The Difference Between Coconut Milk and Coconut Water

The coconut fruit is used to make two well-known drinks: coconut milk and coconut water. Despite having the same name, the two drinks are different and have different nutritional profiles. Coconut water is the clear, hydrating juice found inside young, green coconuts, whereas coconut milk is a creamy, thick drink prepared from grated coconut meat.

Coconut juice,Drink coconut water

Being used similarly in dishes and beverages makes it difficult to distinguish between coconut water and coconut milk. They serve diverse purposes and have varied nutritional qualities. Due to its high fat and calorie content, coconut milk is a preferred component in soups and other creamy foods like curries. Contrarily, due to its high electrolyte content and low calorie and sugar content, coconut water is frequently marketed as a natural sports drink. We shall examine the distinctions between coconut milk and coconut water, as well as their nutritional profiles and applications in food preparation and beverages, in this post. We’ll also talk about some myths and queries people have about these two drinks.

Understanding Coconut Milk

Fresh coconut milk in glass bottle, vegan non dairy healthy drink

From the mature coconut’s flesh is extracted coconut milk, a creamy, white liquid. The Thai, Indian, and Caribbean cuisines all use it as a common component. Coconut meat and water are blended to make coconut milk, which is then strained to eliminate any particles. The end result is a thick, creamy liquid with a sweet, nutty flavor. The makeup of the macronutrients in coconut milk and coconut water is one of the primary distinctions between the two. Compared to coconut water, coconut milk contains more fat and fewer carbs. One cup of coconut milk has about 445 calories, 48 grams of fat, and 13 grams of carbs, according to Healthline.

Manganese, copper, and iron are just a few of the essential elements found in coconut milk. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a form of saturated fat that is digested differently from other fats, are also abundant in it. MCTs are a well-liked component in ketogenic and low-carb diets because they are quickly absorbed by the body and utilized for energy. Due to its moisturizing qualities, coconut milk is utilized in numerous beauty products in addition to its culinary applications. In place of conventional moisturizers, hair conditioners, and even makeup removers, it is frequently used as a natural substitute.

Understanding Coconut Water

A coconut splash in the a tropical forest

Coconut water might be a wonderful choice if you’re seeking for a cool, hydrating beverage. Inside young, green coconuts, there is a naturally occurring clear, fat-free juice. Due to its possible health benefits and distinctive flavor, coconut water has grown in popularity over the past several years.

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The following are some essential details concerning coconut water:

  • Nutrition: Coconut water is low in calories and sugar, but high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. It also contains electrolytes, which can help replenish fluids and minerals lost during exercise or hot weather.
  • Taste: Coconut water has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Some people find it refreshing and delicious, while others might not enjoy the taste as much.
  • Uses: Coconut water can be consumed on its own as a beverage, or used in smoothies, cocktails, and other recipes. It’s also a popular sports drink alternative due to its electrolyte content.
  • Availability: Coconut water can be found in most grocery stores and health food stores. It’s also available in tetra packs or cans for convenience.

In general, consumers looking for a hydrating and wholesome beverage can consider coconut water. It’s crucial to remember, though, that not all coconut water products are made equal. Check the label before purchasing a product to ensure there aren’t any unnecessary ingredients. Some manufacturers may add sugar or other additives.

Comparison of Coconut Milk and Water

Coconut fruit and milk splash inside it on a background of a palm tree.

Both coconut water and coconut milk are distinct liquids that are frequently consumed as a cooling beverage and utilized in cooking. There are significant differences between the two despite the fact that they both originate from the coconut fruit.

Nutritional Content

The nutritional value of coconut water and coconut milk varies. Coconut water has more carbs than coconut milk, which has more fat. Coconut water only has 46 calories per cup, compared to 552 calories in coconut milk. While coconut water is a rich source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, coconut milk is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally low in salt, coconut water functions well as an electrolyte replacement beverage.


The processing of coconut water and coconut milk varies. The coconut meat is mixed with water to make coconut milk, which is then strained to eliminate any particles. A creamy, rich liquid is produced as a result, which is frequently used in baking and cooking. On the other hand, coconut water is the crystal-clear liquid that is naturally present inside the coconut fruit. By making a hole in the coconut, it is removed, and the juice is then drained into a container.

Coconut water in the composition

Culinary Uses

Different recipes call for coconut water and coconut milk. To add richness and creaminess to curries, soups, and stews, coconut milk is frequently added. Desserts like coconut cream pie and coconut rice pudding also contain it. Coconut water is frequently ingested as a cooling beverage or used as a foundation for smoothies and mixed drinks. Additionally, it is employed in several culinary traditions as a liquid for cooking grains like rice.

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Common Misconceptions

coconut juice in glass with leaf on wooden board for drink.

There are a number of widely held myths about coconut milk and coconut water. Some of the most typical ones are listed below:

Misconception 1: Coconut milk and coconut water are the same thing

Despite the fact that they both come from coconuts, coconut water and milk are not the same. While coconut milk is created by blending coconut meat with water and then filtering out the particles, coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut. Since coconut milk is significantly creamier and thicker than coconut water, it is frequently substituted for dairy milk in recipes.

Misconception 2: Coconut milk is unhealthy

Because coconut milk contains a lot of fat, some people think it is unhealthy. Although it is true that coconut milk includes a lot of saturated fat, it also has a lot of lauric acid, which has been associated with better cholesterol and heart health. A good source of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as vitamins C, E, and B, is coconut milk.

Composition with fresh coconut milk on wooden table against blurred background

Misconception 3: Coconut water is a good source of protein

Although potassium and sodium are good electrolytes to get from coconut water, it is not a good source of protein. A meal of meat, beans, or tofu would provide more protein than one cup of coconut water, which has only roughly 2.6 grams.

Misconception 4: Coconut milk and coconut water are interchangeable in recipes

Both coconut milk and coconut water can be used in recipes, however they cannot be used in place of one another. Since coconut milk is more creamier and thicker than coconut water, it is better suited for dishes like curries and soups that call for a creamy consistency. Contrarily, coconut water works well in recipes that call for a fresher, lighter flavor, such smoothies and drinks.

Misconception 5: Coconut milk and coconut water are the only coconut products

Two of the many coconut products available are coconut milk and coconut water. Shredded coconut, coconut flour, and coconut oil are some more prominent coconut products. Since each of these items has its own flavor and nutrient profile, it’s worthwhile to try them all out and determine which ones you like the best.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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