Why does my coconut milk look curdled?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Why does my coconut milk look curdled? We will also discuss the differences between cream and coconut milk and the basics of cooking with coconut milk.

Why does my coconut milk look curdled?

The coconut milk looks curdled when the fat separates from the water, but it is still safe to consume. It is normal for coconut milk to separate when it is resting, and not only the one we buy canned in the supermarket, but also the coconut milk that we can make at home. 

What separates coconut milk is the fat from the water, you know that it is the natural tendency, just as it happens with cow’s milk and others, the fat (cream) rises to the surface.

What to do then with the curdled coconut milk? Well, it depends on what you are going to use it for, for example, if you are going to make a curry or a recipe that simply indicates that you need a certain amount of coconut milk, what you have to do is pass it on to another container and beat well until you get an emulsion. 

When you get used to using coconut milk in the kitchen, you also tend to get used to shaking the can vigorously before opening it and thus it is already emulsified.

Now, there may be occasions when a recipe indicates that coconut cream is needed (unsweetened), this is another product that is also marketed in a can, whose characteristic is that it has less water content than milk coconut, that is, it has more fat. 

Well, an alternative to this product is to use only the solid part of the can of coconut milk, leaving the ‘water’ for another preparation. To make it easier to recover the fat from coconut milk, it is recommended to leave the can in the refrigerator for a while before, as the cold solidifies the fat and it is easier to recover it simply with a spoon.

Know the difference between cream and coconut milk

Coconut cream is the pure extract obtained only from pressed coconut: you grate fresh coconut, you put the material obtained in a press, you press very hard – and the juice that comes out is the coconut cream.

To get the milk, just add water to the remaining solid coconut extract, and squeeze again.

Cream or milk: both are good, however, the uses are not the same. The cream is much richer, fuller, and longer in the mouth. Milk is more liquid, fresher – know how to use one or the other wisely.

The names “cream” or “milk” are not registered, manufacturers can mark anything on their labels: therefore always check the water content of the product you buy: if you have 99% coconut, this is cream. If you have 40 to 50 percent water, it’s milk.

And above all, choose a product without additives, sugar, or flavoring. Coconut and water, that’s all you need to find!

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can you Freeze Coconut Milk?

What happens if you drink expired milk?

Cooking with coconut milk

Coconut milk is very sweet, you have to wake it up with precise, complex flavors. Despite its apparent simplicity, it is therefore quite difficult to improvise it. The solution: read the recipes carefully, and stick to the dosages – and if a certain spice is missing to complete the dish, well we’re going to buy them, you need what it takes to come out the best.

If while cooking the coconut sauce seems too heavy or too fatty, there are ways to improve it. To revitalize your preparation, add acidity and freshness (lime, various herbs).

You can also increase the depth of taste by adding salty elements – Nuoc Mam in particular if you have it, which will shake up the sweet side of coconut milk and give it depth.

Finally, if you like strong flavors, do not hesitate to spice up your preparations: the combination of peppers and coconut has been proven, they must be paired.

 If there was just one rule to remember, it would be this: does coconut milk at the minimum. There is always a strong temptation to add a drink, but the balance is quickly upset, so if you are looking for finesse, you should avoid overloading with coconut milk.

An example: the famous Thai soup Tom Kha Kai is often much too loaded with us, while the original version contains very little coconut milk, just a touch. The main broth, fine and fragrant, is the central character of this wonderful soup. 

The coconut milk only emphasizes the fresh and delicate flavors – and in the end, we get a wonderful and fragrant alliance, one that makes it definitely impossible to do without coconut milk on our plates.


Coconut milk is a very good addition to fried sauces and is an interesting alternative to thickeners in sauces such as flour and cornstarch. Coconut milk is a fairly thick liquid that has a fine and creamy texture and a sweet taste to the actor. It is prepared by straining the water from the coconut pulp and does not contain the milk of animal origin.

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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.