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10 BEST Coconut Water Substitutes [Tried And Tested]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different coconut water substitutes to find the best one.

Whatever your reason for avoiding coconut water is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best coconut water substitutes are birch water, maple water, or cactus water. Go with watermelon water or milk if you want to move away from coconut water’s nutty flavor. Try coconut extract or coconut milk to replicate the flavor. Plain old water is your best bet for a zero-calorie and sugar option. 

The Experiment

I whipped up a basic berry smoothie to test out ten different coconut water substitutes. 

Coconut water is super refreshing, with a mild sweet, nutty taste. It’s low-calorie and chock-full of nutrients, antioxidants, and electrolytes, making it a popular post-workout drink. 

I was looking for a substitute that could match coconut waters hydrating properties whilst not straying too much from the flavor.

Here’s what I tested and my verdicts:

SubstituteSub 1 cup of coconut water forVerdict
Birch water1 cup10/10
Cactus water1 cup9/10
Maple water1 cup9/10
Watermelon water1 cup8/10
Coconut extract1 cup water + ⅛ tsp coconut extract 7/10
Coconut milk¾  cup coconut milk + ¼ cup water7/10
Water (still or sparkling)1 cup6/10
Aloe vera juice1 cup8/10
Milk1 cup8/10
Sports / energy drinks1 cup7/10

Common dishes that use coconut water and the best substitutes

Coconut water is an excellent drink on its own, but it’s also a common ingredient in things like smoothies.

Here are some common use cases of coconut water and the best substitutes for those situations:

  • As a hydration drink: birch water, aloe vera juice, sports drinks, water
  • In smoothies: milk, maple water, coconut milk
  • In popsicles: birch water, cactus water, maple water
  • In mixed drinks and cocktails: birch water, maple water, coconut extract
  • In soups: coconut extract, coconut milk

Birch water

Birch water is a clear, odorless liquid that you get from (you guessed it…) the birch tree!

It has a lower sugar content than coconut water, and it lacks that nutty flavor but still has a mild sweetness running through it.

And most importantly, it will quench your thirst. 

It’s low-calorie and packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and electrolytes to help replenish lost fluids.

The only downside is that it’s pricier and harder to find than coconut water because it’s more difficult to harvest.

Taste and texture
The berry smoothie tasted pleasantly sweet, but you could tell that I’d replaced the coconut water.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup birch water

Cactus water

Did you know that cactus water actually comes from the fruit of the cactus, not the stems (yes cacti have fruit!)?

This natural juice is just as healthy as coconut water. It’s low in calories and loaded with antioxidants and electrolytes, making it an excellent nourishing drink.

Its flavor is more sweet and berry-like than coconut water, so if you don’t like the taste of coconuts, this is a great substitute for you.

I especially love drinking this straight out of the carton after an intense workout!

Taste and texture
My berry smoothie tasted extra fruity and sweet
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup cactus water

Maple water

Syrup isn’t the only tasty thing to come from a maple tree – meet maple water! 

It’s pure sap that’s been sterilized, leaving you with a clear liquid you can use in place of coconut water.

Maple water tastes very similar to fresh mountain water, with a faint hint of maple syrup. It’s heaven in a bottle after a sweaty workout.

And it’s full of electrolytes.

Psst… if you’re in the mood to put your feet up and relax, mix maple water with a splash of vodka for a refreshing cocktail (check out the recipe here).

Taste and texture
The berry smoothie was sweet and had a faint but noticeable woody taste.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup maple water

Watermelon water

Another fruity option that can replace coconut water is watermelon water. 

This quintessential summer fruit is equally refreshing in liquid form and boasts a vibrant sweet flavor. 

It’s the most different out of all the substitutes because of its bright color and grainy texture, but it’ll still provide you with electrolytes, amino acids, and antioxidants.

You can buy a bottle of this in your local store, or you can make it from scratch if you’re a money-saver like me! 

A Couple Cooks has an excellent recipe that only calls for three ingredients.

Taste and texture
The smoothie tasted fruitier, and the texture was slightly thicker.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup watermelon water

Coconut extract 

Go with coconut extract if you want to replicate coconut waters delicious nutty flavor. 

The Coconut Mama describes it as a “low-calorie ingredient that adds a hint of coconut” to desserts, pies, beverages, and drinks.

The flavor isn’t too strong, but you can tell it’s there. 

Shake a few drops into your smoothies, or mix the extract with water.

A (pretty big) downside of this substitute is that it won’t give you the nourishing benefits of coconut water and it won’t hydrate you in the same way.

