Ingredient Intelligence

What’s the Difference? Coconut Milk vs. Cream

updated Sep 5, 2022
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On a recent shopping trip for coconut milk, we came across coconut cream. Unsure whether it was the same thing with a different name or a different product altogether, we did some research. Turns out, the difference between coconut milk and cream is in the concentration and consistency, which mostly impacts how you use them in cooking and baking.

Let’s take a look at the differences between coconut milk and coconut cream.

Credit: Emily Han

What’s the Difference Between Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream?

Unlike coconut water, which is the clear, natural juice you’ll find if you crack open a coconut, coconut milk and cream are made by boiling the coconut meat with water.

Coconut milk has the liquid consistency of cow’s milk and is made from simmering one part shredded coconut in one part water. Coconut milk is the basis of most Thai curries.

Coconut cream is much thicker and richer. It is made from simmering four parts shredded coconut in one part water. The cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk is also considered coconut cream.

Lastly, cream of coconut is a sweetened version of coconut cream, and is often used for desserts and mixed drinks. Because of the added sugar, it is usually not interchangeable with coconut cream.

Some of Our Favorite Coconut Milk Recipes