Coconut ladoo recipe with 3 variations. With close to a dozen variations, these Coconut laddu are a popular festive treat made across India. Coconut ladoo are traditional sweet balls made primarily with coconut & a sweetener like sugar or jaggery. They are lightly scented with ground cardamoms. Sometimes various kinds of nuts and raisins are also added for a crunch. A lot of versions also use ghee and milk to impart a richness. Coconut laddus are also known as Nariyal laddu, & are naturally gluten-free and can be made vegan.
In this post I share 3 ways to make coconut ladoo. I must admit that we have a special place for any ladoos made with coconut and in fact I have a lot more ladoo varieties made with coconut on this blog. But the recipes I have shared here in this post are most commonly made.
About Coconut Ladoo
Traditionally coconut ladoo were made with fresh coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder. Jaggery has been enjoyed in India for thousands of years for the fact it is unrefined and pure. Coconut ladoos are offered to the Gods/ deities during Hindu festivals and many people till day do not use sugar while making foods for offering.
Over the years, enthusiastic cooks have explored the options to use sugar, milk & mawa to impart a richness to these decadent and delicious coconut ladoo.
In the last decade, Brands like Nestle have taught us how to make instant coconut ladoos with their milkmaid / condensed milk.
The age old tradition of breaking a coconut to make coconut ladoos has been replaced with store bought fresh/frozen and desiccated coconut. So you can make these coconut ladoos with pretty much anything you have in hand.
As I mentioned earlier I have shared 3 recipes here and each one uses different set of ingredients. Based on the ingredients you have, decide on which recipe you want to use.
- Recipe 1 uses coconut (fresh, frozen or desiccated), sugar & milk.
- Recipe 2 uses coconut (fresh, frozen or desiccated) & condensed milk.
- Last one – Recipe 3 uses fresh or frozen coconut & jaggery.
You may like to check these 30 Coconut Recipes.
Coconut Ladoo with Sugar & Milk (Stepwise photos)
This recipe uses pantry staples and don’t need any condensed milk or jaggery. This is the most basic version and can be made with fresh or fine desiccated coconut (different from shredded coconut). If using fresh make sure it is fine grated and if using desiccated coconut, it should be very fine or powder.
These ladoos won’t bind well if you use very large gratings. So if you happen to have larger grating, you can easily process it in a food processor or a grinder.
1. If you prefer some nuts in your ladoos, fry 10 to 12 split cashews or pistachios in 1 teaspoon ghee, until crispy and light golden. Remove them to a plate. To make the recipe vegan, use flavorless coconut oil or simply dry toast the nuts.
2. Add 2 cups coconut, ¾ cup sugar and 1 cup milk to a heavy bottom pan. I used desiccated coconut so I used 1 cup milk. If using fresh coconut, you can reduce to half cup. Because fresh coconut has some moisture so you won’t need so much, but for a richer flavor you may use 2 cups, but have to cook down longer. I have shown using fresh coconut in the video, you may check that to know the texture.
3. Mix well to combine. Begin to cook, stirring often to prevent burning. If your mixture looks too dry, don’t worry the sugar will dissolve and release some moisture as you cook.
How to Make Coconut Ladoo
4. The mixture becomes gooey when the sugar begins to melt. Continue to cook stirring non-stop as we don’t want the coconut to discolor.
5. As you cook the coconut softens and all the moisture evaporates. It turns thick as seen in the picture. The mixture should be moist but not soggy else they will not get a good shape while shaping. I had forgotten to chop the nuts before frying, so I did them later before adding at this stage. Add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder and mix well. Set aside till the temperature comes down slightly.
5. When the temperature comes down to warm, take small portions of the mixture to your hand and press down with your fingers to form round balls. You can also roll them in desiccated coconut if you prefer. To roll the balls in coconut make sure the balls are still warm and moist.
Store coconut ladoo in an airtight jar. Refrigerate and use with in 5 to 7 days.
Coconut Condensed Milk Ladoo (Stepwise photos)
This recipe can be made with fresh, frozen or desiccated coconut. Using nuts is optional. But toasted unsalted pistachios go well in this recipe.
1. If you want to use nuts, toast 8 to 10 cashews or pistachios in a heavy bottom pan until crunchy. Remove them to a board. Pour half cup + 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk in the pan.
2. Next add the 1½ cups desiccated coconut or fresh coconut. If it is not fine, then process it in a grinder or food processor.
3. Mix both of them together well. Taste test and check if it the sweetness is okay. If you like it more sweet add more condensed milk. Then begin to cook on a low flame.
4. Cook stirring continuously until the entire mixture turns to a mass. It must still be moist. Overcooking the mixture will yield hard ladoos & there is no way back. Then turn off the stove and add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios or any nuts. Cool down a small portion and taste test. It should not be chewy.
5. When the mixture is still warm, take small portions of this mixture to your palm and press down gently to shape them to balls.
6. To garnish, make sure your ladoos are still moist. Add 2 to 3 tbsps of coconut to the same pan and roll the coconut ladoos.
Store the coconut laddu in a air tight jar and refrigerate. Use within a week.
