Whether you’re vegan, following the Whole30, lactose intolerant, or just looking for new ingredients to experiment with, there’s a good chance that coconut milk has crossed your mind. While it used to get a bad rap for its high saturated fat content, recent studies assure us that the plant-based lipids in coconut milk aren’t so harmful to your heart after all—in fact, they may even help raise your good cholesterol levels. Pair that good news with the fact that it’s freakin’ delicious, versatile, and more readily available than ever, and there are plenty of reasons to incorporate more of it into your meals. Here are 24 ways, from breakfast to dessert.
1. Easy Coconut Milk Oatmeal With Fruits
Coconut makes its way into this oatmeal-quinoa concoction in the form of milk, flakes, and sugar. Topped with berries and bananas, it’s perfect when you need a tropical vacation (in a bowl).
2. Cherry Coconut Chia Pudding Parfaits
Many chia puddings are made with almond milk, but this one goes for the coconutty stuff to give breakfast a bit more of those healthy fats. Layered with a lightly sweetened, super-easy cherry compote, it makes for a delicious, pretty-as-a-picture parfait.
3. Savory Bacon and Potato Pancakes
Bacon, eggs, and potatoes in pancake form? Sign us up. A cup and a half of coconut milk helps keep these flourless flapjacks fluffy, rich, and free of dairy.
4. Overnight Oats in Coconut Milk
Overnight oats may just be the most convenient breakfast ever. Soak the whole grains in a simple blend of coconut milk, vanilla, and honey, then add fruit and pistachios the next morning for some more fiber and fat.
5. Chocolate Chip Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa
Cooked in coconut milk instead of water, this quinoa is incredibly filling. Use blueberries to provide a juicy contrast to the warm bowl and throw in some chocolate chips… well, just because.
6. Seared Salmon Pasta With Coconut Milk Chili Sauce
If you’re looking for something new to do with pasta, this recipe is an easy and healthy way to switch up your spaghetti game. Take a break from the Italian flavors and use coconut milk, Sriracha, and crushed peanuts to give the salmon and linguine some Thai-inspired touches.
7. Vegan Turmeric and Coconut Milk Vegetable Bowl
Turmeric is becoming increasingly popular in the healthy food world thanks to its high content of the antioxidant curcumin and its anti-inflammatory benefits. Add a teaspoon to the coconut milk in this recipe for an especially fragrant, veggie-packed stew.
8. Curried Pork Bowls
Cooked with vegetables in a coconut milk sauce made even richer with heart-healthy almond butter, this hearty yet carb-lite meal won’t leave you uncomfortably full.
9. Coconut Marinated Grilled Chicken
Chicken thighs are known to be juicier than breast meat thanks to their higher fat content. But soaked overnight in a bath of spiced coconut milk before getting thrown on the grill, they become even tastier.
10. 15-Minute Coconut Green Pasta
Throw this recipe together in less time than it would take for you to order in. Use a blender to whip coconut milk and spinach into a sauce that coats the spaghetti. Hidden veggies, a ton of protein, and gluten-free—you couldn’t ask for more in a healthy dinner!
11. Creamy Coconut Asparagus Risotto
Risottos often rely on heavy cream to get that velvety consistency, but this recipe opts for coconut milk for a smooth texture that won’t do a number on your cholesterol. It may take some time to make, but the end product is well worth the stirring—save it for date night or a fun weekend meal.
12. Baked Coconut-Crusted Tofu With Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
Soak thick slabs of tofu in a marinade that swaps coconut milk for plain cow’s milk, then coat them in a wheat bran and coconut crust. Baked until crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, these golden cutlets make the perfect meat-free meal.
13. Coconut Pineapple Shrimp Skewers
Fiery tabasco, mild coconut milk, and fruit juices team up to make these shrimp and pineapple kebabs sweet, savory, and spicy. Serve them with a salad for a light meal or alongside some rice if you’re looking for something more filling.
14. Avocado Chicken Corn Chowder
With four avocados, an entire can of coconut milk, and plenty of protein from the chicken meat, you won’t miss dairy one bit in this chowder. With so much going on in each serving, a little goes a long way as a side—or you could just make it your main.
15. Roasted Root Vegetables
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness. Make them even sweeter—and a lot more special—by throwing in some macadamia nuts and a can of coconut milk. Not only will the additions jazz up the pan of produce, but they’ll also provide a ton of healthy fat to make it a super-satisfying side.
16. Caramelized Cauliflower and Coconut Soup
In just an hour—half of which is hands-off baking time—turn five individual ingredients into one incredible vegan soup. Leave some of the cauliflower florets intact for a bit of texture or puree them entirely; either way, the soup will be silky and rich thanks to the coconut milk.
17. Greek Scalloped Potato Gratin
These scalloped potatoes are nowhere close to the gloppy spuds you find in most traditional versions of the dish. Coconut milk provides the creaminess, tangy kalamata olives brighten things up, and kale adds some much-needed color and superfood power.
18. Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice
Why serve plain rice when you can make this in the same amount of time with just three extra ingredients? Simply cooking the grains in coconut milk along with water makes a world of difference in taste. This may be a side, but it could become the the star of your meal.
19. Strawberry Vanilla Bean Raw Vegan Cheesecake
Even if you aren’t vegan or avoiding dairy, this no-bake cheesecake needs to be a part of your life. The coconut milk and cashew combination is surprisingly good at mimicking the consistency of regular cheesecake while providing much more fiber. Your taste buds and your stomach will be more than satisfied.
20. Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding
Chia pudding is usually boxed into the breakfast category, but half a cup of cocoa powder and two cups of coconut milk lend a dessert-appropriate air of indulgence (but also, extra antioxidants!) to this one. Chocoholics, go nuts.
21. No-Churn Vegan Mango Ice Cream
This blogger has the genius idea of freezing coconut milk and mango puree in muffin tins for automatic portion control. When an ice cream craving hits, just drop a few muffin tins’ worth into a food processor (no ice cream machine needed) and blend until the mixture is as smooth or chunky as you like.
22. Make-Ahead Dairy-Free Rice Pudding
Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, kissed with honey, and infused with vanilla, this rice pudding is as comforting as it gets. Coconut milk does double duty here as a thickening agent and flavor booster.
23. Chocolate Pistachio Mousse
In five minutes, transform three ingredients into one light and chocolaty mousse. Topped with chopped pistachios for a crunchy contrast, this one’s easy enough to make as an impromptu dessert but impressive enough to serve to friends.
24. Chili Chocolate Truffles
Date balls can be a fantastic healthy substitute for truffles, but sometimes you just need real chocolate. These fudgy morsels use a cup of the dark variety along with a touch of chili powder for the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth bites.