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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.

    2. Cream of coconut and coconut cream are 2 totally different things. Google it, do some research and you will learn more about each product. It’s important that you use the specific coconut product. Good luck

      1. Coconut cream is unsweetened and very thick; cream of coconut is very sweet with a syrupier texture. You can take a can of coconut cream and add some condensed milk to her cream Of coconut. Btw you don’t have to be so rude.

  3. I have a recipe for chocolate cherry coconut macaroons from Fine Cooking, Winter 2004. I don’t like coconut but love the idea of chocolate cherry macaroons. Recipe calls for 2/3 C cream of coconut plus shredded coconut. Leaving out the shredded is a no brained. Can I substitute sweetened condensed milk for the cream of coconut?

    1. Good idea! We don’t work with sweetened condensed milk a lot but I did some research and found that it should be a good substitute for cream of coconut. We can’t guarantee it would work since macaroons can be a little touchy texture-wise. But you could give it a go and cross your fingers! One note though: a macaroon is a cookie that’s typically made of shredded coconut stirred into whipped egg whites and sugar — so it does traditionally have that shredded coconut texture. (I assume you’re making macaroons not macarONS, which are different!) All that to say, changing so many of the components of this recipe may blow it up — or your might come out with something genius! Let us know how it goes.

  4. I want to make a Coke with Coconut drink, since it gives me the taste of Coke and Malibu without the alcohol (can’t have due to medicine).

    Would Coconut Cream or Cream of Coconut (or neither) be a good use in this context?

  5. I’d love the recipe for coconut cream pie made with cream of coconut! I’ve been searching online for it. Could you please share? Thanks 😊

  6. I love this article!!! It provided all the information I was looking for in one place. It was very well thought out and easy to understand Thank you for sharing!

  7. I’m in a huge liquor store in Kansas City and they have no cream of coconut. Could you please list alternatives because the only when I can find Has to be ordered from Amazon.? Will go ahead and try it with a coconut liquor

    1. Hi there, what drink are you making? Let us know and that can help to inform. You could try Malibu coconut rum along with coconut cream depending on the drink.

  8. I’d love the recipe for coconut cream pie made with cream of coconut! I’ve been searching online for it. Could you please share? Thanks 😊