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What is Desiccated Coconut?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Desiccated coconut is coconut meat which has been shredded or flaked and then dried to remove as much moisture as possible. There are a number of different styles of desiccated coconut used around the world, and availability of this coconut product varies, depending on the region where one is shopping. If desiccated coconut is not available, regular dried coconut can be used as a replacement, although dried content tends to have a higher moisture content, despite the “dried” in the name.

One of the most common forms of desiccated coconut is an unsweetened, very powdery product which is produced by drying shredded coconut and then grinding the shreds. It is also possible to find coarser desiccated coconut, such as desiccated shreds and even flakes of coconut. Many producers also make sweetened versions. The label should clearly specify whether or not the coconut has been sweetened.

Bakers should be careful with recipes which call for desiccated coconut, because both sweet and plain versions are available. If a recipe calls for unsweetened desiccated coconut and a sweetened variety is used, the result may be a cloying recipe which is far sweeter than desired. Conversely, using unsweetened desiccated coconut in a recipe designed for the sweetened version may result in a more tart or bitter recipe. The texture is also an important consideration, as dessicated coconut swells slightly when it is exposed to moisture, which means that shreds and flakes of coconut can grow in the batter for cakes, brownies, and other baked goods, while the powdered version tends to remain relatively small.

Storage recommendations for desiccated coconut generally include keeping it in a cool, dry place out of the light. Dried coconut often needs to be stored in the freezer or fridge to keep it fresh, and to prevent clumping, because the moisture causes the coconut to pull together in the package. Desiccated coconut, on the other hand, can be stored at room temperature for up to a year very safely. Some producers also add a small amount of cornstarch to the package to prevent sticking in the event that the coconut becomes moist during storage.

In baking, desiccated coconut can be added to a recipe for texture and an added coconut flavor. This coconut product is also used in the preparation of chocolates and other sweet treats, as a dusting for the outer layer. Puddings and ice cream can also be made with desiccated coconut. Cakes and cupcakes can also be sprinkled with desiccated coconut or rolled in it, and it can also be used as a dressing or garnish for savory foods.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon991806 — On Jul 20, 2015

You can find desiccated coconut in a pouch source available in the Philippines from Celebes Coconut Corporation.

By anon338620 — On Jun 16, 2013

I have had desiccated coconut in the pantry very tightly packaged, but I used it when the use by date was way past -- 2011, I think the use by date was. I already ate some of the cake I made. Will I get sick?

By anon161421 — On Mar 19, 2011

I have been able to find dessicated coconut (unsweetened) at WINCO foods in the bulk foods section.

By anon152930 — On Feb 15, 2011

I got desiccated coconut at an East Indian grocer, actually a "dollar store" that sells East Indian food stuffs. Might also try a health food store, where I get unsweetened coconut which is grated very small, is dried and give a marvelous texture for cookies, etc.

By dill1971 — On Jul 01, 2010

@cmsmith10 - I also make my own desiccated coconut. However, I like to use fresh coconut. I thought I would post on here how to prepare it that way. When using a fresh coconut, it has to be prepared before you start drying it out. Cut your coconut in half. Remove its entire husk and pour out your coconut water (which is also great to use in recipes!). Using a fine grater, grate or shred your coconut into small flakes. From there, it is basically the same procedure as with the bagged coconut.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 01, 2010

@sinefey - You are right about the coconut! I had a recipe that called for desiccated coconut and I thought that I could just go to my local grocer and pick some up. I found out quickly that no one had even heard of it! I did some research and found a recipe to make my own.

I start with a bag of shredded coconut (you can use fresh if you like) and then get a baking sheet ready. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Place the shredded coconut on the pan being sure to scatter it loosely. You don’t want to leave clumps in it because it will prevent parts of it from drying. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

Check the coconut often. When it is completely dry, it will be brittle to touch. Take it out of the oven and put the baked coconut into a bowl. Depending on what your recipe calls for, you may have to grind your dried coconut or use a food processor to get the texture you need. Happy cooking!

By sinefey — On Jan 10, 2010

Just in case your grocer is like mine, there is no "desiccated coconut" to be found in the baking aisle. Try checking for packages that say "macaroon coconut". Or if completely unlucky you'll probably have to special order it.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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