The difference between coconut milk and cream

What's the deal with coconut milk vs. cream? And what about condensed coconut milk? Find out what makes them different, how to use and substitute them, as well as plenty of recipes with coconut milk or cream.

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Coconut milk vs. cream

You’ve probably used coconut milk or cream in Asian cooking, whether in a curry, cake or dessert. They’re both made by blitzing the white meat of a coconut with water until it becomes a thick, creamy liquid.
But what’s the difference? The main difference is the concentration of coconut meat, but we’re here to break it down further.
Coconut milk
Coconut milk for cooking comes in a can. It’s made by blitzing the white coconut meat with water until it becomes a thick liquid. 
It looks greyish rather than white, this is normal! Coconut milk will also separate into a thick scoop-able layer and a liquid layer. Shake can before opening to bring them together.
Note that the coconut milk in cartons (in the non-dairy milk section) isn’t the same. It has a much higher water content, lower fat content and may contain other additives to make it suitable for coffees, smoothies and pouring on cereal. 
Coconut cream
Coconut cream also comes in a can, and it has a higher concentration of coconut meat. It is thicker, has a higher fat content and is scoop-able throughout.
Coconut milk and cream are mostly interchangeable in recipes such as curries and soups. If you prefer a richer flavour and texture, try coconut cream or vice versa. However, be careful when substituting coconut milk and cream in baked goods. Coconut cream doesn’t contain as much water and can change the balance of your recipe.
If you are making coconut rice, if there is not enough water the rice won't cook properly. It's best to use the recommended ingredients and ratios in the recipe.
What is condensed coconut milk?
This product is thick and sweet, it’s made from coconut milk, water, sugar and usually a thickener. Best for using in drinks such as pina coladas or as a dairy-free substitute for condensed milk. It's not suitable as a substitute for coconut milk or cream.
What is cream of coconut?
This product is not common in Australia. It is similar to condensed coconut milk, and you can use that as a substitute in most recipes.
Now you know the difference between many delicious coconut products, discover yummy recipes using coconut milk and cream below, or click here for a collection of coconut milk and cream recipes.
Play Video: Yellow Thai Fish Curry
Play Video: One-pan Coconut Chettinad Prawn Curry
Play Video: Cherry Coconut Cheesecake with Chocolate Crackle Base
Play Video: Korma Chicken Meatballs in Lettuce Cups
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