Shredded Coconut Substitute

by Shailynn Krow
Shredded coconut comes sweetened or unsweetened.

Shredded coconut comes sweetened or unsweetened.

Shredded coconut is a common ingredient found in your store’s baking aisle. It can be used in baking or as a garnish, and it can even be rubbed onto meat to add an exotic flavor. If you’re out of shredded coconut or the texture is a turnoff, several readily available substitutes will give you authentic coconut flavor without the need for shredded coconut.

Coconut Extract

Coconut extract is readily available in grocery stores in the baking aisle. Pure coconut extract is made from the steeped flesh of the coconut and offers a powerful coconut flavor. Imitation coconut extract is not made from real coconut; instead, it is made from water, alcohol, preservatives and artificial flavorings. For true coconut flavor, use pure extract . Substitute 1 teaspoon of extract for every cup of shredded coconut.

Fresh Coconut

Shredded coconut is dried and preserved. You can replace shredded coconut with freshly grated coconut to get the flavor without the texture. Freshly grated coconut is lighter than its shredded counterpart, so you need more when substituting. For every ¾ cup of shredded coconut required in your recipe, use 1 cup fresh coconut.


Coconut has a natural nutty flavor, but if you’re not a fan, you can substitute shredded coconut with nuts to get texture and flavor in your recipe. Alternatives that have similar flavor profiles to coconut include macadamia or Brazil nuts. Substitute equal parts sliced or chopped nuts for shredded coconut. Blanch or toast the nuts first to bring out their natural oils and enhance their flavor.


If you are using shredded coconut in a sauce, marinade or drink recipe, you can omit the shredded coconut and use a coconut-flavored liquor instead. Coconut liquor, also known as coconut arrack, is made from distilled coconuts and flavored with mild spices. Coconut rum is another alternative, especially if you don’t like the taste of a pure coconut liquor. Substitute ½ cup of coconut liquor for every cup of shredded coconut.


Some recipes use shredded coconut as a garnish or topping, not an actual ingredient. For example, many bakers spread a buttercream cupcake with a bed of shredded coconut for a fresh snow effect. Shredded or freshly grated white chocolate is a suitable replacement for decorative shredded coconut. You can also shred nuts -- such as almonds -- and use them as a decorative garnish that gives you a nutty flavor and crunch similar to coconut.

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About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.

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