Ghanaian Caramel Coconut Balls

Caramel coconut balls recipe

The Spruce / Julia Estrada 

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 15 to 20 servings
Yield: 15 to 20 medium coconut balls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
134 Calories
7g Fat
19g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 15 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 134
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 8%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 65mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 83mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This treat is a staple of many home cooks in Ghana, each adding their own twist and varying the recipe to suit their personal preferences. Sweet caramel with a hint of lemon juice, fresh coconut, and water are all that it takes to make these simple and flavorful fruity balls. Other spices can be added, but this is the basic mixture many Ghanian families enjoy with a cup of tea.

If you're a seasoned cook and can handle the temperature of steamy caramel with your bare hands, use them to shape the balls. Alternatively use tools, such as spoons or an ice cream scooper for shaping.

Buy pre-shelled coconut pieces as opposed to a whole coconut. Cracking a coconut can prove to be quite a daunting task. As with any candy-making recipe, keep pets and kids out of the kitchen, use an apron and gloves to protect yourself, and always wear shoes to avoid slipping while handling hot caramel.

“This recipe was very simple to make and was full of coconut flavor with the sweetness of the caramel. Almost like a coconut toffee or brittle, this was a unique caramel dish sure to be a new favorite.” —Tracy Wilk 

Ghanaian Caramel Coconut Balls/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 pound shelled coconut pieces

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, or margarine

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for coconut balls
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  2. Grate the coconut flesh from the shelled pieces using the large teeth of your grater, as larger shreds will contribute a chewy texture. Do this carefully, as the oil from the coconut may make your fingers slippery. Set aside.

    Coconut grated
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  3. Make the caramel by dissolving the sugar in the water and lemon juice in a small pot over low heat, then bring to a boil.

    Make the caramel
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  4. Allow the caramel to boil from 5 to 10 minutes without stirring, which will prevent granules from forming. Keep an eye on the mixture, as caramel can burn quickly.

    Allow caramel to boil
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  5. Once the caramel is deep brown, add the shredded coconut and cook for 8 to 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The coconut oils and natural moisture will release, and the mixture will become easier to handle.

    Add coconut to pot
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  6. When the mixture has developed a toasty coconut aroma, remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

    Toast coconut
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  7. Grease a plate with butter or margarine.

    Grease a plate with butter
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  8. Handling the caramel with care, form balls with moist hands, 2 spoons, or a small scoop. Place on the greased plate and allow to cool completely.

    Handle caramel ball
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 
  9. Serve at room temperature for a crunchy texture, or microwave for 5 to 10 seconds to serve warm and chewy.

    Serve at room temperature
    The Spruce / Julia Estrada 

Crack That Nut

Cracking open a coconut is not an easy task. Follow these suggestions if you're using a whole fresh coconut to make this recipe:

  • Place your whole coconut in a plastic bag and tie a tight knot to contain the liquid once the coconut cracks open. Drop the coconut to a hard-surface floor, preferably cement and not wood (you might make a dent in it), or hold the bag by the knot and smash it against the floor once or twice until you hear the coconut opening.
  • Or, take the bagged coconut, place it on a hard surface, and hit it with a hammer to form a crack. Take the coconut out of the bag, and pour the water out into a cup, place it back in the bag and crack with a hammer.
  • Alternatively, place the whole coconut on a baking pan and put it into a 400 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes until it cracks open. Using silicone gloves, pour the water out and then leave the coconut to cool off until you can easily handle it. Crack open with the help of a hammer or the back of a big knife.

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