How to make coconut oil

I am cuckoo for coconuts. Every other day I am cracking three or four open (we get them really cheap from India and Sri Lanka, lucky us!) and using nearly every bit of them for something or another.  I don’t bother buying coconut milk from a can because it is too easy to make your own (directions are actually built into this recipe).  I use the leftover pulp for coconut flour, and I even make my own coconut cream instead of buying it from a certain brand that wants to charge $14 for 16 oz. when I can make it for about $4 for the same amount.

Since I use coconut milk for body wash, a conditioner, and for many many dishes, it shouldn’t surprise you I have to make my own or go broke with the $3.oo a can (for real stuff, not stuff with stabilizers).  Plus there is all the BPA to think about.  No thank you, I’ll make my own.

It’s really very simple to make your own coconut cream, milk, and oil.  It takes a little patience in the beginning but it is so worth it when it’s all said and done.

Remember, coconut oil is a very healthy alternative to polyunsaturated sunflower, canola, and other vegetable oils, with its lauric, stearic, and caprilic acids, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial qualities, and medium chain fatty acids.


Here is what you will need::

3-6 Fresh mature coconuts (brown on the outside) OR dried coconut flakes (NOT defatted ones. Bob’s Red Mill makes a good one.)


Cheese grater, Blender or Omega Nutrition Center

Fabric for straining (e.g. cheesecloth, nut milk bag, muslin dish towel or an old cotton pillowcase)

Clear bowl (so you can see the milk separate)

Glass Jug, Mason Jar or other Container(s) for storing milk or oil



The yield depends on a lot of factors, including how big your coconuts are and how much milk you get out of the macerated coconut meat. Generally, three coconuts will yield about 1 ½-2 cups of really thick coconut milk/cream and about half of that can be turned into oil (about 200mL).



The easy (but expensive) way

I say expensive because you will need the Omega Nutrition Center or a similar brand masticating juicer and they don’t come cheap. (Around $260) They last forever and take a beating though so, in my opinion, they are worth every penny.

Step 1- Crack open the coconut.  (You can drain the water through the eyes of the coconut but I just crack the coconut a little like an egg and drain it off.  I am 5 months pregnant though and a little lazy!)  Remove the meat from the hard shell.  Cut into strips or small pieces that will fit into the juicer.  With the “blank plate” installed, run the coconut meat through the juicer.  You will end up with “shred” of coconut, or dessicated coconut.

Step 2- You can either dehydrate these “shreds” outside under the sun on a summer day, inside a dehydrator like mine, the Excalibur 5 Tray or even inside your oven, with fan, at the lowest temperature (mine being about 46°  C or 114° F) for between 12 and 24 hours, depending on the humidity in your area.

Step 3- With the juicing plate installed, run the dried dessicated coconut through the juicer.  The shreds will separate from the “cream”/oil. If you want milk, not oil, mix the coconut water and a little water to make a coconut “slurry”  before you run it through the juicer and stop there.   Place the cream/oil mixture in a cool (but not cold) place for about 4 hours.  The oil will separate from the cream.

Step 4- At this point, I put this separated mixture in the refrigerator to make skimming easier but you can just carefully pour the oil off.  The cream is quite dense so you are in no danger of mixing it together again.  Store the oil for later use.

The time consuming but delicious (and cheaper) way


Step 1 – Crack open your coconuts, and use instructions above to extract the meat from your fingers.  Careful not to cut yourself like I have, oh, about a zillion times. Understand, I am talking about coconuts that are brown and hairy, NOT young Thai coconuts.  If you aren’t living anywhere near a town where you can find or buy whole coconuts, you can use dried organic shredded coconut flakes (raw is preferable and again, NOT the defatted flakes).

Step 2 – Now this step has a couple different options: a) You can use a food grater and grate the meat (using the smallest part of the grater) into a bowl OR

b) Use your blender (I recommend a high speed blender like Blendtec or Vitamix) and process the meat to a  fine consistency with the coconut water saved from opening the coconuts and a little water until you have a nice “slurry” of coconut and “milk”.

Step 3-  If you have used a grater you will need to add in the coconut water and a little water to create the same “slurry” of milk and coconut.  Have some cheesecloth, a muslin dish towel, nut milk bag or even a cotton pillow case ready over a large bowl.  (You could also use your Omega Nutrition Center for this step but I don’t usually like cleaning the juicer three times.)  Squeeze half the contents of slurry through the cloth, much like you are squeezing a toothpaste tube.  It’s a great workout.  You are wringing as much liquid as possible out of the coconut.   Repeat with second half of the coconut slurry. The aim is to squeeze until there is absolutely no liquid coming out of the cloth.  You will be left with a nice dry “coconut flake”.

