Does coconut milk need to be refrigerated? (+3 ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “Does coconut milk need to be refrigerated?”, and How to store coconut milk?

Does coconut milk have to be refrigerated?

Yes, if you have opened the pack of coconut milk then refrigeration is a must. Coconut milk is a plant-based product and has a different shelf life as compared to animal milk. It should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours after opening. However, an unopened pack lasts for one month past the expiration date and does not require refrigeration.

How long does coconut milk last?

The estimated shelf-life of coconut milk under different storage conditions is given in the table below.

In the pantryIn the fridge
Unrefrigerated carton closed1 month past the Best-by date
Unrefrigerated carton opened7-10 days
Canned closed2-5 months past the Best-by date
Canned opened4-5 days
Homemade 1-2 days

How to store coconut milk?

An unopened container of coconut milk can be stored in a dark and dry place in the pantry or in the kitchen cabinet. After opening, coconut milk should be refrigerated if it is will be used sometime later. Coconut milk can pick up undesirable odors, so, keep the lid of the container tightly sealed and keep it away from foods that have a strong smell.

After opening the canned coconut milk, it is best to transfer the milk from the can to an air-tight plastic or glass container. In this way, the tin does not leach into the coconut milk while in storage.

Homemade coconut milk should always be stored in the fridge. Give it a shake before using it so that the solid contents are all dispersed uniformly into the milk. Homemade coconut milk can also be stored in the ice cube tray. Just grab a few cubes whenever you need them and add them to your smoothies or soups directly.

Can you freeze coconut milk?

If the opened container of coconut is not to be used within a week, it is best to store it in the freezer. However, freezing affects the quality of coconut milk. After thawing, the milk solids and liquids separate and it loses its smooth and creamy texture.

Therefore freezing is only recommended if you will be using this coconut milk for cooking and baking. To freeze-store coconut milk, follow the steps given below.

  • Pour the coconut milk into the ice cube tray.
  • Freeze the coconut milk for a few hours.
  • After the cubes have been fully frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.
  • Label the bag and chuck it into the freezer.

Alternatively, you can freeze-store coconut milk in a glass or plastic jar. Do not put too much in the jar so that it is easy to defrost.

How to tell if coconut milk is bad?

  1. Canned coconut milk should be discarded if it tastes like tin or becomes stale.
  2. The presence of pink-colored moldy spots or patches on the surface of coconut milk is a clear indication of spoilage. This coconut milk must be discarded.
  3. If the coconut milk curdles and gives off a sour and rancid odor, it must be thrown out immediately.

Health benefits of coconut milk

Weight loss

The Medium Chain Triglycerides(MCTs) in coconut milk provide energy, protect the heart, fight diabetes, and are linked to help reduce weight by promoting insulin sensitivity according to a study.

Good for heart

While coconut milk is rich in saturated fats, which might be considered unhealthy, but coconut milk has been found to increase HDL and lower LDL if taken in moderation

Promotes immune health

Coconut contains a saturated fatty acid, lauric acid, that has been found to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancerous properties.

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How to make coconut milk at home?

Avoid using canned coconut milk if you cannot find a BPA-free can. Make unsweetened coconut milk at home to avoid added sugar in the store-bought canned coconut milk.

  1. Put shredded unsweetened coconut flakes and water into a blender. You can add a pinch of salt or vanilla essence or maple syrup to add some sweetness and flavor.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Strain the coconut milk with a cheesecloth by pressing the coconut meal.
  4. Refrigerate for 2-3 days and enjoy.

How to cook with coconut milk?

  • Use coconut milk in your fish or vegetable curry to add a creamy texture to it.
  • Use it to make soups; Thai coconut or butternut squash soup.
  • Add it to your fruit smoothies along with coconut flakes. Add maple syrup and lemon juice for a sour and sweet hint.
  • Freeze your coconut milk and whip it until soft peaks form. Top your pancakes, crepes, shakes, smoothies, or cupcakes with it.
  • Use coconut milk as a milk alternative to make a coffee latte or use it as a coffee whitener.
  • Make coconut ice-cream with whipped coconut milk, condensed milk, and vanilla.


In this article, we answered the question “Does coconut milk need to be refrigerated?”, and how to store coconut milk?