Coconut cream, coconut milk and coconut water: what makes them different?

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Coconut cream, coconut milk and coconut water: what makes them different?

Have you ever found yourself staring at the coconut tins, confused as to which varietal to buy? Discover the difference in a nutshell.

Most commonly used in Asian cuisine (including Indonesian rendang and Thai curry), coconut milk (and cream) is gaining in popularity in other ways, too. With a consistency similar to cow’s milk, it’s often used as a dairy substitute in the lactose-intolerant and vegan communities.


The difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is, quite simply, consistency. They are both made by boiling coconut flesh with water. Coconut milk has a similar consistency to cow’s milk, whereas coconut cream is much thicker and richer as it uses a higher ratio of shredded coconut flesh to water.


Substitute coconut milk for dairy in most recipes, or use it to add a nutty flavour to dishes. Add it to broths, salad dressings, curries and sweet treats including panna cottas, jellies, hot chocolates and cakes.

Discover more recipes featuring coconut milk here.


Because of it’s thick consistency, coconut cream is the perfect substitute for fresh cream. It can also be used in place of coconut milk, but with a little more indulgence. These burnt brown sugar pineapple-and-coconut crêpes are the perfect example of how coconut cream can take a dish to new heights.

Did you know? Coconut cream can whipped into peaks, just as you would fresh cream. Test it out for yourself with this easy strawberries and lactose-free cream recipe.

Discover more recipes featuring coconut cream here.


Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut fruit. Coconut water-based drinks are now common place on supermarket shelves.

It’s not just for drinking straight. Coconut water can be used to flavour cocktails (hello, piña coladas), brothy dishes and as a substitute to traditional stocks. It can also be used to thin out smoothies and thick curries.

Try coconut water in this prawns poached in green Thai curry broth recipe.

Discover more recipes featuring coconut water here.

Browse more recipes featuring coconut here.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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