chopped coconut

Substitutes for Coconut Extract – What Can I Use Instead?

Coconut is one of the exotic and tropical summer flavors. It offers a milky and creamy substitute for milk, fats, and oils with a hint of sweet and nutty flavor. Coconut is a dominant ingredient in some Asian cuisines, especially in Thai dishes. 

When you only want the character of this fruit in your food product, coconut extract will give you that feature. It’s a concentrated form of coconut flavoring that will enhance your product’s taste with a strong taste and smell of coconuts.

You can use coconut extracts to your cakes, chocolates, cookies, ice cream, pies, puddings, and other desserts. 

If ever you don’t have coconut extracts, there are still alternatives that you might find to replace it. 

Find out and learn which among the coconut extract substitutes is the best choice to incorporate in your recipe. 

Substitutes for Coconut Extract


1. Coconut water

coconut water

If you want your casseroles and soups to have a milk coconut flavor, coconut water will do it. Instead of using plain water for your soup, substitute it with coconut water. 

Coconut water is the watery liquid found inside a coconut fruit. The juice is typically consumed as a refreshing beverage.

However, if you are baking, coconut water is not the best ingredient to use if you’re seeking a strong scent of coconut. 

2. Coconut rum

coconut rum

A hint of alcohol won’t probably hurt when you’re already out of coconut extract for the dish you’re going to prepare. Surprisingly, coconut rum can replace your missing coconut extract.

Coconut rum is a liqueur that has coconut extract which possesses a robust distinct coconut flavor. 

And then you might say, “But it has alcohol!” It’s actually something you should not worry about. Alcohol is volatile in nature. It evaporates, starting from 172°F (78°C). This is the temperature if you’re simmering stews or sauces. Hence, if you used a meager amount of coconut rum, its alcohol will just turn to gas, leaving the coconut flavor in your cooked dish. 

3. Coconut milk

organic milk

Coconut milk is extracted from grated mature coconut kernel. This is a common ingredient used in many Asian countries. It carries the distinct flavor of coconut compared to coconut water. 

If you’re looking for a strong coconut flavor, this ingredient is an excellent substitute for coconut extract. It is thicker than water, and it is best added in soups, casseroles, chowder, stew, sauces, and even in pastries. Coconut milk will make your dishes creamy, dense, and attractive. However, this might not be the best substitute for your coconut extract if you don’t want your dish to weigh down.

When cooking stews and soups, make sure not to overcook your coconut milk. Heating coconut milk longer than necessary will separate its oil, forming coconut oil. If this happens, it might end up having an oily dish. 

Coconut milk comes in different market forms: full-fat, lite, refrigerated, cream of coconut, or coconut milk powder. Just choose the one they will best suit your dish. 

4. Coconut imitation

coconut imitation

Coconut extract can be substituted with coconut imitation. This works on any recipe that calls for coconut extract. 

The difference between coconut extract and coconut imitation? It’s the ingredients. Coconut extract is made from processed real coconuts, while coconut imitation is a combination of synthetic chemicals that copies that original taste and flavor of coconuts. After all, it is called an “imitation” for a reason.

5. Coconut oil

coconut oil


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Coconut oil is processed from dried coconut meat. 

You can combine coconut oil on recipes that use oil or butter for baked goods such as cakes and biscuits. Add it into the mixture if you want a hint of the tropical coconut goodness in your product. However, coconut oil is not equally flavorful as coconut extract, but you can still taste it. 

I, myself, have used coconut oil as a pastry ingredient (another recipe here), as a heavy cream substitution or in smoothies.


6. Coconut flakes

coconut flakes


Also known as coconut shreds, this product is made from coconut meat that has been shredded or flaked to pieces then desiccated. The size of coconut flakes can either be fine as a snow-like powder to big chunks. You can also choose either sweetened, unsweetened, or toasted. 

Coconut flakes provide flavor and texture on products like cakes, ice cream, bread, and cookies. 

You can extract coconut flavor from coconut flakes by simmering it in a saucepan of milk for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid to separate the chips, then use the coconut-infused milk to your soups and casseroles.


7.Do-It-Yourself coconut extract

No coconut extract? You can still make your version of coconut flavor at home! If you are not always lucky to get a bottle of coconut extract whenever you need it, you should make an alternative. Making your own coconut extract must be prepared ahead of time before the moment you are going to use it. 

Homemade coconut extract is simple and quick to prepare. However, you must give it time to infuse the mixture together before you can use it. The infusion of the mixture will take at least 30 days.

This is how it’s made:

You will only need two ingredients: A cup of coconut flakes and a bottle of vodka (375ml). 

Prepare a jar where you will put your homemade coconut extract. Add the two ingredients in the jar and seal it tightly. After that, shake the jar vigorously and store it in a dry, cool place. 

Remember to shake the jar daily for a month to help infuse the coconut elements into the vodka.

After a month, separate the coconut flakes from the liquid using a strainer. Then place the liquid in a bottle that has a tight seal. Then there you have it! Your very own coconut extract.

Alternatively, if you have fresh coconuts, you can dehydrate the coconut kernel by baking or sun-drying. And then, grate the dehydrated coconut kernel and use this to infuse in your vodka. 

Your homemade coconut extract can last up to one year of stored under refrigerated or cool conditions, and away from direct sunlight.


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But wait. What if I don’t like the taste and smell of coconuts?

We do have different preferences in terms of flavors. Some people cannot tolerate the strong taste and smell of coconuts. But, don’t just immediately give up on a coconut-flavored recipe yet. You can simply replace it with other flavors! Here are a few examples to replace coconut flavor:


Almond extract


almond extract


Try to see if almond extract can work with your baked goodies. Almond extract is a mixture of bitter almond oil and ethanol. This extract holds a sweet, nutty flavor that is best with frosting, ice cream, candy, bread, pies, and pastries.


Vanilla extract


vanilla pods


This flavor is too familiar to people of all ages. Vanilla comes from the natural extracts of vanilla pods. Replace your coconut extract with this flavor in the same amount it requires. 

Take away

Coconut extract is recommended for baked goods and savory dishes. Like many bottled extracts, a little dose if coconut extract can give a strong and intense tropical coconut flavor and aroma you desire. 

However, if you’re out of coconut extract, try these alternatives that we have shared with you. Make sure you are using the right ingredient substitute for the particular food product you are preparing for are items that are not suitable for either baking or cooking dishes. 

Remember that nothing beats the intensely flavorful and aromatic characteristics of coconut extract compared to the provided alternatives. However, these are still good alternatives for coconut extract. 

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