Canned coconut milk and coconut powder Canned coconut milk and coconut powder

In an ideal world, everyone has access to fresh coconuts. But it isn’t an ideal world and only we who live in the tropics have the luxury of enjoying fresh coconuts all year ’round. But, in this modern world, coconut products can be canned or even dehydrated and transformed into powder. Coconut milk and coconut cream are both available in canned and powdered versions.

But which one do you need — coconut milk or coconut cream? When buying canned coconut, pay attention to the word that comes after “coconut.” Does it say milk or cream? When a recipe calls for coconut cream, you can’t use the contents of a can of coconut milk unless you want less than stellar results. There is a difference between coconut milk and coconut cream, and the thickness is merely incidental. Coconut cream is naturally thicker because it is the first extraction — the grated coconut is squeezed without the addition of any water. After the pure first extract has been squeezed out, water is added to the grated coconut and it is squeezed a second time. The second extraction is the coconut milk. Naturally, it is thinner and less flavorful.

The advantage of coconut powder is that it is coconut cream in powdered form. Stir it in a minimal about of water and you get coconut cream. Stir it in more water and you have coconut milk.

Note, however, that whichever version you choose, canned and powdered coconut both contain extra things in order to preserve them. Canned coconut milk and coconut powder

I surely don’t know what carboxy methyl cellulose means. Canned coconut milk and coconut powder

I don’t know what maltodextrin is either.

Okay, let me Google both terms.

Maltodextrin is a sweetener.

Carboxymethyl cellulose, or CMC, is a viscosity modifier or thickener.

Oh my. Does that mean that canned coconut cream may actually be coconut milk thickened with CMC? I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe not. If there is a brand, or brands, that you trust, stick with it, or them. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to try a few brands and compare them in terms of taste and whatever your other gustatory standards are.

Personally, if I can’t be bothered to go to the market for freshly grated coconut, I prefer powdered coconut over canned.


  1. Ann says

    HI Ms. Connie! At first ,I tried using coconut milk from Fiesta brand for chicken red curry ( experimental recipe) and it taste good. But for this recipe that is good for two people it only needs a quarter of a tetra pack. Since I don’t use a lot of coco cream for my dishes I have to throw the cream after 2 days. Last week, I decided to buy a powdered one to be more economical but the problem is I am not sure of the measurement if I only use it for a chicken curry recipe good for 2.
    I thought of making maja blanca but I am not sure if this would taste good for dessert. Can you please make some dessert from coco powder and share the recipe and the measurement that you use?



    • Cheryl says

      Oooooohh, don’t throw it away, it’s too good (and too expensive) to waste. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it. Pull a few out when you need them for another recipe. I think each cube is a Tablespoon or two (ice cube trays vary in size – mine are 2 Tbsp. each) I do the same thing with tomato paste only I freeze Tablespoonfuls on a piece of tinfoil then put them in a freezer baggie.

  2. Beatrize says

    I know this one’s about coconut… yet here I am drooling about palitaw! Sarap kasi kapag madaming niyog eh! … Have a great day!!

  3. Cecille says

    I use the King Coco brand of powdered coconut milk. I am satisfied with the results. However, there is still no substitute for freshly squeezed coconut milk.

    Nowadays, coconut sellers in the market have a machine that squeezes the coconut milk from the freshly grated coconut. How convenient!

    Knorr has a ready to use powdered coconut milk for “gulay sa gata.” But I use it for anything that requires the use of coconut milk. It is kinda salty though.

  4. nina says

    I once made biko and bought a couple cans of coconut cream for the sticky rice and for the latik. the biko turned out fine but the latik did not. It seems the coconut cream I used had too much additives that it did not turn into latik no matter how long I cooked it. I have switched to another brand since then which claims to contain only coconut cream and nothig else.