Coconut Milk: Brands to Choose, Brands to Avoid

If you’re a coconut milk fan, you’ll definitely want to read on!

Coconut milk isn’t just for pina coladas and Thai curries anymore but has become one of the most popular alternatives to cow’s milk.

Especially since it has been fully embraced by those on the Paleo diet who love everything coconut including coconut oil and coconut water.

However, there are so many brands in our grocery stores that it can be hard to choose a brand/variety that is healthy.

Here’s some help!

Carton Coconut Milk

Silk Unsweetened Coconut Milk

silk coconut milk unsweetenedSilk is one of the most popular and the best variety to choose is the unsweetened.

  • Unsweetened has 45 calories, < 1 gram of sugar, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein per one cup serving.
  • Original has 80 calories, 7 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein per one cup serving.
  • Vanilla has 90 calories, 9 grams of sugar, 5 grams fat, and 0 grams of protein per one cup serving.

Coconutmilk (Filtered Water, Coconut Cream), Contains 2% or less of: Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2), Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Sunflower Lecithin, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum.

Learn more at Silk.com

So Delicious

Healthy Choice
so delicious unsweetened coconut milkThe unsweetened is the best variety of the So Delicious Brand of coconut milk.

  • Unsweetened has 45 calories, < 1 gram of sugar, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, and 0 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Original has 70 calories, 7 grams of sugar, 4.5 grams of fat, < 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber per serving.
  • Vanilla has 80 calories, 8 grams of sugar, 4.5 grams of fat, <1 gram of protein and 0 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Chocolate has 90 calories, 15 grams of sugar, 2.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, and <1 gram of fiber per serving.

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk (water, organic coconut Cream), calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, selenium, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D2, zinc oxide, vitamin B12, sea salt, organic sunflower lecithin, organic locust bean gum, gellan gum.

Learn more at SoDeliciousDairyFree.com

Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk Beverage

TJ's Unsweetened coconut beverage
Unsweetened Original is the way to go at Trader Joe’s.

  • Unsweetened Original has 50 calories, 5 grams of fat,
  • Vanilla has 90 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein per 1 cup serving.

Ingredients: organic coconut base (water, organic coconut cream), calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, guar gum, xanthan gum, vitamin a acetate, vitamin d2, l-selenomethionine (selenium), zinc oxide, folic acid, vitamin b12.

Questionable Ingredient(s)? Carrageenan

Coconut Dream

coconut dream unsweetenedEnriched Unsweetened is the way to go with Coconut Dream Coconut Drink.

  • Unsweetened has 60 calories, 5 grams of fat, < 1 gram of sugar, and 0 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.
  • Original has 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.
  • Vanilla has 90 calories, 5 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.

Ingredients: filtered water, coconut cream, tricalcium phosphate, carrageenan, gellan gum, sea salt, natural flavors, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamine).

Questionable Ingredient(s)? Carrageenan

To learn more visit www.dreamplantbased.com.

What about Vitamin A Palmitate?

This ingredient is essentially a way to supplement vitamin A and is generally considered safe. UNLESS you already consume adequate vitamin A in your diet. (People who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables are probably getting an adequate supply.)

Vitamin A can build up in the body to toxic levels (especially synthetic forms like Vitamin A Palmitate), which can damage the liver and other organs. You may wish to avoid products with added vitamin A if you already eat a healthy diet or take a multivitamin supplement.

Canned Coconut Milk

Canned coconut milk varieties abound and the single most important thing to watch out for is BPA lined cans.

Also, canned coconut milk isn’t usually fortified with vitamins and minerals since it’s not made to mimic cow’s milk like the carton varieties are.

The milks are for use in cooking, and a closer inspection of “light” versus “normal” shows that Light versions have more water content, and less coconut content. Depending on the price paid, buying a light version can be uneconomic — more water can be added during cooking (depending on what you are making).

Trader Joe’s Canned Coconut Milk

Healthy Choice
canned trader joesTrader Joe’s organic canned coconut milk is the brand to choose.

  • Reduced Fat has 70 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein in a 1/4 cup serving.
  • Organic has 110 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein per 1/4 cup serving.
  • TJ’s Coconut Cream has 90 calories, 9 grams of fat, <1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein per 2 tablespoons serving

Ingredients: Organic Coconut and water in a BPA-free can

Questionable Ingredient(s)? None.

