Is there sugar free coconut milk?

Coconut milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative in recent years. With its creamy texture and natural sweetness, coconut milk can be used in a variety of recipes from curries to smoothies. However, some people want to reduce their sugar intake and are looking for sugar-free versions of coconut milk. So, is there sugar-free coconut milk available?

What is coconut milk?

Coconut milk is made from the flesh of mature coconuts. The coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water to extract the flavorful coconut milk. The extracted coconut milk is then strained to remove any solid particles. Full-fat coconut milk contains about 5-7 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml, most of which comes from natural sugars found in coconuts.

Coconut milk is naturally sweet due to the sugar content of coconuts. An average mature coconut contains about 15-30 grams of total sugars. The main sugar found in coconuts is sucrose, which makes up about 70-80% of the total sugar content. Coconuts also contain small amounts of fructose and glucose.

Are there sugar-free varieties of coconut milk?

Yes, there are a few brands of coconut milk that are labeled as “no sugar added” or “unsweetened.” These varieties do not contain any added sugar. However, they still contain the naturally occurring sugars found in coconuts.

Here are some popular brands of no sugar added coconut milks:

  • Native Forest Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • Thai Kitchen Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
  • Natural Value Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk

These unsweetened varieties contain about 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml, coming from the natural sugar content of coconuts. They may also be labeled as “light” coconut milk since they are lower in calories and fat compared to full-fat coconut milk.

How is sugar-free coconut milk made?

Sugar-free or unsweetened coconut milk is made using a similar process as regular coconut milk. However, no sugar is added during or after production.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Coconuts are cracked open and the meat is removed.
  2. The coconut meat is grated into small pieces.
  3. The grated coconut is soaked in hot water and strained to extract the milk.
  4. The milk is filtered to remove any solids or sediments.
  5. No sweeteners or sugar are added during the entire process.
  6. The unsweetened milk is packaged and sold.

By not adding any sugar during or after extraction, the final product contains only naturally occurring sugars from the coconut and is considered “no sugar added” or “unsweetened.”

Does it taste different from regular coconut milk?

Yes, unsweetened coconut milk has a slightly different taste profile compared to full-fat sweetened varieties:

  • It has a more pronounced coconut flavor since there is no added sugar to mask the natural coconut taste.
  • The texture tends to be thinner and more watery.
  • It may taste slightly bitter or sour due to the lack of sweetness.
  • It has a less creamy mouthfeel.

People who are accustomed to sweeter coconut milk may find the unsweetened version to be an acquired taste. Adding your own sweetener to unsweetened coconut milk can help improve the flavor. Many recipes call for adding a pinch of salt to enhance the coconut flavor in sugar-free coconut milk.

Does it have fewer calories than regular coconut milk?

Yes, unsweetened coconut milk tends to be lower in calories compared to full-fat, sweetened coconut milk. Here is a calorie comparison:

Coconut milk type Calories per 100ml
Regular, full-fat 230 calories
Lite coconut milk 45 calories
Unsweetened coconut milk 35 calories

As you can see, unsweetened coconut milk contains significantly fewer calories than regular, sweetened coconut milk. This is because sugar is high in calories. By removing added sugars, the calorie content is lowered despite having the same amount of coconut-derived fats.

Is it suitable for keto and low-carb diets?

Yes, unsweetened coconut milk can fit into a ketogenic or low-carb diet:

  • It contains barely any carbohydrates or sugar.
  • There are no fillers like maltodextrin or thickeners like guar gum, which may contain hidden carbs.
  • It has medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) from coconut fat, which can promote ketone production.
  • It can be used to make keto-friendly recipes like smoothies, curries, chia pudding, etc.

When buying coconut milk for a low-carb diet, always check the label to ensure no unnecessary additives or sweeteners were added. The ingredients list should be short and contain only coconut and water.

Is it gluten-free and vegan?

Yes, most unsweetened coconut milk brands are gluten-free and vegan. Coconuts are naturally gluten-free. And since the milk contains no added ingredients apart from water, unsweetened varieties are usually vegan and gluten-free. However, always check the label to confirm.

