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The Best Substitute For Shredded Coconut

Shredded coconut is a favorite ingredient in many desserts, from cakes to cookies. In this article, we’ll share with you the best substitute for shredded coconut.

We’ve included other types of coconut products and non-coconut alternatives. We also have tips on how to use these substitutes in your favorite recipes.

Wooden spoon filled with shredded coconut.

What Is Shredded Coconut?

Shredded coconut is a form of coconut meat that has been grated or shredded into small, thin pieces.

It’s a versatile recipe ingredient due to its light, sweet flavor. People also call this ingredient desiccated coconut.

To make shredded coconut, you need to grate the flesh of the fresh coconut. Then, you remove moisture by baking or using a dehydrator.

Shredded coconut is a good source of fiber and healthy fats, so it is a nutritious addition to any dish.

This type of coconut is available in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties, with the sweetened version typically used in desserts and the unsweetened version used in savory dishes.

It can be added to cakes, cookies, and muffins for a tropical flavor and texture or used as a coating for chicken or fish to add a crispy texture. Shredded coconut is also a popular topping for yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothie bowls.

You can make your own shredded coconut, but most people buy packaged or bulk shredded coconut.

Best Substitutes For Shredded Coconut

Shredded coconut is a popular ingredient in many recipes, but if you don’t have it or can’t eat it, there are several substitutes you can use.

Here are some ideas:

1. Coconut Flakes

Coconut flakes and shredded coconut are very similar in taste and texture. The only difference is that coconut flakes come in bigger chunks.

For this reason, coconut flakes make an excellent shredded coconut replacement.

Coconut flakes may not work for delicate desserts that need smaller pieces.

Fortunately, you can easily improve the texture of coconut flakes at home using a blender or a knife.

In short, coconut flakes are the best choice for shredded coconut substitutes. After all, they serve the same purpose and bring texture and flavor to dishes.

2. Coconut Milk, cream or Coconut Milk Powder

Coconut milk is a thick and creamy liquid you can buy in tins at most supermarkets.

You can also buy a powdered coconut milk version. Just add hot water to it to make coconut milk.

Coco milk shares the same sweet taste as shredded coconut. But it lacks the nutty flavor and texture.

Still, it is a good sub for shredded coconut in dishes like curries and desserts. After all, it also adds creaminess and sweetness to recipes.

For this reason, they are popular in vegan cooking and baking.

The liquid nature of coconut milk limits the recipes in which they’ll work.

Use it if you are only after the coconut flavor. If you’re after the texture of coconuts, there are better alternatives.

3. Coconut Liquor

Coconut liquor is a good alternative for shredded coconut, too. It can add sweetness and nutty flavor to your dish.

But, again, it lacks the texture of shredded coconut as it comes in liquid form.

That said, it is only best for dishes like curries, sauces, drinks, and marinades.

And since it contains alcohol, this only suits people who can legally consume alcohol. Still, it would be best always to use coconut liquor in moderation.

To be safe, use it in cooked dishes where you can cook off its alcohol content. Skip it in raw dishes, as it can alter the dish’s flavor too much.

4. Fresh Coconuts

Fresh coconuts can add texture and flavor depth to sweet and savory dishes. And because it is the base ingredient for shredded coconut, it is also among its best substitutes.

Fresh coconut is high in fiber and healthy fats, making it a nutritious dish addition. Add it to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal recipes for a fiber boost.

If you opt to use this as a swap, it is important to use ripe coconuts to get the best flavor.

Also, remember that fresh coconut has more moisture than dried coconut.

Using fresh coconut in recipes will result in a change in texture. For instance, if you use fresh coconut in muffins, you’ll get a denser baked good.

5. Coconut Extract

Coconut extract can replace shredded coconut when adding a tropical twist to recipes. The extract uses the flesh of coconuts, giving it a sweet and nutty taste.

It’s easy to find in most grocery stores, and it is also relatively inexpensive.

Since it is a concentrated liquid, using just a small amount goes a long way. So, your bottle will last you a long time.

Aside from that, coconut extract has a mild yet strong nutty flavor that won’t overpower your dish. It is perfect for adding flavor to cakes, cookies, and frostings. Add a few drops until you get the ideal flavor intensity.

Again, this is a liquid alternative, so it lacks the crunch and chewiness of shredded coconuts. Skip it if you want to see and feel the coconut texture in your final dish.

6. Coconut Water

Coconut water is also a decent shredded coconut substitute. It will give the same sweet and nutty flavor.

But as it is another liquid swap, it works best in beverages. Use it for smoothies, juices, and pina colada recipes.

Note that there will be a visible change. Coconut water can be clear to cloudy, while shredded coconuts have an opaque milky hue.

