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Tuesday
Oct042011

Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Yogurt Recipe

Coconut milk yogurt with a drizzle of Coconut Secret's Raw Coconut Nectar.

For those who've had enough of my non-dairy yogurt business, you might want to turn back now. For those wanting to venture on—let's go. Today we're making coconut milk yogurt. And it's my all-time favorite!

Before we jump into the yogurt, I have a bit of news. We are modifying our kiddo's diet—agaaain. I'd go into it, but will have to save that for another post. Bottom line; we're cutting out almonds for a while.

Almond milk has been the base of the non-dairy yogurt I have made on a weekly basis for the past two years. It wasn't easy giving it up.

When I committed to making the change, Moriah's words came back to me;

"I have learned how to respond with a plan. My plan for a successful
transition now begins with determining how to replace the foods
which need to be removed prior to removal."

I took Moriah's advice to heart and started playing with coconut milk yogurt—determined to "nail it" by the time we finished up the last of the almond yogurt.

Making coconut milk yogurt is not rocket science and recipes for it are a dime-a-dozen—but most use straight coconut milk which makes for a very high-fat yogurt. A 6-ounce serving of Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk (full fat) easily exceeds 100 calories of saturated fat (good saturated fat, but a lot of it). My solution for reducing the fat without sacrificing all of the creaminess? Add water and thicken with a bit of tapioca starch and agar agar.

This morning Miles and I enjoyed our fresh coconut milk yogurt topped with a drizzle of low-glycemic Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Nectar and a sprinkle of white chia seed. Tomorrow we'll be churning up some frozen yogurt and I don't know who's more excited, the boys or me!

Coconut Milk Yogurt

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes:  Just shy of 1 quart
Active Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:  26-32 10-12 hours

Ingredients:

Filtered WATER
3/4 teaspoon AGAR AGAR powder (not flakes or bar)
1-1/2 tablespoons organic CANE SUGAR
2 cans full fat COCONUT MILK (such as Thai Kitchen®)
3 tablespoons TAPIOCA STARCH/FLOUR
Allergen-Free YOGURT STARTER or Allergen-Free Probiotic Capsules

Directions:

***Do not make substitutions, do not alter measurements. Do not use milk beverages such as SoDelicious. Use pure coconut milk with the only additive (if there is one) being guar gum. Do not add flavorings or sweeteners until AFTER culturing and before transferring to the refrigerator ... I've gotten a few "it didn't work" comments. Digging deeper I was told "this or that was added" or sugar omitted (sugar is the bacteria's food!), etc. Follow the recipe exactly for guaranteed results.***

1. Sterilize cooking utensils, bowls and fermentation containers by dousing in boiling water.

2. In a small bowl, mix tapioca starch and 1/2 cup water to make a slurry. Set aside.

3. Add 2 cups filtered water to a large pot. Sprinkle agar agar powder over surface. Bring to boil and gently simmer 3-5 minutes or until agar agar is completely dissolved.

4. Give tapioca slurry a good stir and whisk it and the sugar into the agar agar mixture. Return to simmer, stirring constantly 1-2 minutes.

5. Whisk in coconut milk. Heat just until steam rises from surface.

6. Allow milk to cool to 95-100˚F. This can take a while.

7. Sprinkle yogurt starter (use manufacturer's recommended measure) or approximately 30 billion CFUs of probiotic over surface of cooled milk and whisk very well. Transfer to fermentation container(s) and then to yogurt maker. Leave undisturbed to ferment 8-10 hours (no longer). Transfer to refrigerator and chill 6-8 hours. Yogurt will set as it cools.

Notes:

Cooling: Allow milk to cool at room temperature. Do not cool using a water bath as the agar agar will begin to set. Give it an occasional whisk. The mixture may look clumpy (this is the agar agar setting), but a good whisk will smooth it out again.

The Starter: Nut/seed milk yogurts are best made using a yogurt starter. Unlike animal-based milks, a scoop of yogurt may not be effective. A lot of natural food stores carry the YoGourmet brand of yogurt starter which contains skim milk powder. So just be cautious when purchasing a starter or probiotic for use in culturing.

