Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 May

Homemade Coconut Milk Kefir

We love the tangy and fresh flavor of kefir, a fermented beverage often described as drinkable yogurt. However, those of you who aren’t as fond of kefir might say that describing it as “tangy” is a little too kind.  What, you wonder, is there possibly to like about what is essentially a glass of thick, sour milk?

Loads of healthy gut flora, for one. Probiotics have numerous health benefits and eating fermented foods like kefir is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough. But we’re not here to tell you that you should plug your nose and chug kefir just because it’s good for you. We’re here to tell you that after you try homemade coconut milk kefir, you’re going to chug it because it tastes really good. Unlike kefir made from cows’ milk, coconut milk kefir doesn’t have a strong fermented, sour flavor. It is pleasantly tangy, but the naturally sweet taste of coconut dominates. The texture is smooth and rich and slightly thinner than yogurt. Both the flavor and texture of homemade kefir is superior to any store-bought coconut milk kefir we’ve tried.

Making coconut milk kefir requires an initial investment in kefir grains, but you only have to buy them once. The “grains” are live active cultures consisting of yeast and bacteria and are called grains only because of their appearance (you can also buy powdered starter culture, but it contains fewer bacteria strains and over time is more costly). The kefir grains can be bought online, or you can get some from a friend who already has a batch going. The process of making kefir is detailed below, but it is essentially this: Re-hydrate kefir grains in cows’ milk for 5-7 days at room temperature, mix hydrated grains with a can of coconut milk and let sit at room temperature for 12-36 hours. That’s it! Your coconut milk is now a probiotic beverage. You can drink homemade coconut milk kefir straight, use it as a base for smoothies or ice cream, use it in place of buttermilk in recipes, pour it into your coffee or over berries for dessert.

And one last thing…the correct pronunciation is keh-FEAR, not KEY-fur. However you say, though, it’s a healthy addition to your Primal eating plan. Now, even those among you who are averse to dairy or to the strong flavor of traditional kefir don’t have an excuse – give coconut milk kefir a try!

Coconut Milk Kefir


  • 1 tablespoon of kefir grains
  • 1 can of coconut milk (or 1-2 cups of refrigerated coconut milk)


If the kefir grains are dehydrated (as they are from most online sources) you must first re-hydrate them in cows’ milk. Combine the grains with 1 cup of cows’ milk and set out at room temperature in a loosely covered glass container. For 5-7 days, strain the grains out each day and then place them in a fresh cup of milk. When the batches of milk take on a slight fermented smell and thicken, your grains are ready.

Combine the grains with coconut milk in a glass container. Cover with a cloth secured with a rubber band and let sit in a warm place (68-85 degrees) for 12-24 hours. Once the coconut milk has thickened and has a slightly sour flavor, it has turned into kefir. Remove the grains, refrigerate and enjoy!

Place the grains in new milk at room temperature to start a new batch of kefir (made from either coconut milk, or cow or goat milk) or store the grains in a cup of cows’ milk in the refrigerator. The grains can be used indefinitely to make kefir, however, if you store the grains in the fridge instead of continuously making kefir, it may take a few batches to get them going again.

Helpful Tips

  • If your first batch of coconut milk kefir doesn’t get as thick or tangy as you’d like, don’t despair. It can sometimes take a few batches to acclimate the kefir grains to coconut milk.
  • Don’t store the grains in coconut milk between batches. Store them in cows’ milk.
  • Never use a metal container to make kefir or a metal spoon to stir it – this disrupts the process and the kefir won’t thicken. Use glass containers (canning jars work well) and wood or plastic spoons.
  • If your kefir doesn’t thicken with 24 hours, it might be that the temperature in your house isn’t warm enough.
  • If your kefir hasn’t thickened at all within 48 hours, throw out the milk and start again by putting the grains in a fresh batch of milk.
  • Kefir should have a fermented aroma and can sometimes have a slight effervescence, but it shouldn’t smell foul or unpleasant.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. LOL Jojo, if your grains are healthily growing/exploding to the point of oversupply, slow the process down by simply removing some grains! Give them away (convert your family and friends) or eat the extras (they’re chewy good) or feed them to your dog — they’re good for animals. I mailed grains in a well-taped double baggie to a friend and they were just fine when they arrived. Good luck!

    shashi wrote on March 5th, 2012
  2. I want to make this for both my dairy intolerant boys but have to make sure there is no Streptococus Thermophilus (strep strain) in it. They both have an autoimmune disease associated with strep, and eating fermented foods with strep in it can cause their condition to flare up.

