There are many recipes that call for shredded coconut, whether to add a coconut flavor to a sweet dessert or baked good or to be used as decoration.
However, you might have run out of shredded coconut, you might be battling to find some, or you might not like the taste to start with, so you would need to find a suitable replacement.
What are the best substitutes for shredded coconut?
The best substitutes for shredded coconut will depend on what you are making, and the flavors you want from the recipe. Some of the best substitutes include coconut flakes, coconut extract, chopped nuts, grated white chocolate, and more.
Read on to find out more about the best substitutes to use in place of shredded coconut, and how these substitutes change or add to a recipe!
What Is Shredded Coconut?
First, let’s look at what shredded coconut is. Shredded coconut is a simple ingredient, made by grating the flesh of a coconut. These are often dried, and the shreds can vary in size from very small to large.
Shredded coconut has a sweet, nutty flavor, and is ideal in tropical dishes and baked goods, where you want a little bit of crunch, a little bit of sweetness, and an earthy, nutty flavor.
Shredded coconut can be used in baked goods, sweet desserts, savory dishes, or even in beverages!
The Best Substitutes For Shredded Coconut
Below are the best substitutes to use in place of shredded coconut.
Keep in mind what you are making when picking out the best substitute, as some help to keep the coconut flavor, some help to keep the texture, and others look similar to shredded coconut.
Coconut flakes would be the obvious substitute for shredded coconut when you are looking for something that gives as close to the same taste and texture as possible.
The only difference is that coconut flakes are larger than shredded coconut, but they have the same flavor and texture, so there is not much change in the taste or texture.
If the coconut flakes are too large for the recipe you are making, you could shred them down in a blender, or you can simply chop them finer with a knife.
The result will be shredded coconut, so it is the closest substitute you can get!
Sometimes a recipe calls for shredded coconut just for the coconut flavor, and the texture isn’t very important. In this case, coconut extract makes for a great substitute.
Coconut extract has a very concentrated flavor, so you only need a few drops to achieve a sweet and nutty coconut flavor in your food.
You can use as little or as much coconut extract as you want; depending on the strength of flavor you are after, and as you will only need a few drops, the coconut extract will not add too much liquid or alter the recipe at all.
If the recipe calls for shredded coconut to be used for both flavor and texture, then you might need to find something else to add in to give the recipe more texture, which is the only downfall of using coconut extract.
Chopped/Grated Macadamia Nuts
If you are looking to replace shredded coconut with a substitute that isn’t actually coconut, but which shares a similar flavor and texture, then chopped or grated macadamia nuts are a very good option.
Macadamia nuts have a light, sweet and nutty flavor, similar to shredded coconut, and their buttery notes make them perfect in various baked goods.
As macadamia nuts are fairly soft, they are easy to chop or grate, so you can either buy them whole and chop them down to size at home using a knife, or shred them with a food processor or grater.
You can use macadamia nuts just the same as you would use shredded coconut in a recipe, replacing it one for one.
The one thing to be cautious of is that macadamia nuts are slightly sweeter than shredded coconut, so you might have to reduce the sugar content in your dish to compensate for this.
Macadamia nuts also do not absorb liquid as much as shredded coconut, so you will need to add in slightly less liquid.
Grated White Chocolate
If the shredded coconut was being used mainly as decoration on a baked good or sweet dessert, and taste or texture isn’t that important, then grated white chocolate is definitely a substitute to consider.
When grated, white chocolate looks very similar to shredded coconut. This means it is a good topping for cupcakes, cakes, cake pops, and other sweet baked goods.
For the flavor, grated white chocolate is sweeter and creamier than shredded coconut, and if too much is added to a recipe, then it might turn out too sweet.
However, white chocolate pairs well with many different ingredients such as nuts and fruits, which many shredded coconut recipes include.
You can purchase shredded white chocolate, or you can grate slabs or white chocolate at home yourself. For an extra special finish, you could also melt some white chocolate down and drizzle it over your dessert!
Coconut milk is readily available in almost all grocery stores, so it is a very convenient ingredient to come by when you are looking for a substitute for shredded coconut.
This substitute would be a good option for when you are looking for the coconut flavor, rather than the texture, as coconut milk is smooth and creamy and liquid, and it will not have any of the texture that shredded coconut does.
Coconut milk is thick as well, with quite a bit of fat content, so it makes a recipe that it is added to very creamy and thick and gives it a sweet and coconutty flavor.
The benefit of coconut milk is that it can be added to both sweet and savory dishes, whether you are making a coconut cake or a coconut curry, it is also ideal when used to make pina Coladas.
Just keep in mind that coconut milk will add a lot of liquid to a recipe, so you will have to compensate for this.
Grated Brazil Nuts
Another nutty replacement for shredded coconut is grated Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are large, so they are actually fairly easy to grate.
When grated, Brazil nuts have a similar texture to shredded coconut, and they have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor, making them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.
Brazil nuts might not have that tropical flavor that shredded coconut does, but they do have an earthy, nutty flavor so it does work well as a substitute for shredded coconut in many different recipes.
When using grated Brazil nuts in place of shredded coconut in a recipe, you might have to add some extra sweetness, such as some sugar or honey, as Brazil nuts are not as sweet as shredded coconut.
Use grated Brazil nuts in place of shredded coconut in both sweet and savory dishes, to bring a delicious nuttiness to the recipe, with a good texture too.
Powdered milk does not have the same flavor as shredded coconut, but it can look similar to very finely shredded coconut, so for decorative purposes, it works well as a substitute.
Finely shredded coconut is often used to look like snow on various baked goods, and powdered milk looks just as good when used this way.
However, powdered milk will not have the same nuttiness as shredded coconut, but it does share some sweetness that works well with different recipes.
When using powdered milk, you can always add in some chopped nuts to add texture to the recipe.
Best Substitutes For Shredded Coconut
There are many great substitutes you can use in place of shredded coconut, it all just depends on what you are making, and the flavors and textures you are looking for.
If you want a substitute as similar to shredded coconut as possible, then coconut flakes are your best option, as you can shred these at home using a knife or blender, and you will then have shredded coconut to use!
Other substitutes include grated macadamia or Brazil nuts, which offer good nuttiness and texture, or white chocolate or milk powder for decorative purposes.
If it is just the coconut flavor you are after, then coconut extract or coconut milk make for great substitutes!
What is the use of shredded coconut in baking?
When shredded coconut is added to baked goods, it adds flavor and texture to the baked goods or dessert, and it can help to absorb some liquid too.
Can you make shredded coconut from fresh coconut?
You can make shredded coconut from fresh coconut. To do this, you just need to use a grater or food processor to shred the meat of the coconut down. Once done, place this on a baking sheet and dry it out on low heat in the oven. Make sure to not toast or burn the shredded coconut.