Step 4– Pour the contents from the bowl into a jug (preferably a glass one) and place into your refrigerator. This is pure coconut milk.  It is ready to use immediately if you want a milk.  You can stop there and use this in smoothies, in cooking, beauty recipes, or to drink straight out of the jug.  If you are moving on with us, you will let this sit for a few hours.

Step 5 – Moving on. After a few hours you will notice your “milk” has separated and the thick “cream” has risen to the top of the jug. Carefully skim the “cream” off the top with a ladle being careful not to take too much liquid with you.  This, incidentally, is the thickest, most luxurious coconut milk you will ever taste in your life.  If you want to stop there and enjoy it, you are done. Refrigerate the milk and enjoy! To make coconut oil, continue on to the next step.

{ Should you just want the milk at this point and are leaving us here, bear in mind, the more liquid you add from the bottom the less “rich” your coconut oil will be. I use quite a lot for day-to day use, more if I am making “cream”}

Step 6 – If you are continuing on, please keep your hands and feet inside the……  Oh sorry, I must have zoned for a moment. To make coconut oil, transfer the thickest portion of  the milk/cream to another bowl or container (preferably glass). Mason jars you can leave the lid not tightly screwed on, work a treat. Leave the container in a place not directly exposed to harsh heat but one that is not cool either; semi-warm like a sunny window sill, on top of the refrigerator, or, in the winter, next to the oven;for 24-48hrs.  You will start to see the milk beginning to ferment, with little bubbles forming throughout. You will notice oil bubbles start to separate out from the liquid.  This signals the beginning of the end result.   To help the process along and release the trapped oil bubbles”  (Gosh it sounds like a Shell Oil experiment), you can put the container in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water. After a few minutes you should see the oil floating on the top of the now fermented liquid.

Step 7 – After the separation is complete (in a warm bowl of water it should take about 10 minutes) place the separated mixture into the refrigerator. After the oil hardens you can scoop the oil portion off the bottom “fermented cream” layer. Transfer the oil to another glass container and either refrigerate or keep at room temperature.  It’s ok if you notice sediment at the bottom of the oil.  You will get really adept at learning to strain the bits out with each batch.

That’s all there is to it!  It might sound like a lot (which is why I do it the first way most of the time, because I am just plain lazy and I own the juicer) but I have done it the second way and it works perfectly.


Because we like the idea of zero waste, here are some ideas for using the leftover bits::


The coconut pulp leftover from straining the milk from the coconut works well when dehydrated,and with a few spins in a high speed blender, as a coconut flour for perfect grain-free baking.  (More on this to come) In your food dehydrator or oven set on the lowest setting, dry the pulp out further to remove any excess moisture and use it in any recipe that calls for dessicated coconut flakes.  My dogs usually eat this part before I ever get around to doing it and they have the prettiest coats around.

The liquid on the bottom of the separated cream makes a wonderful cooking water for all sorts of dishes.  ( I like to use it for cooking tapioca along with some of the cream.)  Pets go crazy for it.  It even makes a good drink when iced.  It mixes well with pineapple or orange juice.  It’s better than any Gatorade imaginable, full of electrolytes.

I haven’t come up with any uses for the fermented “milk” but another blogger (I forget which one, sorry) recommended it as a leavening agent for sourdough type breads.  It might work.  So not quite zero waste but considering we are grinding the shells and using them in all kinds of ways, we have come close to zero.


8 replies
  1. Carly
    Carly says:

    Hi. After refrigerating the “coconut liquid” I got a harder substance on top(almost like a crust, and a cream below that. Then the liquid at the bottom. I did refrigerator over night though. Wondering what to use for what. I would like to use as a moisturizer.

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      The liquid is what you discard. The clearer harder substance is the oil (though there is some in the cream as well) but the cream is a great mixture to add to a moisturizer with shea butter (with a little of the oil as well!).

  2. Brittany
    Brittany says:

    Very well written article with clear instructions and descriptions of the process, thanks! Hope to be trying this soon.

  3. Becky
    Becky says:

    Do you know about how much coconut oil you get from a coconut? I’m just looking for a rough estimation. I have a feeling I rushed the process a little and maybe didn’t get out as much as I could have. Thanks


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