Does Coconut Milk Need To Be Refrigerated? (Quick Answer)

img of Does coconut milk require refrigeration Nomspedia (1)

Quick Answer: Absolutely, coconut milk needs to be refrigerated once you open it. This helps to keep it fresh and tasty for longer. If it’s still sealed in its can or carton, you can store it in your pantry just fine until you’re ready to use it. But once you crack it open, pop it in the fridge in an airtight container. If you’ve got any extra, you can even freeze it for later use. Just remember, if you’re not sure whether it’s still good, give it a quick check for any weird smells or colors. Stay safe and enjoy your coconut milk! 🥥🌴

Do you love coconut milk? I sure do! When I transitioned away from dairy milk a few years ago, I first tried almond milk. I was a little disappointed. Almond milk did not please my taste buds, and I was ready to give up. Then a vegan friend suggested coconut milk, and wow! I became addicted immediately.

Coconut milk has a creamy texture and subtle tropical flavor, with worldwide appeal. It has become a staple ingredient in many international cuisines. Used in curries, smoothies, or desserts, coconut milk adds a heavenly boost to your recipes.

But have you ever wondered if coconut milk needs refrigeration? In this post, we’ll examine the ideal storage for this trending product. We’ll answer the question: does coconut milk need refrigeration? Ready? Let’s roll up our sleeves and find out!

Quick Answer:

Yes, coconut milk needs refrigeration after opening. This helps preserve its freshness and extend its shelf life. But, there’s more to understand about storing coconut milk. Opened vs. unopened? Canned coconut milk vs. refrigerated cartons? We’re about to dig deeper, so keep reading to learn all the details.

The Basics of Coconut Milk: Composition and Production

How is coconut milk made anyway?

Is it just that liquid you find inside a freshly cracked coconut?

That’s what I thought for the longest time, but it turns out I was wrong!

Coconut milk is the final product made from grating the white meat of the coconut. It is then strained to extract the liquid. The resulting product is a thick and creamy liquid that can range in consistency from light to heavy.

Learn more: What Does Coconut Milk Taste Like?

img of Does Coconut Milk Need To Be Refrigerated?

Comparing Refrigerated Carton and Canned Coconut Milk: Key Differences

Is the coconut milk found in the dairy aisle the same as canned coconut milk? It may surprise you to learn there is a significant difference.

Refrigerated Coconut Milk: This diluted product contains added sweeteners or other ingredients like carrageenan for texture. It’s more like a coconut-flavored drink than pure coconut milk. It’s often used as a non-dairy alternative to milk in things like cereal, smoothies, and coffee.

Canned Coconut Milk: Canned coconut milk is generally thicker and richer. A blend of coconut cream and water, it has a higher percentage of coconut than its refrigerated counterpart. It’s unsweetened and has a strong coconut flavor. This makes it ideal for cooking savory dishes or for use in baking and desserts.

Refrigerated cartons of diluted coconut milk have an extended expiration date, often months away. That’s because it is not pure coconut milk. In this article, we’ll focus on canned coconut milk found in the non-refrigerated sections of grocery stores.

Pantry or Fridge? Storing Unopened vs Opened Coconut Milk Properly

Unopened Coconut Milk:

Do you have an unopened can or carton of coconut milk sitting in your pantry? You might be wondering if it’s shelf-stable. The good news is that coconut milk does not need refrigeration until after opening it. This is due to the manufacturing process which sterilizes the milk and helps preserve its freshness.

But, it’s important to check the label for specific instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some brands may recommend refrigerating unopened containers for extended shelf life or best flavor.


Once you open a can or carton of coconut milk, the story changes. An open can of coconut milk requires proper storage to maintain its taste and quality. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Refrigerate After Opening: To ensure the safety and best flavor of opened coconut milk, you should store it in the refrigerator. Coconut milk contains a high amount of fat. This makes it susceptible to spoilage if left at room temperature for too long.
  • Store in an Airtight Container: To prevent the coconut milk from absorbing odors and flavors from other foods, transfer it to an airtight container. This will help maintain its freshness and prevent cross-contamination.
  • Check for Signs of Spoilage: While refrigeration helps prolong the shelf life of coconut milk, it’s still important to watch for signs of spoilage. If you notice any unusual smell, color changes, or mold growth, it’s best to discard the coconut milk to avoid foodborne illness.

Extending Shelf Life: Tips for Freezing Coconut Milk

Are you not a daily user of coconut milk, but bought some for a recipe? It might be tempting to toss out the leftover milk, even though that would be a waste of money.

Stop, don’t toss it! There’s another option: Freezing. If you find yourself with leftover coconut milk that you won’t be using soon, freezing is a great choice to extend its shelf life. Here’s how:

  • Transfer to Freezer-Safe Containers: Pour the remaining coconut milk into freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays. Leave some headspace in the containers as liquids tend to expand when frozen.
  • Label and Date: It’s crucial to label each container with the date of freezing. This will help you keep track of its freshness and ensure you use it within a reasonable time frame.
  • Thawing and Usage; When you’re ready to use the frozen coconut milk, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight for gradual thawing. Once thawed, give it a good shake or stir before incorporating it into your recipes.

Learn more: Can You Freeze Coconut Milk?

Understanding the Shelf Life: Unopened, Opened, and Frozen Coconut Milk

The shelf life of coconut milk depends on the following variables: unopened, opened, or frozen:

  • Unopened Coconut Milk:When stored in a cool and dry pantry away from direct sunlight, unopened coconut milk has a long shelf life. You may use it anywhere from six months to one year past its expiration date.
  • Opened Coconut Milk: Once opened and refrigerated, coconut milk typically stays fresh for about 4 to 7 days. But it’s always best to rely on your senses. Perform the necessary checks for signs of spoilage before consuming.
  • Frozen Coconut Milk: When stored in the freezer, coconut milk can retain its quality for up to six months. Yet, for the best flavor and texture, try to use it within three months.

Learn more: Does Coconut Milk Go Bad?

Versatile Uses of Coconut Milk in Cooking, Baking, and Beverages

Coconut milk can spruce up all sorts of recipes!

  • In Cooking:Coconut milk is a key ingredient in many Asian curries, lending a velvety consistency and a hint of sweetness. You can also use it in soups, stews, and sauces. Coconut milk adds a creamy, rich flavor profile that balances spiciness or acidity.
  • In Baking:You can substitute coconut milk for dairy milk in cakes, muffins, and bread recipes. This will add a tasty twist to your baked goods.
  • In Beverages:You can mix coconut milk in your morning coffee or smoothie for a dairy-free, exotic boost. It’s also a key component in some cocktails, like Pina Coladas.
  • In Desserts: From ice creams to custards, coconut milk lends a creamy texture and tropical sweetness to desserts.
img of Does coconut milk require refrigeration?

Wrapping Up: Key Takeaways on Coconut Milk Storage

Are you still with me? Great! I think we’ve covered it all! Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The refrigerated cartons of coconut milk in the dairy section of stores are not 100% coconut milk.
  • Coconut milk does not need refrigeration until after you’ve opened it.
  • Once opened, you should store coconut milk in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • Aim to use opened, refrigerated coconut milk within one week.
  • Freezing is also an option if you have leftover coconut milk.

By following these guidelines and keeping an eye out for any signs of spoilage, you can enjoy coconut milk while ensuring food safety. 

If you haven’t already tried coconut milk, you’re missing out! Why not give it a whirl?

We hope this article has answered your questions about coconut milk storage. If we’ve missed anything, please let us know! Add your comments or questions in the space below. Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Scroll to Top