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Substitute For Coconut Oil: 8 Best Alternatives to use.


Do you need a 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 pan frying. While newer to the US, this oil is a fantastic alternative for those avoiding dairy.

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. This process allows the natural oil to be expressed and collected. Wide varieties of this oil are available. What’s fascinating is that it tends to be solid or creamy semi-solid at room temperature.

Once heated, the oil becomes a liquid closer to the consistency of canola oil or other thinner oils.

Coconut oil is not only a delicious cooking ingredient. 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. First, there is unrefined (aka virgin coconut oil). Then, there is refined coconut oil. There are a few main differences, including the taste and how each is produced.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

Unrefined coconut oil uses fresh coconut flesh as a source of oil. It is processed through an expeller as-is.

It is better to use unrefined coconut oil for baking recipes as it has a lower smoke point.

Refined Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil uses coconut flesh that is dehydrated and heated. This process 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.

This kind of coconut oil generally has a higher price tag than unrefined coconut oil.

Refined coconut oil offers a much higher smoke point. This allows for pan frying and more cooking techniques.

Best Substitute For Coconut Oil

1. Butter

You can easily substitute coconut oil for butter if you’re not avoiding dairy. This is especially suited for 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, your recipes will have a stronger flavor. This is in comparison to refined coconut oil.

Butter increases the moisture in recipes. Plus, it is like 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 and creates moist, decadent baked goods. Its similar consistency makes it an excellent replacement for coconut oil.

Cons

Butter is not vegan-friendly. It is also not a good choice for those who want dairy-free options. Lastly, it has 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 substitute for coconut oil. This option is liquid at room temperature. When heated, though, you’ll notice a thinner consistency. EVOO is best used for pan frying, marinades, and other savory recipes. It also makes a great salad dressing.

There is a difference in taste between olive oil and coconut oil, as olive oil presents a stronger taste. When using olive oil, expect a slightly spicy pepper taste with a fruity olive flavor. If you want a milder flavor, you can opt for 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. For this reason, it is ideal for recipes that don’t need high temperatures.

Pros

EVOO is found at all grocery stores and online, making it accessible. Many people use olive oil at home. You will likely not need to head to the store as you may already have a bottle. The complex taste of olive oil adds a delicious flavor to savory recipes and has many uses.

Cons

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

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute olive oil for coconut oil.

3. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is among the best coconut oil substitutes due to its flavor and versatility. This delicious oil is made from avocado innards, offering a subtle avocado taste. Note that this oil does not provide the same coconut taste. But, it gives a nutty flavor in recipes like coconut oil.
This oil is a newer offering in the US. Yet, its popularity has risen in the last few years, coinciding with paleo diets. Avocado oil is known for its incredibly high smoke point. This allows 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.

Pros

Avocado oil provides a delicious nutty taste to dishes. This mimics coconut oil’s flavor well.
It also 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. It is not an economical option. Exposure to high temperatures for extended periods causes the oil to lose its taste.

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

4. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower has a neutral taste. Because of this, it is a great option to use as a coconut oil alternative. Sunflower oil works well with frying recipes or as an ingredient in salad dressings. You can find this oil refined or cold-pressed in the grocery store.

These variations offer a different flavor each. Refined sunflower oil comes from heated sunflower seeds pressed with an expeller. In a way, cold-pressed is similar to unrefined coconut oil. Oil producers use no heat on the seeds when expressing the oil.

Refined sunflower oil is excellent if you don’t want an overpowering flavor. This includes delicate baked goods. Cold-pressed sunflower oil works well as a substitute for savory recipes. This is best if you’re looking for a nutty taste.

Use sunflower oil for pan frying or any recipes requiring higher temperatures.

Pros

Refined sunflower oil has a subtle taste and works with most recipes. 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.

Cooking Tip: Use 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. This is because 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, even vegan baking dishes.

Cons

Like sunflower oil, vegetable oil has a mild taste, so recipes will lack the subtle coconut flavor. Note that this oil is in liquid form at room temperature. You might need to tweak the amount you need to use. If you’re unsure of the amount, 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

The grapeseed oil in your pantry is another choice when substituting coconut oil. Grapeseed oil is created from grapes’ seeds and offers a neutral taste in dishes. Each grapeseed provides a tiny amount of oil. Because of this, this option is more expensive and not affordable for all.

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

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. This makes it a top choice to toss salads. It is also perfect for use on grills or other higher-temperature surfaces.

Pros

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

Cons

It has a higher price tag than other oils like vegetable oil.

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

7. Hazelnut Oil

Hazelnut oil can also be a good coconut oil substitute. Obviously, this swap comes from hazelnuts, so it has a nutty flavor. This decadent taste makes it perfect for baked goods and other desserts.

Pros

This oil can withstand high temperatures due to its high smoke point.

Cons

Since this is a nut-based alternative, those with nut allergies should skip this. On top of that, hazelnut oil is expensive and difficult to find in stores.

Cooking Tip: Use the same amount of hazelnut oil as the amount of coconut oil needed.

8. Safflower Oil

This great coconut oil substitute comes from the seeds of the safflower plant. Safflower oil has a neutral taste, so it will not affect the flavor of your dish.

This plant-based oil has two kinds: high-linoleic and high-oleic. The high-linoleic is best in uncooked dishes. On the other hand, high-oleic versions have a high smoke point, perfect for cooking.

Pros

Safflower oil is a good source of healthy fats and Vitamin E.
Plus, the high-oleic version can withstand high temperatures. It also has a very long shelf life.

Cons

This oil is pricier than coconut oil, so it might not work on everyone’s budget.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio when using safflower oil as a coconut oil substitute.

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 relying on oil to fry a meal. Using peanut butter will add a stronger taste to sweets than coconut oil.

Can You Replace Coconut Oil with Shea Butter?

Most people recognize shea butter in beauty products for its ability to moisturize. But, it’s also an edible oil source like coconut oil. This alternative comes from a shea tree, making it an excellent option for vegans. Use shea butter for baked goods and pan frying. 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 come 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, too. Cocoa butter has a slight chocolate taste.

Does Coconut Oil Taste Like Coconut?

Yes and no, if you buy 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 substitute for coconut oil, 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 substitutes for coconut oil swaps include canola oil, hemp seed oil, and almond oil. Canola oil is the most widely available of the three. But 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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