Homemade Kaya, Coconut Jam

I am a kaya snob. We have been spoiled by our grandmothers, aunties and mothers that we only enjoy homemade kaya. Every family has their own version of homemade kaya, some thick, some runny, some yellow, some brown caramel-ish, some pandan green-ish.

It is strange that kaya is only popular on this side of island. My husband from Java has never tried it before until he moved here. I asked him what they have with their toast. He looked at me with a blank face. He doesn’t get it.

Our method of making kaya results in runny, yellow-to-brown hue spread, minus the grain. I remembered my kaya making sessions to be painful ones. I was on my feet for hours only to see the whole batch gone to the bin. It was better that way than to get the frown from people who were coming over for breakfast. When I finally got it right, it was very rewarding to see every drop gone in the matter of hours. The downside is that I am becoming more of a snob. Our kaya needs to be smoothly grainless and almost transparent, a little on the yellow-ish brown color. Without refrigeration, the spread needs to be consumed within days.

Only three ingredients are needed. Egg yolks, coconut milk and castor sugar. The quality of the kaya depends on the quality of coconut milk and egg yolks. The more intense colored yolks will result in beautiful golden colored kaya. The red yolks are usually from organic egg. The coconut milk used usually are from freshly squeezed coconut. Prepackaged coconut milk can be used as substitute. I have no experience using powdered instant form of coconut milk, so I can’t say much about it.

Combine them all in a mixing bowl.

Carefully whisk the custard till all sugar dissolved.

Strain the custard using a fine strainer to remove any impurities and move it to a stainless pot.

Set the custard in a bigger stockpot filled with water, about 1/4 of the pot. Set the heat on medium. Stir the custard continuously and scrap the bottom of the pot to avoid crystalized sugar. Do this for 15-20 minutes.

Wrap the cover of the pot with a clean and dry kitchen towel. Keep the custard covered and lower heat so the water of the bain marie is just simmering. Stir for about 1 minute and cover for 15 minutes. Do this three times, about 45 minutes in total. Make sure no water is dropping into the kaya.

This is what it looks like after 30 minutes.

At the end of the 45 minutes, You can run your finger on the ladle and the kaya won’t mix. It’s done.

Let cool and transfer to a dry and clean container.

The kaya can keep for up to 3 days unrefrigerated and about one week if refrigerated.


Srikaya, Kaya (Coconut Jam)


350 ml coconut thick coconut milk
2 egg yolks
150 g sugar


Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
Slowly whisk till all ingredients mixed well and the sugar dissolve.
Strain the kaya custard into another clean bowl and discard of the impurities.
Set up a bain-marie or a medium sized stainless pot with 1/4 of water. Turn on the medium heat to warm the water.
Pour the custard into a smaller stainless pot that fit into the water filled pot.
Carefully place the pot into the heating water pot.
Stir slowly and continuously for 15-20 minutes. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat a little bit so the water is just simmering.
Take care not to let the water get into the cooking custard.
Wrap the pot cover with a kitchen towel. Cover the pot and lower the heat some more.
Open the cover once every 15 minutes and stir for a minute and put back the cover. Do this for 45 minutes, about three to four times opening the cover and stirring.
When the kaya is done, it would be slightly thick but still running. Let the jam cover a ladle and run a finger through. If the jam doesn't mix together, the kaya is done.

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26 Responses to “Homemade Kaya, Coconut Jam”

  1. 1

    Sharon @ Feats of Feasts — November 12, 2012 @ 5:20 am

    it’s great to see you back, and thanks for this recipe, i’d love to have kaya in the mornings for brekkie!

  2. 2

    Toby @ Plate Fodder — November 12, 2012 @ 6:56 am

    Here in the States I’ve seen these thick- almost congealed coconut syrups in the international markets and never really known what they were for. I’m wondering if it’s really just coconut jam.

    I’m all in for simple jams and spreads for breakfast (and snack-time) I might even be inspired to do one myself :)

    “IF” I did the pandan one – how much and when would it be added… just curious

  3. 3

    jaime @ sweet road — November 12, 2012 @ 10:10 am

    I’ve actually never had this before, but I do have all the ingredient necessary to make it, so I really have no excuse at this point….

  4. 4

    Sara Febriany — November 12, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    Hi Jun,it’s great to see you blogging again..
    This recipe is much more simple than the one you posted before,may I know how many coconuts did you use?Did you add water to get the coconut milk?

    • Jun replied: — November 13th, 2012 @ 12:39 am

      It is actually the same, I just made smaller batch and took step by step shots this time to make it easier for those who want to try making it. It is coconut milk from 1 whole coconut, grated and add a bit of water (about 1/4 cup) to make it easier to squeeze.

  5. 5

    Linda — November 12, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    I made kaya once and it failed. Love your step by step instructions, I need to try this soon.

