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5 Best Coconut Water Substitutes (Direct Swaps)

The best substitutes for coconut vinegar aren’t the only thing you should know. Ever wonder what alternatives for coconut water you can use that’ll give the closest experience to the real thing? You can substitute coconut water with coconut milk, watermelon water, birch water, rice milk, and plain water. But how and when you should use them is what I’ll be covering. If it’s the best coconut water substitute you need, I’ve got you covered!

A class of coconut water next to a coconut.

🤷 What is Coconut Water?

Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside young, green coconuts. It makes for a refreshing and hydrating drink, gaining popularity in recent years due to its high electrolyte content. It’s also low in calories and fat-free, making it a great option for those looking for a healthy beverage.

📌 Coconut Water Nutritional Value

  • Benefits of Coconut Water:
    • Moderates blood sugar
    • Aids rehydration when ill
    • Improves kidney health
    • Serves as a post-workout recovery drink
  • Coconut water features:
    • Natural source of hydration, electrolytes, and nutrients
    • Rich in potassium for healthy heart function and blood pressure regulation
    • Contains antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins
    • Low in calories with no added sugar

🧑‍🍳 How to Use Coconut Water

Coconut water adds a sweet, nutty taste and moisture to various dishes, including:

How it helps in cooking:

  • Enhances Filipino dishes like tula or tinuwa, and Vietnamese kho stews.
  • Replacing plain water with coconut water when cooking rice results in easy, fluffy, and fragrant rice.
  • Acts as a flavor enhancer and thins out curries. There’s always ways to thicken curry sauce, which involve adding thickeners and heating the coconut water.

Note: Cooking with coconut water increases natural sugars and potassium, so consider reducing sweeteners when substituting it for water.

coconut chicken curry

💡 5 Best Coconut Water Substitutes

Coconut Milk + Water

Coconut milk has a similar taste to coconut water, albeit with a different nutritional profile. It’s a delicious and creamy pantry staple that adds flavor and texture, so when the purpose is to add a neutral liquid to a beverage, this might not be your best option. 

You can use it at a 1:1 ratio for a creamier and thicker consistency but using different ways to thicken sauce will help with certain recipes like making leftover curry, gravies, and even some Asian sauces. If your recipe requires a thin texture, dilute coconut milk with water in a 1:2 ratio.

Watermelon Water

If it’s hydration you seek, go for watermelon water as an alternative to coconut water. Enjoy the slightly sweet taste and pinkish tint of this fruit water. Best of all? It contains no added sugar, unlike many other fruit juices, as it’s naturally sweet, like coconut water. Just use a 1:1 ratio.

If using watermelon water in cooking, we recommend using it as a substitute for coconut water only in broth or fruity sauces. The base flavor will shift from coconut to watermelon, but if you’re okay with this, it’ll work just fine.

A glass of healthy birch water.
birch sap, also known as birch water, a traditional Russian healthy spring drink

Birch Water

Birch water is somewhat sweet water that comes from the birch tree each spring. It’s made from the sap of birch trees and is equally rich in nutrients and health benefits. This clear liquid doesn’t have a prominent overall flavor and will lack the sweet, nutty taste that coconut water lends to a dish.

Similar to watermelon water, birch water will alter the taste of your dish, so try adding a few drops of coconut essence or a quarter cup of coconut milk diluted in a cup of birch water to use it as a sub in a 1:1 ratio. 

Rice Milk

Rice milk is a less popular substitute for coconut water, but still a viable one to use. While it’s closer in color and consistency to coconut milk than to coconut water, in terms of taste, the inherent sweetness of rice milk may be just what your dish needs.

Use in a 1:1 replacement in your dish, but if you find that rice milk is thicker than needed, dilute it with water. You can even find sweetened and unsweetened rice milk on the market for a better flavor experience.

A bottle of rice milk next to a sack of rice.


Plain water is not similar in taste to coconut water, but it can work just as well as a substitute for coconut water. It doesn’t bring anything to the dish except for liquid, so you might want to save this option for last. Use it in the same quantity (1:1 ratio) as you would use coconut water in your dishes if you need to thin out curries or stews, and adjust the flavor using seasonings, herbs, and spices instead.

🧐 FAQs

What does Coconut Water Taste Like?

Coconut water’s flavor profile is refreshing, with many people describing it as clean, crisp, and mildly sweet. The sweetness is natural and not as intense as some fruit juices or sweetened beverages.

What can you substitute for coconut water in baking?

You can try using fruit juice, such as pineapple or orange juice, or even plain water. However, substituting it may affect the final product.

Why is coconut water pink?

Coconut water can turn pink due to a natural enzymatic reaction that occurs when the coconut is exposed to air. This reaction causes the antioxidants in the coconut water to turn pink, but it’s still safe to drink.

How can you make coconut water taste better?

You can try adding fruit juice, such as pineapple or orange extract, or even a splash of lime or lemon juice to enhance the flavor. You can use orange extract alternatives if you don’t have any around.

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