Also, remember that baking coconut water causes it to lose flavor, so you should use more of it in baked goods.

Be careful when buying coconut water in stores, as coconut-infused water is popular. This drink can look exactly like coconut water, but they are different.

7. Crushed Nuts

Crushed nuts, such as almonds or cashews, can be used as a substitute for shredded coconut in recipes that call for a crunchy texture.

Chopped Brazil nuts have a similar texture to shredded coconut. They are also versatile ingredients you can use in both sweet and savory dishes.

Chopped macadamia nuts can be a good shredded coconut substitute as well. They have a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture, just like shredded coconut.

These nuts do not taste like coconuts but have a nutty flavor that complements many recipes.

What they lack, though, is the sweetness of coconuts; you may need to alter your recipe to make it work. Add sugar to your dish when using them to substitute shredded coconut for a closer flavor match.

Use them in oatmeal, granola, salads, and baking instead of shredded coconut.

8. White Chocolate

Grated white chocolate is a decadent alternative to shredded coconut. But it only works for decoration purposes.

It doesn’t taste or have the same texture as shredded coconut but it looks the same.

For this reason, it can easily pass as shredded coconut if you use it as a garnish or a topping.

Grated white chocolate is very sweet, so it is best to use it in moderation to avoid overpowering your dish.

One important consideration here is that it melts easily. That said, white chocolate is best for cold drinks and desserts. For cake and cupcakes, allow your baked good to cool before adding white chocolate.

9. Almond Flour

Almond flour and shredded coconut are not interchangeable in all recipes, as they have different textures and flavors. However, in some cases, you can substitute almond flour for shredded coconut.

Almond flour is a great substitute for shredded coconut in recipes that call for a dry, coconut-like texture. It works particularly well in desserts like macaroons or bars.

As a general rule, use the same amount of almond flour as shredded coconut, but start with a smaller amount and add more as needed.

It is more absorbent than shredded coconut, so you may need to adjust the liquid in the recipe as well.

Almond flour has a nutty flavor that’s different from shredded coconut, so keep in mind that the final product will taste different.

11. Oatmeal

In some cases, you can substitute oatmeal for shredded coconut. Oatmeal can be used as a substitute for shredded coconut in recipes that call for a chewy texture.

It works particularly well in recipes like cookies, granola or smoothies.

If you’re substituting oatmeal for shredded coconut, you’ll need to adjust the amount.

Oatmeal is more absorbent than shredded coconut, so you may need to adjust the liquid in the recipe as well.

Expect a different flavor: Oatmeal has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that’s different from shredded coconut, so keep in mind that the final product will taste different.

How to use Coconut Substitute

When using a shredded coconut substitute, keep in mind that the flavor and texture may be slightly different than using shredded coconut. Adjust the recipe as needed to achieve the desired results.

Baked Goods

Coconut flakes and macadamia nuts are great shredded coconut alternatives in baked goods. They work well in cookies, cakes, and muffins.

Coconut flakes have a similar texture and flavor to shredded coconut, so this is the top choice.

Macadamia nuts offer a similar nutty flavor. But you’d have to add more sugar to your recipe to bring it closer to shredded coconut’s taste.

Smoothies and Shakes

For beverages, coconut milk powder, coconut water, and fresh coconuts are perfect. They all offer an authentic coconut flavor. And they’ll make your drink as close to coconuts as possible.

Coconut Curry Dishes and Thai Coconut Soup

Coconut milk powder is the best swap in coconut curry dishes and Thai coconut soup.

Recipes for these dishes call for coconut milk. But some people use shredded coconut and blend it with water.

In this case, you can use coconut milk powder.

They both provide a rich, creamy texture and authentic coconut flavor.

What Can I Use In Place Of Shredded Coconut?

To replace shredded coconut, you may use other coconut-based products. Your top choice is coconut flakes; depending on the recipe, you may also opt for coconut oil or coconut flour. If you have coconut allergies, grated white chocolate is your best bet.

Is Desiccated Coconut Just Shredded Coconut?

Not always. Desiccated coconut is dried shredded coconut. But you can also shred fresh coconuts and opt not to dry them. In this case, you still have shredded coconut, but it is not desiccated.

Where Can You Find Shredded Coconut In The Supermarket?

You can look for shredded coconut in the baking aisle. If not, try looking for it in the bulk section or the natural food aisle.


Shredded coconut is a sweet and nutty ingredient that can provide a decadent taste to dishes. But if, for some reason, you need a substitute for shredded coconut, there are plenty of choices. Coconut flakes are the best option, providing a similar taste and texture.

Fresh coconut and coconut liquor are options, but they only work for specific dishes. Other coconut-based swaps include coconut butter and coconut cream.

More Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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