How to make coconut whipped cream

Coconut whipped cream

I’ve heard from a lot of people that making coconut whipped cream has proven to be a serious challenge – often times they can’t get the coconut milk fat to separate from the water, even after the can’s spent a good 24 hours in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, this has little to do with your cooling chamber and a lot to do with the stabilizers used to keep the coconut milk fat suspended in the liquid; the ingredients in some cans just won’t allow the two to separate.

Stabilizers aside, the other culprit is too much air – which you can avoid by picking up the can of coconut milk and giving it a gentle shake. If you can hear the liquid sloshing around, you need to put it back on the shelf – chances are this can is a dud as far as making coconut whipped cream is concerned. What you need to listen for is a small pocket of air that moves around, making a soft gurgley sound. This method has proven to be effective in finding cans of coconut milk that encourage milk fat separation. In other words, it’s never let me down. Not once.

If you don’t feel confident in your ability to differentiate between sloshing and gurgling, Thai Kitchen will be your best (and safest) bet. In my experience, it’s the only brand of coconut milk that has consistently produced good quality whipped cream. If you’re rolling your eyes because their cans are lined with BPA - I knooow. It pains me, but I suck it up and buy it because I’m not a fan of buying $2 cans of coconut milk that yield separation only 50% of the time. Which is what usually happens when I bring home Native Forest coconut milk with high hopes of turning it into whipped cream. When in doubt, buy a few different cans and experiment to see which brand works best for you. But for the love of Buddha, do not try to speed up the process by freezing the can. You’ll be left with a solid block of coconut milk and a half-exploded can. Not that I know from experience, or anything.

Update: The issue with Native Forest coconut milk appears to be the source. Milk sourced from Thailand typically separates, while the milk sourced from Sri Lanka usually does not. Also, I used Whole Foods brand coconut milk for the first time and it is superior to every canned coconut milk I’ve ever used – including Thai Kitchen. The milk fat is super dense and there appears to be more of it per can, compared to other varieties. If you can get your hands on it, go that route.

Refrigerated coconut milkThe good stuffWe be whippin'Iced coffee with coconut whipped creamStrawberries and coconut whipped creamDUDE

Notes: My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s super customizable and can take on whatever flavor your little taste buds desire. Strawberry? Muddle some strawberries and mix them in. Lemon? Squeeze in a bit of juice and add some zest for an extra kick. Peanut butter? A few scoops of the natural creamy stuff makes for a delicious peanut butter cream. Chocolate? I think you know what to do. You could also go crazy and add some whiskey and a bit of caramel sauce. And then use the boozy whipped cream to smother your favorite chocolate bundt cake. Or you can enjoy the creamy white stuff, in its simplest form, atop your favorite caffeinated beverage, with fresh fruit, or with strawberry-coconut shortcakes (which are coming soon). I’ve found 2 tablespoons to be perfect, but feel free to add as much or as little sugar as you’d like. Oh, and vanilla bean in place of the vanilla extract = ace.

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1-2 tbsp powdered cane sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of white, fatty goodness into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high speed for 15-20 seconds, just until the mixture turns to liquid. Sift in the powdered sugar (amount depends on how sweet you like it) and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immideately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. It will harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high speed until creamy again.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

  • vanilla bean blog May 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve made this a few times and really liked it, but never thought to refrigerate the can overnight. Brilliant.

  • Megan May 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Can’t wait to try this!

  • Asha @ FSK May 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Wow!! This is so simple. I have to try this soon!

  • london bakes May 14, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I opened a can of coconut milk the other day and was really annoyed that it had split when I wanted to use it as a liquid. I obviously should have gone the booze and caramel route instead of using it to make dinner ;)

  • eatgreatbegreat May 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    This sounds delicious! Thanks for the tips!

  • Joy Messier May 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been meaning to try this!

  • Kathryne May 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    It’s about time I tried this coconut whipped cream thing. Thanks for the tips! Especially the one about the freezer, not that I’d have been tempted to try or anything.