Is coconut sugar the same as regular sugar?

No, coconut sugar is different from regular table sugar. Coconut sugar, sometimes labeled as coconut palm sugar, is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree flower buds. It has a caramel-like flavor and brown color.

Although coconut sugar contains some nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants, it is still high in calories like regular sugar. It has about 15 calories per teaspoon, same as white cane sugar. And it scores around 54 on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly it raises blood sugar. Table sugar scores around 65.

So while coconut sugar may be slightly healthier than regular refined sugar due to some mineral content, it can still spike blood sugar and provide empty calories if over-consumed. It does not have any real weight loss benefits compared to regular sugar.

What are some uses for sugar-free coconut milk?

Here are some ways to use unsweetened coconut milk:

  • Smoothies: Blend with fruits and greens for a dairy-free smoothie.
  • Chia pudding: Combine with chia seeds and cinnamon for a keto breakfast.
  • Curries: Use as the base for making Thai or Indian curries.
  • Baking: Replace some oil or butter in baking recipes.
  • Overnight oats: Soak oats in coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.
  • Coffee creamer: Add a splash to your morning coffee.

When swapping in unsweetened coconut milk, you may need to adjust other ingredients in the recipe slightly to account for the lack of sweetness. Adding your own low-carb sweetener can help improve the flavor.

Does coconut milk go bad?

Yes, like any perishable food, both canned and refrigerated coconut milk can go bad after a while. Here are some signs that your coconut milk has spoiled:

  • Sour, acidic smell
  • Curdled texture with separation
  • Mold visible on surface
  • Fizzing, fermented taste

Properly stored, unopened canned coconut milk generally stays fresh for 18-24 months. Once opened, pour the contents into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. Stir before use as the solids tend to separate.

Refrigerated coconut milk in tetrapaks can last for about a week past the expiry date if unopened. Once opened, use within 3-4 days.

Do not consume coconut milk if it smells rancid or curdled, even if within the expiry period. Always err on the side of caution.

Does it separate when canned?

Yes, it’s perfectly natural for canned coconut milk to separate into a more liquid bottom layer and a thicker cream top layer during storage. This is due to the different densities of water, fat, and sediment particles.

Here are some tips when using separated canned coconut milk:

  • Shake the can well before opening to remix the layers.
  • Scoop out the thick cream layer and use it for making whipped coconut cream.
  • Place the opened can in the fridge upside down for a few hours, then open from bottom and pour out liquid.
  • Use only the liquid for recipes where you want a thinner consistency.

Separation doesn’t indicate spoilage. The coconut milk is still perfectly safe to consume when shaken to recombine.

Is homemade coconut milk better?

Making your own coconut milk at home can have some advantages compared to store-bought varieties:

  • Can customize thickness and taste based on preferences.
  • Avoid preservatives, thickeners, and stabilizers used in packaged brands.
  • Use fresh coconuts for more coconut flavor.
  • Control sugar content by not adding any sweeteners.
  • Cheaper than buying prepared coconut milk.

However, homemade coconut milk doesn’t keep for very long and has to be made in small batches. Overall, unsweetened coconut milk sold in cans and tetrapaks offers convenience while still being preservative-free and sugar-free.


In summary, yes there are sugar-free varieties of coconut milk available for those looking to reduce sugar intake. Brands labeled as “unsweetened” or “no sugar added” contain only naturally occurring sugars from coconut and no added sweeteners.

Unsweetened coconut milk tends to be lower in calories but may have a slightly different flavor profile compared to regular coconut milk. It can be used as a dairy or nut-free option for smoothies, curries, chia puddings and more, especially for those on a keto, paleo or vegan diet.

Check the ingredient list when buying coconut milk to ensure no unnecessary sugars were added. Look for cans that only contain coconut extract and water. As with any food, unsweetened coconut milk can still go bad over time, so pay attention to expiration dates and signs of spoilage.

Making your own coconut milk at home allows full control over ingredients. But unsweetened canned versions offer a convenient option for those looking to reduce sugar without sacrificing the taste and benefits of coconut milk.

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