Difference between Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream

Updated on August 2, 2016

The words “milk” and “cream” are so easily associated with one another that sometimes they are thought to be one and the same. In reality, however, they aren’t. The difference between these two terms can be understood through different food ingredients that come in “milk” form and in “cream” form. In this particular article, we will discuss this difference using coconut milk and coconut cream as examples.

Definitions

Coconut Milk
Fresh coconut milk

Coconut milk is the liquid that is acquired from the grated meat of a brown coconut. Traditionally, it is made by mixing the said grated meat or white inner flesh of the coconut with a small amount of water in order to suspend the existing fat in the liquid. Its high oil content (which is mostly saturated fat) is the reason for its color and rich taste. There are several grades of coconut milk: from thick milk at 20-22% fat to thin milk at 5-7% fat. Thick coconut milk is prepared by squeezing the grated meat through cheesecloth, while thin coconut milk is prepared by soaking the already squeezed meat in water, then squeezing it once more. Thick coconut milk is primarily used for making desserts while thin coconut milk is often used for soups and general cooking.

coconut cream
Coconut cream concentrate

Coconut cream is much like coconut milk but with less water content. It is made from refrigerated coconut milk that has been given some time to set. The thick, non-liquid substance that rises to the top of the coconut milk afterwards is now the coconut cream. This coconut cream is thicker and richer than coconut milk.

Coconut Milk vs Coconut Cream

So what is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? Coconut milk is the liquid produced by squeezing grated coconut meat through cheesecloth, while coconut cream is the non-liquid substance that rises to the top of coconut milk after it has been refrigerated and allowed adequate time to set. The primary difference between the two in terms of physical quality is their form or consistency. Coconut milk is liquid while coconut cream is thicker and paste-like.

Comparison Chart

Coconut MilkCoconut Cream
Liquid in form/consistencyThick and paste-like form/consistency
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