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Substitute For Coconut Oil


Here’s a coconut oil substitute list for when you’ve run out in the middle of a recipe. Coconut oil is an excellent option for baking and panfrying. While newer to the US, this oil is a fantastic alternative for those avoiding dairy for one reason or another.

grey table top with spoon full of white  oil and white jar with coconut image labeled "coconut oil"

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is created when coconut flesh is pressed using an expeller, allowing the natural oil to be expressed and collected. There are multiple varieties available, though coconut oil tends to be solid or a creamy semisolid texture at room temperature. Once heated, the oil becomes a liquid closer to the consistency of canola oil or other thinner oils.

Not only is coconut oil a delicious cooking ingredient, but it’s also often found in soaps, shampoos, creams, natural mouthwashes, and even lotions.

What Types of Coconut Oil Are Available?

Two main varieties of coconut oil are readily available in stores, unrefined (aka virgin coconut oil) and refined. There are a few main differences, including the taste and how each is produced. Refined coconut oil uses coconut flesh that is dehydrated and heated; this changes the meat into what is known as copra. After this, the copra is pressed using an expeller which extracts the oil from the dried coconut meat.

In comparison, unrefined coconut oil uses fresh coconut flesh as a source for the oil. It is processed through an expeller as-is. Refined coconut oil generally has a higher price tag than unrefined coconut oil.

One last difference between the two varieties is the smoke point. Refined coconut oil offers a much higher smoke point allowing for panfrying and more cooking techniques. On the other hand, you should use unrefined coconut oil for baking recipes as it has a lower smoke point.

Substitute For Coconut Oil

1. Butter

If you’re not avoiding dairy, you can easily substitute coconut oil for butter, especially in baked goods. It adds a delectable flavor and richness to any recipe you use it in. If you’re using butter to replace coconut oil, you will have a stronger flavor in your recipes, especially in comparison to refined coconut oil.

Butter increases the moisture in recipes and has a similar consistency to coconut oil (solid at room temperature, liquid when you heat it). It’s easily accessible and likely already in your fridge if you bake or cook often.

Pros
Butter is easy to come by, plus it creates moist, decadent baked goods. It has a similar consistency making it an excellent replacement for coconut oil, especially when baking.

Cons
Butter is not vegan-friendly or a good choice for those who are dairy-free. It also provides a much heavier dessert and a different taste than coconut oil.

Cooking Tip:
Use butter to replace coconut substitute in baking in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Extra virgin olive oil is another good substitution for coconut oil. This option is liquid both at room temperature and when heated, though you’ll notice a thinner consistency when hot. EVOO is best when you use it for panfrying, as a dressing for salads, in marinades, and other savory recipes.

There is a difference in taste between olive oil and coconut oil, as olive oil presents a stronger taste. Expect a slightly spicy pepper taste with a fruity olive flavor when using olive oil. If you want a milder flavor, you can purchase standard olive oil, which tends to be lower in cost.

It’s important to note that extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, making it ideal for recipes that don’t require high temperatures. This quality helps avoid the oil burning and creating an undesirable burnt taste or unsafe cooking conditions.

Pros
EVOO is found at all grocery stores and online, making it easy to purchase. Many people use olive oil at home, so there’s a high likelihood you won’t need to head to the store as you may have a bottle already. The complex taste of olive oil adds a delicious flavor to savory recipes and has many uses.

Cons
EVOO is on the pricier side and not budget-friendly, especially the higher-end varieties. It has a strong taste that does not bode well with bakery items and may not appeal to everyone’s taste preference.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio for olive oil as a coconut oil substitution.

3. Avocado Oil

Using avocado oil is another available replacement for coconut oil. This tasty oil is made from avocado innards, offering a subtle avocado taste. This oil does not provide the same coconut taste. However, it does provide a nutty flavor in recipes like coconut oil provides.

This oil is a newer offering in the US, with its popularity rising in the last few years, coinciding with paleo diets. Avocado oil is known for its incredibly high smoke point, allowing this swap to be suitable in all recipes. This plant oil has the highest smoke point out of all plant-derived oils, making this a unique option.

Use avocado in baked goods, salads, and frying items like chicken. This option is on the pricier side, especially since it’s a new product and the rising cost of avocados. If avocado oil is available, it’s one of the best substitutes for coconut oil due to its tasty flavor and versatility.

Pros
Avocado oil provides a delicious nutty taste to dishes which mimics the flavor of coconut oil well. It has a very high smoke point allowing for use in many dishes. Use avocado oil in vinaigrettes, soups, meat dishes, and curries.

Cons
This swap is very pricey, so it is not an economical option though you can use it for deep frying. Plus, higher temperatures for more extended periods cause the oil to lose its taste.

Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio to replace coconut oil.

4. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a great option to use as a coconut oil alternative in recipes due to its neutral taste. It isn’t easy to detect, making it an excellent substitution for an array of recipes. Sunflower oil works well with frying recipes or as a vinaigrette.