The Yogurt Maker: I prefer using a yogurt maker. I rest assured knowing that the yogurt is fermenting at a safe and consistent temperature. However, you may choose to ferment in any container, preferably glass, in any environment that is kept at a constant 105-110˚F (on a heating pad, in the oven, etc).

What is Agar-Agar?  Agar-agar is a plant-based "gelatine" derived from seaweed. It helps set the yogurt and firm it up. I get consistent results with agar powder versus flakes or bars. Agar powder may be purchased in packets at Asian grocery stores, from larger natural grocery stores and from Amazon.

Trouble Shooting: Portions of the surface may dry to a pale yellow; this can be expected. If there are any hints of pink, gray or black on the surface of the yogurt, throw the batch out and start again. This suggests the equipment was not thoroughly sterilized, that the yogurt starter was “dead” and that foreign “bad” bacteria colonized the batch, and/or that milk was hotter than 95° to 100°F when the starter was added.

Reader Comments (97)

I see the Vegan culture is processed in a plant with a lot of no-no's for me. I would love to try the coconut yogurt but am leary of the starter you use. Any body have trouble with it because of cross contamination?

_______________________

Nancy, thank you for bringing this to our attention!! I am investigating and will report back REAL soon!! xoLexie We have not had any issues with it, but that's not to say someone else wouldn't.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Lexie, I have given up trying to make Almond Milk Yogurt. I have been using the Cultures for Health starter and the results are always inconsistant. I would like to try the Coconut Milk yogurt but would like to make my own coconut milk as I have done with the Almond Milk (per your method). Does the homemade coconut milk set as well as the canned variety?

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLAUREL

Laurel ... I have only used canned. I would try that first ... and then experiment with making it with fresh coconut milk :) Sorry your almond yogurt wasn't turning out.

xoLexie

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Lexi-

I am lost...how many capsules of probiotics do I use if they say 1.5 microorganisms per capsule...would that be 20 capsules to equal 30CFUs? I cannot find any information on how microorganisms equates to CFUs are they the same thing?

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary Condon

Mary, I think that would NOT be correct. What brand are you using? Send me the link and I will try to help you. xoLexie

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Thanks a lot for this recipe, it actually worked out lovely (a bit of a grainy consistency but not enough to put us off). I used the inside of a probiotic tablet-still works out cheaper than coconut yoghurt in the health food store. I have been looking for a successful vegan yoghurt recipe for a long time, so thanks a lot!

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrace

Your recipe looks wonderful! I'm curious, is it possible to use the coconut milk sold in the half gallon sizes (e.g. Soy Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk (original flavored)?

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNidaba

Nidaba, I really don't think so. sorry. xoLexie

December 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Thanks Lexie for the quick reply! I will give it a try using the canned coconut milk. :-)

December 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNidaba

Lexie-help! I made this a couple of months ago and was so excited, I followed the instructions (only varying by using SoDelicious plain coconut milk from a carton) and it looked like it set up. However, it had NO flavor...I love the taste of the SoDelicious 'plain' coconut yogurt and so do my girls; this, though it gelled, had as little taste compared to it, as fat free milk does to whole milk. Do you have any tips? Should I add coconut meat or am I using the wrong type of coconut milk? Nothing on the container said it was "reduced fat" and I spent so much on this, I don't want to goof up again (though it looks like it's part of the process based on the other comments). Thanks for any advice you may have.

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

Hi Katy, Yikes. No, do not use commercial prepared milks like so delicious. You want pure coconut milk. The recipe calls for 2 cans of full-fat Thai Kitchen coconut milk. I am surprised that it even turned out for you. The carton milks have a number of additives that can interfere with culturing IMO. This is what you want to be using:

http://www.thaikitchen.com/products/coconut-milk/coconut-milk.aspx

I hope that helps : )

xoLexie

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Hi again Lexie-thanks so much for your quick reply about the Thai Kitchen milk. I purchased some and made coconut yogurt last night. It is so much thicker and creamier than the So Delicious and set up perfectly. However the taste is a little more watery/plain at the start, and then a blast of coconut aftertaste...not such a smooth in-between taste like the commercially prepared stuff. I know homemade always tastes a bit different (I used to make cow's milk yogurt all the time) and am wondering how much flavoring is safe to add prior to culturing. Specifically if I add vanilla...do you think the alcohol in the vanilla extract will affect the culturing? It was always fine w/cow's milk. Looks like other people have experimented w/maple syrup, & honey as well....as much as I want to keep this very low-sugar, I also need something my kids will eat! We tried adding a dab of honey to one bite, and maple syrup to the other, and it still tasted weird, but I know adding flavor prior to culturing can bring out a mellower flavor than stuff added after culturing. Any flavoring suggestions? My kids LOVE coconut yogurt and contrary to how this email sounds, they are not sugar fiends! :)

