oil-in-water emulsion, in which continuous phase is water and oil is dispersed phase. The composition of coconut milk is generally dependent on that of the coconut meat used for extraction. By squeezing the white inner flesh of a coconut, the thick coconut milk is produced, containing 20–22% fat. By adding water or coconut water before further squeezing, the thin coconut milk is produced, with a 5–7% fat (3). Industrially, the screw press or hydraulic is employed  to extract the milk. The efficiency of extraction and composition of coconut milk from coconut meat are governed by operation parameters such as the temperature of added water and the pressing condition (2).

Coconut milk is a product of soaking coconut pieces in hot water for a few hours. As the coconut disintegrates into the boiling hot water, proteins, fats, and other constituents of coconut transfer to the water. As the coconut milk takes form, the water becomes thick, creamy, and white. The residual particles of coconut are strained out and the coconut milk is ready to be served. 

YOu could buy the canned version of coconut milk from the store or make your own. Some people prefer to make their own coconut milk by grating the coconut and blending it. To strain, they use a muslin cloth or a mesh to get rid of the fibrous material. 

Can you make steamer drinks with coconut milk?

To make steamer drinks with coconut milk is a doable task. Steamer drinks are made with steamed milk and then adding flavors. Steamed milk is a recent trend that uses flavoring agents from liqueurs, syrups, or coffee, and tea.

TO make Steamer Milk with coconut milk, you can use your espresso machine to make the coconut milk forthy and then incorporate other ingredients. If you do not have an espresso machine, you could use your stovetop to boil the coconut milk and then use any equipment to assist with the frothing process such as frother, hand mixer, or a handheld whisk.

As with any other milk-based beverage, it begs the question if it can be made with vegan milk. Vegan steamer drinks are made with both soy milk and coconut milk. 

The creamy taste of coconut milk is gaining popularity with coffee and tea-based steamer milk. However, coconut milk can be made with other steamer drinks including chocolate, rum, vanilla, almond extract, and many others. 

How to boil coconut milk without curdling it?

Coconut milk is naturally stabilized by proteins and phospholipids. The aqueous phase of coconut milk emulsion contains some proteins, which act as an emulsifier to stabilize oil droplets. Hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups of these molecules can minimize the interfacial tension among two phases and promote the dispersion of oil droplets in the aqueous phase, thereby enhancing emulsion stability. Processing operations, which tend to produce smaller globules, are expected to yield more stable emulsion. When coconut milk was added with whey protein isolate as stabilizer, it could be heated at 70°C (158°C) without collapsing (5).

If you need to boil coconut milk as a recipe, then you might be concerned with how long you can expose the milk to heat.  If you heat coconut milk for a long time or at a high flame, it is prone to curdle. 

Curdling is a result of a change in the structure of the protein molecules. On curdling the liquid whey separates from the fat molecules. While fat is in a significantly low quantity in every type of cream, it hinders the curdling process. 

To prevent your milk from curdling, try to add the coconut milk after you have prepared and sauteed your vegetables or meat. Reduce the temperature and cook for a short while after you have added the coconut milk. However, you do not need to worry about curdling as much as you would with regular milk, due to the high-fat content.

Remember to stir every 2 minutes to prevent the coconut milk from curdling. Stirring frequently hinders the curdling process, thus it is recommended to do so. 

If you see that the clear liquid separates from white globules, it means that the coconut milk has started to curdle. Lower the flame or remove the heat from the coconut milk. You could also make a cornstarch slurry and add it to the coconut milk to make it retain its structure. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you boil coconut milk? We discussed whether it is suitable to boil the coconut milk and the consequence it could have. We also shed light on some common uses and recipes that require you to heat coconut milk. 


  1. Alouw, J. C., and S. Wulandari. Present status and outlook of coconut development in Indonesia. IOP Confer Ser, 2020, 418.
  2. Patil, Umesh, and Soottawat Benjakul. Coconut milk and coconut oil: their manufacture associated with protein functionality. J food sci, 2018, 83, 2019-2027.
  3. Scholz-Ahrens, K.E., Ahrens, F. & Barth, C.A. Nutritional and health attributes of milk and milk imitations. Eur J Nutr, 2020, 59, 19–34. 
  4. Waisundara, Viduranga Y., Conrad O. Perera, and Philip J. Barlow. Effect of different pre-treatments of fresh coconut kernels on some of the quality attributes of the coconut milk extracted. Food Chem, 2007, 101, 771-777.
  5. Patil, Umesh, and Soottawat Benjakul. Coconut milk and coconut oil: their manufacture associated with protein functionality. J food sci, 2018, 83, 2019-2027.

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