Thai Coconut Jam

Kaya in glass jar

Julie Mokhtar

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 32 to 48 servings
Yields: 2 to 3 half-pint jars

Coconut jam, or kaya, is a famous sweet spread, well-used and loved in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Made with eggs and coconut cream, this thick preparation is believed to derive from a Portuguese recipe that arrived in the East during colonization. Named with the Malaysian term for "thick," kaya is a rich addition to traditional breakfasts and usually enjoyed on toast.

Varied in color depending on the recipe, these types of coconut jams have pandan essence, which you can find at Asian stores. This essence has a sweet and fragrant aroma and comes from screwpine leaves. It can be clear or thick when bought as a paste, and its deep green color helps color many recipes, like our recipe for coconut jam. If you can't find pandan essence you can still make kaya, but it will be of a reddish-brown color due to the caramelization of the sugar.

You can keep your jam in the fridge or can it in sterilized jars and lids. If not canning you can enjoy your refrigerated kaya for up to three weeks, but remember to never double-dip using utensils that can contain saliva or other particles of food that can spoil the kaya.


  • 10 medium to large eggs
  • 1 (16-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 to 8 drops pandan essence

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl.

  3. Add the sugar to the eggs and whisk to combine. Using an electric beater, a standing mixer, or a hand whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until frothy, about 4 minutes.

  4. Add the coconut milk. Beat again to incorporate, 10 to 30 seconds.

  5. Pour the creamy mixture into a pot. Using a whisk or a spatula, stir the kaya over medium heat until hot to the touch, then reduce the heat to low. If you've never prepared kaya and want a foolproof approach, use a double-boiler to keep the temperature steady and gentle, but be sure there is always boiling water in the bottom pot. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the kaya has thickened.

  6. Add a few drops of pandan essence. Adding these green drops will turn your kaya light green and add a subtle pandan flavor. Stir well.

  7. Remove the kaya from the heat.

  8. If canning, ladle your kaya into sterilized jars, cap with the lids, and can according to your altitude and the size of the jars, which can take from 10 to 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. If not using sterilized jars, allow the kaya to cool completely, then ladle it into containers and place it in the refrigerator.

  9. Kaya is a delicious breakfast when served on toast. Enjoy!