Coconut Oil Substitutes: We Rank the Best

Are you out of coconut oil but need it for a recipe? Maybe you just don’t like the taste or have an allergy. Don’t let this put you off the recipe!

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What if we told you that there are so many substitutes available for coconut oil? Would that make you happy? Well, we’re going to do just that. Today, we are going to run through our top eight swaps for coconut oil. 

You don’t just want to pick the closest thing to coconut oil you can find on your shelf. Whether you are cooking or baking, you are going to want to choose an oil that will compliment your recipe. 

However, before we dive into those substitutes, let’s discuss what exactly coconut oil is and what it is used for.

What is coconut oil?

Coconut oil that you find at the grocery store is most commonly from the flesh of mature harvested coconuts. You can also get virgin coconut oil which is harvested from fresher coconuts. 

Both types of coconut oils are considered a good alternative to other high-fat oils or spreads. However, as it is an oil you must still limit your intake. It is a high-fat substance so always portion it as advised on the packaging of the product.

Coconut oil can be used for so many recipes. It is a great addition to any baked goods due to its sweet and non-offensive flavors. It can also be used for frying, roasting, and grilling due to its soft flavors.

Now it’s time for the main event. Buckle yourselves in for our top eight coconut oil substitutes.

Butter

A simple swap for coconut oil is butter. This works if you are someone who doesn’t have a dairy intolerance or you are someone who doesn’t follow a vegan diet. Butter may not be the healthiest option to substitute for coconut oil but it does work. 

If you are following any baked goods recipes, then butter is an amazing alternative. It adds richness to cookies and compliments any other ingredients that may be sweeter in taste. It is also readily available in many grocery stores in the chilled section. 

Butter is solid at room temperature and this helps give a chewy texture to any baked goods. When you look at the nutritious values, butter is something that should be portioned correctly. 

A little bit of butter won’t harm and helps to contribute to a healthy, balanced diet. However, if you eat too much this could increase cholesterol levels so be mindful if you use butter in your cooking or baking.

Olive oil

The second most common substitute for coconut oil is olive oil. So many people already have this in their cupboards so it makes it an accessible option. Olive oil is suitable for plant-based diets too so if you can’t have butter in your diet, try out the olive oil. 

What we will say though is that olive oil is not the best choice for baking. If you have ever tried an olive, the taste is strong and extremely fragrant. When you add olive oil to your baked goods recipe, it just won’t have the best effect. 

Instead, we advise you to use olive oil in cooking. It is best used for frying, sauteing, soups, and salad dressings. A splash of olive oil in your pan will make a huge difference to your cooking game. It adds flavor as well as frying your food to perfection.

Healthwise, olive oil is a more nutritious option than coconut oil. Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fats that are linked to heart health within a balanced diet. 

Coconut oil has high amounts of saturated fats, six times more than olive oil. This is linked to high cholesterol which we are all trying to avoid.

Grapeseed oil 

Next up is the well-loved, grapeseed oil. As a substitute for coconut oil, this oil is a fantastic choice for any dressings you are thinking of making. This is down to the clean flavors that will remain subtle amongst other ingredients. 

If you require an oil substitute for frying or roasting, then this can also work for those purposes too. Grapeseed oil is an all-rounder. The high smoking point of grapeseed oil allows you to roast potatoes to perfection. So, why not try it out next time you’re making a roast?

When we start looking at the nutrients that grapeseed oil brings to the table, you will be pleasantly surprised. It has been linked to happier heart health and even lower cholesterol. 

This is due to its fat content. Unlike other cooking or baking oils, grapeseed oil is made out of mostly polyunsaturated fats. If you’re unsure what these are, they are omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. They’re a key nutrient to keep your body ticking. 

Sunflower oil

Next up on our list of coconut oil substitutes is sunflower oil. This type of oil is readily available in many grocery stores. Sunflower oil may not be the healthiest option to swap with but it still performs well if you are in desperate need.

Like olive oil, it is probably best to keep sunflower oil for cooking purposes only. It just doesn’t perform as well when introduced into baked goods recipes. We love to use sunflower oil for frying

It has a high smoke point that makes it the perfect addition to any fried dish. Whether you’re making fries or southern fried chicken, sunflower oil helps to make it crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. It is a good substitute for coconut oil. 

A good thing about sunflower oil is that it is full of vitamin E. If you don’t already know what vitamin E does in the body, it is an essential nutrient that helps to fight off any viruses. It is an antioxidant that neutralizes bacteria and viruses and keeps your blood vessels healthy.

Almond oil

Another great substitute for coconut oil is almond oil. This type of oil is a complementary addition to many different dishes. We especially recommend that you substitute coconut oil with almond oil if you are baking. 

Swapping coconut oil to almond oil if you’re baking cakes and cookies is always a great choice. The nutty flavor will complement the sweetness of any baked goods. If you already have a nutty cake in mind, this will bring out the deliciousness that you are after.

Health-wise, almond oil is low in saturated fat and has been linked to an improvement of your heart health. One tablespoon of almond oil also contains 26% of an adult’s daily requirement at 5mg. 

If you’re stuck for coconut oil substitutions, almond oil is a similar swap that you can make and still enjoy some unique and subtle flavors that are brought on with this oil. 

Avocado oil 

This is an oil option that not many people know about unless you are big in the health industry. Avocado oil can be a brilliant substitute for coconut oil if you need to swap it out in a recipe. 

