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How To Crack Open a Coconut

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Are you ready to crack open a coconut?

Fresh coconut is the best! There are so many recipes that call for grated coconut, coconut water and/or coconut milk and getting it fresh out of a coconut will always taste best in those recipes. Here I will show you how to crack open a coconut with ease.

Coconuts ready to crack open.

Why would you want to crack open a coconut?

I know. It’s a lot easier to go purchase grated coconut or a can of coconut milk but the benefits of making your own are worth the effort. When I have fresh coconuts in the house, I always make a lot of what I need.

Every part of the coconut can be used, even the shells. If you like to barbecue, the dried shells work so well as charcoal. It’s what they use for burn all over South East Asia and the flavour the produce from the smoke is incredible.

How do you choose a fresh coconut?

There’s no point going to all this work if you’re not starting with the freshest coconut you can find. In South East Asia, the coconuts are far fresher than the imported coconuts you can purchase in the West. 

You can, however find fresh coconuts at most supermarkets. When you pick up a coconut, it should feel heavy and you should hear a lot of coconut water splashing around inside when you shake it.

If you don’t hear that splashing sound, put it back for someone else to purchase.

What equipment do you need to crack that coconut open?

People were cracking coconuts open long before modern tools but the following will help you make it easy on yourself:

  • A screwdriver or a metal skewer
  • A hammer or mallet
  • One medium sized bowl
  • Vegetable peeler

How do you crack open a coconut?

When you know how it’s done, it really isn’t difficult. In the photos below, I’ll walk you through it. I have also put the instructions in the ‘how to’ card below so that you can easily print it out.

Showing the top of the coconut.

Locate the fuzzy end of the coconut. Sometimes there isn’t one but you want the top of the coconut. Put that hair like stuff off.

Showing the eyes of the coconut.

You will find three ‘eyes’ on each coconut.

Pushing a screwdriver through one of the eyes of the coconut.

Using a screwdriver or skewer start digging into one of them. Two of the eyes will be very hard but one will be soft. That’s the eye you want.

Draining the coconut water out of the coconut.

Once you locate the soft eye, stick your screwdriver or skewer through. Then turn it over a bowl to let the water out.

The coconut water in a bowl.

You can run the water through a fine sieve and drink it or use it in a curry or cocktail.

Hitting the coconut with a knife to crack it open.

Once the coconut water has drained, you can crack open the coconut. Hold the coconut with one hand and tap around its circumference with the hammer or mallet. 

Separating the coconut halves.

Once cracked, you can use your hands to further separate the coconut into two halves.

Removing the coconut meat from the shell.

Using a blunt knife or a similar tool, remove the coconut meat from the shell.

Peeling the skin off the coconut meat with a potato peeler.

You can now peel the thin brown skin off the coconut meat using a knife or a potato peeler.

Chopped fresh coconut.

Now you’re free to prepare the coconut meat as you like. Chop it all up or grate it.

Note: You need to be really careful when doing this. Keep any blades facing away from you so you don’t have to go to hospital instead of enjoying a nice dinner prepared with fresh coconut. 

Now that you’ve got that coconut cracked open, here are some recipes you might like to try…

Prawn curry with coconut
Lamb Coconut Curry
Fresh Coconut Chutney
Spicy Seafood Curry with Coconut
Coconut Sambal
Chettinad Chicken Curry
Chicken Drumstick Curry

Yield: 1

How To Crack Open a Coconut

Separating the coconut halves.

Cracking open a coconut can be a bit challenging, but with the right technique and tools, it can be done safely and
effectively. Here's my step-by-step guide on how to crack open a coconut

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty Medium Difficulty
Estimated Cost Per Coconut


  • Fresh coconuts


  • A screwdriver or a metal skewer
  • A hammer or mallet
  • One medium sized bowl
  • Vegetable peeler


  1. Locate the three "eyes" or indentations on one end of the coconut. These are softer spots that you can use to drain the coconut water.
  2. Use a screwdriver or a blunt object to poke holes into two of the coconut's eyes. Make sure the holes are large enough to allow the coconut water to drain out.
  3. Hold the coconut over a bowl and tilt it to pour out the coconut water through one of the holes you've made. You can gently shake or tap the coconut to help release the water.
  4. Once the coconut water has drained out, place the coconut on a sturdy surface, such as a concrete floor or a sturdy workbench.
  5. Using a hammer or meat mallet, firmly strike the coconut along its equator, rotating it as you go. Continue to tap around the circumference of the coconut until it cracks open into two halves. Be careful not to hit it too hard, as you don't want to smash the coconut into small pieces.
  6. Once the coconut has cracked open, use a knife or a blunt object to pry the flesh away from the shell. You can insert the tip of the knife between the flesh and the shell and gently pry them apart.
  7. Once the flesh has been separated from the shell, you can use a spoon, vegetable peeler or a coconut scraper to remove the flesh from the thin brown skin and shell.
  8. Rinse the coconut flesh under cold water to remove any remaining shell particles.


The time it takes to crack open a coconut will depend on how many times you have done it. You will get much better and faster at it with practice.

Did you make this project?

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