The difference between coconut cream vs coconut milk? Here’s how to make sure you get the right ingredient for your recipe.

Coconut Cream vs Coconut Milk

Coconut cream vs coconut milk: what’s the difference? These two products come from the same raw material, but they’ve got an important distinction. Once you know the difference, you’ll know when to use them in recipes: and even how to substitute for each! Here’s what to know about when to use them.

Coconut cream vs coconut milk: the differences

What’s the difference between these coconut products? Here’s a breakdown:

  • What is coconut milk? Coconut milk is a milk extracted from the pulp of coconuts. It is very rich and has a high fat content. Coconut milk is a traditional ingredient used in Southeast Asian and East African cuisine, as well as Latin American and Caribbean foods.
  • What is coconut cream? Coconut cream is a very thick cream made from coconut milk. The coconut milk is chilled, then the top layer of cream that floats to the top is skimmed off. It is very thick and tastes like coconut, but is not sweetened (unlike coconut cream). You can usually find it in cans next to the coconut milk. (In fact, you might have accidentally bought it thinking it was coconut milk.)

What about coconut water? Head to Coconut Milk vs Coconut Water.

You can substitute one for the other!

Did you buy coconut milk instead of coconut cream, or vice versa? Never fear: you can substitute one for the other. Here’s how to substitute coconut cream and coconut milk:

  • How to make coconut milk out of coconut cream? Mix 2 tablespoons coconut cream into ¾ cup water to make about 1 cup coconut milk. Stir it together and it’s back to coconut milk!
  • How to make coconut cream out of coconut milk? Place 1 can of full fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. After refrigeration, open the can and use a spoon to pull out the coconut cream from the top, leaving the coconut water on the bottom. It makes about ½ cup coconut cream.

What can you make with coconut cream?

You can use coconut cream to make dairy-free whipped cream! Use ½ cup coconut cream in place of the coconut milk in this recipe. You can also use coconut cream in curry recipes to make thick and creamy. Try it in this chickpea curry or vegetable curry.

What can you make with coconut milk?

Coconut milk is a creamy liquid that works as a non-dairy milk substitute. It’s great in curries and smoothies. Here are some great coconut milk recipes:

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Coconut Cream vs Coconut Milk

How to Make Coconut Cream (or Coconut Milk!)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: ½ cup coconut cream or 1 cup coconut milk 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Here’s how to make coconut cream from coconut milk, and vice versa! These two products can be used to make each other. 


  • 1 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk or coconut cream


  1. To make coconut cream out of coconut milk: Take the can of coconut milk and place it in the refrigerator overnight. After refrigeration, open the can and use a spoon to remove the coconut cream at the top, leaving the water below. You should get about ½ cup coconut cream. 
  2. To make coconut milk out of coconut cream: Take 2 tablespoons coconut cream and mix it with ¾ cup water until smooth; makes about 1 cup coconut milk.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Coconut

Keywords: Coconut cream vs coconut milk, coconut milk vs cream

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. This is really helpful, thank you. I’d like to know the nutritional information for the separated coconut cream and water from a can of unsweetened, first press, coconut milk. Can you tell me how to calculate it or pint me to the information online, please?