We would recommend that you use avocado oil for curries, salads, and soups. Avocado oil is so tasty in curries thanks to its creamy texture that makes curries smooth. Tastewise, avocado oil brings a light, fresh flavor to its dishes. 

The smoke point of avocado oil is 271 degrees. This makes it ideal for sautéed, grilled, or baked dishes. So, whatever you are thinking of rustling up in the kitchen, avocado oil could be a fantastic option.

Avocado oil is loved by anyone on a health kick. Avocado itself has become the must-have brunch item in recent years. Although avocado has high levels of monounsaturated fats, they all help to reduce inflammation in the body. 

Hemp seed oil

One of the most trending ingredients at the moment is hemp seed. There has been so much research carried out on hemp oil and many scientists believe it to have some seriously impressive benefits. 

If you are someone who worries about their health, maybe take some time to read up on hemp oil. One of the most amazing things about hemp oil is that it supplies all nine essential amino acids to the body. Isn’t that crazy?

In one serving of hemp oil, there is 10g of protein. This is a great option to add to your meals if you are someone following a strict diet such as a protein-high or keto diet. The protein content alone will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Ultimately, this will help to aid weight loss. 

We believe that hemp seed oil is ideal for dips, marinades, and pesto. It has an earthy flavor that tastes so good in salads or over pasta. An important thing to note is that hemp seed oil loses its nutritional value when it is warm. To get the most out of its benefits, use it at room temperature or chilled.

Hazelnut oil

The last coconut oil substitute that we are going to discuss today is hazelnut oil. If you are living a plant-based lifestyle, then you may already be well aware of this oil. If not, let us introduce you to another fabulous choice for your dishes. 

If you are a lover of the taste of hazelnuts, then you will be into this oil. It has a sweet and fragrant flavor that works so well in cookies and cakes. Basically, for any baked goods, you should seriously consider choosing hazelnut oil. 

As well as being amazing for baking, the high smoke point of hazelnut oil also proves good for frying, roasting, and grilling. The toasted nut flavor compliments a lot of other foods, so why not experiment!

When we take a look at the nutritious values of hazelnut oil, we can see that it is packed with monounsaturated fats. 80% of the fat content helps to aid weight loss and keep blood cholesterol low. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use olive oil instead of coconut oil?

Yes, olive oil is a good replacement for coconut oil for cooking purposes. Olive oil is plant-based like coconut oil so if you follow a vegan diet then this is a good substitute to use.

In cooking, you can use olive oil within the same ratio as you would coconut oil. If you’re trying to achieve a vivid coconut or nutty flavor in your recipe, then olive oil may not be the best choice to use as it has more of a fresh or bitter taste.

If you will need a substitute for coconut oil in baking dishes, then olive oil is not the best alternative to use as the flavor can be strong and alter any flavors that the baking ingredients are trying to produce. As olive oil is liquid it makes the consistency of your raw baked mixture runnier and harder to shape in the oven without cooking molds. 

However, when used properly olive oil can help make moist muffins and cakes and often lends a fresh flavor to the recipe that coconut cannot bring. 

Can vegetable oil be substituted for coconut oil?

Yes, you can substitute vegetable oil instead of coconut oil in recipes, but it won’t produce the same rich vanilla flavoring that coconut oil does.

However, vegetable oil is a lot more unhealthy than coconut oil so it’s best to use it sparingly for the odd recipe and not as a permanent substitute in your kitchen cupboards Vegetable oil has a more neutral flavoring than coconut oil so may alter the taste of recipes that require coconut oil as an ingredient. 

Vegetable oil and coconut oil may have different smoke points depending on whether you use virgin coconut oil or refined coconut oil, so you may need to alter your cooking temperatures if you’re going to use vegetable oil as a substitute. 

As coconut oil comes in a solid form in its natural state, you may need to alter the ratio of vegetable oil you add to a recipe as that is in a liquid form in its natural state.

What can I substitute for coconut oil on keto?

If you’re following a keto diet, then there are a handful of substitutes you can use for coconut oil when you’re cooking or baking. Avocado oil is one good substitute for keto diets and it is plant-based so suitable for vegans as well.

Avocado oil has a high smoke point like coconut oil so is a good alternative to use for frying foods on high heat. Avocado oil has a nutty flavor like coconut oil does so your food will have a similar taste when using it as a substitute. 

Olive oil is another keto-friendly substitute for coconut oil but is best to use for dressings or cooking food at a low temperature as it has a low smoke point. 

Some other keto-friendly substitutes for coconut oil are:

  • Almond Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Butter

Can I substitute butter for coconut oil in baking?

Yes, butter is one of the best substitutes for coconut oil in baking and is widely used in baked goods across the world. Baking with butter will mean you won’t have the strong coconut taste in your food but you can still add coconut flakes or coconut flavoring to the ingredients so the recipe still has a coconut taste.

If a recipe calls for melted coconut oil in a recipe, then you must melt butter down so you can add it in the same ratio as what the recipe says. Cooking with butter may make your baked goods a bit more moist as it’s made with a small percentage of water whereas coconut oil is pure fat and causes baked goods like cookies to be crunchier.

Summary

As you can see from our above recommendations, if you don’t have coconut oil to hand, it doesn’t matter. There are so many different oils on the market that can transform your dish in various ways. 

Whether you are baking, grilling, roasting, or frying, you will find an appropriate coconut oil substitute above. So, which oil will you try out first? 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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