You’re in the kitchen working on a recipe when you glance at the ingredients and see coconut water.
You panic as you realize you forgot to add it to this week’s shopping list, thinking that your recipe is ruined. But with some creativity, you will be able to substitute your coconut water like a pro.
Coconut water is not the same thing as coconut milk. Coconut milk is made by combining the white, “meaty” portion of the coconut with water to create a creamy, fat-rich product. It has a really strong coconut flavor and a thick texture.
Coconut water actually comes from the middle of an immature coconut. You may have seen someone cut the top off of a young coconut to drink the liquid inside.
That’s what the water is. It has a light, nutty flavor that doesn’t really taste of coconut and can be used in all kinds of ways.
So, what are the best substitutes for coconut water? You can try using maple or birch water, diluting coconut milk with water, making your own coconut water with shredded coconut and hot water, using coconut or almond extracts, or using watermelon or aloe vera juices.
Keep reading to determine which substitute will be perfect for what you’re whipping up in the kitchen.
The Best Substitutes For Coconut Water In Drinks
With summer fast approaching, it’s a great time to get creative with different delicious drinks. Coconut water is a refreshing option for those hot days.
It can add interesting flavors to cocktails or mocktails, used as a sports drink, or be drunk on its own.
1. Birch Water
Birch water is the sap that is extracted from the Betula genus of trees in early spring. It is a clear, colorless liquid that has a subtly sweet taste.
It isn’t as strong in flavor as coconut water.
That makes it a great option if you want to drink it straight, but don’t totally love the taste of coconut water.
It makes a great alternative to regular water and can be drunk on its own or added to your favorite cocktail or summer drink.
It tastes great when icy cold and garnished with a sprig of mint and a squeeze of lime.
2. Maple Water
You may have seen maple water on the shelves next to the coconut water at your local store. As the name suggests, maple water comes from maple trees.
It is the liquid sap that is extracted before it is boiled down and concentrated to make maple syrup.
Maple water makes a great alternative to drinking coconut water. It has a more subtle flavor and a hint of sweetness. It tastes especially fresh and delicious when chilled.
If you’re looking for a great mixer for interesting summer cocktails or mocktails, its lightly sweet taste makes a perfect base for frozen drinks, punches, and spritzers.
3. Watermelon Water
Is there anything as fresh and summery as watermelon? Unlike coconut, maple, and birch waters which are all clear or a little bit cloudy, watermelon water is a beautiful bright pink color.
It has all the sweetness you expect from watermelon and is the perfect cooling option on a hot summer day.
You can drink it on its own for a fresh way to hydrate this summer. It’s also great as a mix in a fresh cocktail, frozen margarita, a splash to your spritzers, or as the base for your next batch of picnic punch.
4. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice is not the same as the gel you put on your skin after a sunburn. You will want to look for an option that doesn’t include the skins since these can be a little bit irritating to the belly.
But the gel from the middle of the plant makes a great drink!
Most companies will blend the gel with water then filter and purify it to create aloe vera juice. It has a stronger flavor than the other options on this list.
It tastes a little citrusy and can have a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Lots of people enjoy drinking it plain, but it also mixes well with sweeter juices to create a super-hydrating summer beverage.
The Best Substitutes For Coconut Water In Baking
Is coconut water is on your ingredients list, but not in your pantry? Don’t worry, we have you covered!
1. Make Your Own With Shredded Coconut And Water
If you’re in the middle of baking and realize that you don’t have the coconut water that the recipe calls for, you can make a passable alternative using shredded coconut and boiled water.
It won’t have the exact same nutty taste as coconut water, but it won’t be as strong as a coconut milk.
You will want to use about half a cup of shredded coconut per cup of boiling water. That works out to a 1:2 ratio of coconut to water, depending on how much you need for your recipe.
- Place your coconut in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over top.
- Stir it together and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
- Pour the liquid through a fine strainer and press any liquid out of the shredded coconut. You can dry and save the shredded coconut for another recipe.
- Since coconut water is quite sweet, you can add a little splash of sugar, honey, or maple syrup to recreate the flavor.
- Use in a 1:1 substitution for coconut water in baking. You can also use this technique if you need to cook with coconut water.
2. Make Your Own Nut Water With Almonds or Hazelnuts
Another option is to make your own nut water.
Unlike making a nut milk, you’re not going to blend these nuts and strain them, you’re going to use the steeping method above that you used with the shredded coconut.
You will use the same 1:2 ratio of nuts to water as above.
- Measure out your ingredients. To make one cup of nut water you will need half a cup of almonds or hazelnuts.
- Roughly chop your nuts into smaller pieces.
- Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.
- Add nuts to the frying pan and toast until slightly browned and fragrant. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from the frying pan and place in a large bowl.
- Bring your water to a boil and pour over the nuts. Let it steep for about 10-20 minutes.
- Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve. You can dry and save the nuts to use in a future recipe.
- Use the nut water as you would coconut water in your recipe.
An extra option is to use half shredded coconut and half toasted nuts to make your water. Follow all the directions above, just replace half of the nuts with shredded coconut.
3. Make Your Own With Coconut Extract, Almond Extract, And Water
Another option if you want to recreate that coconut water flavor, but don’t have shredded coconut on hand is to make your own with some coconut extract, almonds or almond extract, and water.