Also I was thrilled to find you really don't need a fancy yogurt maker for this! Just as in my dairy days, I use a hard-sided cooler lined with dish towels, with a plug-in heating pad (like you use for aching muscles) at the bottom under the towels. I add my closed jars of yogurt, 1 closed jar of very hot water, cover with another layer of dish towels, close the lid, and it works as well as any commercial maker I've ever used.

Probiotics: I just use the powder supplement that we take daily anyway: either Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF (1/4 t contains 15 billion "live organisms") or Pharmax HLC intensive capsules (1 capsule contains 25 billion "viable cells").

Thanks!

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

Making yogurt for the first time tomorrow. Forgive the novice questions. If I want to make 2 quarts, do a double the Agar Agar powder and the Tapioca Starch? Also, do I open the container following the fermentation period to check on color or do I wait until after it is refrigerated? Thank you!

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Jenn, this recipe makes close to 2 quarts (around 6 cups). I would just follow the directions as is for the first go. And yes, you can check it before putting it in the fridge. I will be runny. Again, follow directions and you should be good to go :) xoLexie

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

I'd love to try to make this yogurt for my son, who loves SoDelicious brand, but it is so expensive (and hard to find in AK)! He does like the flavored yogurt, thoough, not so much the plain - any tips for this? Is flavoring/fruit added after the yogurt sets in the fridge? Could I just blend in some frozen to thawed, puréed fruit? Jam, maybe? Any ideas? I want to avoid using a lot of added sugar.

Also, could you give a rough overhead of costs per batch if possible? And the costs of your preferred DF starter as well as yogurt maker? Thanks!

January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Hi there ! I have some priobiotic capsules which are plant based (45 billion per capsule). I am not quite sure how much of this capsule should I use ???

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFarzana

Farzana ... I'd try "almost" a full capsule. Let me know how it turns out : ) xoLexie

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Half of the jars I decided to make vanilla and the other half chocolate (Ovaltine). The vanilla ones just didnt turn out. It was exactly how I left it 8 hours prior . . .BUT, the chocolate Ovaltine ones were absolutely AMAZING and so yummy. My 2 year old devoured it ! I dont know why the vanilla one didnt turn out but the other one did. Hmmmm...

____________________________

Hi Farzana ... I am surprised that any of them turned out. I think I need to make it clearer in the post to follow directions to a T ... and not to add ANYTHING extra or more or less of any one ingredient. Commercial yogurts are flavored after the culturing. There are so many things that can work against the good bacteria that is trying to populate the yogurt. Don't know what you used to flavor vanilla. The best bet is to just make the yogurt as the recipe states and before putting it in the fridge to chill, mix in the flavorings that you want.

xoLexie

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFarzana

Do you have any suggestions for using SO Delicious Coconut Milk instead of the Thai Coconut Milk?

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterABC Food Allergies

ABC Food Allergies, too many additives in coconut milk beverages like So Delicious ... and quite possibly not enough fat (which the good bacteria will feast on as well as the sugar you add to the recipe). Any full fat canned coconut milk will work ... usually the only additive to these canned milks is guar gum which is fine.
xoLexie

February 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterLexie

I know you said to follow your directions to the letter so I had one little question: I make my own coconut milk that is definitely without the additives. While the can stuff is thicker to begin with I was reading the different comments it seems that someone made their yogurt with almond and/or help milk. Or am I reading it wrong? I'd love to use my coconut milk instead. I get spoiled when it comes to the REAL DEAL.

