The Best Way to Crack Open a Coconut

It's time to conquer the coconut! Here's how to get all that sweet water and meat in just a few easy steps.

A great source of vitamins and nutrients, coconut water is a favorite drink for a reason—not to mention it's incredibly refreshing. But buying the store-bought, pasteurized versions can get pricey, so why not try making your own? Cracking open the husk takes a bit more effort, but it'll be richer in flavor, and, as an added bonus, you'll get all that delicious coconut meat inside that's perfect for cooking and baking. Opening it and extracting the water is much easier than it looks—just follow our test kitchen's top tips and tricks.

Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph break down the techniques above, as well as demonstrate how to handle young green coconuts.

coconut screwdriver
Emily Kate Roemer

How to Extract the Water

First, locate the three "eyes" at the stem end of the coconut. Then use a screwdriver to test which one is the softest before piercing. Next, invert the coconut over a bowl or glass and shake if necessary to get all of the water out. Once it's empty of liquid, it's time to move on to extracting the meat. Full of vitamins and minerals, the meat is worth saving.

hands holding coconut bowl water

How to Extricate the Meat

Removing the meat from the coconut might seem like an involved process, but it's actually quite simple.

Bake, Then Let It Cool

Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Then place the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the hard outer shell begins to crack. Remove the coconut and set it aside until it's cool enough to touch.

Make Impact

Next, wrap the coconut in a kitchen towel; holding with one hand, tap it with the back of a cleaver or chef's knife, or hit it with a hammer, in the same place several times before prying it open.

Separate Meat From Shell

Separate the coconut meat from the shell with a spoon. Finally, remove the brown skin with a vegetable peeler, if desired, then shred, grate, or chop the meat and enjoy.

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