You’ve opened a can of coconut cream only to use part of it for a recipe – now what? Can you freeze what’s left, or should you just toss it?
Yes, you can freeze coconut cream in the freezer for 2-3 months, which is good news for anyone who hates to throw partially-used cans of food (or milk) out!
Coconut cream may lose some of its original texture after it’s been frozen and thawed, but will likely retain its original flavor. Read on to learn what to expect when freezing coconut cream, along with some tips to preserve the freshness of your coconut cream-based dishes.
How (and why) to freeze coconut cream
Coconut cream has a short shelf life once it’s opened and will only maintain ideal flavor and freshness for a couple of days in the refrigerator, which is one of the main reasons you might consider freezing it.
You can freeze coconut cream for around 2-3 months if it’s in a sealed container. Simply scoop the coconut cream into your preferred freezer-safe dish and place it in the freezer.
Coconut cream tends to freeze better than coconut milk because it contains less liquid. If you freeze coconut milk, the liquid and solids will separate, and once thawed the coconut milk tends to take on a “grainy” texture.
Coconut cream might not maintain the same texture once it’s frozen and thawed, but it will likely maintain its original texture better than frozen coconut milk.
What is coconut cream, and what are its common uses?
Coconut cream is the thickest part of coconut milk, which is made by heating coconut pulp and straining the liquid. Coconut cream is the layer of fat skimmed off the top of freshly made coconut milk once it has cooled, making it higher in fat than canned and carton coconut milk.
Coconut cream is often used to add flavor and a creamy texture in cooking and baking, especially:
- Vegan and dairy-free baking
- Curries and other Indian dishes
- Dairy-free desserts
You can buy coconut cream in a can. Due to its high saturated fat content, coconut cream is solid at room temperature. Unlike carton coconut milk and cream made from cow’s milk, coconut cream isn’t meant for drinking since it’s not in liquid form.
What’s the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream?
As mentioned earlier, coconut cream is lower in liquid than coconut milk – but how else do they compare?
Coconut milk in the carton is essentially coconut cream diluted with water and is suitable for drinking, in cereal, and in other instances when you’d use cow’s milk.
Canned coconut milk is a higher-liquid version of coconut cream. Canned coconut milk contains coconut cream and liquid as a result of heating coconut pulp and straining it; the solid coconut cream and liquid separate once they’re cooled.
Coconut cream is the solid fat portion of canned coconut milk but without the liquid (or at least less liquid).
If you want more information on the differences between them, check out our full explainer on coconut cream vs coconut milk.
Which is healthier – coconut cream or milk?
Coconut milk is definitely healthier than coconut cream. It has lower fat and fewer calories than coconut cream, because it’s essentially coconut cream that has been diluted with water. However, you lose some of the creaminess of coconut cream. As always, it’s about balance and ensuring you have the right stuff for the job.
For example, coconut milk is a cornerstone ingredient for my favorite coconut whipped cream recipe.
By contrast, coconut cream is really effective for creating an indulgent coconut milk ice cream.
You can freeze soup with coconut cream in it, but be aware that the soup will likely split apart and have a grainy appearance when you thaw it. However, it should re-emulsify and regain most of its texture once you heat it and the fat globules melt into liquid form. The taste will likely be similar to its pre-frozen state, but the texture will likely never return to its original form once frozen.
If you want to make soup with coconut milk ahead of time and freeze it for later, consider this tip: Prepare the soup without the coconut cream and freeze it – you can add the fresh coconut cream in when you reheat the soup for the first time and it will have a more ideal texture.
You can freeze coconut cream pie and coconut custard pie if you have leftovers. If you want to freeze the ingredients of coconut cream pie before making it, it’s ideal to keep the filling separate from the crust to prevent sogginess and combine them after they’ve been thawed.
Yes, you can freeze coconut milk. It actually freezes quite well, and you can put it in ice cube trays if you want to portion it out efficiently. More detail in our explainer on freezing coconut milk.
Yes, coconut oil will freeze. In fact, you can portion it out, let it solidify at room temperature, and then pop it in the freezer. More on this in our explainer on coconut oil freezing!