How to cook with coconut oil

Until we took our “No Refined Oilsmini-pledge last year I had never before purchased or cooked with coconut oil. And, like many others, I was surprised when I first learned that coconut oil is—or should I say “can be”—a solid.

I set out to use unrefined coconut oil in baked goods (like muffins, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and waffles) instead of the typical refined oils like canola/vegetable/grapeseed, which are obviously always in liquid form. Coconut oil, on the other hand, can actually change from a liquid to a solid (and then back again without causing any harm) pretty frequently because the melting point is 76 degrees F, which is fairly close to room temperature.

And since my husband is a little stingy with the A/C and heat usage in our house, I’ve found that our coconut oil is actually in liquid form in the summer and in solid form in the winter…talk about throwing me for a loop! So I thought it was pretty appropriate to put together this post today on how to work with these changes in consistency.

How to cook with coconut oil on 100 Days of Real Food

Coconut oil tips that I’ve collected from various sources…

  • Have all other ingredients at room temperature (like eggs, milk, and flour)  before mixing them together with coconut oil that’s in liquid form
  • In most cases, it is best to melt coconut oil that’s in solid form before measuring and adding it to a recipe…
    • You can melt the oil by scooping some out of the jar and heating it in the microwave or on the stove
    • You can also put the entire jar in the microwave or stick it in a pot of warm water to bring it to liquid form (it’s okay for the oil to go back and forth many times between liquid and solid)
    • If you decide to scoop out the coconut oil before heating it then consider warming up some of the other ingredients (like honey and/or vanilla extract) together with the coconut oil to bring more than just the oil to a warmer temp
    • Quickly whisk in the warm/liquid coconut oil (and other ingredients you may have heated as well) at the end after all the other ingredients have already been mixed together thoroughly
  • Even after heating your coconut oil it can still turn into little solid chunks once it’s mixed with other cold ingredients, so…
    • Consider whipping the batter more thoroughly in a blender to get rid of those oil chunks
    • Make the recipe with the oil chunks in the batter anyway…I’ve done this with waffles and the end product still turned out okay
  • Consider heating and mixing all ingredients together in a double boiler on the stove…it doesn’t take much to get above 76 degrees
  • Some people actually prefer to use coconut oil in a solid form when using it as a replacement for Crisco or butter in recipes like pie or pastry crust
  • Coconut oil can also be used to sauté veggies and other foods on the stove, and although I haven’t tried it yet I’ve heard it can add an especially good flavor when making stir-fry
  • Check out the Nutiva website for some other general FAQs regarding coconut oil

To learn more about why we use coconut oil (and what kind of coconut oil to buy) check out our “No Refined Oils” mini-pledge post from last year. And  if you have any other tips please share them with us in the comments below!

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236 thoughts on “How to cook with coconut oil”

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  1. i’ve recently discovered this page and have been browsing through these older blogs and was happy to see this one about coconut oil. i love to cook with coconut oil and i also use it on my face! i’m not into putting things on my body that are mixed in a lab and i have discovered that coconut oil works beautifully as a facial moisturizer. i keep a tub in the bathroom and scrap a little (pea size) with the back of my nail, rub is between my hands and apply as usual-avoiding the eye area. it is light, fragrance free (it smells like coconuts in the tub but once it makes it to your face the smell is gone), not oily, absorbs quickly, and relatively inexpensive (only use the organic). i’m proud to say it has been part of my routine for over a year and i’ve never been happier with a “beauty” product. i’m still wrinkle and blemish free.

  2. Hi Lisa, I just found Coconut Oil (Pure, Unrefined, Cold Pressed,100% organic) Carrington Farms is the brand and I just bought it at Costco for $15.99 a huge jar (54 oz.)!! I was so excited that I had to share. :) Thank you for all that you do! I love reading everything on your site and trying the recipes for my family.

  3. Ms.Lisa Leake, It’s wonderful to read the information that you have posted, I just started experiencing with coconut oil. I use it with home made broth,omeletts,frie rice and many other recipes. I use small quantaties for all the recipes. Hopefully great results will come by using this marvelous Organic product.
    God Bless you Lisa.

