Tips from The Kitchn

Leftover Coconut Cream? Here Are 6 Ways to Use It Up!

Image Credit: Anjali Prasertong

If you're at our house, desserts, salads, and soups often require a bit of coconut cream. Those partial cans would often go to waste, but I've started to get much better about finding creative ways to put them back to work.

Image Credit: Emily Han

Is Coconut Cream the Same Thing as Coconut Milk?

Before diving in, it's worth quickly touching on the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream. You've probably seen both at the store and, perhaps, stood there in the aisle trying to recall which one your recipe calls for.

The main difference is that coconut milk will have the layer of thick coconut cream as well as the watery coconut milk underneath, but coconut cream is only made of that thick, spoonable cream.

Image Credit: Nealey Dozier

6 Delicious Ways to Use Coconut Cream

I realize many recipes don't call for an entire can of coconut cream, so it can be a quandary how to use one up. Here are my favorite ways to use up coconut cream:

1. Whip It!

Making whipped cream from coconut milk couldn't be easier or more delicious, but since you're relying on the thick layer of coconut cream at the top of the can of coconut milk, using coconut cream instead means that the whole thing is dense, thick, and whippable.

→ Get a recipe: Mango Coconut Icebox Cake

2. Smoothies

Adding a little coconut cream into your next smoothie recipe is a really easy way to use up any leftovers you may have at home. It adds a mellow, slightly sweet flavor and a little fat which will thicken up your smoothies and compliment any summer berries or stone fruits.

3. Curries

Many curry recipes call for coconut milk as it is. I find that if I have some remaining coconut cream in a can, I just fold that into the recipe as well to add a boost of flavor and a nice thickness. It's possible you may just need to adjust your seasoning at the end, but this is so often the case with personal preference anyhow.

4. Soups

Adding your leftover can of coconut cream to any cream-based or pureed soup is an easy way to use up leftovers. I've even added mine to a chicken vegetable soup we make and it's delicious. Much like with curries, I find I have to amp up the salt and seasoning just a bit because the coconut cream is so mild, but because of this it can be a great addition to very full-flavored soups like broccoli or cauliflower.

5. Whole-Grain Cooking

We cook a lot of whole grains in our house and when I'm working on a breakfast or dessert recipe, I love swapping in a little (or a lot of) coconut cream in addition to the cooking water for a rich, decadent creamy porridge.

6. Milkshakes

A partial can of coconut cream just begs to be folded into a milkshake along with your favorite ice cream or yogurt, and seasonal mix in. I've come to love this Banana Nutella and Coconut Yogurt Shake, and am really looking forward to trying this Coconut Shake recipe.

What do you like to do with coconut cream?