Desserts & Treats/ Jamaican/ Vegan

Jamaican Coconut Drops

June 16, 2020 (Last Updated: December 22, 2022)

Jamaican Coconut Drops are made with 3 simple ingredients; real coconut, dark brown sugar, and fresh ginger but pack a powerful delicious sweet punch! These tasty Jamaican sweet treats are a traditional and easy-to-make coconut snack. Coconut lovers, vegans and everyone in-between this recipe is for you! Satisfy your sweet tooth with these coconut snacks anytime throughout the day!

jamaican coconut drops.

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Jamaican Coconut Drops are made with 3 simple ingredients; real coconut, dark brown sugar, and fresh ginger but pack a powerful delicious sweet punch! These tasty Jamaican sweet treats are a traditional and easy-to-make coconut snack. Coconut lovers, vegans and everyone in-between this recipe is for you! Satisfy your sweet tooth with these coconut snacks anytime throughout the day!

Are you interested in more Caribbean desserts? Check out my Jamaican Black Cake, everyone in my family as well as readers alike rave about the deliciousness of this cake! Or, if you’re looking for a sweet authentic Jamaican night cap, try my Jamaican Guinness Punch, Jamaican Carrot Juice with Stout (Boiling Method) or Jamaican Sorrel Drink!

jamaican coconut drops.

Jamaican Coconut Drops

If you’re a lover of all things coconut, then you’re going to be obsessed with these Jamaican coconut drops! Coconuts are one of the most popular fruits in Jamaica, as a matter of fact we have multiple trees on our property back home. I remember having my father, uncles and cousins pick green coconuts off the trees, then we’d refresh ourselves with the coconut water and eat the jelly! But, when they were dried and mature we’d pass them off to my grandmother to make her speciality; coconut drops!

This Caribbean sweet treat is super easy to make and only requires 4 ingredients. It’s made with chunks of fresh coconut, brown sugar, ginger and vanilla until nicely caramelized and sticky. It’s then dropped on a baking sheet and becomes hardened. This island candy is a sweet, chewy treat that everyone will be reaching for!

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy to Make – coconut drops are made with simple ingredients and don’t require any baking. It’s made by boiling the ingredients on the stove and then setting them out to cool.
  • A Treat for Everyone – this vegan snack is perfect for those with dietary restrictions. Even if they’re not vegan, they’ll love this dairy-free dessert. Serve it at parties, or gift them during the holidays.
  • Stays True to the Traditional Recipe – these coconut drops made are made the authentic Jamaican way. So that means no pre-shredded coconut; just pure fresh coconut for the full flavourful experience!
fresh whole coconut.

What are Jamaican Coconut Drops?

Coconut drops are a delicious Jamaican sweet treat made with finely chopped coconut, grated ginger, and held together by caramelized brown sugar! It takes a bit of manual labour to prepare, but the sweet reward at the end is totally worth it! So if you are a coconut lover, or someone with a sweet tooth, this one’s for you!

Is Coconut a Tree Nut or Fruit?

Coconut is not a tree nut, but a type of fruit known as a drupe. A drupe, also known as a stone fruit has a hard “stony” outer shell or covering that encloses the seed. Coconuts, peaches and olives are all considered stone fruit.

Brown Coconuts vs. Green Coconuts: What’s The Difference?

Green coconuts and brown coconuts are the same, except they are at different stages of maturity. It takes about 12 months for a coconut fruit to transition from the green stage to the fully mature brown stage. The main difference, is brown or “dried” coconuts are at a more mature stage of development than at the green stage.

Green coconuts are often harvested for their water and jelly (what you see on most Caribbean resorts). Whereas, the brown are harvested for their hairy coconut shells.

coconut drops ingredients.

How to Choose the Right Coconut

It is not a traditional Jamaican coconut drops recipe without fresh coconut. With just a few ingredients, you want to make sure that your coconuts are of good quality. Luckily, coconut is in season year-round! Here are a few ways to know if your coconuts are perfectly ripe:

  • Smell Test – the coconut should not have a strong scent. It should have a slight woody or earthy smell.
  • Jiggle It – if you hear sloshing, that’s a good sign.
  • Hold It – the coconut should feel dense and heavier than it appears.
  • Check it – there should be no visible cracks or signs of mold.

How to Cut Coconut

  1. Drain – poke the “eyes’ of the coconut to drain the water.
  2. Crack – use a clean mallet or the back of a butcher knife to hit along the center of the coconut until it cracks open.
  3. Remove the Flesh – use a mallet or small paring knife to loosen the coconut meat from the shell.
  4. Cut – slice the coconut into half-inch cube-shaped pieces. (No need to peel off the skin; it’s edible.)
coconut drops ingredients.

What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Grater – for shredding the fresh ginger.
  • Large Pot – in order to boil the coconut mixture.
  • Baking Sheet – so the coconut drops can cool down and set.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

  • Coconut – you will need to chop 2 medium whole dried coconuts. Cut out the flesh into small cubes.
  • Fresh Ginger – grate it. This adds a punch of flavour and complements the fresh coconut. In a pinch, you can use ginger powder instead, however it will yield a slightly different taste.
  • Dark Brown Sugar – it should be loosely packed. Dark brown sugar has a taste that is similar to caramel and toffee. It also adds colour to the coconut drops.
  • Water – for combining and boiling the ingredients.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – for a warm flavour that ties together the other ingredients.

