Fresh coconuts and a jar of coconut oil on a wooden table

From adding healthy fat to a sauté to moisturizing skin, coconut oil does just about everything. This MVP oil comes from mature coconut meat and has a mild, nutty flavor. It’s a great substitute and a healthier alternative to other fats since it is a type of fat with lower cholesterol and no trans fat. It does have higher saturated fat than butter, however.

Baking With Coconut Oil

A notable characteristic of coconut oil is that it's a solid fat when stored at 76 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. So at room temperature, it is solid. When warmed, it turns into a liquid – this means it has a high melting point compared to many other oils, like olive oil or canola oil. This makes it ideal to use in place of butter or vegetable shortening in baked goods. You can substitute coconut oil to be used for baking recipes like flaky crust or pie crust, cookie recipes, brownies, scones, and shortbread. When a recipe calls for lard, margarine, ghee, vegan butter, or Crisco, usually coconut oil can be substituted as well. Coconut oil has a neutral flavor, but it might impart a mild coconut flavor. It can also deepen the flavor of rich desserts by enhancing the fat content.

Cooking With Coconut Oil

Use coconut oil in place of vegetable oils for pan-fried foods like stir-fry. Substitute at a 1:1 ratio. You can also deep fry with it, but only for lower-temperature cooking since coconut oil has a low smoke point. Don’t heat the oil to over 375 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise it might burn.

How to Liquefy Coconut Oil

Liquefy a whole jar of coconut oil by running hot water over the sealed jar until the oil warms enough. To liquefy smaller amounts, microwave the oil on high for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the amount of oil. Coconut oil added directly to a hot pan melts naturally.


Store coconut oil in the fridge or in your pantry. If you want to keep it solid, keep it in the fridge if the room temperature is above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Only use dry utensils to scoop out coconut oil, whether liquid or solid. Water in the jar, even if by accident, increases the chance of mold developing. If stored in a dark location in an airtight container, a jar of coconut oil lasts for around 2 years.

Whether you’re using coconut oil for a pie crust recipe, chocolate chip cookies, or a delicious stir fry, this non-animal fat can be used as a great substitute for crispy or chewy recipes.