How to Toast Coconut 4 Ways—Plus the Best Ways to Use Toasted Coconut

Our Test Kitchen pros will coach you through how to toast coconut in a pan on the stovetop, in the oven, in the microwave, and in an air fryer.

Triple Coconut Cream Pie
Photo: Jason Donnelly

Just like when you toast nuts, mastering how to toast coconut allows you to infuse even more depth, nuttiness, texture, and flavor to savory and sweet recipes. 

Sure, you can buy it already toasted at the store. But if you learn how to make toasted coconut yourself, you can steer clear of any potential preservatives in the pre-toasted kind. You’ll also save money and be able to customize the consistency (we’re sharing how to toast coconut flakes and how to toast shredded coconut) and the doneness level. Like it golden brown? Go for it! Prefer it dark and toasty? Let it cook a few minutes longer.

Read on to discover how to toast coconut in the oven, on the stovetop, in the microwave, and in an air fryer. Then score inspiration for how to put those nutty, floral shreds or flakes to use in tasty toasted coconut recipes.

How to Toast Coconut 4 Ways

No matter which strategy you choose as you discover how to toast coconut, a few Test Kitchen tips will come in handy. For the best toasted coconut:

  • Go your own way. Any of these methods for how to toast coconut will work for coconut flakes, shredded coconut, or desiccated coconut. Feel free to let your recipe—or your pantry—be your guide.
  • Think small. Be careful not to overcrowd your cooking vessel, as this will impede browning. If necessary, toast coconut in two smaller batches or in two separate pans or microwave-safe dishes.
  • Stir often. This will ensure even browning and help prevent any overly-burnt or undercooked areas.
  • Adjust appropriately for the sugar content. Unsweetened coconut usually takes slightly less time to toast than sweetened coconut. Watch all coconut closely as it toasts, and check in on unsweetened a minute or two early. Regardless of the total time, even if it doesn’t align with what we estimate in our guides for how to toast coconut (oven temps can vary widely!), remove the toasted coconut from the heat once it turns golden brown.

How to Toast Coconut in the Oven

For a low-fuss option for how to toast coconut that works best for when you’re making a big batch, flip on the oven. 

  • Preheat the oven to 325° F and line a rimmed cookie sheet, sheet pan, or 9- x 13-inch pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Evenly distribute the coconut on the prepared pan, then transfer the coconut to the oven.
  • Every 5 minutes, use a heat-safe utensil to stir the coconut.
  • After about 20 minutes, or when you smell the coconut’s nutty aroma and it looks golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and allow the toasted coconut to cool.

How to Toast Coconut in a Pan on the Stove

If you’re whipping up a smaller portion of toasted coconut, the stovetop works great.

  • In a skillet over medium heat, evenly distribute the coconut. 
  • Stirring frequently with a heat-safe utensil, cook the coconut for 5 to 10 minutes or until you smell the coconut’s nutty aroma and it looks golden brown. 
  • Remove the pan from the burner and allow the toasted coconut to cool.

How to Toast Coconut in the Microwave

No preheating is required for this ultra-easy approach for how to toast coconut.

  • In a microwave-safe dish or plate, evenly distribute the coconut in a thin layer.
  • Microwave for 20 seconds, then use a heat-safe utensil to stir. 
  • Repeat in 20-second increments, stirring after each, for about 3 minutes total, or until you smell the coconut’s nutty aroma and it looks golden brown. 
  • Remove the dish or plate from the microwave and allow the toasted coconut to cool.

How to Toast Coconut in an Air-Fryer

While there are certain things you should never try to cook in the air fryer—we’re looking at you, bacon—you can definitely toast coconut in the trendy countertop appliance. Just be sure to use a small pan (for a model with racks) or an air fryer liner (for basket-style air fryers) to prevent small pieces of coconut from falling onto the bottom of the air fryer.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 325° F and cover the basket with a liner or round up a small air fryer pan.
  • Evenly distribute the coconut in a thin layer.
  • Air fry for 2 minutes, shake the pan or use a heat-safe utensil to stir.
  • Repeat in 2-minute increments, stirring after each, for about 5 minutes total, or until you smell the coconut’s nutty aroma and it looks golden brown. 
  • Remove the toasted coconut from the air fryer and allow it to cool.

How to Use Toasted Coconut in Recipes

Now that you know several methods for how to make toasted coconut, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Use toasted coconut to top smoothie bowls, cakes, pancakes, waffles, French toast, parfaits, or pies. Or combine toasted shredded coconut with bread crumbs to lend a little tropical flair to pan-fried, air-fried or deep-fried chicken, fish, or seafood.

Snag some inspiration from our best toasted coconut recipes:

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