Using a skillet on the stove is the quickest and easiest way to toast shredded coconut or coconut flakes. The flavour of freshly Toasted Coconut beats any storebought version, and it’ll take less than ten minutes. Bonus: if you’re using a cast-iron pan, it’s a foolproof way to season your pan. Read how below!
- Made by grating or shredding coconut flesh into thin strands.
- Has a finer texture compared to coconut flakes.
- Commonly used in baking, cooking, and dessert recipes. Due to the smaller size, coconut shreds can add some texture and flavour to recipes without overwhelming the dish.
- Once toasted, shredded coconuts become slightly crunchy.
The term Desiccated Coconut is sometimes used interchangeably with Shredded Coconut. Desiccated coconut is usually even more finely grated than shredded coconut.
- Made by shaving larger pieces of coconut.
- Pieces are larger and thicker compared to shredded coconut.
- The size and texture make them a more noticeable element in dishes, so they’re frequently used as a topping or garnish for dishes like overnight oatmeal, cashew yogurt, smoothie bowls, and plant-based salads.
- Once toasted, coconut flakes become crisp and brittle.
Both shredded coconut and coconut flakes can be toasted in the same way. Depending on the recipe, they can be used interchangeably, but consider the texture you want to add to your dish. Toasted shredded coconut is more subtle, providing a coarse, fibrous texture, while coconut flakes add a more prominent visual element and a bigger crunch.
Step 1: Scatter shredded coconut or coconut flakes into a skillet (preferably cast-iron).
Step 2: Set the skillet on the stove. Turn the burner on to medium heat.
Step 3: Using a spatula, stir coconut around continuously until it turns golden-brown.
Note: Don’t let the coconut brown too much, or else it will taste burnt. See image below for a comparison of untoasted vs perfectly-toasted vs burnt coconut:
Toasted Coconut Cast Iron Seasoning
If you have one, use a cast-iron skillet to toast coconut flakes. The coconut will release some oil as it heats up, which can be used to build the seasoning on your skillet. A 6- to 7-inch skillet is the perfect size for toasting 1 cup of shredded coconut at a time.
After toasting, simply wipe down the cast-iron pan with a cloth or paper towel to remove excess oil, then leave it upside down in the oven for 1 hour at 350 °F / 175 °C.
Allow the toasted coconut to cool fully before transferring it to an airtight container. Very important that the coconut is completely cooled to room temp before storing. This prevents condensation which 1) makes the coconut soggy 2) encourages spoilage.
Counter: Store toasted coconut flakes at room temperature for up to a week.
Fridge: For longer storage, keep your toasted shredded coconut in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Note that toasted coconut loses its nutty roasted flavour over time, so it’s best to use as soon as possible. For that reason, I don’t recommend freezing it either.
Scatter shredded coconut or coconut flakes into a skillet. Set the skillet on the stove on medium heat. Stir around the shredded or flaked coconut continuously in the pan until they turn golden-brown.
It will take around 5–10 minutes to toast 1 cup of shredded coconut using a cast-iron pan on most glass/electric stoves. The exact time will depend on the type of skillet you use and the strength of your stove.
When toasting coconut flakes, it’s best to use unsweetened ones. Unsweetened coconut flakes give you control over sweetness levels in recipes and are versatile for both sweet and savory dishes. Sweetened coconut flakes, coated with sugar, can brown too quickly and unevenly due to the sugar caramelizing and perhaps burning. However, both unsweetened and sweetened coconut can be toasted as long as you’re careful to watch out for burning.
Toasting coconut flakes adds a bunch of tasty benefits. When you toast coconut flakes, they turn golden-brown and take on a more intense and nutty flavour. It’s like turning up the volume on the coconut goodness. Toasted coconut also becomes crispy and crunchy, and adds a great texture contrast to any dish. A little goes a long way, as the flavour is a lot stronger than untoasted coconut, so you don’t need to use as much either.
No, desiccated coconut is not the same as toasted coconut. Desiccated coconut is finely grated and dried coconut meat commonly used in baking and cooking for its mild coconut flavor and chewy texture, and is usually not toasted. On the other hand, toasted coconut refers to shredded or flaked coconut that has been toasted to a golden-brown hue, resulting in a rich flavor and pleasant crunch. While both are coconut-based, they have distinct characteristics and uses in culinary applications.
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Skillet Toasted Coconut
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Skillet (preferably cast-iron; see Note 1)
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- 1 cup shredded coconut or coconut flakes see Note 2
- 1 tsp coconut oil *optional
- Scatter shredded coconut or coconut flakes into a skillet.
- Set the skillet on the stove on medium heat.
- Optional: Melt 1 tsp of coconut oil in the pan to get the coconut super crispy and flavourful.
- Stir around the shredded or flaked coconut continuously in the pan until golden-brown.
- Skillet: Use a cast-iron pan if you have one (I use a Lodge 6-½ inch). The coconut will release some oil as it toasts, which can be used to build the seasoning on your skillet. After toasting, simply wipe down the cast-iron with a cloth or paper towel to remove excess oil, then leave it upside down in the oven for 1 hour at 350 °F / 175 °C.
- Sweetened vs Unsweetened Coconut: It’s best to use unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes. Sweetened coconut flakes, coated with sugar, can brown too quickly and unevenly due to the sugar caramelizing and perhaps burning. However, both unsweetened and sweetened coconut can be toasted as long as you’re careful to watch out for burning.