For coconut lovers, coconut extract is a low-calorie ingredient that adds a pop of coconut flavor to various foods and recipes. In fact, it’s a must-have in many family pantries!
In this article, we explain exactly what coconut extract is and how it’s made, its nutritional value, what it’s used for, and more!
Comparing Coconut Extract vs Coconut Oil
Both coconut extract and coconut oil are derived from coconuts. Yet, the oil is actually sourced from the coconut kernel. Meanwhile, coconut extract is sourced from the coconut meat (the flesh inside the coconut).
Coconut extract contains far fewer calories, fat, and carbs per tablespoon than coconut oil. This is because coconut extract is primarily used for flavoring food. In contrast, coconut oil is frequently used to add fat and flavor to recipes, such as offering a healthy oil to cook veggies or other foods on the stovetop.
|Per one tablespoon serving||Coconut Extract||Coconut Oil|
|Total Fat||0||13.5 g|
|Allergens?||Tree Nut/Coconut allergies||Tree Nut/Coconut allergies|
How is Coconut Extract Made?
Coconut extract can easily be purchased at the grocery store. Manufacturers use alcohol or propylene glycol to extract the coconut flavor from coconuts. However, you can also opt to make your own.
When making coconut extract at home, use one and a half ounces of the coconut meat, preferably grated or shredded (which can be made easier via a food processor). From there, place the coconut in a glass with a lid and pour vodka over the top of it. Cover the glass and shake, then store in a cool and dry area for five to seven days. After waiting for the desired amount of time, strain out the coconut bits. This will leave the coconut extract, which should be used within a year.
Ingredients in Coconut Extract
Typically, coconut extract contains alcohol, water, and, of course, coconut. Alcohol is an essential ingredient here as it is the agent which actually extracts the flavor from the coconut. In turn, coconut extract can be used for flavor icings, pies, and more!
Using Coconut Extract
There are many uses for coconut extract. Often, it is used to flavor desserts, like cakes, icing, pies, puddings, or cookies. It can also be added as flavoring for drinks, like lattes, milk, coffees, and more. However, coconut extract isn’t just reserved for those with a sweet tooth.
Coconut extract also offers wonderful flavoring for soups, curries, and other dishes. In some cases, it can even offer a substitute for actual coconut (depending on the recipe).
Taste of Coconut Extract
Coconut extract is used for it’s undeniable coconut flavor. This adds a mild sweetness and even subtle caramel and butterscotch flavors. In other good news, coconut extract adds this boost of coconut flavor, minus the fat. This can be very beneficial for those trying to lower their fat intake but who also love that nutty and sweet coconut flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you’ve still got questions about coconut extract, check out the frequently asked questions below. You asked, and we answered!
Coconut extract is frequently added to cookies, pies, cakes, icing, curries, and soups for a subtle coconut and sweet flavor. It can provide a substitute for coconut, cutting down on any fat (unless the recipe requires the fat for cooking or optimal texture).
Some substitutes for coconut extract include coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut rum, or even a coconut imitation. Again, it’s important to note what recipe you are using the coconut extract in as some substitutes can change the texture, cooking, or baking of the meal or food. Alternatively, you can also use other extracts in place of coconut, such as vanilla, if it suits the recipe.
Yes! In most recipes, vanilla oil can be used instead of coconut extract. Make sure you check the recipe and ensure vanilla makes sense. For instance, a Thai curry might not taste close to what you’re going for when vanilla is used in place of coconut. Yet, for baked goods, vanilla is often an easy substitute if you don’t have coconut extract on hand.
Yes, most coconut extracts or essences are entirely natural. However, it’s always recommended to check the labels and ingredients to ensure this is the case (preservatives and other flavoring agents can always sneak into those lists!). Alternatively, you can also make your own coconut extract at-home (see above). This way, you would know what goes into it and it would, in fact, be entirely natural.
No, coconut oil and coconut extract are not the same. While they both come from the coconut, coconut extract is sourced from the coconut flesh and coconut oil is sourced from the kernel. Further, coconut oil contains much higher fat and caloric content than coconut extract. On top of this, coconut oil and coconut extract may act differently in certain recipes due to these variations in fat content.
Coconut Extract Recipe
- 3/4 cup vodka or rum
- 1.5 oz shredded coconut (about one cup)
- Gather ingredients
- Place the shredded coconut in a glass with a lid
- Pour vodka (or other alcohol) over the top of it
- Cover the glass and shake
- Store in a cool+dry area for 5-7 days
- Afterwards, strain out the shredded coconut, leaving just the extract!
Coconut extract should keep for about a year if stored in a cool and dry place.