I still remember whipping up my first batch of this easy dairy-free whipped cream way back in 2005. We’ve loved it on pies, cakes, pancakes, and other treats. And since that time, I’ve tweaked my recipe, discovered some helpful fixes, and shared two different versions in my books.
The Quick Vanilla-Coconut Whip in Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook is a simple, no frills recipe that results in the picture you see in this post! Eat Dairy Free is a straight-forward, everyday, full color cookbook that offers over 100 new meal, snack, and dessert recipes.
The Cool Whipped Coconut Cream in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook 2nd Edition is a slightly different version with ranges and lots of tips. Go Dairy Free is more than recipes (over 250 of them!) – it’s a full guide that helps you to expand your knowledge of dairy-free living, so many more tidbits are included.
In this post, I’ve combined the formula and knowledge of both of those recipes to give you a taste of both books! To note, there are only two “crossover” recipes in these books – dairy-free whipped cream and instant milk beverage. I don’t believe in repeating recipes within books, but these are essentials that were useful in both. And even these recipes are slightly different in each book.
Cool Coconut Whip Tips for Foolproof Results
Dairy-free whipped cream really is easy, but it can flop for a few reasons. These tips from Go Dairy Free will help ensure perfect fluffy whip every time!
Getting the Right Ingredients
What you see is what you get. Unlike dairy whipping cream, coconut cream doesn’t thicken and become voluminous as it’s whipped. So it’s essential that you are using a very thick coconut cream. Do not attempt to start this recipe with coconut milk beverage (the drinkable “milk” in big cartons) or a runny coconut milk. See my Guide to Coconut Milk for helpful pictures.
Give the can a shake before purchasing. To ensure a thick whip, I usually pick up every brand of coconut milk and coconut cream in the store and give the can a shake. If it’s filled with coconut cream, you won’t hear much liquid at all. If it sounds like pure liquid, it could set up when chilled, but you might be risking watered down coconut milk that won’t whip. And sometimes the coconut cream cans are thinner than the coconut milk!
Unfortunately, bad coconut milk exists. I have to add this note because there have been some dreadful batches of coconut milk in circulation lately. I’m guessing that they have way too much guar gum (or other stabilizer/binder in them), because they clump up when you try to blend them. It looks pretty out of the can, but then becomes a mess. If this happens to you, it’s a manufacturing issue. Contact the company or where you purchased it from and request a refund for all cans purchased from them and report the problem.
I buy two cans at a time. Just in case one can doesn’t produce enough solid coconut cream, I keep a back up can on hand. If you still end up without enough coconut cream, you can simply reduce the recipe batch. It’s very forgiving!
Optional Thickeners & Stabilizers to Consider
There is a secret instant whip thickener and stabilizer. For a whip that sets better and has more staying power at room temperature, modified starch works miracles (this does not mean genetically modified). It’s the magic ingredient in instant pudding. Use up to 1 1/2 teaspoons modified starch in this recipe. You can start with just 1/4 teaspoon and add more as needed. Dr. Oetker’s Whip It works great, and is very affordable. But other brands should work well too. The ingredient label should read “modified cornstarch” or “modified tapioca starch.” The product is sometimes called Clear Jel or Expandex.
Milky powders can also help thicken. Adding 1/4 cup dairy-free milk powder or powdered cashews to this recipe will help thicken it further, but it won’t be as fluffy and will slightly influence the consistency and taste. Soymilk powder works best, but coconut milk powder makes this a true coconut-flavored whip. These will thicken a little more when as they refrigerate.
You won’t always need a thickener. The picture shown is a batch without thickener, and I often skip it. It’s just helpful when your dairy-free whipped cream is simply too soft, or you need a whip that will hold up better at room temperature or as frosting.
More Recipe Tips for this Dairy-Free Whipped Cream
Sometimes less is more. Using a minimum amount of powdered sugar will result in a thicker whip. If you add too much sugar, it can thin into a glaze.
I like ice baths. For my whip that is! If you don’t have time to chill the bowl and beaters or you keep your home a little warm, just place the mixing bowl in a large bowl that contains part water and part ice. This helps keep the bowl and coconut cream cool, even if you haven’t planned ahead or aren’t working quickly.