    RM wrote on September 3rd, 2012
  3. I have used kefir for years and add it to all sorts of drinks and dishes. Just a couple of things though. The first is about using metal spoon/sieves etc, unless you can guarantee the food quality of the metal i.e. fine grade stainless steel you may find that being lulled into a false sense of security about metals you may use cheap or plated implements. these will definitely send your kefire out of kilter. The other thing I do is have 2 kefir cultures on the go and ferment them so that one is always 2 days old when I use it – this way you get a good strong culture going (always use unpasturised goats milk too. the subject of lactose intolerance came up too and I have several lactose intolerant friends who don’t suffer from adverse effects with kefir as a 2day old culture has virtually used up all the lactose in the culture and turned them into rich probiotics, vitamins etc etc. Good luck all of you with this.

    RobW wrote on November 21st, 2012
  4. an excellent article however i would suggest you advocat fresh coconut milk whenever possible, canned goods are known for having bpa residue among other problems.

    d wrote on March 15th, 2013
  5. THANK YOU for making the distinction in pronunciation. I actually had kefir for the first time in Ukraine in 1999. I was there with Peace Corps and it was easy to find an delicious. I actually can’t say it any other way — keh-FEAR — it comes out with a slight Russian pronunciation as well. I just can’t help it! And, the crazy thing is — I’m saying it properly and sometimes folks don’t understand me back in the US! Oh well…

    I just made my first batch of coconut kefir b/c I suggested a client do it. I have my own grains and normally whip up a batch with my neighbor’s goat milk…. However, I thought that I needed to try the coconut version — especially if I’m suggesting others try it!

    IT IS DELICIOUS! I just made black bean brownies and I’m enjoying those together 😉

    Finally, do you notice any different in the longevity of the grains with coconut (rather than milk)? I would imagine there is no difference b/c the bacteria and yeast simply like sugars… Just wondering if you store or handle your grains any differently while using coconut milk.

    Lindsay wrote on March 29th, 2013
  6. Hi, i’ve been following Atkins diet and I wanted to make my own coconut milk kefir, I have no problems with dairy, but i’m sensitive for carbs and I was wondering maybe you happen to know how much carbs does coconut milk kefir have? is it like regular kefir/buttermilk?

    Agne wrote on April 27th, 2013
  7. Thank you for this! I know this is an old topic, but hopefully someone will be nice enough to answer a question! As a point of reference, I plan on making coconut kefir by adding the grains to the blended water and meat of fresh coconuts.

    1. It is said to store the grains in cows milk between batches. Do I need to give the grains time to rest/rejuvenate in cows milk before making a new batch or can I take them out and immediately start on a new batch?

    Steve wrote on July 25th, 2013
  8. This is NOT a pleasant taste. I don’t care how nicely you sugar coat your descriptions, this stuff tastes like rancid buttermilk. I can see using it yo cook with, but NEVER to just drink. *gag*

    Zira wrote on August 16th, 2013
  9. I’ve tried making coconut milk kefir with no success. I live in Bali so I have a fresh supply of coconuts to make fresh milk. I’ve found that the kefir grains get stuck in the the fat and congeals so I can’t strain the grains out without removing the coconut fat and get left with a very thin, sour liquid. The grains are good,as I make raw goats milk kefir on an ongoing basis a get good results. Any suggestions?

    Jung wrote on August 29th, 2013
  10. In your instructions you say to drain the grains and put into a fresh cup of milk every day for seven days.

    For each batch of coconut milk kefir does that mean you toss 5-7 cups of cow’s milk?

    Chris wrote on August 29th, 2013
    • If you are not planning on using the milk kefir than yes you would toss it but if you can use it then please do!

      Cultured milk kefir can be used as a replacement for sour milk products (buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, etc). If you really don’t want to use it you can usually feed it to pets if you have any (I have both cats and dogs that enjoy kefir).