Taste and texture
The berry smoothie had a subtle nuttiness, but didn’t have the same refreshing feeling that you get with pure coconut water.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup water + ⅛ tsp coconut extract

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is another good substitute option for coconut water if you only care about the flavor or if you’re using the coconut water in a cooked dish.

This popular dairy-free milk alternative is processed from coconut meat, giving it a much more intense, rich flavor compared to coconut water.

It also has far more calories, clocking in at 552 calories per cup vs coconut water’s 46 calories (according to healthline). 

You can use it straight out of the carton, but I recommend thinning it out with water to cut through the richness.

Taste and texture
The berry smoothie has a strong coconut flavor and a slightly thicker consistency.
1 cup coconut water = ½ cup coconut milk or ¾  cup coconut milk + ¼ cup water

Water (still or sparkling)

When all else fails, stick with plain old water. Or for a bit of fizz you can go with sparkling water.

I know it’s boring, but you can use it in exactly the same way you would coconut water – drink it straight or use it as a base for your beverages. 

It has zero calories and sugar.

And according to Mayo Clinic, there’s yet to be scientific proof that coconut water is more hydrating than traditional water.

If you’re concerned, you can always supplement it with electrolyte tablets, or go for a more premium brand of water with added electrolytes.

Taste and texture
The berry smoothie had less depth of flavor than the one I made with coconut water. Measurements
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup water

Aloe vera juice 

Aloe vera juice and coconut water are both popular choices for health-conscious individuals.

They don’t have a similar taste, in fact aloe vera juice has a strong and distinct taste that not everyone will like.

It has an intense bitterness, that some brands balance out with extra ingredients like sugar or lemon juice (always check your labels!).

However it’s got a ton of health benefits which is why it made this list. It’s also packed with Vitamin C.

Taste and texture
The aloe vera juice changed the taste of my smoothie and it was nowhere near as sweet, but I felt healthy drinking it!
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup aloe vera juice


Milk won’t have the same sweetness as coconut water but it will leave you feeling refreshed after you drink it, and it’s a great ingredient in smoothies (not so much cocktails or mocktails).

You can use any kind of milk (cows, oat, almond, soy, rice, and cashew milk are all great options).

If you eat animal products, you might be surprised that studies have shown that cow milks combination of protein, carbohydrates, and sodium makes it a fabulous post-workout drink!

Taste and texture
My smoothie was creamier and richer compared to using coconut water, but it still felt refreshing.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup milk

Sports/energy drinks

Sports drinks are specially formulated to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost during intensive activities. 

They’re full of electrolytes, but put more of a focus on sodium whereas coconut water is higher in potassium. Both will hydrate you though.

They’re available everywhere you go, and there are a lot of flavors and brands to choose from (most won’t taste anything like coconut water). 

Be careful though, lots of sports drinks have deceptively large amounts of sugar. They’re generally not naturally sourced either, whereas coconut water is.

So they can work in a pinch, but shouldn’t be a long term option.

Psst… you can also mix electrolyte tablets with water to get the same effect.

Taste and texture
I didn’t like my smoothie with a cup of energy drink in it. Next time I would dilute it with water. But this would be a great sub if you just need a quick burst of hydration.
1 cup coconut water = 1 cup sports drink (mix with water to dilute the flavor)

How to get coconut water from a coconut

Got a fresh coconut you’re struggling to get the water out of?

Don’t give up!

How you open it will differ depending on if you have a young or mature coconut.

To open a young coconut

  1. Cut away at the husk with a sharp knife until you can see the hard shell
  2. Cut the shell all the way around on the coconut
  3. Then using a sharp knife tip, prise the shell open

Gourmet Vegetarian has a good tutorial with a quick video and visuals that’ll guide you in opening a young coconut, if you need more help.

To open a mature coconut

  1. Locate the eyes of the coconut (the three indents)
  2. Using a screwdriver and the top of a sharp knife, test each of the holes to see which one is softest.
  3. Make a hole in that ‘eye’
  4. Drain the coconut water out of the eye

Best Coconut Water Substitutes [10 options]

We test out 10 different coconut water substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: All
Keyword: coconut water substitutes, substitutes for coconut water
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 19kcal


  • 1 cup Birch water
  • 1 cup Cactus water
  • 1 cup Maple water
  • 1 cup Watermelon water
  • 1/8 tsp Coconut extract + water
  • 3/4 cup Coconut milk can mix with water
  • 1 cup Water still or sparkling
  • 1 cup Aloe vera juice
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Cashew juice
  • 1 cup Sports / energy drinks can mix with water


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen coconut water substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 19kcal

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