Coconut cream is mainly used in desserts, sauces, savory dishes, curries and soups. It is not as affordable as many other creams, and if you often use it in your recipes then you may sometimes need coconut cream substitutes.
The main purpose of using coconut cream in cooking is to make a creamy texture for the dish, have the pleasant coconut flavor in it or provide it with some subtle softness.
The best alternatives are coconut milk, cream of coconut, heavy whipping cream, coconut butter, almond milk, evaporated milk, Greek yogurt, whole milk and rice milk.
Best Coconut Cream Substitutes To Try
- Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a popular ingredient in many recipes. It is often used as a vegan and lactose-free substitute for different types of milks. You can purchase coconut milk from stores or make it at home. It is a mixture of coconut and water.
Compared to coconut cream, it comes with a lower fat content. The flavor and taste, however, are similar.
You can use coconut milk in savory dishes, sauces, hot drinks, baked goods and other desserts. When substituting it with coconut cream, keep in mind that it doesn’t come with the same texture as coconut cream and can’t replace whipped coconut cream.
If you want you can use a mixture of cornstarch with coconut milk and you will get a thicker texture for cooked dishes. It can be used with curries, soups and sauces.
- Cream of Coconut
No, they are not the same. Although they sound the same way Coconut cream is unsweetened and comes with a thicker texture than the Cream of coconut. It is thick enough and contains much more fat in it.
On the other hand, Cream of coconut has a thinner texture and comes with a much sweeter substance. You can use it instead of Coconut cream especially in recipes that require whipped Coconut cream. It best goes with sweet desserts and drinks.
1 cup of Cream of coconut is equal to 1 cup of Coconut cream. When substituting it with Coconut cream, keep in mind that it is sweetened and you may reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe if it is included in it.
- Heavy Whipping Cream
Heavy whipping cream can work wonders in recipes that require whipped coconut cream. It comes with the same creamy texture without the coconut taste. This is a dairy product with a higher fat content and if you are ok with it, then go ahead with whipped cream.
If the taste doesn’t matter then you can use it in a number of cooked meals and dishes. But if you want to have the coconut flavor alongside with this cream, then you may add some coconut flakes as a topping on desserts such as cakes, ice-creams and the like.
The usage of heavy whipping cream is versatile and when substituting it with coconut cream you can use it in 1:1 ratio.
- Coconut Butter / Nut Butters
Nut butters are often included in baking recipes. Coconut butter is one of them, and if you need a coconut cream alternative in a bakery then you can use this butter instead. In order to create a lighter texture like coconut cream you can mix 5 ounces of coconut butter with 1 cup of water.
In case, you neither have coconut cream nor coconut butter, you may consider other nut butters such as almond butter, peanut butter, hazelnut butter, cashew butter or even tahini. Although they won’t provide a coconut flavor, they will make your baked goods subtle and soft.
- Almond Milk
Almond milk is another easy-to-find and dairy-free substitute for coconut cream. You can even make it yourself if you have almonds in hand. Compared to coconut cream almond milk has a less creamy texture and subtler flavor. It comes with lower fat content and is diet-friendly.
You can use almond milk in savory dishes and baked goods. Just make sure you buy an unsweetened option of this milk. If you decide to make it at home then you’ll get organic almond milk which is healthier. All you need is almonds, water and a blender.
- Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is fresh milk heated the way so that around 60% of the water included in it evaporates. As a result, we get a canned version of milk that can stand on our shelves for 2 years. This is another dairy-based product to substitute coconut cream.
Since it is evaporated, it contains less liquid and comes with a creamier and thicker texture similar to coconut cream. However, compared to coconut cream it is thicker and a bit sweeter. It is usually used in desserts and baked goods. This milk tastes similar to whole milk and won’t provide your dish with the coconut flavor.
- Greek Yogurt (Low-fat)
One of the healthiest substitutes for coconut cream is Greek yogurt or low-fat plain yogurt. It works well with both sweet and savory dishes including curries, meat stews, breakfast dishes, ice-creams etc.
Yogurts tend to provide dishes with a creamy texture and make them taste delicious. They are used as a thickener in most recipes and if you are looking for something like that to replace coconut cream, then use Greek yogurt.
In this case, you won’t even need to add cornstarch or flour to get the desired texture for curries or other sauces. If you choose it to use in a cooked dish, make sure you add it at the end of cooking.
- Rice Milk
As for rice milk, it can be made at home too. All you need is cooked rice, water, nuts and a blender. If you don’t have much time to make it yourself, then just purchase it from stores.
It is another vegan option to use instead of coconut cream. You can use it for both sweet and savory dishes. 1 cup of rice milk is equal to 1 cup of coconut cream.
- Whole Milk
Between all the possible substitutes whole milk is perhaps the most available option. Many of us have it in our fridges for breakfasts.
So, you can consider whole milk as an alternative to coconut cream whenever you run out of other replacements. It can substitute coconut cream in both sweet and savory dishes. Of course, it is not a vegan option but it is one of the best diet-friendly products to use instead of coconut cream.
Just like in the case of coconut milk, whole milk will also require a thickening agent to be used instead of whipped coconut cream or in dishes that call for thicker textures. In this case, you can blend 2 teaspoons of flour with 1 cup of milk and it will work the way coconut cream works in cooked dishes such as curry, soups or sauces.
FAQs on Coconut Cream
Can I replace Coconut Cream with Cream of Coconut?
While they are not interchangeable, you can still use Cream of Coconut instead of Coconut Cream in several dishes. The difference between these two products is that Coconut cream is unsweetened and comes with a thicker texture, and Cream of coconut is very sweet with a syrup-like texture.
Can I make homemade coconut cream?
Yes, you can! If you have coconut fruit meat in hand, then shred it and simmer in water, after this strain out the coconut solids. The remaining liquid is coconut milk. Let it cool and use the top layer of it which is the coconut cream that floats on the top of milk.
Does coconut cream need to be refrigerated?
If the can is already opened then it is recommended to keep it in the fringe. Once opened, you may refrigerate it and use it within 5 days, or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.
Unopened coconut cream can be kept at room temperature but it may become a liquid substance. So, if you prefer using it in a thicker texture, then make sure you keep it in the fringe.
As you see, coconut cream has many substitutes, some of which are quite affordable and easy-to-find. When it comes to the right choice, consider the rest of ingredients, tastes and flavors of your recipe before substituting one of them with coconut cream. There are substitutes that work better with sweet dishes and there are some that go well with savory meals.