Cream of Coconut – Make Fantastic Coconut Syrup For Drinks and Food

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Cream of Coconut
Cream of Coconut

Should I Buy Cream Of Coconut Or Make It?

Always make your own syrup. Never buy syrup, but it’s ok to buy this one if you want to. Coco Lopez and Coco Real are both pretty good products, but the homemade stuff is noticeably better. The ingredients in a homemade cream of coconut are much better too. If you have the ingredients and 10 minutes, make your own. If you need to go to the store to buy cream of coconut anyway, you can purchase the ingredients instead and make a much better product.

The Difference Between Cream Of Coconut, Coconut Cream, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Water.

While they all sound similar, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, and cream of coconut are very different. Exactly what coconuts are processed into depends on how mature the coconut is. Coconuts are only harvested when they are young or old. Young green coconuts are sweeter and have more sweet tasty water and less fatty meat. Older brown coconuts have less sweet delicious water and more fatty meat. Check out the differences below to know what each one is used for.

1). Cream Of Coconut

Cream of coconut is the equivalent of coconut syrup in the United States. Like the white coconut syrup used on top of pancakes or desserts. I don’t know why it has a unique name when used in cocktails, but maybe it had to do with the drink’s Spanish language origins. The Spanish word for coconut cream is crema de coco, and every crema de coco I have ever had always had sugar added. The American coconut creams all seem to be unsweetened by default, but I never had a Spanish one growing up that didn’t have sugar added. It kind of makes sense as coconut cream is mainly used for desserts. So maybe that’s it? Perhaps as the recipe was making its way to the United States, bartenders learned that they needed to use a Spanish coconut cream/crema de coco for the right drink to taste. The coconut cream for mixing became known as cream of coconut. Growing up, I remember I hated all the Hispanic coconut creams and waters because they were super sweet with tons of added sugar, and I would ask my parents to only get the American ones at “normal” grocery stores. That’s my best guess anyway.

Coconut cream is good if you plan to make this at home, but it makes for a very dense and overly fatty syrup. Coconut milk works better for making a Spanish-style crema de coco/cream of coconut, as the fat to coconut water ratio is better. That’s just my opinion, though.

2). Coconut Cream

Coconut cream is made from just older brown coconuts. I’ve noticed that coconut creams have added sugars in Spanish cultures, not commonly added in American coconut creams. Check your can and see if it has added sugar and if it tastes sweet. If it does, then it’s OK to use as is in a cocktail, but if it doesn’t, check out the recipe to see how to turn it into a sweetened Spanish-style crema de coco/cream of coconut.

3). Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from both green and older brown coconuts. Coconut milk is made by combining the water of green coconuts with the fatty meat of older brown coconuts. I used to think the coconuts were just harvested at the halfway point, but that’s not the case. Coconuts are harvested either young or old, and coconut milk is a mix of the two. Coconut milk is excellent for cooking and making drinks. It’s sweet and fatty, so it’s a perfect middle ground between the two. Use coconut milk to make a cream of coconut. It’s the right balance of fat and water.

4). Coconut Water

The coconut water you buy at a store to drink is the fluid inside a coconut and is processed from only young green coconuts. Coconut water is usually harvested from 6-month-old green coconut. Coconut water is pretty Healthy. It’s high in potassium, magnesium, and manganese, suitable for your bones, blood pressure, heart, hydration, etc. Most everyone knows coconut water is a healthier alternative to sugary beverages but Google it for more exact information. If you drink too much, the worst is that you get diarrhea. Also, you can not make a cream of coconut with this.

What Are Some Cream Of Coconut Substitutes?

The two main store-bought cream of coconuts are Coco Lopez and Coco Real. Coco Real has slightly better ingredients, but Coco Lopez is the original. For the most part, though, they are pretty similar, and so are all the other smaller brands. If you have coconut cream but don’t feel like making a whole thing of cream of coconut (I know the names are too similar), then split the cream of coconut volume between coconut cream and simple syrup. Pew, that was difficult to write, so I imagine it was hard to read. Here is an example of what I am saying. If your pina colada recipe calls for 4 oz cream of coconut, then add 2 oz coconut cream and 2 oz of simple syrup.

As far as substituting cream of coconut entirely, try using evaporated milk. It’s very similar to cream of coconut and can be substituted 1:1 directly. The other option is to leave it out entirely if the drink still works. It can’t be left out of a pina colada (you can’t make the drink without it), but an Acapulco is just as good with cream of coconut as it is without.

The Benefits Of Adding An Emulsifier.

Cream of coconut can be made by just adding sugar and coconut milk together, and it would be great. It would constantly separate, and the fats would get stiff as they cool. Coconut fats start to solidify at a pretty warm 75f (24c), which needs to be kept above that to stay liquid. The solution to both of these issues is to add an emulsifier. Common emulsifiers in food are lecithin and mono-glycerides, and di-glycerides. These can be bought online as purified powders since they are common in baking and super fancy restaurants. Egg yolks also contain lecithin and adding an egg yolk provided the same results. Egg yolks are around 10 – 15% lecithin (that’s quite a bit). For the volume of syrup this recipe makes, you’ll need about 3 grams of lecithin (we need about .5% of the volume of the syrup, so ~600g * .005 = 3g). Egg yolk is around 30g, so one egg yolk will work (~30g * .01 = 3g lecithin).

It doesn’t make it taste odd; it adds a nice texture. I think it tastes a bit better with the egg yolk. So add an egg yolk if you want and if not, keep it warm and shake it before each use. The egg yolk works well; it stays liquid and evenly mixed even in the fridge.


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Cream of Coconut

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American




Total time



Make the best cream of coconut.


  • 2 tsp Corn Starch

  • 1.5 cups White Sugar

  • 1 tin can Coconut Milk

  • 1 Egg Yolk

  • 1 small pinch Salt


  • Thicken corn starch with cold water and set aside.
  • Combine the coconut milk, salt, sugar, and egg yolk in a pan and whiskey together.
  • Turn on to medium heat, add the thickened corn starch, and stir till sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in the fridge for up to a week.

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