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15 Canned Coconut Milk Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

Stacked coconut milk cans
Stacked coconut milk cans - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

There's a lot to love about coconut milk. The indulgent ingredient has long been a staple of Southeast Asian and Caribbean cuisines. But it has also been enjoying a recent surge in popularity as a delightful dairy alternative, especially for those with allergies to nuts or grains. And thanks to the shelf-stable canned variety, coconut milk is widely available for the culinarily curious.

So what makes coconut milk such a great substitute for dairy? Coconut milk is actually made from the pulverized and strained meat of mature, brown coconuts, resulting in a thicker and richer beverage than celeb-favorite coconut water -- a form of hydration harvested from young, green coconuts. The creamy liquid lends its nutty goodness to a variety of sweet and savory culinary creations developed in coconut-rich ecosystems around the globe, from Thai curries, Malaysian laksa, and Indonesian rendang to Trinidadian coconut bake and Samoan pani popo.

From its creamy consistency to its tropical tinge, canned coconut milk is the versatile supporting character you should always have in your pantry. To help you stock up on quality ingredients, we judged as many full-fat, unsweetened varieties as we could find on factors like flavor, texture — coconut milk is prone to the unsightly separation of fat and water — and color. We bring you a well-vetted list of the best canned coconut milk brands to add to your culinary repertoire, ranked worst to best.

Prices are as of the date of publication and may vary based on region.

Read more: 31 Popular Coffee Brands, Ranked

15. Grace

Grace coconut milk can
Grace coconut milk can - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Jamaica-based GraceKennedy has been canning coconut milk for the better part of its over 100-year history, but this particular can missed the mark. The coconut cream and water remained separated, even after a predetermined 30 seconds of vigorous shaking. After stirring the mixture with a spoon, the coconut milk finally came together, resembling the desired consistency of whole milk.

The liquid was pure white and creamy, a point for which Grace received full marks. I enjoyed a brief whiff of coconut before sipping the final product, though the flavor left something to be desired. Despite its creamy consistency, the coconut milk felt thin and tasted fairly bland. Without the signature nuttiness I was craving, the beverage really could have been mistaken for cashew or oat milk — not a bad thing if you're looking for a flavor-neutral dairy alternative, but not what I was searching for in a prime coconut milk.

14. Goya

Goya coconut milk can
Goya coconut milk can - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

One of the premier producers of Latin American foodstuffs in the United States, Goya is no stranger to the canned coconut milk game. The New Jersey-based company has been canning its low-preservative coconut milk for decadesand it remains one of the more affordable options on the grocery store shelf at just over $2 per can.

Following its 30-second shake-up, the coconut milk emerged from the can smooth and thick — think half-and-half consistency. There was a definite coconut scent but also a slightly sour note that didn't bode well for the taste test. The milk tasted a little bitter, almost as if this can was sitting on the shelf too long and went bad. While it's certainly endearing that Goya doesn't add many preservatives to its canned coconut milk (using only one, potassium metabisulfite, with no other additives like thickeners), it may be to the company's detriment, especially if it isn't able to control how long cans are left on store shelves. While this particular can was disappointing, the consistency of Goya's canned coconut milk was enough to keep it hovering above the bottom of the rankings.

13. 365 By Whole Foods Market

365 Whole Foods coconut milk
365 Whole Foods coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Whole Foods' 365 store brand is typically a safe bet when searching out shelf-stable goods like canned coconut milk. The organic pantry item retails for a fairly wallet-friendly $2.30 or so per can — not bad considering the average price of organic goods these days.

After the obligatory shaking period, the 365 organic coconut milk still hadn't emulsified. There were visible chunks in the beverage, which left the remaining liquid thin and unpleasantly cloudy-looking. A few stirs with a spoon remedied the situation and left the coconut milk at a much more appealing whole milk consistency. A lack of a coconut scent meant that the final product also missed the mark on coconut flavor, leaving me confused but not entirely disappointed. This canned option from Whole Foods would make a great substitution for whole milk in a dairy-free or vegan recipe, though it definitely won't provide that tropical tinge you're probably craving from classic coconut milk recipes.