Native Forest Organic

Healthy Choice
Choose the SIMPLE organic coconut milk.

There is also Light and Classic (both of which contain Guar Gum).

  • Light has per 1/4 cup serving has 45 calories, 4 grams of fat, <1 gram of sugar, and <1 gram of protein.
  • Classic has per 1/3 cup serving has 140 calories, 15 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk (organic coconut, purified water). BPA Free.

Questionable Ingredient(s)? None.

Learn more at Edwardandsons.com.

Available at Amazon.

Thai Kitchen

thai kitchen coconut milk

  • Lite has 50 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein per 1/3 cup serving.
  • Regular has 120 calories, 12 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar and <1 gram of protein per 1/3 cup serving.

Ingredients: Water, coconut milk, Guar gum

Questionable Ingredient(s)? BPA lined cans

Natural Value

Healthy Choice
natural value coconut milk cannedNatural Value is free of any emulsifiers.

  • Lite has 92 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber per 1/2 cup serving.
  • Natural’s regular has 200 calories, 18 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber per 1/2 cup serving.

Lite’s Ingredients: Coconut extract and water in a BPA-free can

Questionable Ingredient(s)? None.

Chaokoh Coconut Milk

chaokoh canned coconutThis brand is not recommended because of the preservative used.

Chaokoh has 150 calories, 14 grams of fat, < 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein per 1/3 cup serving.

Ingredients: Coconut extract, water, citric acid, and sodium metabisulfite

Questionable Ingredient(s)? Sodium Metabisulfite and BPA line cans

Goya Coconut Milk

goya-canned coconut milkThis brand is not recommended because of the preservative used.

Goya has 93 calories, 9 grams of fat, < 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein per 2 fl oz serving.

Ingredients: Coconut extract, water, citric acid, and sodium metabisulfite

Questionable Ingredient(s)? Sodium Metabisulfite and BPA line cans


Useful Fact: Did you know that coconut milk is the only cow’s milk alternative that works great for use in cooked “Jello” type puddings?

Store Brands?

There are many store brands as well as less popular brands of both the carton and canned varieties of coconut milk, so use the following guidelines when choosing one of these brands.

  • Choose brands with no added sugar.
  • Choose brands without carrageenan.
  • Choose brands made with organic coconut when possible.
  • Avoid brands with BPA lined cans.
  • Avoid brands that use preservatives like sulfites.
  • Be wary of vitamin A palmitate based on your total vitamin A intake.

Final Thoughts

Coconut milk can be a healthy cow’s milk alternative for people who don’t like almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk. Also, coconut milk seems to do a better job of whitening coffee or tea than the others but with slight coconut flavor.

It’s also a great way to add flavor and good fats to recipes.

Just use the above guidance to choose the brand that will be the healthiest for you and your family.

Which brand of coconut milk do you like the best?

Be sure to check out our almond milk and our rice milk comparisons as well.
Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and is our lead macro coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see our personal coaching options.

137 Comments

  1. Cindy 1 week ago

    Thank you for this. One thing I also consider when buying Coconut milk, besides making sure it doesn’t have Carageenan, is the sodium content.
    Also, if you are frothing your own “milk” for fancy drinks at home, the alternative milks won’t froth, unless they have “gellan” added. I was happy to see that Organic So Delicious has gellan added, which will help it foam.

    Reply
  2. ~*Char*~ 4 weeks ago

    A very informative and thourogh discussion. I am a new “Keto-nian” and am seeking all information behind health benefits of the ingredients needed for my dishes. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Debby Quashen 3 months ago

    What about an ingredient in Silk unsweetened coconut, which I never saw until I picked it up while shopping- Dipotassium phosphate?

    Reply
  4. Jul 3 months ago

    Is canned trader Joe’s ( and a couple other canned ones u. Listed) the only c milk without all the gums? I jst found the Ralph’s brand ive bought has carrageen in it si im going to toss it. I can’t have the nut milks. Rice milk has too many carbs…what are my choices for a cup of coffee and in my blender green drink?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 3 months ago

      There are other brands, just look at the label before you buy. Look for organic brands and Ralphs, Vons etc. they may be free from thickeners.

      Reply
  5. Linda 3 months ago

    What is “Natural Flavor” in Sumatra brand coconut milk?

    Reply
    • James 3 months ago

      “Natural Flavor” is ambiguous. From the FDA: “flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional”.