  4. I use coconut oil to help keep my scrambled eggs from stocking in my stainless steel skillet. Adds a bit of richness.

  5. Thank you for the great tips and I just wanted to ask if you if you had thought about the negative impact of using microwaves. My research has led me to understand that the high heat and radiation pretty much kills the good stuff and sometimes even makes things harmful.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Song. You can certainly find conflicting information out there on the safety of microwaving. You can just as easily melt coconut oil on the stovetop if you prefer. ~Amy

  6. Love cooking with coconut oil but I must ask why would you destroy such a healthy product by putting it into a microwave ? Not to mention the whole jar getting microwaved multiple times ? Terrible idea imo.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Adam. Thanks for your feed back. It can as easily be melted on the stove top. ~Amy

  7. I just purchased organic and unrefined coconut oil, because my mom told me it was a healthier option for my family. (at 50, I still listen to mom’s good advice :)
    It was great stumbling on your site and discovering such helpful tips and information…You have a new fan!
    If you get the chance you might like the cookie she’s currently marketing. It called Veggio and has 23 antioxidants, herbs and spices……you’d never guess it’s got veggies in them. Her site is http://www.veggiocookie.com
    all the best to you
    Ricci

  8. interesting site… by the way, flour is perhaps the worst processed foods. once grains are milled and vital naturally occurring nutrients are removed flour needs to be enriched ( by law) but not to the degree that nutrients were lost. by definition (fda) refined flour is a processed food and not good for humans.

  9. I’m reposting an earlier question from another reader, as I have the same confusion & didn’t really see a response in regard to the unrefined coconut oil and baking at temps above 300 degrees:
    “I am confused by coconut oil…because based on reading the label (Spectrum brand) it seemed that refined coconut oil would have a neutral taste and be suitable for cooking at higher temperatures, whereas unrefined coconut oil would have a coconut taste and not be suitable for cooking at high temperatures. I think the limit was around 300.” It’s my understanding that I should buy the unrefined, but for baking, is there a better replacement for canola oil in recipes. I’ve used applesauce before & heard plain yogurt works, but then, of course that leaves the health benefits of coconut oil completely out when baking and begs the question what would be healthier anyhow?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Leslie. I actually use the unrefined coconut oil in everything that calls for coconut oil, regardless of temperature. I’ve never had a problem in terms of temperature. If you’re concerned about the coconut flavor, then, I can’t really comment on that. We’ve just gotten used to it and actually enjoy the flavor. You may want to experiment with different brands, I think the Spectrum might have less of a “flavor” than the Trader Joe’s brand. Jill

    2. We use about 4 tablespoons of Coconut oil each per day. We use the unrefined kind to bake with, to cook with, to fry with and to put on our skin. It cured my husband of dementia and diabetes, and me of acid reflux and ulcers, and helped me lose 50 lbs in 2 years. Neither of us need any pills now even though my husband has a bovine heart valve, and used to take a bunch of meds.

      1. HI Carol, just wondering what you did with the coconut oil in reference to helping you lose weight. I just purchased some, because I was planning on putting it in my smoothies in the morning…but do I need to melt it first? I also am trying to lose weight…..

        Thx-

      2. Many people ask me how we use coconut oil so I created a couple of how-tos. http://mental-health.helium.com/how-to/12340-how-to-treat-dementia-and-alzheimer-with-coconut-oil and http://alternative-health.helium.com/how-to/14649-how-to-incorporate-coconut-oil-into-the-diet-of-someone-with-alzheimer-or-dementia

        Everything I did for my husband I did for myself as well. The weight loss just happened. We gradually started cutting out all processed foods and we only use maple syrup or honey, never sugar, but we had already started that before.

        Our breakfasts are almost always homemade toast with coconut oil and eggs scrambled in coconut oil. We eat lots of fruit and veggies and meat and potatoes, but everything we can is with coconut oil.

