The Search for Creamy Goodness: 
An Overview of the Best Coconut Milk for Curry

[2020 Update]


There are many Southeast and South Asian countries that use coconut milk as a base for curries.

So, if you want to be able to recreate these dishes perfectly, you are going to have to stock up on this must-have ingredient.

There is a catch, though. While coconut milk is freely available, you do have to be careful about the type and brand that you choose.

Pick wrong and you could end up with a disastrous dish on your hands. In case you want to avoid this scenario, , then here is the information you need to find the best coconut milk for curry

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Which Coconut Milk is Best for Curry?


As mentioned, there are different types of coconut milk on the market. Thus, before you head out on a shopping trip, you need to understand what these terms mean.

This will make it easier for you to pick the right kind of coconut milk for your curries.

  • Coconut Milk for Cooking: this type of coconut milk is thicker and often – but not always – found in cans. It is unsweetened, has a strong taste, and a higher fat percentage.
  • Coconut Milk Beverage: this form of coconut milk is almost always sold in cartons. They are a much lighter version and have fewer calories and lower fat content. This milk has a very mild or negligible taste. It shouldn’t be added to curries.
  • Coconut Cream: this is essentially coconut milk with lower water content and a higher fat content. It is most often added to desserts. As long as it is unsweetened and has a strong coconut taste, you may be able to substitute it for coconut milk. However, you will need to dilute it with some water first.

Additional Ingredients in Coconut Milk


It is important to always read the ingredient list before selecting a particular coconut milk brand.

Most companies are focused on making their coconut milk last longer on the shelf. As such, they will mix in certain additives to improve the structure or lifespan of the milk.

The most common ingredients include:

  • Guar Gum: a natural substance that works as an emulsifier and a stabilizer.
  • Carboxymethylcellulose: a thickener that is made from plant pulp. It works to maintain moisture levels.
  • Polysorbate 60: keeps the water and oil components in the coconut milk combined.
  • Sucrose Esters: helps to maintain the white color of coconut milk. It also maintains the texture.

Should You Stay Away from Coconut Milk with Additives?

You may be wondering if you should avoid brands that have the ingredients mentioned here. Well, that is a personal choice.

These additives aren’t necessarily dangerous and they do serve a purpose.

However, there is one ingredient that you should stay away from: carrageenan. It has been linked to various digestive problems and some people do experience side effects.

spicy vegetable curry

What You Should Look for in Coconut Milk for Curries


Now, let’s go through some of the properties that you should look for in coconut milk.

Full Fat Content

If you are trying to cook a little healthier or are on a diet, you may want to buy light coconut milk.

However, if you want good coconut milk for green curry – or any Asian dish, really – you need to pick the full-fat version.

Understand, full-fat coconut milk is creamier and has a stronger coconut taste. As such, it will help to bring your dishes to life.

If you add the lightened version to your curries, you’ll end up with a watery dish that lacks any kind of complex flavor.

Unsweetened

Coconut milk is often used in desserts and drinks. Due to this, some brands offer sweetened versions.

Needless to say, you should select the best tasting unsweetened coconut milk for curry.

Most curries utilize a variety of spices. Thus, you need the unsweetened version to allow those spices to make an impact.

Authenticity

The Western world has jumped on the coconut milk craze and has put out their own brands.

For the most part, these are quite good and will help you to whip up a good curry.

However, if you want a more authentic flavor, look for the best Asian canned coconut milk for curry. Some countries also rely on the boxed version.

In some instances, these traditional coconut milks can have slightly different tastes. As such, they will often produce a more authentic tasting curry.

delicious meal made with coconut milk

The Best Coconut Milk Brands for Curry


These are the top brands to use in any curry recipe.

Best Coconut Milk for Thai Curry

If you are going for authenticity, you would be hard-pressed to beat this product.

It is produced in Thailand, ensuring that you will be able to re-produce a genuine Thai curry.