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

Hi Marilyn ... you sound the like adventurous sort :) In which case I would say go for it with the fresh milk. It should work just fine. I just have not done it myself. I would love your input/report back on how it worked for you!

xoLexie

The instructions to the T part is for those who really stray or cut corners.

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

dehydrated coconut flakes makes a decent milk which is far superior to the canned. 1 cup of flakes to 3 to 4 cups of hot water. Either blend for a few minutes in a blend and strain through a nut bag or I wait until the mixture cools (I don't blend) and let my Omega VRT juicer do the work for me. I have coconut flour and milk at the same time. http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/make-your-own-coconut-milk. She uses 4 cups of water and I use less.. I can always add more water. Very easy to do. My juicer also makes almond and hemp milk (sans the skin on the almonds). It's all about the toys!

I'll let you know. Contacted Cultures for Health and not sure their VEGAN CULTURE is in yet. I assume that is what you are using.

Marilyn

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

Hi, can i use culters for health mild yogurt starter?
Thanks
Shawn

__________

Shawn ... that should work just fine ... if you are super dairy sensitive, then maybe not. I still use their vegan culture although not "certified" gluten free. xoLexie

March 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Oh, thank you for this!! I do have two questions though. 1: Could I use regular gelatin in place of the agar agar? Agar agar is very difficult for me to find locally and when I do, it's very expensive. And 2: Where can I find the allergy-free yogurt starter (I've never seen or heard of this before)?

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Hi Emily! yes, you can use gelatin with no problems. My forthcoming cookbook will offer that option. Try 1 tablespoon gelatin for every 3/4 teaspoons agar powder. And for the starter ... read this post. Toward the end you will see the recommendations I can give. I love Vegetal from Culturesforhealth.com, but there may be cross contamination issues. So in that case I would use allergen-free probiotic capsules ... again, read this post :)

http://www.lexieskitchen.com/lexies_kitchen/2012/10/1/an-apology-for-an-oversight.html

xoLexie

March 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterLexie

Hi Lexie,
This recipe looks great! Just wondering, as I am Paleo, if coconut palm sugar could be used instead of cane sugar (I know you've stated not to adjust measurements and ingredients, so thought I'd ask before trying). Thanks!

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShariyah

Shariyah, yes, that should work fine. I just state cane sugar because I don't want any grief from those who go off on their own : ) and trust me, I get it. Honey has worked for me, too. But some people have written in that honey has its own bacteria in it ... which could compromise the yogurt. But I have use it and it's been fine. Coconut sugar should work fine, too. xoLexie

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

thank you for the recipe. i have two questions:
1. the agar powder i used was pinkish in color. i bought it from asian store. when i checked my yogurt, i saw the pinkish film on top. does it mean it's bad and contaminated and should i just pitch it as you mentioned under "trouble shooting.", or isn't it just the agar surfacing?
2. i'm using glass jars in a dehydrator. next time, ill try the oven. i"m curious whether to keep the glass open or sealed during fermentation and does it matter? i saw a recipe for dairy yogurt which recommends that the containers be covered with foil and put holes on it. thank you!

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Lexie,

I am having a hard time finding a dairy free starter my son can have. Can I adjust this formula, and use coconut yogurt as a base instead?

Thank you for you help.

April 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Hi! Made your recipe today and it came out great using 4 vegan probiotic florall capsules! So thick and perfectly tart! One question though...approx. how many days in the fridge will it last? Thanks again for a fantastic recipe!

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer McClean

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your SUCCESS!! So glad you liked it. I usually use mine within a week. : ) Enjoy!! xoLexie

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Hoping to get some feedback on what I did wrong. I made coconut milk by soaking two cups of coconut flakes in 4 cups distilled water and then blending for a minute with the VitaMix. After refrigerating for the night (quart jar), there was a one inch thick layer of hard fat at the top. I heated the milk to 115 and followed the instructions for thermophilic cultures at: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/make-coconut-milk-yogurt-recipe/ I let the yogurt culture for 12 hours and then followed the remaining instructions. All seven yogurt jars had a very hard, thick fat layer over a very runny (but good tasting) coconut liquid. Not at all what I was expecting. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Richard

April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

I'm wondering if I could use chia seed as a gelatin replacement - where I live they don't have agar agar.

