Is There Milk in Coconuts?

Written by: Kelly Donovan

Coconuts are delicious, and their flavor is a classic tropical addition to many desserts. But once you go beyond the flesh of the coconut, things can get a little confusing. 

Coconut cream, coconut water, and even coconut milk are products that can come from the humble coconut.

But is there milk inside coconuts? 

There is no dairy milk in coconuts, but the flesh of the coconut can be blended with water to make “coconut milk.” The liquid inside a coconut is coconut water.

Coconut milk is cream, but it isn’t truly milk. In this article, we’ll explain what coconut milk is, what the liquid inside of a coconut is actually called, and more!

Is There Milk in Coconuts?

No, there is no milk in coconuts.

Coconuts are filled with a liquid called coconut water, and a product called coconut milk can be made with coconut flesh, but there is no real milk containing dairy in coconuts.

The accurate definition of milk has been a point of contention for food manufacturers for years now, and coconut milk is no expectation.

While the liquid made from blended coconut flesh and water is called coconut milk, it technically is not an actual milk product.

The FDA defines milk as “something that comes from a mammary gland,” so things like soymilk, almond milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk don’t qualify.

That’s why plant-based milk is sometimes referred to as “mylk” or a “beverage” (e.g., oat beverage) instead of milk.

Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and other types of milk from animals are true types of milk.

open coconut and coconut milk on light blue background

What Is Coconut Milk?

Coconut milk is coconut flesh blended with water.

Coconut milk is called “milk” because it has a creamy consistency and is white like milk. It is used in things like soups, curries, smoothies, and baking.

You can also add thickeners like guar gum to coconut milk; otherwise, it is almost always only coconut flesh and water.

Here's a video from Autumn Bates on how to make coconut milk in five minutes!

Is Coconut Milk Dairy?

No, coconut milk is not dairy.

For something to be considered dairy, it has to be an animal product and usually contains an enzyme called lactose. Coconut milk doesn’t meet either criterion, so it isn’t dairy.

Unlike other milk alternatives, coconut milk is usually reserved as a cooking ingredient and not a direct substitute in things like cereals and coffees.

Is There Lactose in Coconut Milk?

For coconut lovers who need to avoid lactose, coconut milk is lactose-free. This makes it a great product to make foods creamier without added dairy milk!

Is Coconut Milk Vegan?

Another great aspect of coconut milk is that it is vegan!

Since coconut milk is made from coconut flesh and water, with the occasional thickener added, it is safe for vegans and vegetarians alike to enjoy.

Be cautious of pre-made foods with coconut milk, though.

Baked goods and drinks that contain coconut milk may still contain other dairy products, so if you’re trying to avoid dairy, read the label carefully.

split coconut filled with shredded coconut on table

Final Thoughts

Coconuts don’t contain milk, but coconut flesh can be blended with water to create a product known as coconut milk.

Coconut milk is both dairy free and vegan-friendly.

About the Author

Kelly Donovan is a freelance writer. She enjoys helping people reach their wellness goals by educating them about how food plays a role in their health.