How to Cook Coconut Milk Without Curdling It

A dish and open can of coconut milk.
Image Credit: Liane Nothaft/Hemera/Getty Images

Coconut milk is a thick and creamy liquid that is extracted from the pulpy meat of a coconut. It is widely used in Indian, South Asian, Pacific Island and Caribbean cuisine to bring a creamy, cool flavor to spicy curries, stews and stir-fries. Coconut milk is widely available in most supermarkets. Look in your local supermarket's international section to find cans of coconut milk and low-fat coconut milk. When cooking with coconut milk, you will need to exercise caution to avoid curdling. The milk curdles when cooked too long at high temperatures.

Step 1

Pour in coconut milk after you have sauteed your meat or vegetables.

Step 2

Turn the heat down to low and do not boil the dish once coconut milk has been added.

Step 3

Stir the dish constantly while it is cooking to avoid curdling, using a flat, wide spatula. Use the spatula to lift and turn the liquid.


Add a teaspoon of cornstarch to a dish to prevent curdling of coconut milk. Adding cornstarch will also thicken the sauce, so do not use it if you are making a dish that requires a thin sauce.