Desiccated Coconut Definition (Is It Just Shredded Coconut?)

The definition of desiccated is to have all moisture removed or to be dried out. Desiccated coconut is the coconut meat that has been ground into a coarse texture and dried at a low temperature to remove moisture. 

A finer texture allows more moisture to be removed. So you’ll often find desiccated coconut in a finer shred or crumb-like consistency. However, you can also buy or make it in a shredded or flaked consistency.

It’s most commonly unsweetened and is typically found in the baking section of the grocery store. It’s used in desserts, granola bars, cereals and can also be added to smoothies for extra nutrition, texture, and flavor. 

It’s similar to coconut milk powder, but they’re not used in the same way.

What is the difference between desiccated coconut and shredded coconut?

There is a subtle texture and moisture difference between the two. Both are most commonly used in baking and can typically be used interchangeably.

Desiccated coconut vs shredded coconut:
  • Desiccated coconut has less moisture and is typically ground into a finer texture, which allows more moisture to be removed.
  • Shredded coconut is a coarser texture with longer strands of coconut, which retain more moisture.

Is desiccated coconut the same as coconut flour? 

Desiccated coconut and coconut flour are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably. Coconut flour is made from the pulp that’s left after coconut milk has been made from the meat. This process removes the fat from the pulp, which is then dried and ground into a fine powder. It’s often used as a substitution for wheat flour in gluten free baking. The texture is fine enough that you don’t notice it in baking but you will mildly taste coconut.

Desiccated coconut is made with the coconut meat, before any fats are removed. The coconut water and shell are removed, the skin is peeled, and the white meat is ground into a coarse texture. It’s then dried at a low temperature to dehydrate it. It’s typically used in baking and will give a slight crunch and stronger coconut taste than coconut flour.

Can I use shredded coconut instead of desiccated coconut?

Shredded coconut can be used instead of desiccated coconut in a recipe. Just be sure you’re matching whether it’s sweetened or unsweetened to what the recipe calls for. 

A recipe may call for it due to the lack of moisture and perhaps the finer texture. The slight crunch of coconut meat won’t be as obvious when using dried coconut that’s been ground into smaller pieces. 

How to make desiccated coconut from shredded

If you only have shredded coconut on hand, you can simply grind it into a finer texture using a food processer or spice grinder. Process the shredded coconut until the texture resembles crumbs. 

You can then remove more moisture from the coconut by spreading the coconut into a thin layer on a baking sheet and leaving it to dry on the counter for a day or two. 

Alternatively, you can place it in the oven on a low temperature (under 65 C/150F) for an hour or so. Check on it every 15 – 20 minutes to be sure it’s not browning. Give it a stir or shake so it dries evenly.