Get ready for a flavor blast! Toasted coconut adds a deep and layered richness to so many dishes—sweet and savory! Fresh or raw coconut is delightful on its own, but add a bit of heat, and the flavor and texture becomes even more richly layered with a crispy, nutty, nutritious goodness.
You can find shaved coconut in those bulk barrels or in the produce section of grocery stores. Toast them up while you are doing the rest of your meal prep and toss them onto lunch salads, topping curries, stir fries, soups, roasted carrots, and so much more.
DIY good food that’s good for you is such a healthy high, isn’t it?! Or skip the health food and go right to making these Chewy German Chocolate Cookies with toasted coconut folded in!
Toasting Coconut Flakes
The number one thing you need to know before you can start toasting coconut shavings is that it’s remarkably easy to do – if you pay close attention to it. Don’t leave your coconut unsupervised while they’re getting toasted or you’ll end up burning them.
It’s up to you to use unsweetened or sweetened flakes that you’ve bought from the store or use fresh coconut instead, but make sure they’re shredded, shaved, or flaked.
Here are three different ways you can toast coconut flakes.
On the Stovetop
Use a large skillet for this technique.
- Spread your coconut flakes in a single layer (don’t pile it up) in a large skillet.
- Place the skillet over the stove on medium-low heat and keep stirring the flakes for about 3 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the coconut from the hot pan when the flakes turn a beautiful golden-brown.
- TIP: Don’t just turn off the heat under the pan. Coconut toasts fast and the residual heat can burn them.
For a more detailed tutorial, watch this video.
In the Oven
You can use a baking sheet or a baking tray for this method.
- Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350F.
- Spread the flakes in a single layer (this allows heat to act on each flake evenly) on a large baking sheet or baking tray.
- Put the tray inside the oven and bake the flakes for about 8 to 10 minutes at 350F.
- Stir them about every 2 minutes until they start turning brown.
- Remove the tray from the oven, transfer the toasted flakes to a dish, and let them cool.
In the Microwave
Use a glass dish or any other microwave-safe plate.
- Spread about half a cup of shredded coconut in a large glass dish.
- Put them in the microwave for about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Stop the microwave in between after every minute to stir the flakes around.
- When you notice that the flakes are beginning to brown, remove the dish from the microwave and let the flakes cool completely.
- You need to watch unsweetened coconut closely as they’re getting toasted because they take much less time than sweetened coconut.
- Transfer the toasted coconut to a separate dish immediately after taking it off the stove, or out of the oven or microwave. If you leave it inside the hot dish, the leftover heat will continue to toast them and may even burn them.
- Make sure to stir the coconut flakes as regular stirring helps them brown evenly.
Toasting a Fresh Coconut
If you’re working with fresh coconut, you need to set some time aside for preparation. The first thing you need to do is use a vegetable peeler to remove the brown skin from the coconut meat.
After that, use a clean peeler and run it over the fresh coconut to get thin ribbons or curls. Scoop them up and put them in a bowl to dry for about an hour. After they’ve dried completely, toast them using any one of the three ways we’ve listed above.
Store the unused coconut in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eat it within a week.
If there are some leftover toasted coconut flakes that you weren’t able to use in your recipe, then simply put them in an airtight jar or container and store the jar in the refrigerator. You can safely use them for up to 4 weeks.
If you wish to sweeten unsweetened coconut flakes just a little bit, then you can put a pound of unsweetened coconut flakes in a Ziploc bag and add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to it. You can add more or less depending on how sweet you want it to be.
Zip up the bag, give it a good shake for a few seconds, and then transfer the flakes to a dish because they’re ready to use. I would suggest not toasting them after adding the sugar, as that will increase the likelihood of ending up with burnt flakes.
Now that you’ve got your coconut flakes perfectly toasted and deliciously crisp, you need to figure out ways you can get the most out of them. Not only do these crunchy flakes elevate the flavor of simple breakfast items but you can also use them in savory dishes.
Toasted Coconut in Breakfast Items
Toasted coconuts bring a lot more than flavor to breakfast items. They add the much-needed crunch and give a warm and inviting aroma to them that makes them all the more irresistible.
Simply add them on top of your freshly warmed bowl of oats or Greek yogurt. You can also make your Sunday breakfast of waffles and pancakes even more exciting by adding a generous sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes on top.
If you love taking your time to prepare acai bowls or scrumptious smoothies for breakfast, then you can throw these toasted flakes in for added texture. If you like your granola to be extra crunchy, then feel free to mix these flakes in.
Savory Dishes Made with Toasted Coconut
You can also use toasted coconut in your everyday meals to make them fancy. Add them to crispy chicken thighs, fried fish, or even roasted vegetables. If you’re tired of eating the same old salad every other day, give the flavors a boost by adding a heaping spoonful of toasted coconut to it.
If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine and love cooking up delicious curries, then simply add these flakes to spruce up the flavor of your curry.
Toasting coconuts helps bring out the flavor of the coconut and makes it a delicious ingredient for any recipe that calls for it. The next time you’re making a fresh batch of cookies, throw toasted coconut flakes in to make them taste even better.
Decorate your cupcakes with these toasted flakes or add them to your ice cream for an added crunch and to counteract some of the sweetness. You can also add them to scones or caramel popcorn if you want.
Regardless of how you choose to toast them – in the microwave, the oven, or on the stovetop – make sure you’re watching them closely to keep them from getting burnt.