Fundamentals: How to Toast Coconut

I think we’re all well aware that I bake more than the average person. Being in the kitchen so much makes me take for granted the tasks that are second nature for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re second nature for you. After all that’s why I started the Fundamentals series to begin with – which I’ve been a little lax with, by the way.

While toasting coconut for an upcoming recipe, I thought the simple process would be the perfect way to get the Fundamentals series back in motion.

Coconut can add flavor and texture to many desserts such as cupcakes, dessert bars and cookies. Shredded or flaked coconut straight from the bag has a great flavor but, in my opinion, it can be a tad chewy. If you’d like the coconut to have a crisp texture, it is really simple to toast at home. Toasting the coconut will also bring out a richer, nuttier flavor and will add more depth to your favorite dishes and desserts.

There are two techniques for toasting coconut. You can use the stove top or the oven. Personally, I am a big fan of the stove top method. I find I have a little more control since I am able to keep a constant eye on the coconut, plus frequent stirring allows for a more evenly toasted finished product.

If you have a topic that you’d like to see covered in an upcoming Fundamentals post, send us an email at questions@mybakingaddiction.com.

How to Toast Coconut

Ingredients:

  • shredded, shaved or flaked coconut

Directions:

Stove Top Method

  1. Place desired amount of coconut flakes in a large skillet.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the flakes are mostly golden brown.
  3. If the coconut is sweetened it tends to brown faster so, it will take less time.

Oven Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a thin layer and bake in preheated oven. The flakes will toast very quickly and won't take more than 5-10 minutes.
  3. After a few minutes stir the coconut to help ensure even color. Remember, sweetened flakes will take less time because sugar speeds the toasting process.

Notes:

  • If you have unsweetened flakes and would like to sweeten them up a bit, you can place a pound of unsweetened coconut flakes in a zip top bag with 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar. Give them a good shake and voilà - you have sweetened coconut.

39 Responses to “Fundamentals: How to Toast Coconut”

  1. Amber — September 5, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Okay, I feel weird. I’ve never toasted coconut in a frying pan. It never occurred to me! How have we never discussed this? This is way easier than parchment paper, baking tray, and waiting for the oven to preheat. I feel like you’ve been holding out on me.

  2. Jill — September 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Easy, peasy! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know how easy it was to toast coconut!

  3. SimplyBakes — September 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I want to sprinkle this toasted coconut all over my cakes!

  4. Amy — September 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I toast my coconut in the microwave…and it works great. It’s the easiest method I’ve found and you just have to stop it every thirty seconds or so and stir it around a bit.

    • Jamie — September 5th, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Great idea, Amy! I may research it and add it to the post. Thanks for sharing.
      -Jamie

  5. Girlnapurpledres — September 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Very useful information. I enjoy using coconut in recipes from time to time so will be adopting some of the methods you’ve listed above. My preferred is also the DIY stove top method that you’ve described.

  6. PJ — September 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Good topic – I love toasted coconut and use it for certain dishes (such as rice pudding sweetened with cream of coconut and topped with toasted coconut). I’ve never heard of toasting it on the stovetop, but I’m sure gonna try it next time!

  7. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — September 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I never knew how to do this before, thanks!!

  8. Emanuela — September 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    That’s amazing! I had never heard about toasting the coconut!!! And everything you say is so right…I take your advice from now on ☺! Thank you and nice to meet you! I love your site internet!!! I’m going to follow you ☺!
    Emanuela

  9. Ana — September 6, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Awesome! Thank you! I will be toasting coconut for the first time for some cupcakes I’m making for a birthday party in a couple of weeks, perfect timing.

    Sincerely,
    Baking Rookie : )

  10. Amy — September 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Ironically enough, I have never toasted coconut and was curious the proper method a few days ago. Now I know so thank you very much! I’m sure something yummy will come of it.

  11. shannon — December 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Thank You so much for the skillet method! I just toasted up some coconut and it was so nice & easy!!

    • MBA — December 26th, 2012 at 9:13 am

      Shannon-
      I am so glad you enjoyed this fundamentals post. Thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback – have a great day!
      -Jamie

  12. Mark — January 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    I toast coconut and nuts in an air popcorn maker. A 1/3 cup of nuts or coconut toasts more evenly than the stove or oven methods. You also can watch the nuts or coconuts become gradually browner and the smell of the coconut or nuts will reveal when it is perfectly roasted. Bon Appetit.

