trader joes coconut cream review

by purelytwins

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?



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katieDid September 12, 2012 - 9:22 am

I liked how thick it was also, but it was almost too dry for me. Other varieties are creamier/ smoother so I think i’ll be sticking with thai kitchen and native forest.

purelytwins September 12, 2012 - 9:51 am

same here katie, we like Native Forest

Heather @ For the Love of Kale September 12, 2012 - 9:28 am

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.

purelytwins September 12, 2012 - 9:52 am

totally agree 🙂 ya it is frustrating that food company’s are adding so much ‘stuff’ to products.

Mariel September 12, 2012 - 10:07 am

yesssss i know what you mean!!! i hate all the extra added stuff you have to look up 🙁

Kim@hungryhealthygirl September 12, 2012 - 10:30 am

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. 🙁

Coco September 12, 2012 - 10:59 am

I just saw this at TJs the other day and was excited until I saw that junk in there.. I opted not to get it, and stuck with the light version- at least its just coconut milk and water!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance September 12, 2012 - 10:59 am

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.

The Delicate Place (@misathemeb) September 12, 2012 - 11:01 am

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!

Nicole September 12, 2012 - 12:24 pm

thanks for the review! I’ve been wondering about this. And I agree, I hate that there are so many filler/fake/chemical ingredients in our food!

kris September 12, 2012 - 12:35 pm

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.

Danielle @ Clean Food Creative Fitness September 12, 2012 - 12:45 pm

Interesting post! I recently bought this too and wasn’t the biggest fan! I’m totally fine with xanthan gum but I am with you on the sodium cellulose! Usually if I don’t know what an ingredient on a label is I try not to eat it! There’s so many scary chemicals in our food now!

Christa @ Edible Balance September 12, 2012 - 12:57 pm

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!

Paige @ Your Trainer Paige September 12, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Yet another thing I need to add to my TJ’s list. Wish it weren’t two hours away!

Mario September 12, 2012 - 1:36 pm

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…


Lisa September 12, 2012 - 2:19 pm

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!

Laury@TheFitnessDish September 12, 2012 - 3:17 pm

Glad you girls posted this. I am definitely not a fan of either. TJ’s sometimes has shady ingredients and things going on. It’s a cheaper place than Whole Foods, but sometimes you get what you pay for!

Laura September 12, 2012 - 5:17 pm

Ladies…it’s time to start making your own coconut milk and coconut kefir! It’s so easy and not only will you save money but it will be fresh, organic and you won’t have to wonder what’s in it! Check out the video’s on the where she shows you how to make both! Coconut kefir is yummy!

purelytwins September 12, 2012 - 5:24 pm

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.

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table September 12, 2012 - 10:17 pm

I don’t know about the full fat, but I tried the low fat tonight and was pretty disappointed. There’s no replacing the real-deal!

Miz September 13, 2012 - 6:07 am

mannnn we need a TJs in the ATX.

Lea @ Greens and Coffee Beans September 13, 2012 - 7:12 am

I saw the coconut cream last time I was at Trader Joe’s and I want to try it out but I am a little disappointed by the ingredients too. I hate that companies will add all kinds of crazy ingredients into food just for the sake of color/texture.

Becky Leppard September 16, 2012 - 4:01 pm

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.

anne October 20, 2012 - 1:43 pm

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

purelytwins October 20, 2012 - 2:23 pm

Anne sorry to hear that, yep we only got it the one time, never again.

Misty November 4, 2012 - 7:25 pm

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!

Laura December 11, 2013 - 11:04 am

Agree with this. This product is not meant to be used in a recipe that calls for coconut milk. It would need to be watered down. This is the thick stuff to replace whipped cream or heavy cream. We use it to make coconut truffles. 🙂

Gail Wheeler January 22, 2013 - 8:56 pm

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.

Karen February 18, 2013 - 4:20 pm

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!

GFMimi April 8, 2016 - 11:00 am

Picked up a can of TJs coconut cream and have been using it in my coffee. NOW I know why I’d been getting headaches and having other ‘issues’. I have celiac disease! Thank you for sharing your research!

I was curious about sodium carboxy methyl cellulose but foolishly took a chance. Will I never learn?

RitaC March 9, 2013 - 12:34 pm

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 April 16, 2013 - 4:40 pm

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

Tammi December 27, 2013 - 10:33 pm

I’ll leave that “innocent polysaccharide” all for you. I’d rather eat coconut and not wood.

lya September 23, 2015 - 1:31 pm

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.

Amber April 16, 2013 - 4:35 pm

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.

Andi June 3, 2013 - 8:43 am

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.

Kristi June 14, 2013 - 1:35 am

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.

purelytwins June 14, 2013 - 9:17 am

THanks Kristi to looking into further

purelytwins June 14, 2013 - 9:20 am

Thanks Kristi for looking into it further. We do not eat it.