      No other words… it could just about be anything.

      Reply
  6. Kath 4 months ago

    So much emotion in this discussion, so little facts.

    Using animals to do work is not inherently exploitative. I pray to god that you don’t have pets

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/19/448960760/monkeys-pick-coconuts-in-thailand-are-they-abused-or-working-animals

    Reply
  7. kathi 4 months ago

    Missing some questionable ingredients in this analysis!!!

    The only reason to add zinc oxide or magnesium oxide to products is to give it a bright white appearance. I can taste it, and it tastes awful.

    This includes boxed products So Delicious and Trader Joe Coconut milk

    Reply
  8. Delia 4 months ago

    Some of you know that it is “Nova Gum SD”. Thank you

    Reply
  9. Michelle 5 months ago

    No one mentioned MW Polar Premium canned Coconut Milk. I used to buy it at Big Lots, but it is out of stock mostly. Anyone know of other stores? Websites show Amazon or Ebay, but I prefer to buy in-store. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Annabelle 5 months ago

    I love Real Coco Original Organic Coconut Milk. It has 4 Graham’s of fiber. I’m having trouble finding it. I bought a case at Costco but can’t find it now.

    Reply
  11. Mary L 5 months ago

    is Califia Farms Coconut Milk with coconut water blend, no added sugar
    has 1 sugar ,45cals. very creamy , is this a good choice ?

    Reply
    • James 5 months ago

      Califia farms is a great choice. Carrageenan-free.

      Reply
      • kathi 4 months ago

        Agreed. It is the best tasting of all and has no sketchy ingredients

        Reply
  12. Greta 6 months ago

    What is your opinion on Gold Star canned coconut milk with only two ingredients. Water and coconut?

    Reply
    • Greta 6 months ago

      Golden Star sorry

      Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 6 months ago

      If it only has coconut and water and no preservatives, then it would be a good brand to choose.

      Reply
  13. Denise 7 months ago

    Why pay for someone else to put more water in your canned coconut milk? It is supposed to be creamy so I dont agree with your selection of “light” versions as the best. To me it makes not sense unless you have the mistaken idea that good fat makes you gain weight. I think you would find a lot of people who dont agree with you on that including myself.

    Reply
    • James 7 months ago

      You are correct regarding tinned coconut milks. I have revisited the article and corrected the recommendations. The criteria for canned coconut milk, is the ingredients, not the volume (or lack or) actual coconut cream.

      Reply
  14. Tom 9 months ago

    How do you know a brand WITH BPA lining?

    Reply
    • Ted Kallmyer 9 months ago

      Some brands that don’t use BPA linings are now stating this on the can so look for that.

      Reply
  15. Greta 9 months ago

    AROY-D 100 % coconut milk, nothing else added and tastes delicious!!

    Reply
    • Nuno 8 months ago

      they changed the recipe in july 2018 .. because they had some complains
      E435 now is included 🙁

      Reply
    • Jim 2 months ago

      Yes, creamiest of the “milks”, practically cream.

      Reply
  16. Roseychicka 11 months ago

    I started out w the So Delicious since I needed an alt for soy (Silk) – at least where I lived at the time, only one grocery store stocked only that brand as far as milk in cartons go. I’ve kept w it ever since, unless they are out, then I go to Silk, no Trader Joes near me or it may be different. I actually lost about 20 lbs when I stopped drinking soy – no other changes, so I’m VERY cautious of soy products, which doesn’t help my pescatarian family with “meaty” items! Used coconut water and oil far before I saw the milk, thankfully smaller regions are opening up more to organic/natural products nowadays!

    Reply
  17. H 11 months ago

    Coco soul organic coconut milk !!!!

    79% coconut milk!!!!!!

    Reply
  18. Ruth Burkett

    Golden Star is the best coconut milk and cost effective when in stock at Walmart. It sells out fast. No Guar gum, only coconut milk. Creamy and delicious.

    Reply
    • Greta 6 months ago

      This is what I am looking for. Walmart has stopped carrying it in my part of the country.

      Reply
  19. Thomas Little

    Love the silk 45

    Reply
  20. Cathy

    Hello all, I only have the full fat Canned coconut milk and was wondering if it is possible and how to go about making it low fat and not taste so much like coconut for the recipe I’m trying. Thanks for your advise.

    Reply