  • kelsey May 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I’m totally picturing you crouching in the cap hill whole foods shaking cans of coconut milk. LOVE IT. Will definitely be following suit, this is groundbreaking stuff Ash. ;) <3

  • Anonymous May 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    It’s the BPA that makes it reliably whippable, heh heh.. heh… :( I was going to recommend buying the Thai brands (Chaokoh, etc) because I never have trouble whipping them up, but I realized their cans probably have BPA in them too? ack! Just can’t win.

    I’m curious why you say to use a can of coconut milk, though. Why not just buy cans of coconut cream instead of separating it in the can?

    -Embla

    • Ashlae May 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Embla! I tend to stay away from products that aren’t readily available to most people. I live in Denver and have a hard time tracking down coconut cream, so I figure most of my readers will too. Besides, separating it in the cane is cheaper, anyway ;)

    • Lindsay May 15, 2013 at 3:00 am

      They have cans of coconut cream at trader joes, which a lot of people have access to.

      • Brenda Sheets July 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        YES! Trader Joe’s Coconut Heavy Cream works like a dream. I’ve never had a problem–not even once! I use Whole Foods for coffee and other general uses but Trader Joe’s is definitely for whipped cream.

    • Ashlae May 15, 2013 at 3:14 am

      Full fat coconut milk is still far more accessible than coconut cream.

  • molly yeh May 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    brilliant! i want to do this for my next cake! i also recently started replacing regular milk with coconut milk in a magnolia chocolate cake that i make, and it is way moister and has a whole new flavor element! i’m thinking coconut chocolate cake with coconut whipped cream on top.

    • Ashlae May 14, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      I’m thinking you should invite me over for that cake.

  • Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch May 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I love coconut whipped cream! It tastes delicious and will be great on all the fresh berries of the season!!! Yummy!!!

  • NotGuiltyPleasure May 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Awesome, I will definitely try this! I bought a package of coconut whipped cream but found the taste to fake! Great tips, thanks for sharing.

  • Lisa May 15, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Thank you for this. Although I could have used it Sunday since I was trying to make some :)

  • Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} May 15, 2013 at 12:20 am

    That strawberry shortcake looks incredible! I love coconut whipped cream, but like you, have found that some brands don’t whip up as well.

  • Jade Sheldon May 15, 2013 at 4:04 am

    I’ve yet to try it but I think now I have to. Especially since berries are finally coming into season…

  • gingergirl May 15, 2013 at 6:01 am

    this looks absolutely AMAZING. saw your cake on instagram and oh my did it look good! i’m thinking banana cake, with chocolate ganache sandwiched in between, topped with this whipped cream and berry compote. oh my.

  • GlutenFreeHappyTummy May 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    This is so helpful! Thank you!!

  • Laura May 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Yes, Thai Kitchen is my homie for this particular application too. Peeps need to be real on BPA and realize that having consistently successful coconut whip is REALLY EFFIN IMPORTANT.

    Also, I bought that TJ’s coconut cream hoping it would be all whip, all the time. But I found that shit gritty as hell. Have you tried it? Did I get a bad can? I feel like, as an American with regular access to TJ’s, you will have ALL the answers on this :)

    • Kris OMalley July 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      I tried the trader’s joe’s coconut cream in hopes of finally having to stop being disappointed over many many cans of coconut milk not firming up and then getting mad and tossing it out. I bought several cans of the Trader Joe’s coconut cream and yes it made nice whipped cream but whatever it is that is added to it, some long name I cannot pronounce, and it makes me cough everytime I eat it. So whatever that junk is they put in their makes it firm but it is very gritty and not smooth, not buying again.

      • Nevin August 17, 2013 at 7:51 am

        Agree with TJ coconut cream using ingredient that makes it gritty and also makes me cough. Not a good option.

  • Constance May 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

    It look sooo good! and you photos are gorgeous!

  • Erin Van Genderen May 21, 2013 at 1:42 am

    So good. I made this for tonight’s dessert (for our one-year wedding anniversary) paired with fresh raspberries and shaved dark chocolate. Perfection!

