How to Hollow Out a Coconut

Three Parts:Draining the CoconutCutting It in HalfCleaning It Out

A hollow coconut makes a great house for a hermit crab, and can also be used as a birdhouse. It can also be used as a festive decoration for any party, or for just clapping the empty halves together, and pretending to ride on a horse! You can even use it as a bowl or cup!

Part 1
Draining the Coconut

  1. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 1
    Find the eyes of the coconut. Sort of like a bowling ball, the coconut will have three "eyes." They're really just spots on one end. Two will be side-by-side, and one will be the odd one out – it's this odd one that is the soft spot, which you can tap into to drain.
    • Sometimes you'll need to remove strands from the husk to really get at the eyes. This is easy enough to do with your hands or a small knife. The area around the eye should be clean.
  2. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 2
    Poke into the eye with a knife, a drill bit, or a screwdriver. If your knife is small enough, you may be able just to poke right through the eye, through the meat, and into the liquid with your knife. If not, find a screwdriver or a drill bit that is small enough to force an opening.
    • You may need to tap the end of the screwdriver or drill bit with a hammer. Just a few light taps ought to do it.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 2Bullet1
    • If you experience a hissing sound once you break through to the meat, that's good – it means the coconut is depressurizing. If you don't (or if you experience air going out instead of in, it's possible your coconut has gone bad.
  3. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 3
    Drain the water into a bowl, jar or cup. Coconut water is delicious, so save it! However, make sure it's good before you combine it with other coconut water – you don't want to tarnish the whole batch. Here's how to know if it's good:
    • It should be fairly clear, almost like water.
    • There should be no clouds.
    • It should not be slimy.

Part 2
Cutting It in Half

  1. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 4
    Locate the thin line along the middle of the coconut. Every coconut has a natural "center point" that is marked by a thin line, sort of like an equator. This is where it will be easiest to break the coconut cleanly in half. Locate this line before you begin tapping.
    • To hold the coconut properly, hold it in your non-dominant hand. The eyes should be facing down and the ends should be facing out to the sides.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 4Bullet1
  2. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 5
    Smack the coconut against the line with the back side of a large knife or meat cleaver. Never use the sharp blade of a knife to hit a coconut! Not only could you hurt yourself, but this could force the coconut to break in a dozen pieces. Using the blunt, back side of a heavy blade to slowly break it cleanly in half.
    • A meat cleaver is great as there is a natural curve to the back side of the blade. This matches the curve of the coconut, applying pressure evenly. Again, the 3 eyes of the coconut should be facing away from your hand.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 5Bullet1
  3. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 6
    Rotate the coconut about a quarter of a turn with each rap. Crack the knife against the line a second time. Keep making slight rotations, always rapping against the line. Keep going in this manner until you hear a cracking sound. Once it starts cracking, use less and less force to keep it in two large pieces.
    • For some coconuts, this will take a few smacks. For others, it will take a few full rotations. You're not doing anything wrong – some coconuts are simply easier to split than others.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 6Bullet1
    • Keep rapping and turning until the crack has gone all the way around the coconut and it splits cleanly apart.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 6Bullet2

Part 3
Cleaning It Out

  1. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 7
    Pry the meat away from the shell. The easiest way to pry the meat away from the shell is first break the shell in pieces with hammer or something hard, then take a steel glass , position it between the meat and the shell and scoop out the meat easily within seconds. Another approach is to grab a spoon and position it between the meat and the shell with the back of the spoon facing the shell. The meat will come off in chunks as it breaks loose. You may not be able to get all the meat out (coconuts can be finicky), which is when the next step comes in handy.
    • Spoon not working too great? Some coconut meat is more difficult than others. In this case, grab a small paring-like knife to shred at the meat. Make a cut into the meat and drive the knife along the edge, much like you would peel an orange.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 7Bullet1
    • Before you toss the coconut meat, consider keeping it. It's delicious, especially when cold or turned into a smoothie!
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 7Bullet2
  2. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 8
    Place the 2 coconut halves on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150°C (300°F) for 1-2 hours. The amount of time you need depends on the size of the coconut and the thickness of the meat. Once it's finished, the meat will have shrunk and you'll be able to pull out the meat in one piece.
    • People in the Micronesian islands of Palau, Ponape, Chuuk, the Caroline's, etc., will lay coconut halves face up in the sunshine for a number of days till the meat separates from the shell.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 8Bullet1
  3. Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 9
    Place the coconuts shell-side down in a well-ventilated area. Give them a few days (or up to a week) to fully dry and harden. Giving them this extra drying-out period will make them easier to use for crafts or as a cup or bowl.
    • They make great decorations in the interim! And if there's even a shred of meat left, it will shrink up and dry during this time period, too.
      Image titled Hollow Out a Coconut Step 9Bullet1


  • Using a 3' bench or heavy stool, attach the coconut shredder by drilling two holes through the chisels handle. Place one hole close to the beginning of the head and one at the rear of the handle. You want this chisel coconut shredder to be tight! Use 1/4" diameter or larger hex headed bolts and place a split (lock) washer under the bolt head then pass the bolt through the chisel and into the hole you made in the bench or stool. Again, using a split washer and a lock nut, tighten the bolt. If you can't find a lock nut you can use two nuts. Tighten the first then tighten the second behind it to act as a lock.
  • To make a coconut grater, buy a heavy duty concrete chisel about 2" wide at one of the home improvement centers. Use a file or grinder to gently round the corners. Place the chisel in a vise and using a hacksaw, cut notches about an 1/8th of an inch wide all along the front edge. This includes the corners you just rounded. Make the with of these "tines" look similar to the spacing of a fork. Note you only need to go about 1/4" deep as you will only be scraping the coconut against the outside edge of these sharpened tines. Take a small file and file each side of the tine to a point. You now have a nice scraper.
  • Hacksaws are another method of cutting into the coconut. However, it is not simple and can be dangerous as the hacksaw usually slips off the rounded nut. Simply work in short sections all the way around the coconut. Do not try to cut through in one large line, just a small line until you reach the meat, then rotate and continue, kind of like opening a can with a ratchet-style can opener.
  • When shredding a coconut half start gently! Start at a 22 degree angle on the outer edge of a coconut and gently begin to scrape. Let the succulent white meat fall into a bowl. The idea is to scrape one or two strokes downward (never upward) and rotate the nut and continue scraping from the outside inward.


  • Exercise caution when using sharp instruments, such as knives.

Things You'll Need

  • Large knife
  • Small knife, screwdriver, or drill bit
  • Bowl (for draining)
  • Cookie sheet (if baking)
  • Spoon

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Nature Crafts