trader joes coconut cream review

The other day we asked if anyone has used this coconut cream from Trader Joes.

We normally buy Native Forest organic canned coconut milk, but not all places sell it.

And Trader Joes usually only had the light version of coconut milk where we want the FULL fat version. Sometimes it is hard to find for us.

So we were happy to see this in the store.

But a little sad about the ingredients. As there is one ingredient that scares us.

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose scares us. According to Wikipedia it says it is used in foods for a thickener. We read a few other articles on it, you can google it and read about it more.

We are not big fans of xanthan gum either, as we have noticed if we consume it a lot we get stomach issues. Therefore, we try to avoid xanthan gum and guar gum when possible but hard when buying things from the store like coconut milks. When we bake at home we no longer use the gums for that purpose, that is why sometimes our baked goods textures are different than most gluten free recipes. We do not use the gums anymore (plus save a little money by not buying those extra ingredients anymore).

We did like this coconut cream as it was thick and creamy. Tasted great in the few recipes we made with it.

We are not sure where we stand on it just yet. Obviously, we try to avoid any additives or foreign ingredients when possible.  We admit we are a little disappointed that they added this ingredient.  We know probably why they did…to make the best thick creamy coconut milk in a can.  Which they did, but at the cost of adding in this ingredient. Not sure if it is worth it.

A little sad now these days that so many chemicals and foreign ingredients are added to our foods. Really makes you think twice now.

What are your thoughts on Trader Joes coconut cream? What about the additional thickening agent Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose ? Thoughts? Would you still buy it if it is better than the other coconut milks on store shelves?




  1. says

    Great post, ladies! I know it’s really hard when you have digestive issues and also don’t want to sacrifice health for additives. <3

    I also am not a fan of additives because, like you, I believe they're not meant to and don't have to be there. Their purpose is valid but not necessary! I might be making a trip to Trader Joe's later so I'll be on the lookout for that. I am hesitant to purchase it too, though.
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  2. says

    I actually picked the can up off the shelf last weekend to read the ingredients (as I was thinking about buying it) and noticed that same ingredient. I had no idea what it was, so I decided to put it back down on the shelf. Usually, TJ’s seems to do a good job not putting wierd ingredients in their products, so I was a bit disappointed. :(
    Kim@hungryhealthygirl recently posted..Missing my old cup of Joe & WIAWMy Profile

  3. says

    I’ve been staying away from the sketchy ingredients. I don’t feel that I need to be perfect–I’m not going to freak out if someone makes a dish that uses this product–but I don’t think I’d buy it to use myself.

    I actually talked about label reading at the seminar I gave on Monday. People were really surprised to learn about all those “scary” ingredients.
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Caramelized Onion and Quinoa Stuffed MushroomsMy Profile

  4. says

    yeah i only bought it once and while it was nice to have the full fat, i continue to buy their light version simply because it’s coconut milk & water only. i get plenty of healthy fats from other sources so i’m not sweating it much. i totally agree though that too many stabilizing agents etc are scary! i stopped using xanthan gum about a year ago, i just thicken my smoothies with fruit/ice. i definitely had gut troubles with both that and guar gum!

  5. says

    i’m glad you pointed this out! – the extra ingredients definitely do scare me a bit. i’m not against using it, but i probably won’t be using it that often either. it’s sad that they have to add so many foreign ingredients in foods nowadays.
    kris recently posted..never forget.My Profile

  6. says

    I’m so not a fan of anything added that I can’t pronounce, it’s most likely to be a non-food that I just don’t want to consume. I don’t buy Udi’s breads for that very reason. It’s not necessary.

    I know that it’s such a small amount to be concerned about, but that little bit adds up very quickly. In my opinion it’s not worth it. There’s so many amazing products out there that I would rather support!
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  7. Mario says

    Don’t have a TJ’s here in Canada, but I wouldn’t buy this one, even if I had the option.