  • Thess May 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Wow, this looks so delicious! I have just discovered your blog, and I am very impressed! Your photos are amazing and I love your recipes :) btw, I understand you are going to europe – you should come to scandinavia! Expensive (at least in norway), but breathtakingly beautiful!

  • Meg May 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Shit this looks orgasmic.

  • Sarah May 23, 2013 at 4:48 am

    I’ve never had rhubarb before!

  • Kitty May 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. I’ve always wondered what the deal was with certain brands separating.

    A hint from Chloe Coscarelli: if you use vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, it won’t add any unnecessary liquid to the cream, which helps prevent it from being runny.

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  • J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats June 4, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I’ve seen many posts for the coconut whipped cream but this is the first time I’ve seen it broken down by which types work and why some don’t work and others do. Thank you for going the extra mile!

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  • Eric Isaac June 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    cans of coconut cream at Trader Joe’s – just the cream, no milk. Will vastly improve your whipped cream making experience!

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  • danielle June 19, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I have a hard time paying so much for cans of coconut milk since I cook with it pretty often, so to save a little $$$ I have started buying the large cartons of coconut milk (usually found by the almond/soy milks in the refrigerated health food section of my store), which cost about the same as a can but are usually 4x as much milk, then just freeze smaller amounts in baggies for later. Has anyone tried making whipped cream out of coconut milk from the cartons instead of a can?

    • Ashlae June 19, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Canned coconut milk and carton coconut milk are two entirely different milk products. Unfortunately, you will not be able to make whipped cream from the carton variety, as there are too many additives binding what very little milk fat there is, to the water.

    • Connie August 4, 2013 at 12:00 am

      If you look you will see that it is indeed NOT coconut milk. It is a coconut milk beverage. Kind of like the difference between 100% orange juice and orange kool aid or Tang. It may taste like coconut and can be used to replace milk but it is not coconut milk.

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    I’m new to your site. I love EVERYTHING here!! Fabulous recipes (and photos)!!

  • Michelle July 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    HELP! I did all the prep work, the can separated beautifully. Got nice chuncks of coconut cream/fat in bowl. Then the whipping started but nothing else. I whipped hoping to see air or fluffiness but instead I start getting a grainy mess. It looked like I over whipped but it was only 30 seconds.
    The only thing I can think about is the heat. Maybe the kitchen is too hot (July in NYC).
    Any suggestions or trouble shooting? I put the cream back in the fridge to hopefully try again.

    • Ashlae July 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      If it’s grainy, it’s because you got a bad can of coconut milk. :( Also, coconut milk whipped cream isn’t going to get as light and fluffy as its dairy containing counterpart – but it absolutely should not be grainy.

  • Tonya July 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I used the Trader Joes brand of full fat coconut milk and it was AMAZING. Other then about 2 tablespoons of coconut water the rest was creamy coconut goodness. The only kind of canned full fat coconut milk I will use from now on. Plus, the recipe was a hit.

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  • Brian July 16, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Have you tried doing this with Cream of Coconut? I see Goya makes it, and I’ve used both the milk and the cream in my ice creams, but I often have the coconut cream left over.

    • Ashlae July 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Hi Brian! I haven’t. A lot of coconut creams have weird stabilizers added to them and I prefer to stay away from those.

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  • Nil July 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    I had success with Thai Kitchen brand milk, then last time it failed. I’m pretty sure they are watering it down, since the ingredient list includes water. I need to find a good source in Canada!

    • Ashlae July 25, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      THOSE JERKS. If you have a Whole Foods, theirs is best.

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  • Teddi July 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Is there an alternative to the powdered sugar? Do you think that I could get away with maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar?

    • Ashlae August 1, 2013 at 5:39 am

      Yep! But it’ll make the whipped cream a bit on the runny side.

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  • Courtney March 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I live in rural North America, where the nearest Whole Foods is an hour away, and the nearest Trader Joe’s is over two hours away. I try to go there as often as I can, but usually can’t make those trips more than a few times a year. :( I’m so glad to have the more accessible options to make (still much) healthier food choices.

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