  13. Susan — May 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    I too have never toasted coconut and need it for my pinacolada cake. Thanks for the info.
    Easy cake recipe–angelfood cake mix to which you add 1can crushed pineapple. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Spread with fat free cool whip and sprinkle with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Refrigerated.

    • Jamie — August 12th, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Susan,

      Thanks for the recipe! Let us know how the toasted coconut is with the cake! Have a wonderful day and thank you for following MBA!

      Jamie

  14. Kristen — September 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I am putting toasted coconut on a cake, if I refrigerate the cake, will the coconut get soggy, or will it keep its crisp texture?

    • Jamie — September 13th, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Kristen,
      I think eventually the coconut might get soggy, but if you tried to put it on after refrigerating the cake, it won’t stick, because the frosting will harden. I think you’d have at least a day or two of crisp coconut, though.
      -Jamie

  15. valerie — September 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

    can i store toasted coconut? or will it get soggy?

    • Jamie — September 13th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      Valerie,

      I haven’t tried it, but google tells me: “Toasted coconut needs to be stored in an airtight container, as coconut can go rancid if exposed to air. If stored properly, toasted coconut can stay for 2 months in the freezer. But if it is stored outside, then it may last at the most for 1 month.”

      Hope that helps!
      – Jamie

  16. Matilda — September 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I WANT TO ADD SUGAR AND SALT TO THE COCONUT BEFORE TOASTING IT, HOW SHOULD I GO ABOUT IT. THANKS FOR THIS.

  17. Jess — October 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks! I’ve never toasted coconut before. I’m making some miniature cupcakes that I’d seen a picture of somewhere for my best friend’s baby shower. They’ll be chocolate &/or pumpkin with cream cheese icing and toasted coconut on top to make it look like a miniature bird’s nest. I haven’t decided on the icing color yet. Blue icing for baby boy, or brown or green icing to go with the nest? Now I just have to make the blue egg. If only it were Spring, so I could go to the drug store down the street and buy a bunch of malted robin-egg-blue eggs…

    • Jamie — October 16th, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Jess-

      Those cupcakes sound adorable! Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

      -Jamie

  18. Donna — January 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Hi, I just found your site and I think it’s going to be my go-to for baking questions, etc.!
    I have a question: I am making an apple cake (it’s called “Fabio’s Apple Cake”) and I have some left over toasted coconut from a jar of toasted coconut cashes (simply, incredibly delicious by the way). I want to put it on top of the cake. Since it’s already toasted, should I put it on the cake, say, the last five minutes of baking? Or put it on when I take the cake out? Thanks.
    Donna

    • Jamie — January 10th, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Donna, I’d add it once the cake is out of the oven.
      – Jamie

      • Donna — January 11th, 2014 at 8:32 am

        Thank you, Jamie. It came out great – I added a walnut streusel on top and threw on a small amount of the coconut.

  19. Linda — May 28, 2014 at 2:20 am

    I am making a coconut cream pie and it calls for whipped cream with a sprinkling of coconut on the top — would toasted coconut be better?

    • Jamie — June 19th, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      Linda, in my mind, toasted coconut is always better. But I like the texture much more. It’s a personal preference.
      – Jamie

  20. bob — July 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    purchase 9″ keebler shortbread or flavor of choice pie crust. 1 pack coconut creme jello pudding. make jello according to pie filling directions. pour into crust and refrigerate. add toasted coconut to top. yummy!

  21. Subrina — December 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Thanks for this! I’ll be using it to top a pumpkin cheesecake!

    • Jamie — December 13th, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Subrina-
      That sounds wonderful. Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

  22. Beverly Elaine — December 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

    You are a goddess!! I’ve never tried (nor heard of the stove top method). I’m going to try it this very minute! And the tip about sweetened coconut browning faster…who knew! Thank you!

    • Jamie — December 23rd, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Beverly Elaine-
      I’m glad this was helpful. Thanks for visiting.

      -Jamie

  23. Linda — March 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Do you need to refrig toasted coconut?

    • Jamie — March 30th, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Linda-
      The toasted coconut should be fine at room temperature or in the refrigerator in a covered container.

  24. Connie K — April 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Can I color coconut before toasting???

    • Jamie — April 15th, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Connie-
      I wouldn’t recommend coloring the coconut before toasting. I hope this helps.

      -Jamie

  25. Rachel — June 21, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Hi. I am using unsweetened coconut. If i want to add powder sugar do we do it before we toast it on stove or after? Thank you in advance.

    • Jamie — June 26th, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Hi Rachel – sweeten it before you toast it. Thanks for visiting! – Jamie

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