      Happy kefiring!

      Kefir on My Face wrote on May 5th, 2014
  11. Should I rinse the grains when I make the transition from cow’s milk to coconut milk?Thanks

    Lana wrote on September 23rd, 2013
  12. Thanks for the very informative blog!

    Karine wrote on October 15th, 2013
  13. Thanks for the great blog!

    Karine wrote on October 15th, 2013
  14. can i buy kefir in bali? :-) do you know?

    Anna wrote on October 18th, 2013
  15. I have the powdered kefir starter which is referenced in the blog as not having as many bacteria strains as the grains but it was all I could source. It also mentions it can be more costly in the end. I am wondering why it would be more costly. Am I suppose to treat it differently to the recipe in the blog?
    I have just put the contents of one sachet into a cup I cows milk to start the process (re-hydrate them) but I’m not sure I need to do this. Does anyone know?

    Kathryn wrote on October 22nd, 2013
    • It is more costly because powdered kefir starter cannot be reused over and over like kefir grains.

      Milk kefir grains are a living colony of yeast and bacteria. They continue reproducing, growing and living indefinitely if properly cared for. So it is a one time purchase as long as you don’t kill them. The packets you will need to purchase more every time you run out.

      For the packaged kefir starter, you just follow the directions that came with them (usually put the contents into milk and let sit 24 hours till cultured then consume).

      Kefir on My Face wrote on May 5th, 2014
  16. Were do Kefir grains come from?

    My mom has something that looks like them so am wondering if it’s the samething, but she call them something else in Spanish she uses them to make cheese. She just has them refrigerated she does not store them in milk.

    Carla wrote on November 15th, 2013
  17. I recently found this website with people all over the world willing to share their milk kefir grains, water kefir grains and kombucha scobys. It should help those of you looking for a local supplier.

    Kathryn, powdered starter is more expensive because it can’t be re-used. You have to use a new packet for every new batch of kefir. Live grains, as long as they remain healthy, could possibly outlive us all. :) I have no experience with dairy kefir grains but spent about $11 for US shipping of 2T of water kefir grains almost 2 years ago and will never have to buy them again. They’ve gone through slow growth phases at times but usually nearly double at every batch, so I’ve dried some in case of emergency, eaten lots of the excess and have plenty left to experiment with in coconut milk, now that I see it could work.

    Annie wrote on March 17th, 2014
  18. I have both Water Kefir Grains and Dairy Kefir Grains. Question re Dairy Grains and Coconut Milk: Using Coconut Milk is what I want to ideally use. Does it work using homemade coconut milk, which is basically unsweetened shredded coconut and water cooked together for a period of time then strained through a nut bag, or is bought cans of coconut milk the only one that works? Thanks :-)

    Deena wrote on March 29th, 2014
  19. Has anyone used homemade coconut milk (made from hot water and shredded coconut that has been blended and strained) to make coconut kefir?

    Andrea wrote on April 29th, 2014
    • Yes, homemade coconut milk works great!

      The thickness of your coconut milk kefir will depend on how much fat you have in your coconut milk. So, if your coconut milk is thin, your finished kefir will also be thin. To get thick kefir you need lots of coconut fat.

      Kefir on My Face wrote on May 5th, 2014
  20. If I make kefir with coconut milk constantly, do I need to put the kefir grains in cow´s milk at some time ?

    Aurora wrote on May 21st, 2015
  21. I bought my kefir grains off Question, do you need to sweeten kefir? Can you pour it over fruit like plain yogurt?

    Hbomb wrote on July 15th, 2015
  22. Hi,
    I am wanting to make coconut kefir. I was having goats milk kefir but not getting on with it. My friends are now using the grains. the lady I bought them off said you can only use goats or cows milk with those grains. Do you think I can do as you described with the goats milk kefir grains?
    Would the only dairy be what was left on the grains when you put them in coconut? Could you rinse the grains after having them in the goats/ cows milk?
    Many thanks.

    Becky wrote on September 3rd, 2015
  23. What is a serving size for coconut kefir? I am trying to heal my belly for an autoimmune disease. Thanks

    Healthy mama wrote on September 15th, 2015

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