Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 25, 2014 05:53 PM

Coconut-Sweetened or Not?

I recently made a cake with shredded coconut. Many times recipes do not indicate whether to use sweetened or unsweetened. What is the best to use? What is your favorite recipe with coconut?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In America, if a baking or dessert recipe doesn't specify, it means sweetened. It would be very rare to call for unsweetened. I love coconut sweets but don't have a favorite recipe. I like to sub light coconut milk for water in jello, and for milk in custardy applications.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I would have never thought to use for jello, thank you!

      1. re: greygarious

        That is a super idea about the jello! I have a recipe I'm making that calls for 1/3c, so I've been pondering what to make with the rest. I actually like jello and just got a jello mold I want to try out!

      2. Generally, sweetened is used in sweet dishes like dessert and unsweetened is used in savory dishes like a curry.

        1 Reply
        1. I can't stand sweetened coconut (to me it's like eating sugar straight out of the bag), so I always, always use unsweetened.

          8 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            Me too. I can control the amount of sugar and I think there is more coconut flavor.

            I like rice and coconut puddings well coconut cake with lime curd filling and coconut frosting.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Same here. I use unsweetened in recipes that call for sweetened without a problem. As has been discussed many times here, a lot of dessert recipes can benefit from a reduction in sugar. As a matter of fact, I'm planning on trying this recipe today:


              1. re: cookie monster

                Oh, I remember that old-timey-delicious recipe! I used to like it with pecans in the topping. Yum.

                1. re: sandylc

                  Yes I made it with pecans rather than walnuts - I'm mildly allergic to walnuts - and it was a big hit. Had to bake it for closer to 40 minutes but otherwise I followed the Serious Eats recipe as is.

                  1. re: cookie monster

                    FWIW, the SE version has some significant differences from the CI one, which is probably its source. It uses 1/2 cup of white sugar but otherwise is the same as this: They stress that it is important NOT to use rolled oats, because quick oats create a much better texture.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Hmmm. I used rolled oats and quite liked the texture.

                  2. re: sunshine842

                    I don't use it often. I made a Queen Elizabeth cake last week and the only coconut I had was sweetened, the recipe called for unsweetened. It was mixed in with a fudge topping, it was too sweet. I never know which one to buy. I guess I should have read the recipe beforehand.

                  3. Half and half for most desserts.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        toasting unsweetened coconut really brings up the natural sugars. i cannot stand the sweetened kind.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I am learning from this thread, will try the unsweetened in my baking from now on.

                          1. re: Ruthie789

                            it's all a matter of preference. typically i don't care for commercial baked goods that contain coconut because i find them achingly sweet and that's from the bakery or restaurant using sweetened flakes.

                    1. I like Baker's Angel Flake sweetened coconut. My favorite recipe to make with it is Mounds brownies, followed closely by Mounds gelato. Just call me the coconut kid.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        For some reason although I do a lot of baking, I do not use much coconut. I am going to try the cake that was posted earlier in this thread, today in fact.