Many people are choosing to replace the butter in their diet for health reasons while some need an alternative due to allergies. Whether you need to eliminate butter altogether or would like to introduce new fats to just a few meals, coconut oil is a versatile alternative that’s useful in both cooking and baking. Along with its mild flavor, one of coconut oil’s best attributes is that it does not have any cholesterol. Wherever you use coconut oil in place of butter, it is a direct swap — use the same amount of coconut oil as you would butter.

Sweet flavor often comes to mind when thinking of coconuts, however its oil does not have an overly sweet taste. Although the flavor is mild, it can still be noticeable in simpler dishes, so it is not ideal for butter sauces or for frying a salt and pepper steak.

Use coconut oil instead of butter for dishes requiring high heat or with ingredients that pair well with sweeter flavors, even if the dish you’re making isn’t necessarily sweet. The more complex the flavor of the dish, the less noticeable the coconut oil’s flavor will be. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it great for stir fry and for frying pancakes and omelets. Its flavor blends well when making curry and also pan-fried pork and shellfish, like shrimp or scallops.

Tips

Try melted coconut oil on popcorn.

Where coconut oil really shines as a valuable replacement is in baked goods. Like butter, and unlike many other oils, coconut oil is solid at room temperature. This quality makes it able to create the right texture during creaming that allows for properly fluffy and chewy baked goods that crisp on the outside. Replace butter with the same measure of coconut oil in recipes for baked goods including:

Coconut oil can also be used to grease baking pans or as a spread on muffins, loaves and toast.

Coconut oil is fine to store in the pantry. It melts at 76 degrees Fahreheit, so if it’s summer or if you live in a hot climate, you may want to keep some in the refrigerator to use for baking. Take the oil out of the refrigerator 10 minutes before you’re ready to bake to soften it, but keep watch to be sure you start before it melts.