Coconut cream is a rich, white liquid often used in low-carb recipes and dairy-free dishes. It adds a smooth, creamy texture, a subtle sweetness, and a hint of coconut flavor. However, coconut cream has a high calorie and fat content, so some might need a substitute for coconut cream.
The best coconut cream substitutes include coconut milk, heavy whipping cream, Greek yogurt, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, almond milk, plant-based milk, coconut butter, and homemade coconut cream if you need an alternative.
Some coconut cream substitutes add only a smooth, creamy texture, while others impart only the flavor. So, choose the right substitute for the dish you’re making since not all coconut cream alternatives will work for all recipes.
Best Substitutes for Coconut Cream
1) Canned Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is the best substitute for coconut cream. It has a very similar flavor to coconut cream, and a slightly lower fat content that some believe makes it a healthier alternative. You can also buy coconut milk in cartons, but those kinds are typically more diluted than the canned ones.
You can use coconut milk interchangeably with coconut cream in cooking. However, it might not always work for baked goods since fat coconut milk has a thinner consistency than coconut cream. You cannot substitute it for the whipped coconut cream often used in baking.
To replace coconut cream with coconut milk, use 1 cup of coconut milk for every cup of coconut cream needed in the recipe. Since coconut milk has a thinner consistency, expect your dishes to turn out lighter.
2) Heavy Whipping Cream
Heavy cream can be a great substitute for coconut cream if you can consume dairy. It has a slightly higher fat content than coconut cream but none of its flavors. However, you can still use it as an alternative since heavy cream has a similar consistency to coconut cream.
You can also replace coconut cream with light cream, but heavy cream has a closer consistency. You can use heavy cream as a coconut cream substitute in cooking, baking, and making ice cream. If your recipe calls for whipped coconut cream, heavy whipping cream will work especially well.
To use it as a substitute for coconut cream, replace each cup of coconut cream needed with 1 cup of heavy cream. Then, if you need the coconut-y flavor, you can just add coconut extract or desiccated coconut to taste.
3) Greek Yogurt
If you can add it last to the recipe, Greek yogurt will work as an excellent substitute for coconut cream. It tastes a bit like sour cream and has a slightly lower fat content and similar consistency to coconut cream. Greek yogurt, like coconut cream, can add a creamy texture and thicken dishes.
You can use Greek yogurt in most recipes that need coconut cream. However, yogurt curdles when boiled, so make sure only to use Greek yogurt as a substitute for coconut cream if you won’t have to boil it. Add your Greek yogurt near the end, and don’t heat it past simmering for best results.
To use it as an alternative, swap each cup of coconut cream needed in the recipe with 1 cup of Greek yogurt. Add coconut oil, coconut extract, or desiccated coconut if you need the coconutty flavor. Adjust the taste as needed.
4) Cream of Coconut
If you can’t find coconut cream, cream of coconut can be a good substitute. Cream of coconut contains added sugar, preservatives, and thickeners. It is also called condensed coconut milk or sweetened condensed milk.
You can use cream of coconut in most recipes, but it’s best used as a substitute in sweet recipes and for whipped coconut cream.
One cup of condensed coconut milk will replace each cup of coconut cream, but keep in mind that cream of coconut is sweeter. So, consider reducing the total amount of sugar used in your recipe.
5) Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is a canned substitute for coconut cream that you might already have at home. Made by evaporating water from regular milk, evaporated milk is creamier, thicker, and sweeter. It tastes very similar to dairy milk.
Evaporated milk is slightly sweeter and thicker than coconut milk, so it’s best used for making baked goods. You can use it as a topping for chocolate porridge or when cooking soups or creamy dishes, such as oatmeal.
To substitute coconut cream with evaporated milk, replace each cup of coconut cream with ½ to ¾ cup of evaporated milk. Consider reducing the amount of sugar used elsewhere in the recipe since evaporated milk already tastes pretty sweet on its own.
6) Almond Milk
Almond milk is another dairy-free substitute for coconut cream. It has a lower fat content, neutral flavor, and a less creamy texture than coconut cream. As a bonus, almond milk also has a lower calorie content.
Only buy unsweetened, organic almond milk, or you can make your own at home if you can’t find any. All you’ll need are some almonds, water, and a blender. You can use almond milk for baking to make desserts or cook savory dishes.
For each cup of coconut cream required, you will need 1 cup of almond milk. If you want to make it more similar to coconut cream, you can mix 2 teaspoons of coconut flour into each cup of almond milk. Doing this will bring its texture and flavor closer to coconut cream.
7) Plant-Based Milk
Aside from almond milk, you can use other kinds of plant-based milk and nut milk to substitute for coconut cream. These include cashew milk, oat milk, rice milk, and soy milk. These have a thinner consistency than coconut cream and a slightly different flavor, but it won’t make much difference in the dish.