  10. I LOVE coconut oil! I not only cook with it and add it to smoothies but use it as makeup remover and moisturizer. I’ve got my cooking one downstairs and the other upstairs :) Great stuff! Also makes for delicious vegan ganache :D Melted coconut oil, agave or maple syrup, and cocoa. Blend and then do whatever. Yum!!

  11. Coconut oil is very healthful and is the only oil I use for cooking.@susan: a great book is called “the coconut oil miracle” and details how mainstream products once were all made with this and palm oil until the food companies learned that gmo soy and canola are great cash cows. A huge propaganda campaign was rolled out to villify coconut oil and scare everyone with the threat of heart disease while in reality the numbers are skyrocketing now- resulting in endless profits for Big Phama. Coconut oil is a medium-chain fat so it is easily digested and your body converts it directly into energy rather than storing it in the body. There is lots of research supporting the fact that it actually promotes weight loss and can help people who suffer from dementia. Coconut oil is also great for the skin, it is anti-bacterial and anti-viral so it will not irritate acne, it actually gets rid of it. I use it everywhere including on my baby mixed with a couple drops of tea tree oil and he never gets diaper rash. You can feel good about the choice to use coconut oil!

  12. Coconut oil is amazingly multi-purpose! It is the only moisturizer I use- for both face and body. I also use it as a natural shine enhancer after drying my hair. It can also be used, IMO, as a wonderful deep conditioner for your hair. Great natural alternative to diaper cream if you have a wee one in the house. In regards to cooking – and I know this is random- but adding a spoonful to a pot of pintos makes the beans soo tender! It can be used as toothpaste as well as deodorant…. I could go on and on!

  13. I have never used coconut oil. I read your articles and was going to get it to make your healhier version of banana bread. I noticed it has a lot of saturated fat. More so than some of the liquid plant oils. I got a little nervous and did not get it. Please share your thoughts on this. I only want to use what is best,but I am not sure what is best. Thanks !

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Sandie. Yes, coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but, the difference is that they are medium chain fatty acids as opposed to long chain fatty acids commonly found in vegetable oil. If you do some research, you’ll actually find that there are health benefits linked to coconut oil. I hope that helps to clear things up a little. Jill

  14. Thanks so much for this! I’m in the process of converting our house to clean eating and I was baffled on how to sub coconut oil for veg oil in baking recipes. This article (and the rest of your website) really helped!! I appreciate all the work you put into this. The information you share has been so helpful :)

  15. I love coconut oil and I this brand at vitacost for the best price. We started using it in popcorn first and now use it in so many things including my homemade toothpaste.

  16. I order both the raw coconut oil (for popcorn, brush my teeth with salt and baking soda, skin moisturizer…) as well as ultra clean supreme expeller pressed coconut oil (both from Wilderness Family Naturals) to use when I want to cook with a flavorless oil (most of the time!). The coconut flavor has been removed with steam but it retains the healthy fat profile.

  17. I just love coconut oil. I use it to cook (esp. stir fry), and add add it to food that asks for butter. Its healthy to eat by tsp, or tbsp. My dad’s naturapathic actually recommended him to eat 2 tbsp a day to reduce memory loss. I use the coconut oil as a moisturizer after a shower- its much healthier for the skin than lotions! It cured my baby’s eczema, and cradle cap. I use it as a diaper rash cream with my cloth diapers. Its great as a hot-oil hair treatment. It helps with colds/flu’s. The benefits are amazing, and the list goes on. I really recommend anyone wary of coconut oil to do research.

  18. I use cloth diapers and coconut oil is great for diaper rash! It will also clear up a acne blemish, even though it seems greasy…..weird enough, but it works.

  19. I know you can make popcorn without the oil, but if you are in the mood for the most delicious popcorn you can’t beat cooking it on the stove top in coconut oil. Lightly salt it and you will never miss the butter.

  20. My friend and her family cooks and makes a variety of organic coconut products
    For her family and her humble little shop in the hill. She has gotten nothing but
    Amazing results.