There’s no need for waste. When removing the thick coconut cream from coconut milk, you may be left with a thin liquid. Rather than pouring it out, use it as you would coconut water in smoothies or other recipes.
Special Diet Notes: Easy Dairy-Free Whipped Cream
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and top food allergy-friendly.
- 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream (see Cool Coconut Whip Tips in post above)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, or to taste (no more than 3 tablespoons)
- ½ to 1¼ teaspoons pure vanilla flavoring or extract, to taste
- Thickener, if needed (optional; see Cool Coconut Whip Tips in post above)
- Chill a small mixing bowl and beaters or a whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes or more.
- Do not shake the coconut milk or cream. Open it, and if there isn’t a thick, spoonable cream, cover and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight.
- Scoop ¾ cup of the solid coconut cream from the top of the can and put it in the chilled small mixing bowl. Whisk or beat the coconut cream with your hand mixer (with chilled beaters) until it is smooth and slightly fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Sift in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and whisk or beat with a hand mixer on low speed to incorporate the ingredients.
- If your coconut cream was too soft, or you need a thicker whip, you can add a thickener and whisk or beat until combined.
- Cover and refrigerate the coconut whip for up to 3 days. It will thicken a little more as it chills.
LOVE this recipe, I make a very similar one using a whipped cream dispenser. I love your tips on staballizers and thickeners though, I never thought of using those before!
I need to get one of those dispensers!
I love your recipes because you give so much info that I always feel like I know what I’m doing. Dairy free can be tricky so I always appreciate your wealth of knowledge! Thanks for the recipe and tips, I’m excited to try this for Thanksgiving.
Thank you Celeste! That is so kind of you to say and I hope that you enjoy it!
I think I need to buy a different brand of coconut milk. I used an off brand but was a high fat coconut milk. When I opened the can it had hardened so much that it came out in pieces and was very lumpy. I did a second can and got the lumps out but tasted like it was rotten. I am determined to do this and might have to buy on Amazon. Which brand would you recommend? Thanks.
Hi Edith, it is so hard for me to recommend a brand, since they seem to change in quality! Usually Native Forest and Thai Kitchen are solid brands.
It does sound like you got a bad batch. When that happens, it can span several brands, since many are made by the same manufacturer, but is usually limited – until the batch sells through. I believe what you’re experiencing is too much gum or other thickener added. It creates a lumpy texture that breaks down rather than becoming smooth and creamy.
Can I ask a silly question, 2 actually lol. Does it taste coconuty a lot? And if I was substituting for 300 ml of dairy cream, how do you figure out how many cans to sub?
It does have a coconut influence. That said, I’ve served it to many people who eat dairy and none have really remarked that it tastes like coconut. If you are using dairy, you might just want to use a dairy whipped cream recipe. Converting to dairy really isn’t my expertise 🙂
Does it have to have sugar or any sweetner in it at all?
Yes it does. Please see the ingredients.
This recipe looks great! Thank you, do you think I can 1/2 the vanilla extract and add almond extract or perhaps replace the vanilla extra with almond? Thanks.
That’s totally your call in terms of flavor. The vanilla tends to complement and even moderate the coconut flavor. And I’m not a fan of almond extract, so I haven’t tried it!
Can I add food coloring?
That shouldn’t be a problem.
I made this as vegan as possible using a cashew/ almond milk. I also used Earth Balance spread instead of butter. I have no nut allergies,so adding shredded coconut made it simply divine! Thanks for your recipes?
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback and your notes LucyLou!
Silly question but im making dariy egg and nut free desserts for my nephew for Easter, would this be ok to use on cupcakes?
Technically, coconut isn’t a tree nut. However, the FDA classifies it as a nut and it is possible to be allergic to coconut. I would check with your sibling to verify if coconut is safe for their son.
Hi! My five year old son is allergic to several foods, including dairy and coconut. Is there another way to make whipped cream? He would be in heaven! Thanks!
Are cashew cream or tofu cream on limits for your son?