  6. 6

    jayne — November 15, 2012 @ 1:29 am

    hi jun,,
    the texture looks watery ,and may i know the taste,,
    thanks–hope to hear from u,,

  7. 7

    mycookinghut — November 17, 2012 @ 8:13 am

    I love kaya too! Looks yum!

  8. 8

    Ira Rodrigues — November 20, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    Your kaya really looks perfect! I will give it a try and have some fun in the kitchen *tx for the recipe and steps. You made my day Jun!

  9. 9

    ari hartono — December 6, 2012 @ 1:38 am

    Looks so smooth, bet smell and taste good to….

  10. 10

    Janine — December 12, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    my family’s version of kaya is thick, dark brown and uses duck eggs, so I totally get what you mean by each family having their own preference :) I like the idea of using a towel between the pots though – i’ll try it next time when my kaya craving hits!

  11. 11

    Ivana — December 27, 2012 @ 1:29 am

    Kaya is made out of egg, coconut milk and sugar???? What? Its not srikaya? I feel a little cheated not knowing this

  12. 12

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  13. 13

    Li-Yong — March 30, 2013 @ 1:42 am

    I just made this and it’s cooling down now…I can’t wait to spread it on some toast, the finger licks already taste really good! Your instructions and pictures render this recipe (and all your recipes) simple to follow yet complex in its flavours and enjoyment. Thank you for being one of my favourite food blogs and please continue to share!

    p.s. I also loved the sambal teri kacang recipe! Have tagged a few more to do!

  14. 14

    Alain — March 30, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    Can use Stevia too right?

    • Jun replied: — April 5th, 2013 @ 9:11 am

      I have never used Stevia before, but I am fairly certain that only castor sugar can be used to make coconut jam.

  15. 15

    jeremiah rafanan — May 8, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    hey can i use edds of duck? thanks

    • jeremiah rafanan replied: — May 8th, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

      sorry typo eggs of duck?

    • Jun replied: — July 12th, 2013 @ 2:28 am


  16. 16

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  17. 17

    Andrew — July 19, 2013 @ 5:33 am


    You truly show the world the wonder of a good Medanese cooking. Great work! This is the kind of Kaya my family grows up with too. No one should eat a grainy Kaya.


  18. 18

    alleyne — March 8, 2015 @ 11:13 am

    Hi Indochine, not sure if you’ll see this comment but i was wondering why your kaya came out so nearly transparent and shiny. i made the kaya twice, the first time following your instructions exactly but the kaya came out grainy, and not like yours. yours look like liquid gold. so i made another batch, this time i stirred continuously for 1 whole hour. it was smooth and thick, very glossy too. but it still didnt have the almost transparent look like yours. i used Kara prepackaged coconut milk. could that be the reason? cos when i look at your custard and mine, it looks a bit different. my custard is thick and very yellow due to the thick coconut milk, but your custard looks more watery im guessing due to using freshly squeezed coconut milk. could that be the reason?

    • Jun replied: — June 12th, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

      Hi Alleyne!
      Yes I think the thick custard is from the thicker and more concentrated coconut milk. I am yet to try making this from prepackaged coconut milk. I have been meaning to but I totally forgot about it.
      Maybe you can try to dilute it a little bit? Fresh coconut milk (freshly squeezed and used in less than 3 hours after squeezing) is always easily available (I suspect it cost about less than 1 dollar!) The yellowish hue is caused by the yolk. People love really deep colored orange-ish kaya, so they sometimes use duck egg yolks.
      If next time it turns out grainy again, it could be because the heat is too high. If you use my method of steaming (no direct heat to the custard), the water should be simmering and no bubble at all), that way it will come out shiny and clear – always!

  19. 19

    Ying — March 29, 2015 @ 10:45 pm

    Hi Jun,
    In your 2008 blog, you said “The coconut milk mixture is kept above the boiling water and heated only by steam. “.

    In this new recipe, you did not mention this, May I know if the coconut milk mixture must be kept above the water ?

    Thank you for sharing your precious recipes !

    Regards Ying

    • Jun replied: — June 12th, 2015 @ 9:24 pm

      Yes I think I wasn’t stating it clearly enough. If you see the above shots, you can tell that I use double pot. First pot is bigger one and filled with water. Then the second smaller pot with the custard is placed inside it. The custard is never in direct contact with heat. It is cooked by the steam / water in the first pot. I hope this is clear!

  20. 20

    Tedy Merriman — April 20, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

    Yep, you wouldn’t find this in Java, but when I moved to Pontianak, they have this sold on the supermarket, with the bun of course either bake or steam one. I love the steam one because they make it using pandan flavoured steamed bun and use this jam for spread. Supper duper yummo. I really thought that it’s made out of srikaya fruit, never know before that it is only made from sugar, egg yolk and coconut milk. Miss this so much.

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