Coconut oil has recently become a popular cooking oil after being demonized for decades because of its high saturated fat content. Saturated fat increases your risk of developing heart disease. If you have concerns about its health benefits/drawbacks or if you just don’t have any in your pantry, you may need a coconut oil substitute. Here is a look at other cooking oils with similar properties.
Your best bet: Olive oil
Because olive oil contains many times less saturated fat than coconut oil, it is more widely recommended as a healthy cooking oil. Olive oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Olive oil also contains polyphenols that can reduce inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil contains more of these compounds than the refined olive oils. Like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point. Because it starts to generate smoke at a relatively low temperature (around 374 degrees Fahrenheit), it is best to use it for low-heat cooking or in its uncooked state.
While you can use olive oil for many of the same purposes as coconut oil, don’t expect extra virgin olive oil to taste the same as virgin coconut oil. Refined olive oil and refined coconut oil are much better matches in terms of flavor since their flavor profiles have been made neutral (or close to it) by processing.
A decent second choice: Almond oil
The almond oil that you would use for cooking is extracted from sweet almonds (as opposed to bitter almonds). Unrefined almond oil has a strong, sweet, nutty flavor that allows it to play a similar role as virgin coconut oil in savory dishes and baked goods. Like virgin coconut oil, it has a low smoke point, so you shouldn’t use it for high-heat cooking.
Along with antioxidants, almond oil is a good source of vitamin E and monounsaturated fat, so it is nutritionally superior to both types of coconut oil. Refined almond oil has a more neutral flavor profile and a higher smoke point (420 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it a better substitute for refined coconut oil.
In a pinch: Ghee
Ghee is the only non-vegan substitute for coconut oil on this list. It is made from butter that has had its milk solids removed. Another name for ghee is clarified butter.
Ghee has a very high smoke point, which makes it an excellent alternative to refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has a high smoke point and is the variety used for high-heat cooking. It is important to note that ghee does not appear to have the health benefits of coconut oil.
Pressed from sunflower seeds, sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E and other nutrients. It has a nutty taste that can stand in for coconut oil’s flavor in savory dishes and baked goods. Sunflower oil has a high smoke point, which makes it useful for stir-frying and deep-frying. Sunflower oil contains much less saturated fat than coconut oil, which may make it a much healthier cooking oil.
Extracted from hazelnuts, unrefined hazelnut oil’s flavor has a little sweetness along with a strong nuttiness that makes it a good substitute for unrefined coconut oil. Like coconut oil. Hazelnut oil works in baked goods like cakes and cookies but is also great in salad dressings and sauces. Refined hazelnut oil has a high smoke point.