12. Native Forest

Native Forest coconut milk
Native Forest coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

As its name suggests, Native Forest organic unsweetened coconut milk is harvested from fair-trade organic palm groves in Thailand and Sri Lanka. It's then transformed into a luscious grocery store staple by environmentally minded producer Edward & Sons Trading Company. BPA-free cans and a noticeable absence of artificial thickeners from the ingredient list are among the other pleasant byproducts of the company's wellness ethos.

When it came to testing Native Forest's canned coconut milk, I had a hard time getting the mixture to emulsify. I ended up needing to stir the mixture with a spoon, which left a few chunks floating in the thin liquid. A strong coconut scent left little doubt as to the quality of the fruit used to make this canned milk, though the leftover chunks got in the way of my ability to truly taste the final product. Giving the beverage a good pulse in a food processor would likely remedy this mixture as a solid choice for coconut milk-based recipes. But its poor performance within the bounds of the testing criteria left Native Forest on the low end of the rankings.

11. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's coconut milk
Trader Joe's coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

As a fan of all (well, most) things Trader Joe's, I really wanted to love the brand's organic canned coconut milk. But sadly, it didn't live up to my expectations. As with several other brands at the bottom of these rankings, Trader Joe's organic canned coconut milk failed to emulsify after the standard 30-second shake. Unlike the other cans, though, this particular coconut concoction didn't even come together after stirring — I even whipped out a whisk for this one. I'm not sure if this was just a bad can, but the milk's inability to emulsify without the use of a machine was disappointing.

On the flavor front, things were more to the Trader Joe's standard. Once I was able to begrudgingly get past the unfavorable texture of the chunky coconut milk, the flavor was surprisingly pleasant: Toasty, nutty, and a touch tropical. The mixture smelled like sunscreen in a nostalgic rather than artificial way. And thanks to its budget-friendly price point of less than $2 per can, I'd be willing to give Trader Joe's a second chance. However, this particular experience left the brand towards the bottom of the list.

10. Imperial Dragon

Imperial Dragon coconut milk
Imperial Dragon coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

I'll admit that my arm was getting tired after shaking seemingly endless cans of coconut milk. But to find yet another product that didn't emulsify after shaking by hand was pretty frustrating — trust me, there are plenty of canned coconut milks that blend up just fine when shaken. After the now-standard spoon stir, the resulting mixture resembled a very thick heavy cream. While you'd definitely want to reach for canned coconut milk over the carton if you're looking for richness, the heavy cream consistency of Imperial Dragon was a bit too indulgent for my taste.

On the flavor front, the beverage gave off a fairly strong coconut aroma, with a tropical kick on the palate to back it up. Between its overpowering coconut flavor and uber-rich consistency, Imperial Dragon might not be best suited to everyday coconut milk applications. However, it would work well in no-bake desserts like coconut cream pie or in recipes that call for coconut cream, such as the iconic tropical tipple, the piña colada.

9. Thai Kitchen

Thai Kitchen coconut milk
Thai Kitchen coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

One of the most common brands lining grocery store shelves, Thai Kitchen is food giant McCormick's entry in the canned coconut milk game. A clean label and eye-catching can made for a strong start — as did the fact that the mixture actually blended together with just 30 seconds of manual shaking. The cream portion of the milk mixture was a touch thick, so the half-and-half-like beverage wasn't entirely smooth, though an extra 10 or 15 seconds of shaking could probably have remedied the situation.

There was very little scent (if any) wafting off the milk, which explained the initial lack of flavor when the drink hit my tongue. As it turns out, Thai Kitchen's strength lies in its subtlety. As the milk coats your mouth, the taste builds on your tastebuds, starting with a lingering aftertaste that grows stronger the more you drink. While the sensation is enticing, it may not translate into culinary applications that call for a more straightforward coconut flavor. Plus, I really couldn't get past those (admittedly minimal) coconutty chunks.

8. Kroger

Kroger coconut milk can
Kroger coconut milk can - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Simple and practical, Kroger's premium canned coconut milk ticks all the weeknight meal prep boxes. The mixture didn't take much coaxing to blend together during 30 seconds of shaking, though there were a few remaining lumps left over. The coconut milk was very thick, resembling the consistency of heavy cream rather than whole milk, though that's not necessarily a bad thing when whipping up a homemade curry or soup.

