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

Cream of Coconut vs Coconut Cream

Cream of coconut vs coconut cream: what’s the difference? We’re glad you asked. Because while they might sound like exactly the same thing, they’re anything but! There’s a distinct difference between the two products. They are not interchangeable! Here’s what to know about when to use each.

Cream of coconut vs coconut cream: the differences

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

  • First, let’s talk coconut milk. Coconut milk is a milk extracted from the pulp of coconuts. Both of these products come from coconut milk.
  • 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. 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 is cream of coconut? Cream of coconut is sweetened coconut cream that has the consistency of a thick syrup. It’s almost like sweetened condensed milk. It’s used to sweeten tropical drinks like a classic piña colada or it’s also used in dessert. Because it’s used in coconut cocktails, it’s sold both in cans and handy squeeze bottles. Cream of coconut is easy to find online or at your local liquor store. A popular brand is Coco Real.

They are not interchangeable!

Coconut cream is unsweetened and very thick; cream of coconut is very sweet with a syrupier texture. This means that recipes that call for each are optimized for sugar content.

The original piña colada recipe calls for cream of coconut, but some pina colada recipes may call for coconut cream and simple syrup. Make sure to read your recipe closely, because if you substitute the wrong one, you’ll end up with a bitter or overly sweet drink.

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.

To substitute coconut cream for coconut milk: 2 tablespoons coconut cream + ¾ cup water = 1 cup coconut milk.

What can you make with cream of coconut?

Cream of coconut is often used in tropical drinks and coconut cocktails, the most famous being the Classic Piña Colada. It’s also used in the Painkiller, Chi Chi, Coconut Margarita, and the Blue Hawaiian.

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. Very helpful info, I really appreciate it. And yes, did buy the wrong thing by accident, ha ha. Back to the store tomorrow, and then I’m making Thai Tom Ka soup!

  2. I want to make coconut cream pie and recipe calls for 2/3c cream of coconut in addition to 2c milk so do I use coconut cream. Confused! Will coconut cream have stronger coconut taste? Thank you.

    1. We recommend using exactly what your recipe specifies here! The recipe is likely customized based on that specific product.