How to Make Jamaican Coconut Drops

  1. Finely Chop Coconut and Grate Ginger – break open coconuts, remove coconut meat, and cut coconut pieces into half-inch (small) pieces; set aside. Then, grate the ginger and also set aside.
  2. Add Ingredients to Pot – in a large deep pot, add coconut, ginger, brown sugar, water, and vanilla. Heat over medium high heat and bring to a rapid boil.

4. Cook Mixture Until Thickened – reduce heat to medium high and continuously stir the mixture to prevent from burning or sticking to the pot. Cook until the mixture begins to caramelize, thicken and becomes very sticky.
5. Drop onto Baking Sheet – using 2 spoons, spoon the mixture and drop it onto a lined baking sheet. Allow to cool and harden, then enjoy.

coconut drops in pot boiling to a thicker consistency.

How Do You Know When the Coconut Mixture is Ready?

You’ll know the mixture is ready when the liquid has reduced and thickened to where it becomes more difficult to mix or turn with a spoon. At this point, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Then, using 2 spoons, spoon the mixture and place it “drop it” onto a lined baking sheet. See the below picture for reference.

spoonful of ready coconut mixture.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

Jamaican coconut drops are made with sugar, water, and coconut. Everything else is extra and based on preference so have fun making this coconut drops recipe your own!

  • Shred the Coconut. Strips of coconut would create a cool lattice-like pattern. So instead of chopping it into chunks, you could shave the coconut.
  • Switch Up the Flavour. Add or combine any of these spices and flavours: cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, or pink salt.
  • Sugar. Use dark brown sugar as this will help deepen the brown colour traditional drops have. However, you can use golden or light brown sugar as well – note, the colour will vary.

Serving Suggestions and Tips

Serve coconut drops at room temperature. If they are too hot, they haven’t set yet. And if they’re too cold, it may be too hard on your teeth. If you can secure some banana leaves, let the coconut drops cool and set on them. It makes for a pretty presentation and is great for the environment!

jamaican coconut drops.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  1. Steady Heat and Stir – cook coconut mixture at steady heat and stir every few minutes. Keep an eye on the pot to ensure the sugar does not burn during the caramelizing process.
  2. Medium Heat – to ensure your coconut is cooked through, boil mixture on a medium-high heat level.
  3. Type of Coconut – use a whole dried coconut and not the pre-shredded packaged kind you find in the grocery store. It will require a bit of time and labour to husk and chop, but the reward is great. A whole dried coconut is recommended.
  4. Don’t Let Mixture Cool in Pot – do not leave the coconut mixture to cool down while in the pot, as this will be extremely difficult to remove.
  5. Use Caution – I have witnessed with my own eyes someone with missing teeth devour Jamaican coconut drops. However, please note it will be a little hard on the teeth at first, especially if it is your first time trying it!

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Yes! Make Jamaican coconut drops ahead and serve them on your next special occasion. Or just have it available when you’re craving something sweet.

Storage Instructions

Store coconut drops in an airtight container at room temperature away from heat sources. You can wrap them individually in parchment paper in order to prevent them from sticking if needed, however it should harden and no longer be sticky.

coconut pieces.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are my coconut drops not sticking together?

You may have added too much water or not allowed the mixture to thicken before you “dropped” it. Your mixture should be thick and sticky and not runny. If there is too much liquid, add more sugar. If the drops are already in the process of setting, place them in the fridge.

Can you freeze coconut drops?

I don’t recommend freezing Jamaican coconut drops because they will lose their texture and become extremely hard.

Interested in more Dessert Recipes? Check These Out!

jamaican coconut drops.

Jamaican Coconut Drops

Taneisha Morris
Jamaican Coconut Drops are made with 3 simple ingredients; real coconut, dark brown sugar, and fresh ginger but pack a powerful delicious sweet punch! These tasty Jamaican sweet treats are a traditional and easy-to-make coconut snack. Coconut lovers, vegans and everyone in-between this recipe is for you! Satisfy your sweet tooth with these coconut snacks anytime throughout the day!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Desserts & Treats, Jamaican & Caribbean
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Servings 15 drops
Calories 383 kcal

Equipment

  • Grater
  • Large Pot
  • Baking Sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups Coconut chopped (2 medium whole dried coconuts)
  • 3 tbsp Fresh Ginger grated, packed
  • 6 cups Dark Brown Sugar loosely packed
  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract

Instructions
 

  • Break open coconuts and ensure they are fresh. Remove coconut meat from the shell with a knife – be careful not to cut yourself. Cut larger coconut pieces into half inch (small) pieces. You may opt to use the chop setting on a blender but note, that is not the traditional way to prepare this treat. Set aside. Then, grater the ginger and set aside.
  • In a large deep pot, add coconut, ginger, dark brown sugar, water and pure vanilla extract. Heat over medium high heat and bring to a rapid boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Using a large spoon, continuously stir the mixture to prevent it from burning or sticking to the pot. Once the majority of the liquid has evaporated, add an additional cup of water. Cook until the mixture begins to caramelize and become very sticky.
  • When the liquid has thickened and it becomes difficult to mix/turn with a spoon, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to keep warm. Using 2 spoons, spoon the mixture and drop it onto a lined baking sheet. Allow to cool and harden, then enjoy!

Video

Recipe Notes

Medium Heat and Slow – to ensure your coconut is cooked through, boil mixture on a medium heat level and stir every few minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 383kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gSodium: 27mgPotassium: 237mgFiber: 3gSugar: 73gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 1mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

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Keyword(s) caribbean desserts, coconut curry, coconut drops, coconut drops recipe, coconut recipes, desserts, drops, ginger, jamaican coconut drops, jamaican coconut drops recipe, jamaican desserts, jamaican drops, jamaican food, jamaican sweets, sweets, treats

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