Looking for a refreshing and satisfying drink? This coconut watermelon milk 西瓜牛奶 (xīguā niúnǎi) might be just what you're looking for. With just 4 ingredients, you can be sipping this cold beverage in 15 minutes.
Inspired by my childhood memories in Taiwan when I would watch my cousin and friends drink fruit milk beverages (papaya milk [木瓜牛奶]) for example - yup, that’s big there!), I decided to make a version with watermelon juice and coconut milk. I was never a fan of cow’s milk and coconut milk pairs perfectly with watermelon! The addition of Medjool dates adds a smooth sweet finish.
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🍹 main ingredients
INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE
2 1/2 pound watermelon, seedless if available (I use a yellow crimson watermelon here, but a red watermelon would work too)
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups ice
2 Medjool dates, optional but highly recommended
🍉 tips on watermelon
Different colors of watermelon aren't as common in the US as they are in Taiwan. That's why I look forward to the summer every year when I can find orange and yellow ones from Weiser Family Farms at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Through my limited research, it looks like the yellow variety originated in Africa before red ones were cultivated. They taste slightly sweeter than the pink or red ones, with a hint of honey.
You might be able to find some at the peak of watermelon season. Try visiting a local farmers market if there's one nearby and ask around. If you can't find a yellow variety (like the Buttercup Yellow Melon, Yellow Crimson, or Desert King), a ripe red one will work perfectly.
pro tip: how to pick a good watermelon
- COLOR: Look for a yellow spot on the outside (also called a ground spot, field spot, or sun spot). This is where the watermelon has been resting on the ground before being harvested. A medium to large ground spot indicates the watermelon is ripe. I show what this looks like at the beginning of the cooking video.
- WEIGHT: Pick it up and compare it to other watermelons. You want to pick one that feels heavier for its size (heavier = juicier).
- SOUND: While holding it with one hand, give it a gentle knock with your knuckles. It should have a deep hollow sound (you can hear an example 13 seconds into the video).
how to cut watermelon
This is one of the fastest ways to cut the rind off for watermelon cubes.
- Cut both ends off and then cut the watermelon in half (photo 1).
- Lay each half on it's largest flat surface with the ends pointing up (photo 2).
- Cut a strip of the rind off from top to bottom, starting at where the white flesh meets the yellow or red part (photo 3).
- Continue to cut strips of rind off by turning the watermelon after each cut (photos 4-5).
- Now that the rind is removed, cut ~1-inch wide slices from top to bottom (photo 6).
- Stack a couple of slices at a time. Then cut into strips, rotate, and cut into cubes (photos 7-8).
can you freeze it?
You can freeze already cut pieces in an air-tight container or a reusable freezer bag. Using frozen watermelon cubes will give this drink more of a smoothie texture.
💭 how to easily pit a medjool date
The Medjool variety is usually soft enough to pit by hand. Since this recipe only uses 2, it's easier to just split each date from the middle with your thumbs (photo 1) and then pull out the pit (photo 2).
- Shake the can of coconut milk before opening so that the cream on top mixes with the thinner liquid.
- Combine the 8 cups of watermelon cubes, 1/2 cup of coconut milk, 2 pitted dates, and 2 cups of ice into a blender and blend until smooth. That’s it! Serve immediately.
💭 tips on coconut milk
which brand do you use?
These are a few of the brands I’ve used. They all taste slightly different, so try a few and find the one you like. Any of these will work for this recipe though!
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can you freeze it?
You can freeze the unused coconut milk to use in another smoothie later. Just freeze it in ice cube trays before transferring to a sealable bag. Keep in mind that freezing and then thawing will change the texture (the solids separate from the liquids) and taste.
I wouldn't recommend it for hot dishes like curries or soups unless you blend the thawed coconut milk first.
is coconut cream the same as coconut milk?
No, coconut milk is what you get when you blend coconut with water. It has a higher water content than coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solidified fat and protein portion that is often seen floating on top of canned coconut milk.
📖 variations / substitutions
For a smoothie or drink recipe, you could even replace coconut milk with coconut water if that’s what you have on hand. The drink will be less creamy, but equally refreshing. Plus, you get the benefit of the added electrolytes from coconut water.
Oat milk would also work well as a substitute since it won’t take away from the watermelon flavor.
🍽 cooking equipment and pantry items used
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COOKING WITH KIDS - what can kid chefs help with?
- help with picking out a watermelon
- measuring out the coconut milk
- pitting dates
If you’ve tried watermelon milk (西瓜牛奶) from Taiwan, let me know how you like this version in the comments section. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Now, let's take a break, eat some Taiwanese cold noodles, and finish with this refreshing drink.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
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Disclosure: The recipe below may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon
coconut watermelon milk 西瓜牛奶 (用椰奶)
- 8 cups diced watermelon (about 2 1/2 pounds or 1130 grams), seedless or seeds removed
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, unsweetened, full fat or light
- 2 cups ice
- 2 Medjool dates, pitted
- Shake the can of coconut milk before opening so that the cream on top mixes with the thinner liquid. Then measure out ½ cup.
- Place watermelon, coconut milk, ice, and pitted dates into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth.
- Serve and enjoy immediately.