Coconut Ladoo with Jaggery (Stepwise photos)
Traditionally these are made with jaggery that comes in blocks or balls. For this recipe I suggest using the traditional one instead of the prepacked jaggery powder. Both are very different in flavor, taste and moisture levels. If using prepacked jaggery powder, you will need more jaggery as the sweetness levels also vary.
1. Add 2 cups fresh or frozen coconut to a pan. You can take ¾ to 1 cup jaggery. Start with ¾ cup and add more later if required.
2. Mix well and begin to cook on a low heat. Jaggery will melt and the mixture turns gooey. Taste test at this stage and add more jaggery if needed.
3.Cook the mixture until most of the moisture evaporates. It must still be moist. Then add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder and turn off. Cool down the mixture.
4. When it is still warm, take small portions of the mixture to your hand and press down with your fingers to give them a round ball shape. Cool them completely and store in air tight jar. If you want you may add some toasted & chopped nuts.
Choosing coconut: Fresh coconut tastes best to make recipe 1 & 2. But you can also use frozen coconut or desiccated coconut. If you prefer to use frozen coconut make sure it is raw coconut and not steamed & frozen. If using desiccated coconut use the fine shreds. Pulse in a grinder or process in a processer for fine texture.
Sweetener : You can use sugar, jaggery, palm jaggery or condensed milk to sweeten the balls. The coconut ladoos made with jaggery are the best and have a depth of flavor. If your jaggery has debris then you will need to dissolve it first and then use. You can find the detailed step by step photos here on kobbari jaggery laddu.
Flavoring : Traditionally cardamoms are used to flavor the coconut ladoos. However during winters some people also use dried ginger powder & grated nutmeg. The second version also goes well with vanilla extract.
Vegan : For a vegan version just replace the milk in the recipe with coconut milk or make them with jaggery. Jaggery has lot more moisture in it than sugar so the recipe works well without milk.
Quantity of milk: For the first recipe if using fresh or frozen coconut, the amount of milk used in the recipe can be scaled down to half. For a richer flavor, you can also simmer 2 cups milk until it reduces to 1 cup. Then right away add the coconut and sugar to it. This takes a little longer.
There are so many optional ingredients you can add to these coconut ladoos to make them taste rich. Khoya, milk powder, cashew nut powder & sesame seeds are some of the ingredients I use for a change. To make khoya coconut balls, you can check these stuffed kova ladoo recipe.
Coconut Ladoo (Nariyal Laddu)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Recipe – 1
- 2 cups grated coconut (fresh or fine desiccated)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 8 cashews (broken)
- 1 teaspoon ghee (or any neutral oil)
- ¾ cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 cup milk (½ cup if using fresh coconut)
Recipe – 2
- 1½ cups desiccated coconut (refer notes)
- ½ cup + 2 tbsps condensed milk (200 grams or ½ of 400 grams tin)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Recipe – 3
- 2 cups coconut (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup grated jaggery (or ¾ cup tightly packed)(refer notes)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 10 cashews (chopped)
Recipe 1 – Preparation
- Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a pan, add 8 broken cashew nuts.
- Fry them stirring often until they turn golden. Remove these to a plate and set aside.
- To the same pan, add grated coconut, milk and sugar.
- If using desiccated coconut set the pan aside for 15 minutes for the coconut to absorb the milk and soften.
- Mix all of the ingredients well.
- Begin to cook till the coconut ladoo mixture thickens and all the moisture evaporates completely.
- The mixture must still be moist and not dry.
How to make coconut ladoo
- Add cardamom powder and nuts. Mix well. Cool the mixture slightly.
- When it comes down to warm temperature, take small portions of this to your palm and press down with your fingers to bind the mixture. This gives the round shape coconut ladoos. (Check video)
- When they are still warm and moist you can also roll the ladoos in desiccated coconut.
- Store coconut laddu in an airtight jar and refrigerate. Use within 5 to 7 days.
Recipe 2 – Coconut ladoo with condensed milk
- To a pan, add 1½ cups desiccated coconut, ¼ tsp cardamom powder and ½ cup + 2 tablespoons condensed milk.
- Mix up all of these and cook on a low flame stirring often. Taste test and If needed add more condensed milk for more sweetness.
- Cook stirring continuously, till the mixture thickens and turns to a mass. (check step-by-step photos above for consistency)
- Turn off the stove. At this stage the coconut ladoo mixture must be still moist. If you overcook then the ladoos will turn hard.
- Cool and add chopped pistachios. When it is still warm, take small portions of this mixture to your palms and press down with your fingers to give a round shape to the coconut ladoos.
- Cool these completely. Store in a air tight box and refrigerate. Use up within a week.
Recipe 3 – Coconut ladoo with jaggery
- Heat 1 tsp ghee and fry cashews. Remove and keep them aside. In the same pan, mix together fresh coconut and grated jaggery in a pan.
- Once the jaggery melts, taste test and add more if needed. Cook until the mixture smells good , turns thick & binds together.
- Add cardamoms and fried nuts. Cool down and roll to balls.
- Store coconut laddus in a air tight jar and store at room temperature. Use up within 7 days.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Coconut Ladoo recipe first published in Feb 2015. Updated and republished May 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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