Do you think I could use some of the So Delicious Greek Yogurt as a starter?? Not certain how to incorporate that...

thank you for your time :)

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Lori ... I really don't think So Delicious Greek Yogurt will work as a starter. For non-dairy milks, a starter is a must. Try the probiotic method. You could make it without the agar. I have tried chia seed and it worked somewhat but the fibers in the ground seed were weird to me. You could just try using the tapioca starch. As I mention in the recipe, for success ... the recipe must be followed to a T. But just as I experimented a TON ... you could, too. It just can get expensive :) Can you order from Amazon? You can get agar powder there. xoLexie

July 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Hi can I use cocnut cream instead of the milk

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Hi Lexie,

Thanks so much for your informative blog, great recipes and your responsive comments. We live in Singapore and have never tried making our own yogurt before. We followed your ingredient list and instructions exactly except used the liquid inside 1 capsule of Dr. Ohira's Probiotics with only 900 million CFU's/capsule. The yoghurt tastes sweet and mild without much tang. Does that mean that nothing fermented?

Thanks so much,
Anh

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnh

Hi Anh,

You need to aim for 30 billion and ensure that they are fresh and alive. If nothing happens with 30 billion, the probiotic may not be live. My guess is that you did not use close to enough probiotic to get it going. This is why I use cultures intended for yogurt making (check Cultures for Health, GiProstart, etc … but ensure they are safe for you). I hope it works for you next time. xoLexie

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

great vegan recipe!

January 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrian

I am just wondering if rather than cane sugar if you could use stevia as the sugar?

January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSandra

Lexie - I discovered your site and the Coconut Milk Yogurt recipe a few days ago. I have been making dairy yogurt for years, and decided to try Coconut Milk Yogurt. It came out well - I used gelatin in place of agar, used Yogourmet CBA starter, and my Yogourmet machine to incubate for 9 hours. I will use less gelatin next time, or maybe none at all.
Question: this does not taste at all like the dairy yogurt I am accustomed to, but I did expect it to be different. When I eat it, I think to myself - is this really yogurt? It is very creamy, and almost bland and without the yogurt tang I am used to. Is this typical of Coconut Milk Yogurt?
I am going to try the Almond Milk Yogurt recipe next, and the Almond Pulp crackers look so inviting. Thanks for giving me some new culinary goodies to experiment with!!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Can I use the yogourmet yogurt starter or do I have to get a vegan dairy-free one like from Cultures for health?

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBridget

Bridget, it depends how sensitive/allergic to dairy you are. Yogourmet starter contains milk powder … no much, but some. I have not tried it, but is definitely worth a try. Non-dairy milks are different from dairy/goat etc in that they require about twice as much starter. So double the measure. Hope that helps. xoLexie

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

This yogurt recipe is a staple! I just made a batch now, but there are a few orange marks on the top. Do you think this means a bad culture has taken over? Has this ever happened to you? Thanks!

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKendall Blenkarn

Hi Kendall, yes that has happened to me on occasion. I have scraped it off and eaten some of the yogurt and didn't feel bad or anything. I suspect that it is indeed an unwanted bacteria. This usually happens when I culture it for an extended time (beyond 9 hours). If the yogurt has no tang then definitely the probiotic/culture was dead or weak. Try adding a little more probiotic/culture next time. But I am glad you love it! :)

June 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Hi there! I'm quite new to yogurt making (let alone vegan yogurt making). Last week I made a soy yogurt that turned out alright, and I was so excited to try coconut milk yogurt! The first batch didn't turn out, but I realized it was probably because I didn't have organic coconut milk. So I bought the organic, and I tried again, but it is still turning out to be just liquid! The only change I made was using arrowroot powder instead of tapioca, but I followed everything else. Any suggestions? Also, is there anything I can add to it now (after the fact) to make it thick enough to be yogurt? Thank you!

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Katie, organic should not make a difference. You are using canned full fat, yes? You are using the agar? Not omitting the sweetener? Is there a tang to the yogurt? Even subtle? If not the culture/probiotics you are using may be dead or you may not be using enough. Did you chill it before enjoying it. The agar firms up once chilled. I hope that helps troubleshoot :) xoLexie

July 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

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