    I’ve gone through every brand of coconut milk available in my area, and also try orher’s if/when I travel. A lot of the brands have been mentioned in other comments, and the best one I’ve decided on is the Native Forest. It’s organic, BPA free can, tastes the best, has the best/smoothest consistency… The only way it could get any better is if it was available in a glass jar…


  8. says

    We don’t have a Trader Joe’s here, but I dislike the added ingredients too. I mean, why is it too complex to make coconut milk with simply coconut milk in the ingredients? Its mind boggling. I’m glad in Canada we still have pretty strict rules with our foods and how they are processed, so I hope we don’t start getting dairy products and meats and such that they sell in the states with all the added hormones. Thanks for the review!
    Lisa recently posted..Kabocha Crazed and RestMy Profile

    • purelytwins says

      Laura thanks for sharing the link, although we have made our own coconut kefir before! even have a video making it, but using frozen coconut meat would be great. But we do not always have access to fresh coconuts nor frozen meat, so sometimes it is nice to have a nice canned option, although TJ does not have that.

  9. says

    I continually am on the lookout for great coconut milk, in the can and frozen with the least ingredients,but tastes great and for a great price!! I think I am asking too much. With more ingredients it costs less, with less ingredients it costs more.

    I am super allergic to corn and other foods, so I def would not buy the TJ new coconut milk cuz Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose usually derived from corn.

  10. anne says

    I thought it was the greatest thing and bought a case, then my family all started getting headaches. Bad ingredient!

  11. Misty says

    I’m not an expert, but I don’t think the TJ’s Coconut Cream is meant to be used as coconut milk. I bought it to make vegan frosting and whipped cream. As a replacement for the butter and heavy cream usually used in those recipes. I also have bought coconut MILK… Both the light versions and full fat versions. If left in the fridge, the full fat version will separate and the “cream” will rise to the top….which is what I BELIEVE this product is meant to be… It is so thick and more like shortening or butter than milk. I think the stabilizers are there for baking… Might be wrong. I love the stuff! 100 times better for you than butter or shortening!

  12. says

    Well, I just got 5 cans at TJ’s today as I drove through Ft Worth, TX on my way back to West Texas. I got a isi Mini Easy Whip at Williams & Sonoma this weekend and an going to make Homemade Ready-Whip from Can’t wait!!!!
    Just wish we had a TJ’S out here in West Texas. Then I wouldn’t have to drive 2 hours to go to the store.

  13. Karen says

    I’m a little late to the party on your post, but I just stumbled across it and followed your Wiki link about the mystery ingredient. One thing really caught my eye-it’s hypoallergenic *unless you are allergic to wheat*!!! Guessing this isn’t for the gluten-free crowd! If you couldn’t put it on your skin if you’re allergic to wheat, you probably wouldn’t want to ingest it!

  14. RitaC says

    This additive is just an innocent polysaccharide derived from wood. Without it, you’d just have a piece of coconut oil floating in water. But that would be so “natural”, right?

    • Amber says

      Nutiva makes a coconut concentrate called Coconut Manna which only contains one ingredient and it’s thick and smooth.

    • lya says

      Thanks Rita. I really like this creme and have been able to get off cows milk by using this in my coffee. It tastes really great. That ingredient does look scary and requires more research on my end to educate myself.

  15. Amber says

    I would not buy it because of this ingredient. I like to buy my coconut products at the Earth Fare, because they are really strict about what foods they will carry (no artificial chemicals). I like Trader Joes too, but you have to watch out for stuff like this.

  16. Andi says

    Did anyone else notice the weird smell? I’m trying it out today. Noticed a distinct smell when I opened the can and stirred it up. It’s not an “it’s gone bad” smell just a noticeable smell I wouldn’t expect to smell from coconut creme.

  17. Kristi says

    I had just finished looking up this “scary” ingredient when I happened across your post. I learned that, “Sodium carboxymethyl is derived from natural cellulose treated with chloroacetic acid” ( I wondered what chloroacetic acid is and a search led me to this, “Exposure to chloroacetic acid is most likely to occur in the workplace. Acute (short-term) inhalation or dermal exposure may irritate or cause severe damage to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes and cause depression of the central nervous system in humans” (

    Umm, no thanks. I’ll pass.

