The Reason Goya Canned Coconut Milk Should Stay Out Of Your Shopping Cart

If you've ever wondered what makes your Thai curry, pina colada, or sticky rice so rich and creamy, the answer is canned coconut milk. Canned coconut milk differs from cartoned coconut milk through a much higher ratio of coconut meat to water, resulting in a much creamier, full-bodied consistency that adds more heft to dishes while also bestowing subtle notes of nuttiness.

Canned coconut milk brands are plentiful, but Goya is one brand that you should avoid buying. While Goya is a well-known and ubiquitous brand for Latin American canned and packaged goods in North America, its canned coconut milk falls short of the mark. When Tasting Corner did a ranking of canned coconut brands, Goya was rated as one of the worst due to its offputting taste. Other reviews have echoed these sentiments, noting that the milk tastes almost as if it has gone bad, with a bitter and sour taste that completely masks any of the rich, nutty, slightly sweet notes you'd desire in a can of coconut milk. Some reviews even said it emitted a sour aroma straight out of the can.

While its consistency is thicker than carton coconut milk, Goya coconut milk is still thinner than competitor brands and often contains tiny, stubborn clumps that won't emulsify. Furthermore, while Goya asserts that its canned coconut milk contains no thickeners, it still contains sulfites that act as chemical preservatives. If you're a fan of all-natural, whole ingredients, this will count as yet another mark against Goya.

What to look for in canned coconut milk

There are numerous sensory cues to look for when buying canned coconut milk. The first is its coloring, which should be a nice, opaque white-to-pearl hue, similar to the way shredded coconut looks. Furthermore, the consistency should appear smooth and thick. There's often a separation of fatty blended meat from the water content, which is a normal and natural phenomenon in fatty foods like nut butter, chicken broth, and salad dressings.

The aroma should smell coconutty, and once you have shaken the can of coconut milk, there should be no visible clumps or grainy bits. While the ideal consistency is uniformly thick and creamy, it should still be easy to pour and blend into other liquids. Finally, the taste should resemble the aroma with a fresh yet rich nuttiness.

While Goya and store-brand varieties are among the cheapest options, they often contain the most chemical additives. Therefore if you're not a fan of preservatives or thickeners, organic brands are worth the extra expense. Some popular coconut milk brands that have ranked highly in roundups as well as customer reviews include Arroy-D, Native Forest, Trader Joe's, and Sprout's Organic.