What Is Coconut Water?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

what is coconut water

Photo: Getty Images/Burcu Atalay Tankut 

It’s time to cook with coconut water. The beloved, refreshing drink makes for a versatile ingredient that you can add to homemade salad dressings, curries and more. 

What Is Coconut Water?

Coconut water, sometimes referred to as coconut juice, is the clear fluid inside the coconut fruit. It forms naturally, while the coconut is growing. Low in sugar and calories, coconut water has become a popular sports drink due to its naturally occurring electrolytes. But while coconut water is great for rehydrating, you can also cook with it. 

How to Cook With Coconut Water

You can use coconut water in both sweet and savory dishes. Cooking rice in coconut water instead of regular water, for instance, will create fluffy rice with a sweet, mild taste. You can also bake with it or add it into smoothies, salad dressings, ceviche, and curries. 

In most recipes calling for water, you can swap coconut water 1:1. If you’re looking to reduce the fat content of a recipe calling for coconut milk or condensed milk, you can add some coconut water but you’ll still need at least a little of a full-fat ingredient to create the right texture for the dish.

What Does It Taste Like?

Coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste.

Coconut Water Recipes

Coconut water is often incorporated into smoothies, cocktails, curries and more.

Where to Buy Coconut Water?

There are too many coconut water brands to count. You’ll easily find coconut water in most markets in the refrigerated section. The juice can be found in either cans, cartons, or bottles but make sure you check the ingredient label on the coconut water you buy as many brands will sneak added sugar into their product.

Additionally, you can extract coconut water from coconuts. For the best results you’ll want to buy young, green coconuts which are easy to purchase online. While mature coconuts are often available at year-round at markets, they’ll contain less coconut water. As the coconut matures, the water is turned into the coconut’s meaty white flesh. When shopping in person for coconuts, shake the coconut and you should hear the water sloshing around inside of it. 


Coconut water spoils easily. To make it last as long as possible, if you’re purchasing a can or carton of coconut water, or even the whole fruit after you open it, you’ll need to transfer the coconut water to a container with an airtight cover and store in the refrigerator. Keep refrigerated and use within 1 to 2 days. For a longer term solution, you can freeze coconut water-- transfer it to an airtight container, and use within 2 months.