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.

Nutrition and Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut water is known as a rehydrating power drink for good reason. According to data from the USDA, one cup of coconut water has 600 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that besides helping your body stay hydrated also keeps your heartbeat regular, enhances muscle strength, boosts your metabolism and more.

Coconut water is also a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. Just be mindful that the coconut water you’re buying doesn’t contain added sugar as that will reduce the health benefits. You want to look for coconut water that is 94% water.

Read Next: How to Crack and Open a Coconut - The Spruce Eats

Photo Annotations

Main image annotation: Coconut water, sometimes referred to as coconut juice, is a versatile ingredient that you can add to homemade salad dressings, curries and more.
● Has a sweet, nutty, tropical taste.

● Coconut water is a common drink.

● High in potassium, coconut water boosts electrolytes. 

● Coconut water comes from the fruit of young, green coconuts.

● Coconut water is commonly used in many Asian dishes.

● Coconut water is best used within 1 to 2 days of opening.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Rahavi EB, Altman JM, Stoody EE. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015–2020: National Nutrition Guidelines. Lifestyle Medicine. 2019:101-110. doi:10.1201/9781315201108-7.