Coconut whipped cream is a dairy-free alternative to classic whipped cream. It's light, fluffy, and can be whipped up in under 5 minutes. Because the only ingredient is coconut cream, coconut whipped cream is vegan (egg-free, dairy-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
I am sure coconut whipped cream isn't new to many of you. It’s simple and quick to make. However, if you have made coconut whipped cream before, you know that sometimes:
- The coconut fat doesn't separate from the water.
- The cream is grainy no matter how long and hard you whip it.
- The coconut whipped cream isn't as rich and doesn't always form as stiff peaks quite as well as traditional whipped cream.
Not doing much to sell this, am I? It tastes great and looks wonderful, but you do need to know a few tricks to make it successful every single time.
What is Coconut Whipped Cream
Coconut whipped cream is made from either fresh coconut cream or the solid coconut cream that separates from the water in a can of full-fat coconut milk.
Nowadays, you can also get an entire can of coconut cream without any water. As you might expect, the difference between milk and cream is in concentration and consistency. A can of coconut cream is usually equivalent to the cream from two cans of full-fat coconut milk.
The brilliant thing about coconut cream is that it whips up into thick yet airy whipped cream. While the consistency is fairly similar to regular whipped cream, the flavor is slightly coconut-y.
Tips for Making Coconut Whipped Cream
If you have an abundance of fresh mature coconuts, homemade coconut cream beats canned any time. It’s just as thick and creamy as the canned version, but it’s raw and tastes so much better. If you don't have fresh coconut cream, both canned full-fat coconut milk and coconut cream work just fine.*
If you use canned coconut milk, look for:
- Full-fat: since whipped cream is, well, fat, you absolutely need to use canned full-fat coconut milk. Light or reduced-fat coconut milk won't work because it's just watered-down full-fat coconut milk.
- Without emulsifiers: emulsifiers are chemical additives that make it possible for water and oil to become finely dispersed in each other, creating a homogeneous emulsion. If the coconut milk contains emulsifiers, it's unlikely to separate into the thick coconut cream and watery component. Common coconut milk emulsifiers include guar gum, carrageenan, and methyl cellulose. So look for a brand that doesn't contain emulsifiers. Better yet, look for a brand with only two ingredients - coconut and water.
- Without too much air: pick up a can of coconut milk and give it a gentle shake. If you can hear the liquid sloshing around, put it back on the shelf (it has too much air in it). Try to find a can with only a small pocket of air, making a soft gurgly sound. If you hear nothing when you shake the can, that's a good sign that the coconut milk has already somewhat separated.
*Be careful not to confuse coconut cream (mature coconut flesh blended with water) for creamed coconut (ground up, dehydrated, and compressed mature coconut flesh) or cream of coconut (highly sweetened version of coconut cream).
Brands of Coconut Milk & Coconut Cream
Some brands of coconut milk whip up better than others. Selecting a good quality brand of coconut milk (or coconut cream) is perhaps the most important factor in making perfectly whipped, light, and fluffy coconut whipped cream. However, sometimes even the brands I recommend (and use all the time) flop. Sometimes the companies change their formulas, sometimes, there's an odd can that just doesn't work.
Don't let that discourage you, though. Just know that if it doesn’t work once, it may not be you — it may be the brand or something that went wrong with a batch.
Here is a list of brands I have personally tried, listed from the best to worst.
- Aroy-D Coconut Milk: I absolutely love Aroy-D coconut milk. The cream is light and fluffy straight out of the can and whips up beautifully. The ingredients also are great - just coconut and water.
- Savoy Coconut Cream: Savoy is my favorite coconut cream for sure. It's fluffy and creamy straight out of the can and whips like a dream. Just like Aroy-D, the only ingredients are coconut and water.
- 365 Whole Foods Organic Coconut Milk: 365 is a little bit firmer to scoop out but whips up perfectly. Because it's on the firmer side, I usually add a little bit of the leftover coconut water to the bowl. My only complaint is that it contains guar gum.
- Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk: I know some people swear by this brand. I used it in the past and didn't find it consistent at all. Some cans would separate, but others (most!) would not. I've read that the quality depends on where the product is sourced. The milk sourced from Thailand typically separates. while the milk sourced from Sri Lanka does not. I also don't like that it contains guar gum.
- Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk: Thai Kitchen used to be my go-to brand for canned coconut milk until I found out that it's packaged in BPA cans. They also recently changed their formula, and the coconut cream is very firm and hard to scoop. It whipped grainy and a little less fluffy than the other brands. It contains guar gum.