Tammi December 27, 2013 - 10:38 pm

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.

lya September 23, 2015 - 1:33 pm

Thanks for your research, Kristi. this helps a lot.

Elmer August 25, 2013 - 6:48 pm

As usual, really enlightening and beneficial post on trader joes coconut cream review |
Thank you…

hd January 8, 2014 - 7:15 pm

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 🙂

Tamara martin January 12, 2014 - 10:30 pm

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

Sheri B. January 28, 2014 - 9:42 pm

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.

purelytwins January 29, 2014 - 8:51 am

Sheri yes!it’s no good!!

Irene February 2, 2014 - 9:33 pm

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

Sherry September 5, 2014 - 12:02 am

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.

Sherry September 5, 2014 - 12:06 am

Oh, and for anyone really concerned about ingredients in all consumer products out there check on environmental working group website. What a great resource.

Bouncedancer February 2, 2015 - 1:40 pm

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.

Sharon October 22, 2016 - 2:02 am

Adding water to grated coconut meat is part of the process for making coconut milk. Native Forest probably doesn’t add water to the coconut milk, but the water is most likely listed in the ingredients because it’s an ingredient in the process before it becomes coconut milk. meat. My cans of Native Forest are not watery; they are about the same thickness as TJ’s coconut cream. I thought the coconut cream would be thick like butter, but it is more the consistency of heavy cream.

Sharon October 22, 2016 - 2:22 am

I just opened a can of this for the 1st time and was very surprised to see how thin it was. I am used to the consistency of the cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk. This cream was no thicker than coconut milk. At first I thought that maybe they poured coconut milk into the coconut cream can, but after investigating, I read many reviews where many others said that the cream was about the same thickness as coconut milk. What is the point then? It tastes really good; delicious, in fact, but when i was researching I read that the bad ingredient is carcinogenic. Mine is going back to the store. I was very surprised to find that ingredient listed on the can. I love Native Forest brand but have never tried their cream. I will be investigating different brands in search of the perfect cream. This one is barely thicker than the milk, and the CRC (Sodium carboxylate methyl cellulose) has got to go.

Sharon October 22, 2016 - 2:26 am

i wish i could edit my own comment that i am replaying too. the word “meat”, (isolated from a sentence) does not belong.

Laura April 16, 2015 - 2:07 pm

I think the TJ’s coconut cream is delicious. I just can’t figure out how to use it.

Bouncedancer November 16, 2015 - 8:38 pm

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.

Jill April 23, 2015 - 10:54 pm

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!

David Sosna May 7, 2015 - 1:28 am

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.

David Sosna May 7, 2015 - 1:29 am

Haha….BPA=free cans

Michele July 17, 2015 - 9:15 am

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.

lya September 23, 2015 - 1:36 pm

wow, this is so simple! thanks Michele, i will try this.

Anna McConville July 28, 2015 - 2:11 pm

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.

Kori M May 23, 2017 - 3:39 am

This is the best coconut cream I have tried (many from all over.) But I do wish it was just coconut cream. I am not sure which brands have just the one ingredient. But this is my go to for all of my curries, ice cream, everything I use coconut cream. Evidently, “Cellulose gum is indigestible. When you eat foods that contain the carbohydrate, it goes through your digestive system without being absorbed or even degraded.”

Sharon Jewel August 12, 2017 - 5:18 pm

Since reading this article months ago, things have changed in the world of coconut milk and cream and I would like to share my findings. Trader Joe’s now makes Organic Coconut milk and cream, and the only ingredient in the can, is coconut, and maybe coconut and water for the milk, but no chemicals, and no guar gum. Months ago I had bought the cream and when I got home saw that awful ingredient listed, Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose), and looked it up. I was also getting headaches from it. When I went back to Trader Joe’s recently, I looked at the coconut milk to see what was in it, and to my surprise, the milk and cream are now both organic with no additives. I bought the milk and it was very good, and next I will try the cream. Next, I pulled up an article about BPA free coconut milk cans, and found out that Native Forest’s BPA can linings are made of Titanium Dioxide which is another highly toxic substance. I don’t know if I am allowed to post urls in this blog, so I will do so in a the next comment and see if it posts. Not sure if it will appear above or below, but if you want to google it, the name of the article is “READ THIS BEFORE YOU OPEN ANOTHER CAN OF BPA FREE COCONUT MILK”. I checked out the recipe for homemade coconut cream, in the article, but it doesn’t look too good. They say it is thin and watery…but there is a recipe for homemade coconut cream somewhere in this article that looks pretty good. The Native Forest also has organic guar gum, and I don’t remember having seen that listed on previous cans. It was also my favorite, but I am not going to buy it anymore because of the can lining. The URL for the article will be posted right after this

Sharon Jewel August 12, 2017 - 5:20 pm

This is the article saying that Native Forest lines their BPA free cans with something equally as toxic:


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