Coconut yogurt may refer to dairy-based yogurt that is flavored with coconut, or non-dairy yogurt made from coconut milk. While dairy-based varieties can make an excellent snack or ingredient for those who eat dairy, coconut milk yogurt is a great option for vegans or those with lactose intolerance. Coconut milk yogurt may provide more fiber and less sugar than dairy-based versions, but may also have a slightly higher calorie and fat count. Coconut yogurt can easily be made at home, and makes a wonderful addition to smoothies and milkshakes.
Dairy-based coconut yogurt uses a traditional lactose base to which flavors can be added. Some varieties may use artificial flavoring, while others include coconut milk and dried coconut flakes to add flavor. One popular variety of dairy coconut yogurt is pina colada, which also adds pineapple juice or small pieces of pineapple for a tropical treat. Dairy-based yogurt can be fantastic in smoothies, or in place of ice cream in tropical milkshakes.
Coconut yogurt made without dairy is an excellent choice for people who avoid animal products or those who cannot tolerate lactose. Made from coconut milk, this type of yogurt often has a silken, thick texture with a deep coconut flavor. Coconut yogurt may also have other flavors added to it, such as peach, raspberry, fig, or chocolate. Even with additional ingredients, most coconut-milk yogurts will still retain the rich flavor from the coconut milk base.
From a nutritional standpoint, coconut yogurt is quite similar to dairy-based varieties. Fiber counts may be somewhat higher in yogurt made from coconut milk, making it a good choice for those trying to increase their fiber intake. Since full-fat coconut milk must be used to make yogurt, the fat and calorie level may also be slightly higher than in dairy yogurt. Most of the fat in coconut yogurt is unsaturated, and may actually be healthy for the body in small quantities, while dairy-based yogurt contains mostly saturated fat. The sugar content in both types of yogurt can vary extensively based on brand and the type of flavoring agents added to the mixture.
Making yogurt at home can be a great way to experiment with flavors and textures. When concocting coconut yogurt, be sure to use full-fat coconut milk, as light coconut milk will produce a watery texture and bland flavor. To keep the mixture safe for vegans or the lactose intolerant, a non-dairy yogurt starter should be incorporated. Most homemade recipes also call for the addition of a thickening agent such as pectin or agar agar, to improve the texture. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and sweeteners can be added during the cooking process to create unique homemade flavors.