How to Make Coconut Whipped Cream
With just three ingredients and a hand mixer, making coconut whipped cream couldn’t be any easier. Here’s how to do it:
- Refrigerate the can of coconut milk (or coconut cream). Whether you use fresh or canned coconut milk or coconut cream, refrigerate it for at least 12 hours, ideally for 24 hours. First of all, the colder the cream, the faster it will whip and the firmer the peaks will be. Second, if using canned products, the only way to separate the solid coconut cream from the water is to refrigerate it. I like to keep at least a couple of cans of coconut milk in the back of my fridge just in case I need a quick whipped cream for a recipe. Make sure to chill the coconut milk In the fridge rather than a quick chill in the freezer. Freezing won’t give it enough time to separate properly.
- Chill a mixing bowl. The longer the coconut cream stays cool, the longer it will hold its shape. Just like regular whipped cream, coconut whipped cream, unless it contains stabilizers, melts if not refrigerated. So, it helps to chill the mixing bowl for 30 minutes in the refrigerator (or for 10 minutes in the freezer) before whipping the cream.
- Scoop out the coconut cream. Open the can of coconut milk (be careful not to tip or shake the can) as soon as you remove it from the refrigerator. The solid coconut cream should have separated to the top, while the coconut water is on the bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out the hardened coconut cream into the pre-chilled bowl. Pour the coconut water into a separate storage container and use it in a different recipe (I usually use mine in a smoothie or oatmeal).
If using coconut cream, you can use the entire can.
- Whip the coconut cream. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. The faster it whips, the better. At first, the peaks will be soft (first photo below) but will firm up after a couple of minutes (second photo below). Beating the cream for longer than 5 minutes won't make it firmer. It actually seems to deflate it a bit. So don't overdo it. If the coconut whipped cream is too stiff when whipping, add some of the reserved liquid from the can to help it blend smoother. Also, some brands of coconut cream can overwhip if you go too long and start to separate. If your cream is quite thick to start with, you might not need to whip it for long at all.
- Flavor (optional). Add a sweetener of choice and vanilla extract, and beat for additional 30 seconds. Powdered sweetener is ideal as a liquid sweetener will thin the whipped cream, while granulated sweetener won't dissolve in the cream. The only time you would want to use liquid sweetener is if your coconut cream is thick and waxy, to begin with.
How to Store Whipped Coconut Cream
- Refrigerating: transfer the coconut whipped cream into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. It will thicken up slightly when chilled, so you may need to re-whip it before serving to get the same fluffy texture.
Coconut Whipped Cream Variations
You can either keep coconut whipped cream plain (unsweetened) or sweeten it. It really depends on what you're using it for. Are you eating the whipped cream with an already sweet dessert? Then there's no need to sweeten it. Are you using it as a dip for fruit? Then you may want to sweeten the cream.
My favorite way to flavor the whipping cream is to use various extracts, such as vanilla or almond, but no sweeteners.
How to Use Coconut Whipped Cream
Coconut whipped cream is great either as a topping for desserts or as a dip for fruit, such as strawberries. I also use coconut whipped cream as a base for many recipes, such as chocolate mousse, no-churn ice cream, and even cake fillings.
However, whipped coconut cream doesn't keep well at room temperature. So, if you're using it to decorate cakes or cupcakes, you will need to keep the cakes/cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Coconut Whipped Cream
- Chill the coconut milk (or coconut cream). Place the can of coconut milk (or coconut cream) in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 12 hours, ideally for 24 hours. This will encourage the separation of the coconut cream and coconut water,
- Chill a mixing bowl. Place a glass or metal bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before whipping the coconut cream (or for 10 minutes in the freezer).
- Scoop out the cream. Remove the can of coconut milk (or coconut cream) from the refrigerator, careful not to shake the can. Using a spoon, scoop out the hardened coconut cream into the pre-chilled bowl. Pour the coconut water into a separate storage container and use it in a different recipe.
- Whip the cream. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the cream until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. The faster it whips, the better. If the coconut whipped cream is too stiff when whipping, add some of the reserved liquid from the can to help it blend smoother.
- Flavor. Add a sweetener of choice and vanilla extract, and mix for additional 30 seconds.
- Serve immediately.
- Store. Leftover whipped coconut cream keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It will harden and set in the fridge the longer it’s chilled. Re-whip as needed.