These alternatives work for vegans as well. For example, you can replace coconut cream with plant-based milk in cooking savory dishes, soups, and sauces. However, not all of them will work well in baking since most varieties have a lower fat content than coconut cream and cow's milk.
Replace coconut cream with any type of plant-based milk at a 1:1 ratio. If you want it to thicken, you can cook it a little longer or add two teaspoons of coconut flour also to add a little flavor.
8) Coconut Butter
Coconut butter can be an excellent substitute for coconut cream in baking. You can also use any kind of nut butter, including almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter, but these won’t have a coconut flavor.
To make a creamy substitute for coconut cream, mix 5 ounces of coconut butter with 1 cup of water. Add a little water at a time to make it easier to combine the two. Once fully combined, you can use 1 cup of the nut butter mixture for each cup of coconut cream needed. This is also how you make cashew cream using cashew butter.
9) Homemade Coconut Cream
If you have some unsweetened shredded coconut flesh, you can use them to make coconut cream at home. Or you can also use fresh coconut meat since it has more flavor and moisture. Aside from the coconut flesh, you will need a blender and a strainer.
Homemade Coconut Cream
- 1 Blender
- 1 strainer
- 1 ¼ cup dried coconut flesh
- 3 cups hot water
- 1 fresh coconut
- ½ cup water
- If you have dried coconut flesh, soak 1 ¼ cup in 3 cups of hot (but not boiling) water for about 10 minutes. However, if you plan to use fresh coconut, you do not need to soak it in hot water. Instead, use ½ cup of water for the flesh of each coconut.
- Blend the flesh and water at high speed for a few minutes. Once thick and creamy, use a filter to remove all the solids. Then, instead of throwing it out, you can keep the pulp and use it in other recipes.
- Store the liquid in the fridge overnight. Then, carefully scoop up the coconut cream that rose to the top. Keep coconut cream in a clean, airtight jar.
No matter what recipe you follow, stick to a 1:1 ratio whenever you use homemade coconut cream instead of coconut cream.
Ready to find the best substitute for coconut cream? Check out the list we have prepared below along with their remarkable qualities and comparisons with coconut cream and other substitutes.
|Canned Coconut Milk||Tastes almost the same as coconut cream, has less fat and has a thinner consistency. Vegan and dairy-free.|
|Heavy Whipping Cream||Has slightly more fat and a similar consistency. Add shredded coconut for flavor.|
|Greek Yogurt||Has a similar consistency, lower fat content, and lacks the coconut flavor. Curdles when boiled.|
|Cream of Coconut||Sweeter and thicker than coconut cream. Best for sweet recipes.|
|Evaporated Milk||Sweeter, thicker, and creamier than coconut cream. Best used in baking.|
|Almond Milk||Has a neutral flavor, less fat, and a thinner consistency. Best for desserts and savory dishes.|
|Plant-Based Milk||Thinner in consistency and has a slightly different flavor. Can be substituted in cooking.|
|Coconut Butter||Mix 5 ounces of nut butter with 1 cup of water to make a creamy coconut cream alternative.|
|Homemade Coconut Cream||You will need coconut flesh, hot water, a strainer, and a blender.|
Coconut milk is made by blending coconut flesh with water. When left in the fridge overnight, coconut milk separates into two layers. Coconut cream rises to the top, while coconut water is left at the bottom. Meanwhile, coconut water is the clear liquid harvested from coconuts for drinking.
You can’t replace coconut cream or coconut milk with coconut water, but you can almost interchangeably use coconut cream and coconut milk. They have a very similar flavor and only differ in their consistency. Coconut milk is thinner than coconut cream.
To make 1 ½ cups of coconut whipped cream, you will need 1 ½ cups of chilled coconut cream, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add all the ingredients to a bowl, then whisk until fluffy and no lumps remain. You can now use your coconut whipped cream as you like.
Make sure to store it in an airtight container so it can last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Yes, you can use milk instead of coconut cream. It will result in a lighter dish since milk has a thinner consistency, but you can use it when you don’t have coconut cream. You can use coconut milk, evaporated milk, dairy milk, or plant-based milk such as almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, and oat milk.
Yes, you can replace coconut cream with coconut milk when baking. However, expect your baked goods to be lighter and thinner since coconut milk has less fat than coconut cream.
The vegan coconut cream substitutes you can use include coconut milk, cream of coconut, nut butter, and plant-based milk. You can also make homemade coconut cream if you happen to have coconut flakes or fresh coconut at home.
You can replace coconut cream in curry with canned coconut milk, heavy whipping cream with coconut flavoring, almond milk with coconut flour, and homemade coconut cream. These coconut cream alternatives will make your curry creamy and add a hint of coconut flavor.
To make about ¼ cup of coconut milk, add 1 tablespoon of water to 3 tablespoons of coconut cream, then mix.
You can replace coconut cream with coconut milk or cream of coconut in a piña colada.
You can drink the coconut water, cook rice in it, make a smoothie with it, freeze it into ice cubes, or use it to make desserts or drinks.