Try Aquafaba whipped cream – aquafaba translated to “bean water” and is the liquid from garbanzo (chickpeas) bean, but you can also us white bean. There are all kinds of recipes on the web (vegan websites, etc.). Sounds odd, but taste like the real deal!
We do have an aquafaba tutorial here! -> https://www.godairyfree.org/food-and-grocery/aquafaba
As for the taste, it is different, and has a notable “beany” flavor. Sweetener helps to mask this a little. It also whips up a bit more like meringue in mouthfeel – it isn’t as creamy like whipped cream. But it can be a suitable meringue-like topping.
Hi, I never bought coconut milk. Is this a cardboard container and is it in the refrigerated section.
Thank you. Can’t wait to try this.
They’re small packages or cans sold in the Asian food section (shelf-stable). See this post to avoid a mix-up -> http://www.godairyfree.org/news/what-is-coconut-milk
It is sold at local stores just use your eyes and read “coconut milk”
There is a difference in cream content between canned coconut milk and canned coconut cream— I would go with the coconut cream. Anxious to try this recipe.
In theory, yes! But sometimes I get more cream out of coconut milk cans. It really depends on the brand and batch. There is so much variation.
This didn’t really work for me… I really wanted it to look like the picture but it remained gooey looking and never got fluffy. Tried adding more powdered sugar and even a bit of cream of tartar and still the same. What is going on?
Hi Neva, it really depends on the quality of the coconut milk / coconut cream you used more than the recipe itself. What you see when it comes out of the refrigerator is pretty much what you get. See my post here with video for what it should look like for best whipping results – http://www.godairyfree.org/news/what-is-coconut-milk – sometimes it’s possible to get a watery coconut milk that doesn’t set up into that nice thick cream like you see in that post and here.
Never mind- I got it to work! My dad measured way too much powdered sugar and turned it into a glaze for some reason. Still tastes delicious, so now I have a glaze and a whipped cream.
This works great with the So Delicious brand but I also tried this with coconut milk from a can that was chilled and it turned out grainy. I used Native Forest and it was all cream (no water) and I hardly used an powdered sugar. Is this recipe just better with the Culinary milk over the can?
Also, it didn’t mention in the instructions when to add the vanilla. I think the alcohol in the extract may prevent it from fluffing so I added it at the very end, whipped it for another 10 seconds to incorporate it and it was perfect.
BTW- love your site! It has been so helpful in going dairy free! I’ve made a number of the recipes and they were all hits!
I use the So Delicious brand (just called “culinary”, but it is coconut milk like the others) because it is more consistent with thick cream. Very often I pick up a canned version that is too emulsified or watered down and doesn’t produce thick cream.
Thanks for the vanilla note! I haven’t had a problem with the alcohol limiting it, but I do usually use alcohol-free vanilla in uncooked applications like this one. Simply Organic brand and Trader Joe’s both work well and are affordable.
So glad you are enjoying my site and that I can help!
What can I replace the powdered sugar with?
You can omit it for less sweet. I’m not sure what your goal is, so it’s hard to suggest a sub. Powdered sugar really is the best here for sweetening.
Hello Alisa! I can not have cane sugar, but I can have any other type of sweetener (inflammation issues). Any suggestions? I have coconut sugar in the house all the time.
Most dry sweeteners will work, but will affect the sweetness level, taste, and I’m not sure how well coconut sugar will dissolve. You might need to powder it first, or it might work fine.
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Hi Alisa, I saw your response to Wendy about the almond milk not working for this recipe. I’m curious to know if maybe a little Wilton’s Meringue Powder would work to help it set up. Any ideas on that?
Hi Rhonda, you could try it, but that will be a different recipe. I really haven’t worked with meringue powder. In this recipe, it is really all about the coconut milk cream. It thickens up very thick, like heavy cream, for easy whipping. It can’t be swapped with just a milk beverage (they are watery), and I’m really not sure what magic that meringue powder might do! Let me know if you do trial it. But keep in mind, almond milk is just like 2% dairy milk. If you can’t make it with a glass of milk, it definitely won’t work with milk beverage either.
Total fail. Stayed hard and clumpy no matter what I did.
