Desiccated Coconut - How to Make Desiccated Coconut from Scratch
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Desiccated Coconut

Desiccated coconut is fresh coconut that has been shredded or flaked and dried. It is typically unsweetened, but the term is sometimes also used to refer to the less dry sweetened flake coconut as well. Most people buy desiccated coconut at the store, but you can make it from scratch!

Cutting open a coconut to make desiccated coconut

How to Make Desiccated Coconut

How to Open a Coconut

The first – and possibly hardest – part of making desiccated coconut is opening the coconut.

The easiest way to open the coconut is to poke a hole into one of three eyes of the coconut. I tried many methods for poking the hole, but I found that the best one was using a hammer and a meticulously cleaned screwdriver, as shown here.

Using a hammer and a screwdriver to open a coconut

Draining the Coconut

The next step is to drain the coconut water out of the coconut. The coconut water does not come rushing out. You may need to give the coconut a good shake. You may also need to poke open one or two of the other eyes. If you plan to make sweetened coconut, be sure to save and filter the coconut water.

The amount of coconut water in each coconut will vary greatly. I’ve seen as little as 1/4 cup and as much as 1 1/4 cups. It doesn’t matter how much yours has; this recipe for desiccated coconut will still work.

Draining a coconut into a glass

Getting the Coconut Meat Out of a Coconut

Take the coconut outside and throw it on some concrete. You may want to try screaming while you do it. It’s quite the stress reliever and far better than tossing around your fine china! The coconut should break open and you can collect any pieces that may have flown about.

A cracked open coconut on concreteUse a dinner knife to separate the coconut’s inner shell from the hard outer shell. It would be best if you had an old one that you don’t care about so you don’t risk bending and damaging your nice knife. This is one of the tougher parts of the process. It takes some strength.

Cutting open a coconut to make desiccated coconutPeel the soft inner shell off the of the coconut meat. You can use a vegetable peeler to do this.

Peeling a coconut with a vegetable peeler Prepping the Coconut Meat

You typically see desiccated coconut shredded. You can do this using fine side of a box grater.

If you want to save time and don’t care as much about the coconut being super thin, you can simply chop or grate the coconut in a food processor.

A small coconut might yield about two cups of chopped coconut, while a larger one could have four cups.

coconut in the food processor

Drying the Coconut

If you plan to make dry desiccated coconut, the next step is to lay to the coconut out on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 F until it feels brittle. This should take just 5-10 minutes – check on it regularly.

Desiccated coconut should last stored in an airtight container at room temperature for months.

How to Make Sweetened Coconut

To make more moist sweetened coconut (like Baker’s Angle Flake Coconut):

  • Do all of the steps above except drying the coconut.
  • Put the shredded/chopped coconut in a saucepan on medium heat with the coconut water (however much you had), and 1/3 the amount of sugar as coconut: if you have two cups of coconut, use 2/3 C of sugar.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil (this takes 10-15 minutes) and then turn the temperature to low.
  • Let it simmer uncovered for about an hour. The liquid should turn into a syrup.
  • Strain the coconut in a sieve. You can use the coconut syrup over pancakes, ice cream, in drinks, or just eat it by the spoonful.

Straining syrup from coconut

  • Lay the coconut out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat to dry overnight. In the morning, the coconut will be dry and ready to eat.

Completed sweetened coconutHomemade sweetened coconut will not be white. The store-bought version often uses a whitening agent to get it such a nice white color.

Because it is so moist, if you aren’t using it right away, you should refrigerate it. It should last for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Recipes Using Desiccated Coconut

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Cutting open a coconut to make desiccated coconut
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Desiccated Coconut

Desiccated coconut is fresh coconut that has been shredded or flaked and dried. It is typically unsweetened, but the term is sometimes also used to refer to the less dry sweetened flake coconut as well.

Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Keyword desiccated coconut
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 13.28kcal
Author Stef

Ingredients

  • 1 coconut

Instructions

  • Poke a hole into one of three eyes of the coconut by hammering a meticulously cleaned screwdriver into the hole.
  • Drain the coconut water out of the coconut. The coconut water does not come rushing out. You may need to give the coconut a good shake. You may also need to poke open one or two of the other eyes. If you plan to make sweetened coconut, be sure to save the filtered coconut water.
  • To break open the coconut, take it outside and throw it on some concrete. Collect all of the pieces.
  • Use an old dinner knife that you don't care about to separate the coconut's inner shell from the hard outer shell.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel the soft inner shell off the of the coconut meat. You can use a vegetable peeler to do this.
  • Shred the coconut meat using fine side of a box grater or (if thin flakes aren't important to you) chop the coconut in a food processor. If your food processor has a grating blade, that will also work well to shred the coconut meat.
  • Put the shredded coconut on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and bake at 250 F until it feels brittle. This should take5-10 minutes - check on it regularly. (Skip this step if you prefer the more moist sweetened coconut and follow the instructions in the notes.)

Notes

Desiccated coconut should last at room temperature in an airtight container for months.
A small coconut may yield about 2 cups of desiccated coconut, while a large one could give you four or more cups.
To make more moist sweetened coconut (like Baker's Angle Flake Coconut):
  • Put the shredded/chopped coconut in a saucepan on medium heat with the coconut water (however much you had), and 1/3 the amount of sugar as coconut: if you have two cups of coconut, use 2/3 C of sugar.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil (takes 10-15 minutes) and then turn the temperature to low.
  • Let it simmer uncovered for about an hour. The liquid should turn into a syrup.
    Strain the coconut in a sieve. You can use the coconut syrup over pancakes, ice cream, in drinks, or just eat it by the spoonful.
  • Lay the coconut out on a parchment or silicone-mat lined cookie sheet to dry overnight. In the morning, the coconut will be dry and ready to go.
Homemade sweetened coconut will not be white. The store-bought version often uses a whitening agent to get it such a nice white color. Because it is so moist, if you aren't using it right away, you should refrigerate it. It should last for a few weeks in the refrigerator. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Desiccated Coconut
Amount Per Serving
Calories 13.28 Calories from Fat 11
% Daily Value*
Fat 1.26g2%
Saturated Fat 1.11g6%
Sodium 0.75mg0%
Potassium 13.35mg0%
Carbohydrates 0.57g0%
Fiber 0.34g1%
Sugar 0.23g0%
Protein 0.13g0%
Vitamin C 0.12mg0%
Iron 0.09mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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