Canned coconut milk is not only a great vegan substitute for heavy cream, but it also adds a subtle flavor and complexity to a dish that can bring your cooking to the next level. But, not all canned coconut milk tastes the same! Some are thick and subtly sweet, and others can be watery and have a metallic aftertaste.
Whether you’re picking up some coconut milk for a creamy soup or a hearty curry, make sure you know how to pick a great-tasting coconut milk at any grocery store. Or, order one of the best coconut milk brands for cooking by checking out the list below!
How to Pick a Great Coconut Milk at Any Store
Even though I made a list below of some of my go-to canned coconut milk brands, you might not be able to find those exact products because not all stores carry the same brands.
To choose a good canned coconut milk brand at any store, follow these rules of thumb:
- Choose Organic (to avoid an artificial taste)
- Always choose Full Fat and Unsweetened varieties
- Check the Ingredients (Okay ingredients: Coconut, water, guar gum. Ingredients to avoid: citric acid, sodium metabisulfite, any other chemicals)
Choose organic because it’s the best way to avoid an artificial flavor. Canned coconut milk should have a pleasant, subtly sweet flavor straight out of the can. But sometimes there can be a metallic aftertaste which can result from a number of things, including the use of chemical preservatives or being highly processed. Buying organic usually eliminates these two problems!
Always choose Full Fat and Unsweetened Varieties because this is the standard type of canned coconut milk used for cooking. Having a heavily sweetened coconut milk or using watery “lite” coconut milk can throw off your recipe. However, if the recipe calls for these types of coconut milk, go with that!
Check the Ingredients because less is more. The gold standard for coconut milk is simply coconut and water. Guar gum is okay and many brands use it as a stabilizer. However, you should always avoid coconut milk that lists other chemicals and ingredients like sodium metabisulfite. I’ve found that these usually give canned coconut milk an artificial aftertaste.
There are so many canned coconut milk brands out there, but below are some of my favorite go-to brands!
Best Coconut Milk Brands for Cooking
Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk
Buy Online: Amazon
Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut milk is the brand I use most often, and it is found at most grocery stores! It is also pretty affordable and you can sometimes find a great deal and stock up!
I once found a 6-pack on Amazon for just over $7! The price has gone up since then, but you might want to check from time to time just in case this great deal comes back.
365 Whole Foods Market Organic Coconut Milk
Buy Online: Amazon
If you have a Whole Foods Market nearby, their canned organic coconut milk (365 by Whole Foods Market) is a great choice! You can also have this product delivered to you from Amazon if you have a Whole Foods nearby.
Sprouts Organic Coconut Milk
If you live near a Sprouts Farmers Market, try a can of their Organic Coconut Milk! It’s creamy, natural, and affordable!
Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Milk
Next up on the list is Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Milk! It is sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s retailers and is 100% natural coconut milk. (It doesn’t even contain guar gum!)
However, I personally think this coconut milk tastes great but is a little on the watery side, so if you’re looking for a thicker coconut milk, go with their coconut cream or a different brand on this list.
Simple Truth Coconut Milk
Simple Truth is a natural and organic foods brand and is sold at Kroger stores and Kroger affiliates. If you live next to a Kroger or an affiliate (like Fry’s, Smith’s, Pick ‘n Save, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, etc.), the Simple Truth Organic Coconut Milk sold there is a great choice!
These are my go-to brands of canned coconut milk for cooking, but there are many other great ones out there! Just follow the rules of thumb when choosing a good canned coconut milk above, and don’t be afraid to try new brands until you find your favorite!
Do you have a favorite brand of canned coconut milk that isn’t on this list? Let us know in the comments below!