The Best Canned Coconut Milk for Thai Cooking
A review of the best canned coconut milk for Thai cooking. I chose the most common coconut milks I’ve seen sold in stores, tested and rated them based on price, quality of ingredients, taste and texture.
Disclaimer: These are my own opinions based off my own cooking, tastes and preferences.
Welcome to Day 2 of my Thai Cooking At Home series! This week I am laying the ground work so we can hit the ground running next week fully prepared to cook our favorite Thai recipes at home! Today I’m sharing a review of popular canned coconut milk brands. I hope it will give you some helpful information to guide you towards the best coconut milk to use when you are cooking Thai dishes at home!
Coconut milk is a key ingredient in Thai cooking. It’s used as the base in many dishes, like soups and curries. The brand of coconut milk you use can chance the consistency, texture and taste of your dish. I’m providing you with facts and my honest opinion on 6 brands of canned coconut milk below.
I chose the 6 brands based off their availability. These are the 6 brands I see sold most often at the stores I frequent (Safeway, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Whole Foods), I excluded brands sold at the international grocery store where I also shop since they had a LOT of brands, but many are not sold in mainstream stores.
My review compares the price, ingredients, consistency/texture and taste of each brand. Please note the top 3 brands are organic, I did not intentionally chose organic vs. non-organic for this comparison, but that is how it worked out.
#6 – CHAOKOH
Price – $2.99 / 13.5oz can
Ingredients – Coconut Extract, Water, Citric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite
Consistency – Thin creamy top with some separation, smooth texture
Taste – Fake
Review – The clear loser. First off, it’s expensive and I don’t care for the taste.
Recommendation – Avoid for Thai Cooking and really anything else!
#5 – GOYA
Price – $1.79 / 13.5oz can
Ingredients – Coconut Milk, Water, Potassium Metabisulfite
Consistency – No separation at all, texture is pulp-like with tiny coconut flakes
Taste – Very sweet and fruity
Review – I think this was designed to be a drink mixer, it’s perfect for a piña colada, but does not work well in Thai Cooking! I rated it 5th instead of 6th because of the low price point and because it does actually contain real coconut milk, not extract.
Recommendation – Avoid for Thai Cooking, use in Piña Coladas 🙂
#4 – Thai Kitchen
Price – $3.49 / 13.66oz can
Ingredients – Coconut, Water, Guar Gum
Consistency – Good separation between coconut cream and milk, but the texture is chalky
Taste – Good, natural coconut flavor if you can get past the texture
Review – I like the taste, but despite the slightly larger can, this coconut milk is by far the most expensive on the list and the chalky texture is not ideal.
Recommendation – You can use this in Thai Cooking and your dish will turn out fine, but there are better, cheaper options available.
#3 – Trader Joe’s
Price – $1.69 / 13.5oz can
Ingredients – Water, Organic Coconut
Consistency – Good separation between coconut cream top and milk, does contain some coconut pulp so texture is a little grainy.
Taste – Nice coconut flavor, a little fruity
Review – The price can’t be beat and I like the clean ingredient list. The downfall is the coconut pulp, I prefer a creamy coconut milk for Thai cooking. Bonus – it has a pop-top for easy opening!
Recommendation – I use this coconut milk often in Thai Cooking, it’s cheap and the flavor works, it’s not the number 1, but it will work fine.
#2 – KA•ME
Price – $2.49 / 13.5oz can
Ingredients – Organic Coconut, Purified Water, Organic Guar Gum
Consistency – Good separation between coconut cream and milk, smooth texture
Taste – Good, natural coconut flavor
Review – I almost swapped this with the TJ’s for the #3 spot because of the higher price point, but ultimately decided it deserved the #2 spot because of it’s creamy consistency and natural coconut flavor.
Recommendation – Perfect for Thai Cooking, just on the pricier side.
#1 – Whole Foods 365
Price – $1.99 / 13.5oz can
Ingredients – Organic Coconut, Purified Water, Guar Gum
Consistency – Good separation between coconut cream and milk, very smooth texture
Taste – Good, natural coconut flavor
Review – This coconut milk claimed the #1 spot because I could not find fault for it in any category!
Recommendation – Perfect for Thai Cooking!
Summary: Best Canned Coconut Milk for Thai Cooking
In my opinion I would steer clear of the Chaokoh and Goya for Thai Cooking. The Thai Kitchen brand would work fine if you are in a pinch and any of the top 3 (Trader Joe’s, KA•ME and Whole Foods 365) will work great for Thai Cooking.
pin it for later:
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I wonder how the trive brand would rank…
I think that you’ve misunderstood the ingredient ‘coconut extract’. It is real coconut – not artificial. In fact, Chaokoh coconut milk is recommended by many others.
chaOkoH is highly RECOMMENDED by thai cooks. Reason being is because the top Part can be skimmed off for coconut creme. Reduced coconut cream with oils Separated + curry paste gives the restaurant styke taste
Chaokoh and aroy-D are the only brands used by thai chefs and home cooks alike! (outside of thailand anyway.)
Dean is correct. “CocOnut extract” is, indeed, real cocOnuT, so the difference is merely in labeling.In fact, all coconut milk used in thai cooking is Produced by actually *extracting* the liquid from Freshly grated COCONUT. I watched my thai grandmother do this by hand,grating 1/2 a coconut at a time using a MetAl tool. She would then squeeze The mound of shredded coconut through a cheesecloth to obtain the “milk.” The Only acceptable alternativeS to this time-consuminG task? The Chaokoh or aroy-D Brands of coconut milk! 🙂
Great info if you live someplace with every store IMAGINABLE to shop at. Then I see your about, and notice that you do in fact live in Alexandria, and have probably don’t even have a walmart within driving distance for you.