Rich, thick, and creamy, coconut cream is a denser and richer version of coconut milk. It is essentially the cream that rises to the top of coconut milk. Used in a wide range of Asian dishes like curries and stews, coconut cream has a unique consistency and subtle sweet taste that can elevate any meal.
If you’re creating a dish that calls for coconut cream but you don’t have any on hand, these coconut cream substitutes will work just as well to give you that creamy, rich texture.
1. Coconut Milk
A less creamy variation of coconut cream, coconut milk has a very similar taste to that of coconut cream, making it an excellent substitute. It is a versatile product prepared by blending coconut pulp with water and straining it through cheesecloth. If you don’t have any coconut milk on hand, you can make your own right at home! It will have the same taste as store-bought coconut milk while being fresher.
Because it has a slightly lower fat content than coconut cream, it produces lighter and healthier but equally delicious results. Keep in mind that as coconut milk is thinner, it might not work as a stand-in for recipes that call for whipped coconut cream. So, if that’s what your recipe needs, it would be wise to explore thicker substitutes to achieve a similar outcome.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of coconut milk.
2. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is a fantastic substitute for coconut cream, especially for recipes in which this dairy boost would work well. As it has a higher fat content, heavy cream adds a great flavor and texture to any recipe. Add it to sauce or curry recipes to produce the desired consistency in these cream-based recipes.
In terms of substitution, while heavy cream will bear a similar texture and consistency as coconut cream, it will not bring any coconut taste or aroma to the dish, but it would rarely be noticeable. However, if you want to fully replicate the unique flavors of coconut cream, you may always add desiccated coconut to the mix to achieve a more similar taste and texture to that of coconut cream.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of heavy cream + ¼ cup of water (depending on the desired consistency).
3. Nut Butter
Nut butter has a flavor and texture that acts as a great stand-in for coconut cream. It is also a great ingredient to add to dishes if you want to create a creamier and smoother texture.
Any kind of nut butter like peanut butter, hazelnut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter can be swapped in for coconut cream in baked goods to get the same results. You can also dilute the nut butter with some water to create a creamier substitute. Just add a little quantity of water and whisk or blend it using a food processor, then add the remaining water to make the perfect coconut cream alternative for your recipes.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of nut butter.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt will act as a wonderful substitute for all types of recipes that call for coconut cream. It will thicken the recipe’s consistency without taking away from the original flavors.
It can work as an alternative to coconut cream in various recipes. However, keep in mind that yogurt curdles when boiled. So, if your recipe calls for heating the yogurt as a coconut cream substitute, you should look into other options.
Or, you can thicken your yogurt with a little flour or cornstarch to give it more stability and add it at the very end of the cooking process to avoid potential curdling. And if your dish calls for a more coconutty flavor, consider adding coconut oil, coconut extract, or desiccated coconut to mimic the flavor of coconut cream.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of greek yogurt.
5. Cream of Coconut
Cream of coconut and coconut cream don’t just share similarities in name, they also work wonderfully interchangeably. If you can’t tell the difference, remember that cream of coconut contains sugar, thickeners, and preservatives, and is a sweetened and thicker version of coconut cream.
While it works well as a substitute for coconut cream in a variety of recipes, it shines the brightest in recipes that call for whipped coconut cream. This is also why cream of coconut is typically used in desserts, cocktails, and other sweet dishes. Because cream of coconut is sweeter, you may want to reduce the number of other sweeteners in the dish to avoid over-sweetening it.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of cream of coconut.
6. Rice Milk
Rice milk is a vegan-friendly substitute for coconut cream that can even help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet without compromising on flavor. Rice milk is also very easy to make at home using cooked rice, water, fruits, and nuts, and customize it to your desired consistency and sweetness to use in various recipes!
It can be used in place of coconut cream in both sweet and savory dishes. While it has a thinner consistency, rice milk can add similar flavors and add that creamy element to your dish.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of rice milk.
7. Plant-based Milk
If you follow a vegan diet and are looking for a plant-based alternative, using plant-based milk prepared from almonds, oats, cashews, or soybeans would work really well in place of coconut cream. If you don’t have plant-based milk on hand, you can easily make it with a couple of ingredients and a blender right at home.
Any plant-based milk can be easily swapped in for coconut cream in both desserts and savory dishes. Keep in mind that plant-based milk has a thinner texture compared to coconut cream. To fix this, you can cook the milk until it thickens, or try mixing in flour for better stability.
1 cup of coconut cream = 1 cup of plant-based milk + 2 tablespoons of flour.
8. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is regular milk that has been evaporated to remove water and retain more milk proteins, resulting in a thicker product than regular milk. It’s also creamier and sweeter than coconut cream, making it a great alternative to use in dessert recipes.
Because evaporated milk is sweeter than regular milk, you may want to modify the number of sweeteners you use to create the perfect dish. You’ll want to keep an eye on how much evaporated milk you use because it’s sweeter and thicker than coconut cream, so you won’t need a lot of it to reach that desired flavor profile.
1 cup of coconut cream = ½ cup of evaporated milk (Adjust to taste.)