The beverage gave off an almost sweet scent, prompting me to double-check that I did, in fact, purchase unsweetened coconut milk — spoiler alert, I did. Luckily, the liquid didn't taste particularly sweet but rather almost like toasted coconut. The overall effect of a sweet smell and nutty taste left me craving macaroons, meaning that this can is probably best suited to sweeter applications like coconut-flavored desserts and after-dinner cocktails. While it certainly came out on top in the way of taste, a surprisingly high price point for a store-brand canned coconut milk (more than $2.50 per can) kept this entry from ranking higher.

7. Simple Truth

Simple Truth coconut milk
Simple Truth coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Among the most affordable options for organic groceries are the products sold under Kroger's Simple Truth label, including organic coconut milk at around $2 per can. Unfortunately, like so many before them, Simple Truth's canned coconut milk also failed to emulsify with manual stimulation -- though not quite to the degree of some other brands. The resulting mixture resembled half-and-half with a few solid chunks that could probably be whisked out in a separate bowl, if you so choose.

On the flavor front, everything came up coconuts. Simple Truth's organic canned coconut milk gave off the kind of light coconut scent you'd expect to find wafting from a tropical beachside cabana with a breezy flavor to match. Nutty and toasty notes add a rich depth of flavor that would make this creamy beverage a prime pairing with your morning cup of coffee or as a dairy alternative in French toast.

6. A Taste Of Thai

A Taste of Thai can
A Taste of Thai can - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

A noticeable difference between A Taste of Thai's unsweetened canned coconut milk and other brands is the presence of the words "first pressing" on the label. When coconut milk is made, the meat is scraped from the coconut, soaked in a little bit of hot water, and then strained to produce rich, thick coconut milk — aka the first press. In order to avoid food waste, many coconut milk makers will resoak the used pulp in more hot water and strain it a second time (or, second press) for a lighter liquid often used in curries. All canned coconut milk is technically first press, but A Taste of Thai's designation on the can just points to its authenticity.

All that to say, A Taste of Thai's canned coconut milk was by far the thickest. While the mixture did emulsify into a smooth beverage, the resulting liquid was roughly the consistency of lightly whipped cream (think soft peaks), rendering it too thick for some recipes. The milk was surprisingly light on the tongue for how thick it appeared. This luscious texture married with a light coconut scent and toasted flavor made the sip truly refreshing. But its ultra-thick texture would probably make it better suited to dessert recipes.

5. Great Value

Great Value coconut milk
Great Value coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Shaken and not stirred, Walmart's Great Value coconut milk hits all the textural high notes of coconut milk, with a wallet-pleasing price point (just over $1.50 per can) to match. The mixture came together with minimal coaxing, producing a thin and smooth liquid akin to whole milk and devoid of chunks.

Unfortunately, with a cheaper price point often comes a sacrifice in quality. Great Value's canned coconut milk had the longest ingredient list of the bunch, with coconut extract in the No. 1 spot. The difference was palatable — on the flavor front, the beverage had a very strong, almost sunscreen-like (read: artificial) coconut taste. Some nuttiness in the background balanced out the artificial nature of the drink and saved this coconut milk from falling too far in the rankings. A macaroon-like flavor — thanks to the aforementioned nuttiness — and a thin yet creamy texture lends itself well to richly spiced curries or as a creamy upgrade to vegetable dishes.

4. Caribbean Dreams

Caribbean Dreams coconut milk
Caribbean Dreams coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Jamaica-based producer Caribbean Dreams seems to know a thing or two about making mouthwatering pantry staples. The family-owned company offers up a wide range of shelf-stable products with a tropical twist. This includes canned coconut milk that can be found on Amazon and in grocery stores throughout the Southeast U.S. and Canada.

After the now-standard 30-second shaking session, the indulgent beverage emulsified like, well, a dream, producing a smooth white liquid akin to half-and-half. It gave off a distinct coconut aroma with a hint of sweetness that made my mouth water. Coconut was the predominant flavor, with nutty undertones that rounded out the smooth sip. Overall, Caribbean Dreams is a well-balanced canned coconut milk with a distinct coconut flavor and an enjoyable texture. It is on the thick side for use in savory applications but would make a great addition to dairy-free ice cream recipes or other vegan desserts.