You can find this oil refined or cold-pressed in the grocery store, each offering a different flavor. As with coconut oil, refined sunflower oil uses heated sunflower seeds pressed with an expeller. Cold-pressed is similar to unrefined coconut oil in that oil producers use no heat on the seeds when expressing the oil.

Refined sunflower oil provides a neutral taste that is excellent for recipes in which you don’t want an overpowering flavor, such as more delicate baked goods. Cold-pressed sunflower oil works well as a substitute for savory recipes where you’re looking for a nutty taste. Use sunflower oil instead of coconut oil for panfrying or any recipes that require higher temperatures.

Pros
Refined sunflower oil has a subtle taste, working with most recipes. Since sunflower oil has a higher smoke point, you can use this replacement for dishes with various cooking methods.

Cons
You won’t have a subtle coconut flavor in your baking recipes. While sunflower oil is generally easy to find in local grocery stores, some areas may not have access to it.

Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio as a swap for coconut oil.

5. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is another option for coconut oil replacement. It has a neutral flavor like sunflower oil, making it useful for various recipes. While the flavor is mild, it can vary slightly as vegetable oil can be made from a few different oils. Commonly, you’ll find soybean oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil as the main ingredients of this oil. The oil may be from a single source or a combination of oils.

This oil has a high smoke point, making it an excellent substitute for baked goods and pan-fried items. Use vegetable oil for any recipes that call for coconut oil.

Pros
Vegetable oil is in every grocery store and most likely in your pantry. Its neutral flavor works for any recipe that calls for coconut oil, including vegan baking dishes.

Cons
Like sunflower oil, vegetable oil has a mild taste, so that recipes will lack the subtle coconut flavor. As this oil is in liquid form at room temperature, the amount of oil you use as a recipe replacement may need to be tweaked slightly. If you’re unsure of the amount to use, start with slightly less and increase if necessary.

Cooking Tip:
Use in a 1:1 ratio to substitute vegetable oil for melted coconut oil.

6. Grapeseed Oil

If you have grapeseed oil in your pantry, this is another choice when substituting coconut oil in recipes. Grapeseed oil is created from grapes’ seeds and offers a neutral taste in dishes. Each grapeseed offers a tiny amount of oil, causing this option to be more expensive and not budget-friendly for all.

However, this oil is well-known for its pure and light flavor. Grapeseed oil is created from the seed scraps during the winemaking process. Two varieties of grapeseed oil occur due to the different processing methods – refined and cold-pressed.

Instead of heating the seeds, producers use a chemical to extract oil from the seeds for refined oil. This choice is the more easily available option (and lower cost).

Grapeseed oil also offers a high smoke point – making it a top choice to toss salads in as well as for use on the grill or other higher-temperature surfaces.

Pros
This swap has a pleasant taste and works well with any recipe that calls for coconut oil.

Cons
When searching for a bottle of this oil in stores, the price tag is much higher than other oils like vegetable oil.

Cooking Tip:
Use a 1:1 ratio for this swap.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Another Oil for Coconut Oil?

Yes, you can substitute another oil for coconut oil. There are quite a few options ranging from EVOO to vegetable oil and melted butter. The best options are avocado oil and butter for those without dairy restrictions.

Can You Substitute Peanut Butter for Coconut Oil?

Yes, you can substitute peanut butter for coconut oil in certain baked goods. Peanut butter is not a good alternative when you’re relying on oil to fry up a meal. Using peanut butter will add a stronger taste to sweets than coconut oil.

Can You Replace Coconut Oil with Shea Butter?

While most recognize shea butter for its ability to moisturize in beauty products, it’s also an edible oil source like coconut oil. This alternative is an excellent option for those who follow a vegan diet as it comes from a shea tree. Use shea butter for baked goods and panfrying. You can use shea butter in a 1:1 ratio when replacing coconut oil.

What Is the Difference Between Coconut Oil and Cocoa Butter?

Coconut oil and cocoa butter both derive from different trees. Coconut oil, as noted, comes from the coconut tree, while cocoa butter is a product of the cocoa tree. There is a difference in flavor profiles, with cocoa butter having a slight chocolate taste. Use cocoa butter only in its raw form.

Does Coconut Oil Taste Like Coconut?

Yes and no, if you purchase unrefined coconut oil, you’ll have a mild coconut taste. Refined coconut oil, while pricier, provides no coconut flavor when you use it in recipes.

Summary

Now, when you’re hunting for a coconut oil substitute, you’ll have a list of available options. Opt for butter as the best replacement in baked goods. Otherwise, as noted above, choose avocado oil for versatility.

Vegetable oil is the best option for those with a tight budget. Other available choices for coconut oil swaps include canola oil, hemp seed oil, and almond oil. Canola oil is the most widely available of the three, though almond oil provides a delicious nuttiness to dishes. Give the above substitutions a try and see which appeals most to your taste preference.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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