Making curry dishes or even cream-based dishes is not complete without coconut cream. Aside from the fact that it makes the dish creamier, it also brings wonderful aroma and flavor that highlights the dish even more. You can use it for both savory and dessert dishes.
That’s why it’s unfortunate when you run out some coconut cream. But it’s not the end of the world, you can substitute it with heavy cream instead. Other substitutes you can choose from are evaporated milk, whole milk, low-fat yogurt, almond milk, and rice milk.
Substitutes for Coconut Cream
Here’s an easy guide on how to substitute these with coconut cream plus a surprise recipe at the end. Don’t miss it!
1. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is one of my favorite substitutes when I run out of coconut cream. Truth be told, it actually has the same consistency. It’s just that the aroma of coconut is missing as well as the distinct taste. But it really does make the dish creamier especially for curries and other cream-based stews.
Be careful though when choosing at the grocery store because you might confuse it with whipped cream, it’s totally different. Whipped cream is more solidified and less watery. It’s only perfect for desserts as a topping and not for savory dishes. I usually get Nestle’s All-Purpose Cream or make one of my own from whole milk.
I like using heavy cream for substitutions because it’s easy to do so. 1 cup of heavy cream is good to substitute over 1 cup of coconut cream. With the texture and consistency of the dish, there’s no denying it’s the same as using coconut cream.
2. Evaporated Milk
Another option you can find in the market is evaporated milk. The difference between regular milk and evaporated milk is that evaporated milk went through a process of eliminating a big percentage of its liquid and retaining more of its milk proteins. That’s the reason why it’s thicker than most regular milk. It’s also sweeter as well so I usually do this substituted when making desserts.
If you like it sweeter and concentrated, you can opt for condensed milk. But I like using evaporated milk since it’s less sweet and more creamy. I like using Nestle Evaporated Milk because it’s not that sweet. It’s perfect for cooking oatmeal, topping for cocoa porridge, or when making bread pudding. It’s a little bit sweet already so you may want to adjust the sugar content.
Use half a cup of evaporated milk over 1 cup of coco cream. That’s because evaporated milk is sweeter and thicker compared to coco cream. You don’t need that much amount to elevate the taste and sweetness of the dessert. But if you really like it sweeter, add ¼ cup more but don’t substitute using a 1:1 ratio.
3. Whole Milk
When all else fails and you only have whole milk from the fridge, no worries. You can actually make it work. Milk is both great for savory and sweet dishes. It’s actually the most flexible and diverse substitute that we have here on our list.
For example, when cooking curries, I sometimes use milk when I don’t have much of an option. But take note, milk is not thick so the curry sauce might be a little bit runny. What I do to resolve the runny consistency is to mix 2 teaspoons of flour with 1 cup of milk to increase its thickness. Believe me, it works some real wonders.
To substitute a cup of coconut cream, use a cup of whole milk mixed with flour for your dishes. This technique is like using actual evaporated milk. You can use it for making soups and stews more creamy or for baked dishes that call for coconut cream.
4. Low Fat Yogurt
If you’re looking into a healthier option, one of your best bets would be low-fat yogurt. Before I used to think yogurt is only good for desserts or breakfast bowl dishes. But, I was wrong. It’s also great for savory dishes like lamb stews and curries.
I ended up using it a lot with most of my dishes because of how it makes the dish more creamy and tasty. Regular yogurt and not the sweetened ones are good for dishes to not only add creaminess but also to thicken the sauce. It’s a natural food thickener instead of using cornstarch or other thickening agents.
Since yogurt is more full in the body compared to coconut cream, I recommend using ¾ cup of yogurt over 1 cup of coconut cream. This can be used for 2 lbs of meat curry with vegetables so you get the best result possible, especially for achieving the right consistency of the sauce.
5. Almond Milk
For vegans and health-conscious alike, we can’t finish the list without making a good plant-based substitute for coconut cream. Almond milk is the safest bet or other nut-based milk when you don’t have coconut cream. You can actually make one of your own at home with just a blender, almonds, and water. Very simple and easy.
But for convenience wise, I highly recommend using Silk Organic Almond Milk. It’s best to choose organic variants to ensure that you’re not taking any chemical inside your body. Almond milk has gained popularity for making alternative healthy desserts for those who can’t eat any dairy products. This option is not only perfect for desserts but as well as for savory dishes.
Since almond milk is a bit thinner in texture compared to coconut cream, I suggest doing the same technique as whole milk. Mix 2 teaspoons of flour to a cup of almond milk.
Another technique you can do is by sauteing butter and flour until it turns into a paste and then add the almond milk. Cook until it’s thicker than its original form. Once it thickens, substitute a cup of almond milk over a cup of coconut cream to any dish.
6. Rice Milk
On to our last substitute candidate is another vegan-friendly choice, rice milk. Rice milk just like almond milk has its own variant now in many stores. Especially in this generation where people start looking into their diet, alternatives such as this are really great for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, without depriving yourself.
You can also make one of your own at home. You will only need some cooked rice, water, fruits or nuts, and a blender to make it into milk. It’s beneficial to make your own at home since you have the option to make it thicker or sweeter. But if there’s no luxury of time to do it, you can pick packaged rice milk.
For substituting a cup of coconut cream, just use a cup of rice milk for your dishes. Rice milk can be used as well for both savory and dessert dishes. But I personally use it for rice puddings, bread puddings, cookies, and other baked dishes that I use with coconut cream. It’s healthy and really easy to make.
We hope you liked our line-up of coconut cream substitutes for this article. You have at least 6 choices to choose from whenever you lack coconut cream in the kitchen.
Homemade Coconut Cream Recipe
However, if you really want to stock up some coconut cream in the kitchen, here’s a BONUS RECIPE for you that you can easily do at home.
- 100 grams of grated coconut meat
- 1 liter of coconut juice or almond milk (for vegan option)
- If you purchased a coconut shell with the meat on, you would have to grate it to get its meat. Then weigh it if it reaches 100 grams, set aside then store the leftover in the fridge. (You can also purchase ready grated coconut meat to save you some time, but nothing beats freshly grated coconut meat.)
- In a large saucepan, mix in your coconut juice and grated coconut milk. Stir in and cover to bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Once the mixture starts to boil, check the mixture often with occasional stirring. This is to avoid the coconut cream to get thicker or coagulate on top.
- Once it’s the texture is creamy, turn off the heat and let the coconut cream cool at room temperature for at least an hour.
- After cooling it down, the coconut cream should be ready now for straining. Grab a strainer and separate the cream from the grated coconut.
- Set aside the discarded grated coconut meat for other uses for cooking and keep the coconut cream.
- Store the coconut cream in an airtight jar or glass milk bottle for 5 days in the fridge.
This recipe will surely keep your fridge a constant stock of homemade coconut cream. Enjoy!