Bummer! That would have been interesting if it had worked. I assumed you tried the milk beverage / meringue combo someone mentioned here?
Would this work with Almond Milk????? I’m new to being dairy free AND gluten free and trying a bunch of new recipes. Not a real big fan of coconut but do enjoy the almond milk! Thanks so much!!!!
Hi Wendy, no it would not. This is full fat canned coconut milk, not coconut milk beverage. Milk beverage such as almond milk won’t thicken one bit!
This recipe works great! Sweetness is, of course, adjustable though. Mine seemed to keep its shape (dollop) when I put it in hot chocolate (maybe too much sugar haha). I always seem to end up on this website when doing research for new recipes to make. You’re knowledge and recipes are much appreciated! My boyfriend’s stomach thanks you!
That’s great! So glad that my site is a continued resource for you Eddie. Enjoy dessert!
Alisa, I have a favorite Italian soup recipe where I used a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream when serving. As I am now dairy free will the coconut cream work without the sweetener & how do you think the taste of coconut be with the soup?
Hi Patricia, it would work, but with that flavor profile, I would consider a cashew cream. You might like it with coconut cream though.
Thanks for posting this! Just wanted to leave a comment to let you know that there are people out here who appreciate your posts: Not just ones who have nothing better to do than leave comments to “correct” you about coconuts being a tree nut… Or to “politely” point out that they think you copied someone else’s recipe. Keep doing what you’re doing, love your site, it’s been very helpful to me! 🙂
Thank you so much for the kind words Anna! This is very much appreciated 🙂
Technically a palm is not a tree. I would research whether coconuts are allergens to the nut-sensitive…
Hi Rick, here is more information on the topic to clarify – http://www.godairyfree.org/ask-alisa/ask-alisa-can-the-nut-allergic-use-coconut-based-dairy-alternatives
I have the opportunity to work with many renowned allergists, and they have confirmed that the labeling of coconut as a tree nut is merely an FDA error that isn’t getting fixed.
if I don’t have a store around me with the Culinary Coconut Milk, will regular canned coconut milk work too?
Yes, culinary coconut milk is equivalent to a good quality regular canned coconut milk. Just make sure it has a nice thick cream!
Hmmm – why do I think this is “inspired” by Elana’s Pantry (http://elanaspantry.com/coconut-whipped-cream/), but the author had a slight overlook?
Hi Lorena – if you want to get technical on this, it was more likely “inspired” by my recipe from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, which was published in 2008 (long before Elana’s post – though I love her dearly and know that she didn’t take my recipe!), and uses the exact same ingredients in almost the exact same ratios. Since I first published my recipe back in 2008, many variations have emerged, but I think it’s great and don’t mind that they aren’t all credited as to the original inspiration – especially since it has circulated so much!
Also, please note that Elana’s version was just posted a few weeks ago – even this recipe was posted over a year ago! Enjoy them all – coconut whip is amazing on desserts of all types!
LOLZ, just FYI, Elaina’s Pantry did not invent coconut whipped cream!
Just wanted to let you know this is NOT a nut free recipe…coconut is a treenut…we have a both dairy and tree nut allergies in our house…yea! Otherwise this is a great recipe if you don’t have but issue
Hi Amanda, only by labeling law standards. Coconut is actually not a tree nut (it’s a drupe) and studies have shown no correlation between tree nut and coconut allergies. That said, you can be allergic to coconut, and those in your house can be tested for coconut allergy specifically. There are actually petitions out to get the labeling law changed. Speak with your allergist. Also, I have this post on the topic for clarification – http://www.godairyfree.org/ask-alisa/ask-alisa-can-the-nut-allergic-use-coconut-based-dairy-alternatives
I too have a nut & dairy free home. I am allergic to nuts (Anaphylactic actually) & I love my coconut products. It surprises me how often people confuse the simple coconut with the nut family. Of course everyone is different & should approach new foods cautiously but I myself have never had a problem.
Try Vance’s Dari-free products. Milk made from potato, and oh….so good. Makes the BEST ice-cream – creamy and not coconut tasting or having the intestinal effects that coconut gives.
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Love, love, love this! Great alternative to soy based options.