Coconut extract tastes more like the coconut flesh than the water, so a little goes a long way.
Adding in the almond extract will also give you the nutty flavor that is characteristic of coconut water. Combining the two will give you a close approximation of coconut water.
Unlike cooking where you can often use a recipe as a guideline as opposed to a rule, baking recipes require precision for the proper chemical reactions to happen during baking.
If your recipe calls for a certain amount of coconut water, you will want to stick to that measurement.
If your recipe calls for 1 cup of coconut water, you will want to start small and add one drop of each extract to the water.
Stir it together, taste, and if you want to increase the coconut or almond flavor add one drop at a time until you get the flavor you’re looking for.
Since it won’t have the same sweetness as coconut water, feel free to stir in a bit of honey, maple syrup, or sugar. I would start with one teaspoon and work up until you hit your desired sweetness. Use as directed in the recipe.
4. Combine Coconut Milk With Water
A final option you can try if you don’t have coconut water but you have some coconut milk on hand is to dilute the coconut milk with water. I would use about 1:2 ratio of coconut milk to water.
The final product will be a little less nutty in flavor, so if you have almond extract you might add a drop to the mix to balance it out.
Just like the other options on the list, it won’t have natural sugar like coconut water. To replicate it, start by adding about one teaspoon of your favorite sweetener at a time until you reach the level you’re looking for.
The Best Substitutes For Coconut Water In Cooking
When you’re trying to get dinner on the table, who wants to run to the store for one missed ingredient? Use one of these sweet alternatives instead.
1. Maple Water
Maple water adds a lovely subtle flavor to any meal that calls for coconut water. Though it won’t be quite as strong in taste, it will add a sweetness to whatever you’re making.
You can add it to soups, use it to poach fruits, or simmer it down to make a sweet syrup.
You will be able to use maple water in a 1:1 substitution for coconut water in your recipes, just expect a very subtle taste difference in the final product.
2. Birch Water
Just like maple water, birch water offers a more subtle alternative to coconut water in cooking. You can use it in a 1:1 substitution for coconut water, though it will create a slight difference in the taste of your recipe.
Its light, sweet taste is perfect for chilled recipes or to poach fruits for a fancy dessert. Like maple water, it can be gently simmered to create a sweet syrup.
You can get creative by adding herbs or fruits to make flavored birch syrups for your recipes.
The Best Substitutes For Coconut Water In Smoothies
Coconut water is a great ingredient to add to smoothies for flavor and sweetness. Lots of recipes call for plain water, but you can make a more interesting smoothie by using coconut water or one of these delicious substitutes.
Apple Juice, Watermelon Juice, Orange Juice, or Pineapple Juice
If you’re looking for an option to add some sweetness and flavor to your smoothie, these juices make great alternatives to coconut water.
While the flavors will all be slightly different, they will complement most fruit-based smoothies.
Pineapple juice is a great choice if you’re looking for a more tropical flavor. You can use any of these juices in a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Maple or Birch Water
You’ve already seen the great ways to use maple or birch water as substitutes for coconut water in drinking and cooking, but they also work great in smoothies.
They won’t overpower other flavors and complement different types from fruit-based, to chocolatey and matcha smoothies.
If you want to get creative you can freeze your maple or birch water into ice cube trays to make a more frozen, creamy smoothie.
Using coconut milk instead of coconut water is going to give your smoothie a creamier, more coconutty flavor without the added sweetness.
If you use this choice you may want to dilute it with a little water so your smoothie doesn’t get too thick.
You might also need to add some extra frozen banana, a couple of dates, or your favorite sweetener to make up for the lack of sugar in coconut milk.
Do you have a few more coconut-related queries? Let’s get to the bottom of them.
How Can I Make Coconut Water Taste Better?
Not everyone loves the flavor of coconut water, but there are lots of creative ways you can make it taste more delicious.
I’ve included a few fruits and herbs you can add to make your coconut water taste better. Feel free to use one or several to create your perfect drink.
- Citrus juices such as lemon, lime, or orange
- Fresh cut strawberries
- Frozen blueberries
- Muddled mint
- Sliced cucumbers
- Muddled raspberries
Can I Use Coconut Water To Replace Coconut Milk In Recipes?
Remember that coconut milk is made from the meat of the coconut. That means that it is much richer in fat, has a creamier texture, and is lower in sugar than coconut water.
It also doesn’t have the exact same flavor so you will need to make some tweaks to substitute coconut water.
If your recipe calls for 1 cup of coconut milk, you will want to use a combination of coconut water and heavy cream to get the texture you are looking for. I would use half coconut water and half heavy cream.
If you have coconut extract you may want to add a drop to the mixture to get more of that strong coconut flavor.
Can I Make My Own Coconut Water?
Yes, you can! You will need to purchase a young coconut from the grocery store. The outside is white instead of brown and hairy and it may look larger than the coconut you’re used to.
You are going to need a sharp knife or meat cleaver and a stable surface to work on such as a dishtowel or cutting board. You will need to use the bottom corner of the meat cleaver to make four cuts into the top of the coconut to open it.
Below is a great video tutorial.
Once your coconut is open, pour the water through a strainer to make sure you don’t get any shell in your drink. Pour the coconut water into a glass, add any fruits or herbs for flavor, and enjoy.