  21. First, thank you so much for all of your wonderful information you provide on your site. You have really opened my eyes to the types of food we should be eating and not be eating.

    I’ve been looking about a bunch of sites regarding coconut oil and a few have said that you should NOT use the microwave for melting it, that it destroys the beneficial properties of the oil. So I just thought I’d put this out there for everyone.

  22. I love coconut oil, the family I nanny for uses it and I tried it to saute’ shrimp and it was delicious!!! I love reading about everyone using it as a skin moisturizer or hair conditioner, I will have to check that out!

  23. Kelly, think about this. The FDA, and USDA and AHA are all government entities that have money to think about. The government swore for years that we needed tons of meat and dairy. And they were wrong. Years later they changed the food pyramid to include more vegetables. Heart disease has grown exponentially, even people who followed this guide. Im extremely skeptical about any of our government telling us what we should eat, because they have special interests in mind.

  24. I use coconut oil as a replacement for crisco. I just started doing so in January so it was a bit of a shock when it became a liquid when the temperatures warmed up. I tried putting it in the fridge but it became rock solid. Does anyone have ideas on how to keep it at a happy medium (ie. just a little on the soft side)

  25. Ask yourself why Kelly might be posting in the first place. Do you really think she happened to find this website and just spontaneously decided to share her depth of knowledge about the evils of coconut oil, then think again. Companies pay people to do what she did here.

  26. I bought the Louana Brand as well, before I knew what I should buy. It is refined- so is it ok to use on skin? I thought I would use it on my skin and buy the better unrefined kind to cook with. Does anyone have thoughts about using refined oil on the skin.

  27. Also had the thought that microwaving the whole jar of coconut oil each time sounds like a bad idea… probably destroying some of the value. I would just melt on the stovetop– only takes a minute.

  28. Thanks for this post- very informative. I’ve just bought a good coconut oil from a natural foods store here in Australia. The brand is CocoPure, but they had a couple to choose from. I only chose this one b/c it was also fair trade.

    What about cooking with Avocado Oil? Apparently it won’t destroy your non-stick pots, so I’ve just bought a bottle, but haven’t used it yet.

  29. Anastacia Hauldridge

    Thanks for writing this post darlin, we ordered 2 of these Coconut Oil jars and are looking forward to eating and cooking healthier as my husband deals with stomach issues for over a decade. I am praying this is the best alternative to healing those issues and assist me with weight loss as well.

    Ace

    1. Kelly,
      Have you read Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food?” It is quite fascinating and explains why the so called lipid hypothesis- dealing with saturated fats and cholesterol- has been proven to be incorrect. Anyway, it really is a must read.

  30. ^If the FDA says it’s bad then I’m buying it for sure! It means it is awesome! That’s all the proof I need.

  31. And hydrogenated anything means there’s trans fat in it, it has nothing to do with sat fats. You definitely wanna stay away from that. But just because something says it has 0 trans fats, if it has hydrogenated in the ingredients it has trans fats in it. But if its less than 1/2 percent, they don’t need to put it on the label. So if its not hydrogenated coconut oil, it won’t have trans fat but it will still have sat fat.

    “Coconut oil is extracted from unrefined coconut milk, and is primarily composed of saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are unhealthy fats that are commonly found in animal-based products like fatty meats and dairy products. Diets high in saturated fats can cause elevated cholesterol levels, which increase the risks related to high blood pressure and heart disease.”

    1. Do your own research! I posted above! Started my parents on the stuff, both have alzheimers. We noticed immediate improvement!

      1. Awesome research Lori. Kelly, I wouldn’t go around spouting off lines you learned in a nutrition class as if they are absolute truths. We are taught things that the companies want us to think since they have the money & power. Watch Food, Inc. It will open your eyes.
        PS using “wanna” in your argument doesn’t make you sound very smart.

    2. We use coconut oil for everything; cooking, baking, skin care and I put it in smoothies for myself and my children. I have been consuming coconut oil for months and my recent blood work came back excellent!