Opening a Coconut in 7 Simple Steps

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on July 14, 2011

Whole coconuts are insanely cheap right now.

Until recently, I believed that if you didn’t have a machete at home, breaking open a coconut was next to impossible.

Thankfully, I’ve landed on the easiest way to break open a coconut with the tools you have around your home and in 7 simple steps.

Y’all ready for this?

Step 1: Poke a hole in your coconut

There are 3 holes at the top of the coconut. One will be weaker than all the others. Poke each one with the tip of a sharp knife. When the knife inserts easily, you’ve found the weakest link! Poke a hole with your knife.

Step 2: Drain [and reserve] the coconut water

Flip the coconut over onto a cup or bowl and allow to drain. Reserve the water and whip up a batch of fresh electrolyte filled lemonade {1 cup coconut water, 1 cup filtered water, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, pinch stevia}

Step 3: Place your coconut in the oven

Preheat your oven to 375F and place your coconut on a baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you see a crack developing, like this one.

Step 4: Wrap your coconut

Remove your coconut from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of moments. Then, wrap it in a tea towel and throw it into a black garbage bag.

Step 5: SMASH the life out of your coconut

Go outside to a front step or concrete area. Lift the coconut over your head and BASH it into the concrete. Do this a couple of times until you feel the pieces break, or until you feel your stress wash away from you. It’s a therapeutic experience ;)

If there are observers, open the bag to reveal the coconut pieces before you go back into the house. This will avoid awkward conversations with the neighbors later.

Step 6: Separate the shell from your dear coconut

Wedge a knife in between the flesh and the hard shell to separate the shell from the meat.

Step 7: Peel the fiber away from your coconut

You’ll be left with white meat covered in a light brown fiber. Peel away the fiber with a vegetable peeler, as you would a potato.

You’ve now successfully opened your first coconut. Dig in!

Or… wait for tomorrow’s recipe ;)

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess@HealthyExposures

Awesome tutorial!! I’ve seen a couple recipes lately that called for a whole coconut, and immediately turned away. I guess now I know it’s not so bad ;) Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

Noooo you’re making us wait?? I keep seeing whole coconuts at the store and wanting to buy them, but I never know what to do with them!

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

I’ve never opened a coconut in my life. I have a big muscleman who climbs up a coconut tree, tears the husk of the nut, and proceeds to smash open the coconut with his bare hands-all under 2 minutes. Totally true.

But….I guess this will work, too, when he isn’t around (or there isn’t a coconut tree around!)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

haha you’re awesome Alex. I wish I had my own muscleman to break open my coconuts haha

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Holly @ The Runny Egg

Leanne this is awesome! Although I wish you had recorded you smashing the coconut :)

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Anita

This is awesome! I also wondered who owns a machete to open these glorious things. I think fresh coconuts are a drink and dessert in one. When I was in Thailand I would always ask for a spoon and try and scoop out the flesh at the end of the meal. So delish!

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Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

I have never opened a coconut before, but now I really want to! I can’t wait for tomorrow now!

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Andrea

I’ve never bought a whole coconut before but the thought of the smashing process makes me want to go get one right now!! ;)

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Lisa @ Healthful Sense

Love this!! I’ve never bought a coconut before. Looks fun… love the part about revealing the coconut pieces before going back into the house…haha..love it!!

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Andrina Tisi

love it. My husband always helped with it but will try your version next time.

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Vicky

I’m going to buy a coconut just so I can smash one! I’ll bet that’s a great way to take your day’s frustrations AND get a tasty snack at the end :)

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Kristina @ spabettie

I’m with Holly – I think you need to repeat this tutorial in a video :D

I loved this – reminds me of opening coconuts fresh from the tree in my grandpa’s yard when I was a kid (we used a hammer).

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Gosh, I should do that! haha

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PressureCookerDiaries

That sounds awesomely fun! And you get delicious coconut as the result!

I’ve never bought a whole one before, but I may have to venture out and get one.

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Heidi @ Food Doodles

Awesome, I had no idea about the oven trick. We always just beat ours with a hammer. Explaining that one to the neighbors is still awkward, haha.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I tried it with the hammer and it’s never worked for me. I find it so hard to remove the fiber from the meat afterward! I’ll have to give it another go. Yes, neighbors ALWAYS look at me funny when I’m bashing my food outside.

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Aine @ Something to Chew Over

Great tutorial Leanne! My mother taught me something similar and I always loved bashing them :)

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Heather

This looks so easy! Movies and TV make it seem so dramatic, haha.

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Alyssa Monique (PayFitnessForward)

Sorry to be so childish, but your second picture made me giggle it looks like the coconut is taking a twinkle :-D. Thank you for this post! Do you know the best way to but a mango?? mangos frustrate me when I cut then I dont get enough fruit with them but I know theres a special way to cut them so I do!