    • Tammi says

      This makes me SO glad I went with my instincts and didn’t consume any. I checked many other labels at the store but didn’t think to check this one. I’ve had the can in my pantry for a few months, very hesitant to even open it. There’s probably also a reason it’s good until 2015.

  18. hd says

    I grabbed 4 at TJ’s. I normally read every single ingredient but I figured it only contained coconuts. What a huge disappointment. I’m going to return them for the light version.

    Thank you for all of your research and sharing other brands that don’t contain harmful ingredients!

    H :)

  19. Tamara martin says

    Sodium carboxylate methyl cellulose is not a harful ingredient. I study chemistry and all it is a cellulose fiber extracted from cotton.

  20. Sheri B. says

    Picked this up without reading the ingredients and was actually horrified when I got it home and took a gander at the label, sounds more like a science experiment than a food product, its going back to the store.

  21. Irene says

    Yucky taste too. Like thick coconut wax! Besides, the ingredients are really disappointing. Back to Native Forest for me.

  22. Sherry says

    I just recently purchased the coconut cream to use in a frozen Banana pinacolada homemade ice cream. It was really good, however, I will be looking for one without the added ingredients if possible.

  23. says

    My family and I happily eat the TJ’s Coconut Cream without any ill effects. I was not happy with Native Forest’s brand — the cans are tiny and have way too much water in them — I don’t know why they add water in the first place.

    I don’t know of any other products like this on the market — Nutiva’s Coconut Manna doesn’t begin to compare.. TJ’s Coconut Cream is like solidly whipped cream and tastes delicious — I make Ambrosia with it. I feasted on it this morning too: I chop up fruit (today’s had mandarins, pear, apple and banana), add the coconut cream, and a splash of Amaretto if I have it, and put a big scoop on top of a toasted frozen waffle. Tastes like pastry.

    • says

      My favorite way to use this coconut cream is on top of frozen waffles (pretty hard to find ones that don’t contain milk — I’ve settled on Safeway’s brand of homestyle as they have whey, which I can tolerate). I put on a pretty thick layer and spread on a small amount of dark jam: blackberry or grape for example.

      See my comment above about making ambrosia with it. I’m looking forward to trying it in cake recipes that call for whipped cream, like a trifle.
      Bouncedancer recently posted..A Surprise Law of HealingMy Profile

  24. Jill says

    It seems some of you seem to think coconut cream is the same as coconut milk. It is not…. Coconut cream is the same as coconut butter which is just made from the coconut meat. However, I will not eat TJ version of this because coconut cream or coconut butter should not have anything else in it AT ALL besides coconut! Look around, you can find it with absolutely nothing else in it ,and it’s delicious!

  25. David Sosna says

    I work at the Joe and was totally disappointed with this product because of the added ingredients. If I wouldn’t add it in at home I won’t buy it either. I thought it tasted gross, like metallic, anyway.I will continue to send away for Natural Value full fat coconut milk in BPA cans from Azure Standard Foods. If I want the cream I just stick it in the fridge and let it separate and just use the top cream for whatever and the more watery stuff on the bottom for coffee, stir frys, whatever.

  26. Michele says

    I was so happy to learn how to make my own coconut cream at home — and it is SO simple — IF you have a food processor with the common S-blade. Simply pour your dried organic coconut flakes into the container at the normal fill line for your food processor. Turn it on and let it run. Set your time for 12 or 13 minutes. I usually stop it once or twice just to make sure anything up high on the sides is coming down and mixing with the rest. After 12 minutes you will have beautiful homemade coconut cream that is 100% coconut.

  27. says

    I have to admit that I trust trader joe’s and didn’t read the label. I made an awesome chicken curry and both times I got a stomach ache after eating the curry.
    I started googling the cellulose ingredients and am stunned that it is used in paint and K-y jelly. Really?
    All the other ingredients I used were fresh and organic, so no more full fat TJ coconut milk. Sad they stopped carrying the light version in my area of Minneapolis.
    Back to the Co-op. At least I can trust the ingredients. Coconut.

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