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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
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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 cream of coconut). 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 3 tablespoons coconut cream into 1 tablespoon water to make about ¼ cup coconut milk. It does taste lighter than full fat coconut milk, and has a texture more like light 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. To get it to the texture of canned coconut cream, whisk it with a teaspoon or two of the coconut water until smooth.

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!)


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  • 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

Description

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


Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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. To get it to the texture of canned coconut cream, whisk it with a teaspoon or two of the coconut water until smooth.
  2. To make coconut milk out of coconut cream: Mix 3 tablespoons coconut cream into 1 tablespoon water to make about ¼ cup coconut milk.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Coconut
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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12 Comments

  1. Jerry Burns says:

    Bought a case of Thai coconut milk. Surprised how thick texture (almost like coffee creamer texture) is this normal or has it gone bad?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Usually it’s separated and needs stirred! I’m not sure.

  2. Marian van Zuiden says:

    Hi, I was wondering if there was anything I could use the left over coconut water for after removing the coconut cream from the top?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Great question. It’s great to save for blending into smoothies!

  3. Jenny says:

    What about substituting coconut cream for canned evaporated dairy milk?
    I have had it work well in pumpkin pie, but wondering if the extra fat content might be problematic in other recipes.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m not sure, sorry!

  4. Michael Stewart says:

    Can I use coconut milk to substitute reg. Milk in cooked pudding?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Good question! We haven’t tried this before. We do have a vegan pudding recipe with oat milk! https://www.acouplecooks.com/vegan-chocolate-pudding/ We’d suggest following a vegan pudding recipe that’s customized for a non-dairy milk.

  5. kathyr rid says:

    Aug. 2, 2021

    this was SO very helpful — thank you!






  6. Janet says:

    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?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Sorry, we don’t have this information available.

      1. Yolanda Quimby says:

        What can you make with canned coconut cream?
        Brownies, fudge, bliss balls, cookies,barks…?