How to Crack a Coconut

Get to the good stuff with nothing but a few household tools.

Fresh coconut is naturally sweet and loaded with good-for-you vitamins. It’s great for cooking, baking and frosty drink-making! Opening a coconut, though, can seem an impossible task. At first glance, coconuts seem virtually indestructible. But once you know how to open them, you’ll quickly feel like a pro.

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1 Before You Begin

Selecting your coconut is the first, most crucial step. If your coconut is wrapped with a label, be sure to check for any dates that might be offered. Freshness is key!
Then, hold the coconut up to your ear and shake it. Do you hear liquid sloshing around inside? Perfect! If you don’t hear liquid, your coconut is shriveled and past its prime.
Before you make your final decision, check the eyes of the coconut. Those are the three little indentions on the end. Do you see any hints of mold? If so, put that one back. It’s no good. For visual reference, let’s take a close look at a definitely NOT good coconut:

See the slight mold around the edge of the eye? And the obvious dampness? Both are signs that this coconut is no longer good. For further proof, I went ahead and cracked this coconut. Just a tap set off a hissing noise like gases releasing. The photo above on the right is the water from inside this soured coconut. You can see it is murky and has chunks in it.

Clear coconut water and a sample of the water tastes sweet!!!
Let’s back up for a minute though. Because I should explain how I actually opened the coconut.


2 Pierce

You will need a tool to pierce through the eyes of the coconut. I am using a small punch (from the garage). Screwdrivers (flat or Phillips head screwdrivers) are also a popular option, and are usually the most readily available.
Situate the sharp end of the tool you choose on the deepest part of the groove in the eye.
Whack (technical kitchen term) the end of the tool with a hammer until you can tell you have punctured the coconut all the way through to the cavity in the center. Repeat in at least one more of the eyes (this will help the coconut water/juice drain faster in the next step).

3 Pour & Preheat

Pour the liquid from the coconut. Use your finger to sample it and make sure the water is sweet. You can drink coconut water. It’s good stuff! Note that some coconuts yield more water than others. Preheat your oven to 400°F.

4 Bake & Crack

Place your drained coconut directly on the rack of your pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the coconut from the oven and let it cool just enough to handle it. The warmth is going to work in your favor. Place your coconut on a cutting board and insert your tool back into one of the already-pierced eyes. Hit it with the hammer again, this time at an angle so that you are aiming the sharp ended tool at the side of the coconut instead of directly at the middle. It should crack right open. Repeat this a time or two until you have pieces you can work with.


5 Remove the Shell

Use a knife to lift the coconut meat away from the shell.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous membrane that hugs the meat of the coconut.

6 Grate

Use a box grater to flake your coconut! If you like larger pieces you can also use your vegetable peeler. It’s ready to eat!

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.