-Alyssa

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

hehe it does! Here’s the video that taught me how to cut the perfect mango http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvLdPjpELyU super easy!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

I love the tutorial!

Basically if you have anger issues, are upset, need to just let it all out…all you need to do is open a coconut and you’ll feel better :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

100% agreed!

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chelsea

I think the idea of bashing a coconut over my head onto the ground like a sledgehammer sounds like a blast hahah =D I’m going to try this! & make some lemonade of course too!

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Beverly

You. Are. A. Genius.

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Hayley @ Oat Couture

Ahh love this! I have never bought a coconut purely because I thought it would be such a pain to open it! Next time I see one it’s getting purchased! :) If not for any other reason than that I want to have a public hissy fit AND have an excuse! :D

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Evan Thomas

I’ve been wanting to pick up a whole coconut for a while now. Now I have no excuse not to. I grabbed fresh coconut at Grand Central Station and it was delicious.

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warteltje

This is one way to open up and get that white fresh flesh out of the coconut.
I use a diffrent method that I’ve learned from my grandfather.
You take a hammer in one hand and the nut in the other. Now hit the nut just with a mild hit and after that turn the nut a littlebit and hit again. You go so round the coconut until suddenly it cracks a bit and the lovely water tries to seep out. Keep turning and hitting until the nut cracks totaly. Done in less than a minute.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Thank you for sharing this! I’ll have to try it with my next coconut. Thanks again :)

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Adora's Box

I feel so embarassed now that I had to learn how to open a coconut this way. I come from a country (Philippines) that has tons of coconut but I really do not know how to open one myself. We always get to buy them ready prepared. I can’t wait to bash my first coconut.

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Sonia The Healthy Foodie

There’s an even easier way of doing this… one that won’t get your neighbours alarmed and suspicious either ;)

Check out this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-gJC2mcebs
You don’t need to hit hard, just a couple of swift hits around the coconut with the back of a knife does the trick! Ever since I discovered that opening up a coconut was really THAT easy, I’ve been enjoying them on a regular basis.

Can’t wait to see what goodies you will be whipping up with yours… :D

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Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan

Thank you so much for this! I had no idea you could open up a coconut successfully without a machete

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Kelly

What a great post! I’ve never actually opened up a coconut before and I assumed there was an easier approach to doing it other than using an ice skate (ie. Castaway) haha, this is so informative! Love coconut :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh my gosh, I’d completely forgotten about that part in the movie! Yes, this is MUCH easier!

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torviewtoronto

wow that seems like lots of work :) lovely pictures
hope this tip helps
all we do is remove the water first or keep a bowl in the bottom to catch the water then with the eye of the coconut in the side we hold the coconut with the left hand and tap it in the middle of the coconut with a back of a butcher knife while turning the coconut slightly so it doesn’t hit the same spot. it will crack into a perfect half and then you can use a coconut grater to grate fresh coconut or cut pieces using a knife

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Kim Beaulieu

This is a great post. So many people won’t buy them as they think they are difficult to deal with. I do mine almost the same but don’t heat it first. Once our weather cools I am going to try this method, see if it cracks easier for me. I just cracked one yesterday for kabobs. So good.

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Martyna@WholesomeCook

Great tutorial, especially for getting the coconut smashed into bits which makes it easier to remove the flesh.
The other method, which doesn’t require heating up is by tapping the shell all the way around with the back of a knife – you can hold the coconut in one hand. The shell will open and split in half. You can do the same across to get quarter pieces and get the flesh out :-)

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Alexandra

I may sound a bit funny, but i just opened my first coconut and this is also the first one that i see in my life (opened). So i thing there must be something wrong with it: i can t peel and finish step 7, and also the ”meat” is crunchy, i don t think i can use it in a cake…this means my coconut is too …raw? :) Can i do something with it now that i have it?

Thanks!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Alexandra – you bought a regular coconut… and not a young one. That’s fine, that’s what I use, too. It should be crunchy. Are you preparing it for a specific recipe? Did it call for a young coconut? Their flesh is a lot softer. I like to make pie with the crunchy coconut. Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested: http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2011/07/no-bake-blueberry-cream-pie/

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Chuck

Hi,
I bought a coconut for the holiday, determined to get to coconut without slicing my fingers, losing my patience, as I have generally done in the past. (I buy one every year or two).

This tutorial was perfect. After baking the coconut, my daughter took it to the front steps, and after two whacks it was ready. NOTE: No neighbors were watching so we skipped that step. :)

Absolutely brilliant!!

Just returned from the liquor store with the ingredients to make a ‘Key Largo Chill’ (yummly.com). In fact, just bought a 2nd coconut.

Thank you.

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