3. Good & Gather

Good & Gather coconut milk
Good & Gather coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Organic coconut milk may not be top of mind during your next Target run, but Good & Gather's canned version definitely deserves your attention. The store-branded canned coconut milk sits in an unassuming blue can amongst a selection of flavorful Asian-inspired sauces and could be easily overlooked. If you do happen to spot it, grab it.

Rich, thick, and perfectly smooth, Good & Gather's organic canned coconut milk is a hidden gem. Once shaken and poured, the mixture hits a happy medium between whole milk and half-and-half consistency, with nary a lump of misplaced coconut cream in sight. The fragrant toasted coconut scent that wafted off the beverage was reminiscent of a fresh coconut cake, which might be why the drink tasted almost sweet. Nuttiness was the dominant note, offering a nice change from the predictably coconut-forward sips tried thus far. The slight sweetness, while pleasant on its own, might make this can a less favorable choice for soups and stews -- but a secret weapon in the realm of sweet treats.

2. Coco López

Coco López coconut milk
Coco López coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Most commonly recognized as a provider of premium piña colada ingredients, Coco López is no one-trick pony. The Puerto Rico-based company was built on the back of Caribbean coconuts nearly 60 years ago, and the brand returns the favor by continuously producing quality coconut cream, coconut water, and, of course, canned coconut milk. A quick shake-up yielded a silky-smooth, pure white liquid with a faint coconut scent. The flavor wasn't overpowering, rather presenting a neutral base with a hint of coconut that would work well in a wide variety of recipes without drowning the other ingredients in a coconut-heavy slurry.

The reason why Coco López's canned coconut milk hovers in second place is the ingredient list. In addition to coconut and water, the blend contains three additional ingredients: two stabilizers and an emulsifier called polysorbate 60. The latter is used to keep the fat from separating, which explains the beverage's super-smooth consistency. While polysorbate 60 isn't officially linked to any major health concerns, some may prefer to avoid this brand of coconut milk and opt instead for a brand with fewer ingredients.

1. Sprouts

Sprouts coconut milk can
Sprouts coconut milk can - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

Available in organic and conventional varieties, Sprouts' canned coconut milk scored perfect marks across the board for its smooth pour and subtle coconut flavor. When selecting the best canned coconut milk to stir into homemade curries and soups, the texture is just as important as the flavor, and that's where this store-brand offering shines. The silky smooth beverage poured just like whole milk and might even be mistaken as such if not for its toasted coconut aroma. A macaroon-like flavor accompanied the toasty scent, with an extra creamy mouthfeel that belied the milk's thinner pouring consistency.

Thanks to its smooth texture and luscious mouthfeel, Sprouts' canned coconut milk is an ideal dairy-free accompaniment to coffee or tea, though we can certainly get more creative than that. One of the top tips for cooking with coconut milk is to pair it with seafood. Creamy fish dishes can be iffy when dealing with dairy, but canned coconut milk adds a rich creaminess that doesn't taste too heavy and blends well with herbaceous flavors, like lemongrass, often found in Southeast Asian cooking.

Methodology

Cup open can coconut milk
Cup open can coconut milk - Sarah Bisacca/Tasting Table

When it comes to choosing the best brand of canned coconut milk, it all comes down to the three C's: color, consistency, and craveability. Not only should coconut milk look good and add indulgent creaminess to your coffee, smoothie, or soup, but it should also bring a nice note of coconutty flavor, too.

To keep things consistent, only full-fat, unsweetened varieties of canned coconut milk were considered. They were tested and ranked by simply shaking them up for 30 seconds each — you should always shake coconut milk because it's prone to separating — and then pouring a glass to examine their visual appeal (is it pure white or cloudy?), texture (is it creamy? Watery? Smooth? Lumpy?), and finally flavor (does it taste like coconut without overpowering the palate?).

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. This Atlanta-based writer rounded up every can of coconut milk I could find within driving distance, though other varieties may be available at your neighborhood grocery store. Consider this ranking a starting point for your coconut milk adventures.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.