The Best Coconut Waters, According to Food Network Staffers

Our favorite picks for drinking, making smoothies and more!

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August 30, 2022

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Whether you're looking for the best base for your smoothies or want a delicious drink to rehydrate with, it seems like everyone is stocking their fridges with coconut water these days. It's touted for its hydration benefits and nutrition facts — its known for being high in potassium — but, for some, it's an acquired taste. Since not all coconut waters are made the same, we reached out to our staffers to hear which bottles are their go-tos.

$49.99 for Pack of 12

Harmless Harvest's coconut water, which you can always spot because of its pink color (which happens naturally when the water's antioxidants interact with light), is the coconut water I go for whenever I want to treat myself. A lot of the common brands on the shelf, like Vita Coco, which I also love, are not as sweet. But sipping on Harmless Harvest feels like drinking the champagne of coconut water, and you can taste the difference in its freshness. The one upside (and downside) of Harmless Harvest is that it requires refrigeration even before opening and is priced at a slight premium. The uptick in cost is well worth the quality, but when I'm on a tighter budget, Vita Coco is also a tried-and-true. I always drink coconut water right before I get on a flight (airplane air can be so dry, and traveling can give me a headache!), and after a workout, late night out or a long day out in the sun. I prefer coconut water to sports drinks since it's not as sweet, but just as satisfying and hydrating.

-Maggie Wong, Editor

Typically when I reach for coconut water it's because I am craving a hydrating drink that packs a lot of flavor, which is why Harmless Harvest's coconut water is my favorite. The bottles are typically smaller than other brands (and pricier!), but the sweetness is so concentrated that it feels like the perfect amount. I love using coconut water as a base for smoothies, but I typically opt for other delicious but less-expensive brands (like Vita Coco) for mixing and stick to Harmless Harvest for drinking.

-Rachel Trujillo, Associate Content Editor

$18.49 for Pack of 12

If you're looking for a coconut water with real coconut taste, Vita Coco's Pressed line is the best out there. The Pressed line is the brand's signature coconut water blended up with coconut cream to create a more creamy coconut water that's more "coconutty" than their signature cartons. I love this variety blended up into fruit smoothies and even on its own after a workout to help with potassium depletion.

-T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

$44.17 for Pack of 12

My favorite coconut water is Zola. Years ago the founders came into the Food Network Kitchen to share their product, and I was shocked to actually enjoy drinking this coconut water plain. Usually I would hide the flavor in a smoothie or green juice, but this truly tastes fresh and so close to a real cracked coconut. Their coconuts are sourced from Thailand and the flavor is different from other brands and has a rich floral coconut flavor. It's been my go-to at the grocery store for years.

-Melissa Gaman, Recipe Developer, The Food Network


I swear by these post-workout or on-the-go when I need a quick snack. While it's definitely not a replacement for an actual smoothie, the blend of coconut water and meat give it a heartier texture than plain old water and make it ideal for sipping in between meals. The mango flavor is bright and not-too-sweet, and the classic coconut is also delicious. I'm not the biggest fan of the chocolate flavor, though.

-T.K. Brady, Senior Editor

$25.99 for Pack of 12

Once Upon a Coconut water (never from concentrate) comes from coconuts carefully harvested by true experts in Bến Tre, Vietnam. Not only is it the best coconut water I have ever tasted (seriously, there is something really special about it) the company donates 10% of all its profits to a variety of nonprofit organizations.

-Leah Brickley, Senior Editor Culinary

Is Coconut Water Healthy?

An average 1-cup serving of plain coconut water contains about 45 calories, 11 grams of carbs and 450 milligrams of potassium. It’s free of fat, cholesterol and protein. Check labels on your favorite brand of coconut water; added flavorings and sweeteners can turn up the calorie count.

What Does Coconut Water Taste Like?

Some might describe plain coconut water as pleasant and refreshing, while others might say it's an acquired taste. It has a mild coconut essence but lacks the robust coconut flavor of higher-fat coconut milk (which is made from a combination of coconut water and coconut meat). Flavored varieties of coconut water are also available, but check ingredient lists for added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

How to Use Coconut Water

Coconut water can be consumed alone or blended into a smoothie or cocktail. It can be mixed with peanut butter and Sriracha to make a quick peanut sauce, or with lime juice and olive oil for a salad dressing. You can also use it in place of stock or water to make coconut-flavored rice.

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