The difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is the amount of coconut flesh to water. Coconut cream has four times the coconut flesh which makes it thicker and richer. and if you’re going to use coconut cream instead of coconut milk, be aware that you’ll be doubling the fat and calories.
Best for: anywhere you use coconut milk; can be watered down slightly if necessary.
Evaporated milk with coconut essence
An almost direct substitute for coconut milk, Carnation Light & Creamy Cooking Milk with Coconut Essence will do the trick and you’ll save around 300kJ and 18g of fat per 100ml in the process. Just remember you can’t use Light & Creamy Evaporated Milk in a slow cooker as it will curdle and separate due to being 98.5% fat free.
Best for: curries, smoothies and coffee
Creamy Evaporated Milk
It doesn’t have the coconut flavour (although you could add coconut essence), but the creaminess of evaporated milk is a great alternative for coconut milk. And you can use this in all the same ways you would regular coconut milk.
Best for: smoothies, baking and slow cooking
You’ll be doubling the calories and fat but you will get about 70mg more calcium per 100ml. However, in terms of cooking ability, cream is a great replacement for coconut milk. To maintain the consistency of coconut milk you can use single cream and if you want something thicker use double or whipping cream.
Best for: puddings and rice dishes
Low-fat cream cheese and milk
Whenever you use dairy instead of coconut milk you’ll need to be mindful that they cook differently. Dairy products won’t withstand the heat in the same way so will generally need to be added at the end of cooking.
Best for: Laksa and curries
Coconut milk has become a common vegan staple for smoothies and raw desserts, so if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk, rice milk is another great substitute for coconut milk. To add the creamy coconut flavour add a sprinkle of shredded or desiccated coconut to your smoothie bowl and blend as usual.
Best for: Smoothies, smoothie bowls, cereal and muesli
Cashew, almond or macadamia milk
If all you want is milk for your latte then any other nut milk will suffice. Similar in stability, macadamia milk can be frothed up just like coconut milk and provides a similar nutty flavour (not quite as coconut-y but equally as delicious). It’s also less likely to have added sugar.
Best for: hot drinks
Most of the replacements for coconut milk are dairy which isn’t great if you’re lactose intolerant. Yoghurt therefore can be a slightly better option. Still containing lactose but less of it, yoghurt provides the same creaminess of coconut milk and can be used in cooking in much the same way.
Best for: Asian dishes and smoothies
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