what is desiccated coconut

Putting the Pieces Together: What is Desiccated Coconut?

You have ever read through a recipe that calls for coconut, you may have across the term desiccated coconut.

If you are new to this ingredient, though, you may be wondering “what is desiccated coconut?”

Well, since this particular component is similar to other forms of coconut, there is often some confusion associated with it.

So, to go get down to what desiccated coconut is and how to use it, you are going to need to know the following information:

Understanding Desiccated Coconut

Simply put, desiccated coconut is what you get when you dehydrate and grate coconut meat.

It is commonly for bakery or confectionary goods. In some cases, it may be added to savory recipes as well.

More often than not, it is a garnish or a decoration on pastries and baked goods.

Desiccated Coconut vs. Shredded Coconut

As mentioned, desiccated coconut is often mistaken for another form of coconut – shredded coconut.

Now, there is no denying that these two components do have similarities. However, they are by no means the same ingredient.

So, let’s take a look at how these two types differ from one another?

The easiest way to distinguish between desiccated and shredded coconut is to look at the size.

Desiccated coconut is ground rather than shredded. As such, it has a more powdery form, whereas shredded coconut consists of thin strips.

Traditionally, shredded coconut also has a little more moisture than desiccated coconut.

fresh coconut flakes

How to Make Desiccated Coconut?

There is quite a process involved in making desiccated coconut.

First, the husk of the coconut is removed and the drupe is cut in half. The coconut water is discarded and the meat is thoroughly washed.

The kernels are then pasteurized in steam. Following this, the kernels are placed in a sulfite solution so that it can stabilize.

The kernels are dried using a stream dryer and then ground to form the desiccated coconut.

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Can I Use Shredded Coconut Instead Of Desiccated Coconut?

So, what if a recipe calls for desiccated coconut, but all you have is shredded coconut.

Can this work as a desiccated coconut substitute?

Unfortunately, you can’t directly use shredded coconut instead of desiccated coconut.

This is because, as mentioned, shredded coconut is larger and contains more moisture than the desiccated coconut.

However, with a few modifications, you can turn shredded coconut into the desiccated form.
Then, you can use it as a substitute.

Coconut sweets with desiccated coconut

How to Make Desiccated Coconut from Shredded Coconut

So, how do you go about turning shredded coconut into desiccated coconut?

Well, to begin with, you have to strip the shredded coconut of its moisture. Then, you need to grind it down to size.

You can learn how to do this step-by-step, in the section below…

Desiccated Coconut Recipes

These are the easiest options for turning shredded coconut into desiccated coconut.

Unsweetened Coconut Recipe


  • 1 Bag of shredded coconut


Step 1: Dry Out the Shredded Coconut

Heat the oven to 250°F.

Spread the coconut evenly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven.

Leave the coconut in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much moisture is in the shredded coconut.

It is time to take the coconut out of the oven when it is dry and brittle to the touch.

Step 2: Place the Coconut in a Food Processor
Place the shredded dried coconut in the food processor.

Pulse the coconut but stop after every pulse.

The goal is to ground the coconut finely, but still with notable texture. If you grind the coconut too finely, it will be more like coconut flour.

Sweetened Coconut Recipe

If you are using your desiccated coconut to round out a dessert, then you may prefer the sweetened version.

Here, you will first need to sweeten the shredded coconut before grinding it down to desiccated coconut form.


  • ¼th cup of water
  • 4 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 cup of shredded coconut


Step 1: Make the Sugar Syrup

Pour the water and sugar into a pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Continue to heat the mix until it becomes slightly syrupy.

Step 2: Add the Coconut

Add the coconut to the syrup and mix well.

Stir the coconut and syrup until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Step 3: Dehydrate the Shredded Coconut

Heat the oven to 250°F.

Line the sweetened coconut on a baking tray and place it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or longer.

Keep checking the coconut for a dry and brittle texture.

Step 4: Place the Shredded Coconut in a Food Processor

Pulse the shredded coconut until you get the same texture as desiccated coconut.

How to Use Desiccated Coconut

So, what it is that you can do with your freshly prepared desiccated coconut?

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Well, if you are making a coconut cake, gently press sweetened desiccated coconut against the frosting. This can be done with cupcakes as well to produce a beautiful, snowflake-like effect.

You can also roll chocolate truffles in sweetened desiccated coconut for an additional crunch.

It is not uncommon for the unsweetened version to be included in granola or trail mix recipes as well. The coconut taste works well with the nutty and grainy ingredients included in such recipes.

It can even be added to hot or cold cereals, particularly if you wish to impart a more tropical flavor to the dish.

As for savory options, desiccated coconut is often used to cover battered covered prawns or chicken strips. This ingredient functions in a similar but tastier way as bread crumbs.

This is what you need to know about what desiccated coconut is and how you can make it. Now, you can add this ingredient to your dishes without any hesitation at all!

If you would like to learn about other forms of coconut and how they are used in dishes, check out our Pinterest page for more information.

Riya Borah


Riya Borah 

Nutritionist Educator

Riya Borah is a nutritionist educator and her job involves guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle. Growing up in India, Riya was aware of just how much coconut was used on a daily basis. This encouraged her to research the properties of this versatile drupe. It opened her eyes to both the limitation and possibilities of coconut. Her aim is to now educate as many people as possible about the best ways to utilize coconut in their own lives.

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