Coconut cream is a rich, savory cream sometimes used as an alternative in vegan and ketogenic recipes. But it’s high in saturated fat and calories, so it’s recommended to enjoy in moderation.

Thick, creamy, and full of flavor, coconut cream is an incredibly useful ingredient to keep in your kitchen.

Not only can it add a rich taste and texture to desserts, but you can also use it to give smoothies, dips, and sauces an instant upgrade.

What’s more, coconut cream is often used in many keto-friendly dishes thanks to its low carb, high fat nutrition profile.

This article evaluates what coconut cream is, how it differs from coconut milk, and some simple ways you can include it in your diet.

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Coconut cream is a type of thick cream made from coconut milk.

Although canned versions are widely available, you can also make coconut cream at home. Simply refrigerate coconut milk for a few hours and observe how a thick layer of cream floats to the top and separates from the thin, watery liquid below.

Coconut cream has a distinct, coconut-like flavor with a rich, creamy texture that makes it a great addition to a range of recipes, including soups, smoothies, and desserts.

It’s also widely used in many types of cuisine and is considered a staple in several Southeast Asian countries (1).

Because it’s unsweetened, low in carbs, and dairy-free, it’s also frequently featured in many vegan and ketogenic recipes.


Coconut cream is a type of thick cream made from coconut milk. You can add it to vegan and low carb recipes, including soups, smoothies, and desserts.

Coconut cream is relatively high in saturated fat and calories. It also contains a small amount of protein and carbs in each serving.

A 1/2-cup (90-gram) serving of coconut cream contains the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 200
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fat: 20 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Potassium: 5% of the Daily Value (DV)

Adding coconut cream to your diet can bump up your intake of potassium, an essential nutrient that plays a key role in fluid balance and blood pressure levels (3).

Potassium is also necessary for several other aspects of health, including blood sugar management and bone health (4).


Coconut cream is high in saturated fat and calories. It also contains a small amount of protein, carbs, and potassium in each serving.

Coconut milk is a type of plant-based milk extracted from the pulp of the coconut. It’s a common ingredient in many Southeast Asian and Latin American cuisines.

Meanwhile, coconut cream is made by skimming off the thick top layer of chilled coconut milk, leaving behind the thinner, watery part below. It’s widely used as a vegan substitute for heavy cream in savory dishes and desserts alike.

Both ingredients share a similar, rich coconut-like flavor. However, coconut milk has a thinner consistency and is lower in fat and calories compared with coconut cream (2, 5).

Keep in mind that coconut cream is also different from cream of coconut, which is a sweetened syrup resembling condensed milk that’s typically made from coconut milk and sugar.


Coconut cream is made by skimming off the top, creamy layer of coconut milk. Compared with coconut milk, it’s thicker and contains more fat and calories per serving.

Coconut cream is a versatile ingredient that you can use in a variety of ways.

Improves taste and texture of dishes

Coconut cream can easily boost the taste and texture of many different dishes.

For example, use it to thicken and enrich recipes like casseroles, curries, and pasta sauces.

With its subtle, coconut flavor, it can also give a tasty twist to many desserts, including cookies, cakes, and puddings.

Though it may slightly alter the texture and consistency, coconut cream can also be used as a substitute for coconut milk in certain recipes, including soups, smoothies, and cocktails.

Vegan dairy substitute

Coconut cream is often used to add flavor and richness to vegan and dairy-free dishes and desserts.

It works especially well in recipes like sauces, curries, cakes, and custards.

You can also use coconut cream to make a vegan version of whipped cream. Simply mix it with a little maple syrup and vanilla extract to taste. Then, use a hand mixer for 1–2 minutes to give it a light and fluffy texture.


Coconut cream is high in fat and low in carbs and sugar. In fact, a 1/2-cup (90-gram) serving of coconut cream contains 20 grams of fat and just 3 grams of carbs (2).

For this reason, it is often used in many keto recipes in place of high carb ingredients.

It also makes a great addition to many low carb desserts, including keto-friendly coconut cream pie, ice cream, chocolate mousse, and coconut custard.

Plus, it can be added to coffee as a low carb alternative to sugar or cream.


Coconut cream can improve the taste and texture of many different dishes. It can also be used as a dairy substitute in vegan recipes and is a low carb, keto-friendly ingredient.

Though coconut cream can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, there are a few downsides to consider.

High in saturated fat

Coconut cream contains 20 grams of fat per 1/2-cup (90-gram) serving, of which approximately 95% is saturated (2).

While foods high in saturated fat can fit into a healthy, well-rounded diet, saturated fat has been shown to increase certain risk factors for heart disease, including levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol (6).

Additionally, although research shows that increased saturated fat intake isn’t directly linked to a higher risk of heart disease, replacing saturated fats with whole grains or healthy fats in your diet may benefit your heart health (7, 8, 9).

For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of saturated fats to 5–6% of your total daily calories (10).

If you eat 2,000 calories per day, just 1/4 cup (45 grams) of coconut cream will provide approximately 71–85% of the total amount of saturated fat you can consume per day (2, 10).

Calorie content

Coconut cream is relatively high in calories, with around 200 calories packed into each 1/2-cup (90-gram) serving (2).

This can be an important consideration if you’re trying to lose weight or decrease how many calories you consume per day. Consuming high calorie foods without making other adjustments to your diet could lead to weight gain (11).

Low fat Greek yogurt, coconut milk, or other milk alternatives like oat milk or almond milk are a few low calorie alternatives that can be used in place of coconut cream in many recipes (12, 13, 14, 15).

Nut allergies

Although uncommon, coconut allergies have been reported in some individuals (16).

What’s more, some people who are allergic to tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans may also be allergic to coconuts and coconut products, including this cream (17).

Many facilities that manufacture coconut milk also process tree nuts and other allergens, which could potentially lead to cross-contamination.

Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction after consuming coconut or coconut cream, discontinue use immediately and talk with a healthcare professional.


Coconut cream is high in calories and saturated fat. It could also cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Coconut cream is a versatile, dairy-free, and low carb ingredient that can enhance the taste and texture of many recipes.

For example, use it as a delicious addition to soups, smoothies, sauces, and desserts.

Because it’s high in calories and saturated fat, enjoy it in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Just one thing

Try this today: Though store-bought coconut cream is widely available, you can also make your own using canned or homemade coconut milk.

To make coconut milk at home, blend coconut flesh with a bit of water and use a nut milk bag to strain the liquid.

To make coconut cream at home, refrigerate coconut milk for at least a few hours, then skim off the thick, creamy layer that accumulates on top.

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