What we Like:

  • Used in Thai Cooking: this coconut milk is used in Thailand for the local cuisine. So, you will have no trouble at all staying true to the taste with this brand.
  • Great Addition to Curries: the taste and the texture of this milk are perfectly suited to curries. As such, it mixes well and enhances the taste of the added spices.
  • BPA-Free Packaging: as this coconut milk comes in a carton, you would reduce the risk of any BPA being found in your coconut milk.

What We Don't Like:

  • Short Lifespan: don’t expect this coconut milk to last too long. Once you buy it, you will need to use it up fairly quickly.
100% Coconut Milk - 8.5 Oz (6-pack) by Aroy-D
Product of Thailand; Expiration Date format on the product is Date/Month/Year

Want to keep things authentic, but don’t want to give up your organic diet? This brand will help you make the best of both worlds.

What we Like:

  • Good Quality: if you are concerned about buying products outside the US, this brand will ease your worries. Not only is the coconut milk organic, but it also contains natural ingredients only.
  • Robust Taste: this has a rather rich taste that isn’t found in other kinds of coconut milk. As such, it elevates any curry you are preparing.
  • Creamy Texture: this brand uses coconut extract rather than thinned out coconut cream. This creates a more decadent texture that is transferred to your curry.

What We Don't Like:

  • Difficult to Reconstitute: once the solid and liquid portions have separated, it can be difficult to mix the two components again.
Four Elephants Organic Coconut Milk Certified Non-GMO 13.5 oz (2 Packs)
Creamy and smooth texture; Sweet and fresh Coconut Aroma; Organic, Gluten Free and Non GMO Certified

Once more, this is one of the most authentic forms of coconut milk you can get for your curries.

Therefore, if you are dedicated to cooking perfection, this brand will certainly fit the bill.

What we Like:

  • Sourced in Thailand: this coconut milk is made in Thailand and is used in their local cuisine. So, you can be sure that it is both good as well as genuine.
  • Incredibly Thick: this is one of the thickest coconut milks around. It will help you make a very decadent curry.
  • Long-Lasting: this coconut milk does last quite a while, ensuring that you don’t have to worry about it spoiling.

What We Don't Like:

  • Contains a Preservative: the coconut milk contains a preservative that some people would prefer to avoid.
Chaokoh Coconut Milk
Chaokoh Coconut Milk, 13.5 oz

If you are looking for all-natural coconut milk, this is the one for you.

As an added bonus, it works great in curries as well.

What we Like:

  • Pure Formula: there are absolutely no additives or added ingredients in this formula. It is just made up of coconut extract and water.
  • Great Taste: this coconut milk does have a nice rich taste that compliments the spices added to your curries.
  • Blends Well: it is quite easy to blend the milk with a variety of curry pastes to create a smoother gravy. 

What We Don't Like:

  • Quite Oily: this coconut milk does have a rather high oil content and the milk can feel oily at times.
Nature's Greatest Foods, Organic Coconut Milk, No Guar Gum, Unsweetened, 13.5 Ounce (Pack of 12)
PACK OF 12: 13.5 oz cans of Nature's Greatest Organic Coconut Milk

This is one of the more popular brands of coconut milk, particularly when it comes to cooking.

It works well when you want a curry with more subtle flavors. 

What we Like:

  • Natural Ingredients: the product is both organic and only contains natural ingredients. Thus, you can use it in your food without any concerns at all.
  • Thick, Creamy Texture: this coconut milk is incredibly thick and creamy, creating a more decadent curry.
  • Works Well in Curries: this works well in curries, and blends in with the other spices beautifully. 

What We Don't Like:

  • Subtle Taste: the coconut milk taste isn’t as strong as with some other brands. So, you can use it if you want a lighter flavor.
Thai Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk, 13.66 Fl Oz, Pack of 6
Organic coconut milk is made from the first pressing of prime organic coconut meat; USDA-certified organic

These are the best coconut milk brands you could buy if you want to whip up a delicious curry. So, the next time you want to flex your cooking skills, you know exactly which ingredients to turn to.


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