Are you allergic to coconut, or just don’t like the flavor at all ? Or maybe you love coconut but can’t stand the texture, or may you just can’t find any ? Whatever the case, you’ve got a recipe calling for shredded coconut and you’re unable to use it. You can either ditch the recipe, or look for a coconut substitute that may or may not taste like coconut.
It really depends on what you’re making, how much you want to stray from the original, and whether you like coconut in the first place. We’ve compiled a list of shredded coconut substitutes. You can use whichever you think works best for your particular recipe.
Best shredded coconut substitute
The best shredded coconut substitute is coconut flakes, coconut extract, coconut water or milk, and chopped or ground nuts, or grated white chocolate, or powdered milk.
The first three are meant to bring both flavor and actual coconut to your recipe. If the coconut is there just for decoration, you can use the final three substitutes.
Read also: Does Coconut Go Bad ?
Most of the time though recipes ask for shredded coconut for texture and for decoration, rather than actual flavor. We’ve tried to cover all possible scenarios, and hopefully you’ll find yourself with a good substitute. So let’s take a look !
Coconut flakes are possibly the most obvious choice. In the end, they’re just shredded coconut in bigger chunks, and they serve the same purpose. They bring both texture and flavor, and you can easily shred them at home with a blender, or chop them down with a knife.
If flavor is what you’re looking for, then coconut extract might be better for you. You can add to pretty much anything, and you don’t need to use more than a few drops if you want a hint of coconut.
Coconut water or milk
Easier to find than coconut extract, coconut water or milk are both great coconut flavor bringers. There’s a difference though, and it really matters what you want to use the coconut for.
Coconut milk is thicker than coconut water, and has a whole lot of fat in it. This makes it creamy, very very white, and definitely sweet-coconut-y, rather than nutty. This is best to use in baked goods, sauces, creams, or whatever else needs to taste like coconut but not necessarily have the texture.
Coconut water is better for smoothies, juices, virgin pina Coladas, anything that doesn’t necessarily have to be white, but it has to taste of coconut. Coconut water is sweeter than coconut milk, and has a distinctly nutty and slightly salty/umami flavor that makes it great as a drink on its own.
If you’re trying to bake or cook with coconut water, it will work, but it may lose some of its flavor. And yes, we mean the water that’s in the actual coconut itself, not water that’s infused with coconut extract.
Any chopped or ground nuts, for a bit of texture and crunch
If you’re looking for texture or decoration from your coconut flakes, then you could also use finely ground or chopped nuts. If the flavor isn’t the main star here, then nuts like almonds and hazelnuts or Brazil nuts definitely have you covered. Add a sprinkling on top of baked goods to simulate fresh snow, or in the cake batter to bring more texture.
If you’d also like flavor them, mix the ground nuts with coconut milk or coconut extract. Slivered almonds are also a wonderful choice here.
Grated white chocolate for decoration
Another option for decoration is grated white chocolate. It may not be pure white like coconut, but you can definitely fake some show with it, or add it on top of a cake or pastry.
Hmm, we’re guessing you can try a coconut butter and milk-based white chocolate at home, and grate that on your cake. This way, it will also taste like coconut !
We’re no experts on making chocolate at home, but we know white chocolate is cocoa butter with powdered milk and sugar, in a very short version. So maybe try swapping the cocoa butter with coconut butter ? Both melt at skin temperature so they should act the same in chocolate.
And once it’s firmed up – we suggest cooling it in the fridge – you can grate some coconut white chocolate right onto whatever you’re making.
In an interesting turn of events, you may also try powdered milk. It’s not pure white, and it’s definitely going to taste like milk, but it can be a great decoration. In the right lighting, it may even look like snow more than shredded coconut.
What is desiccated coconut ?
You may have heard of folks talking about desiccated coconut. Maybe it sounds like another alternative to shredded coconut. In truth, it’s just another name for dried coconut, so shredded coconut falls squarely into desiccated coconut territory.
The amounts of fat may vary from brand to brand, but the end product is basically the same.
Read Also: Why Is Coconut Water Pink ?
Can you make shredded coconut from coconut flakes ?
Yes, you can get coconut flakes and shred them at home. If you have a blender or food processor, you can simply use that, and get them down to a size that’s small enough for what you need. You may get inconsistent results if you only have a handful, because both machines are designed to operate at least 50% fullness.
Meaning that a small amount of coconut flakes are just gonna fly around the interior, without actually ever getting shredded. What you can do with a smaller amount is to finely chop them on a cutting board. As fine as your knife and patience will allow.
And that’s pretty much it ! Now you know what to use in place of shredded coconut, and as you’ve seen, there are quite a few options out there. One thing we haven’t mentioned is coconut rum. While it does have coconut in it, it’s also rum and in some recipes, it might not be what you’re looking for.
But, if what you’re making can take a bit of alcohol, then you can use that, why not ?