Cooking With Coconut Oil: The Dos and Don’ts

Coconut oil is a popular alternative cooking oil and is a great option for frying and baking as long as you use it correctly. Below are some dos and don’ts of how to cook with coconut oil.

Do chill or freeze coconut oil in an ice cube tray.

Coconut oil solidifies at temperatures below 76 degrees Fahrenheit because of the saturated fat it contains. If you keep it in the refrigerator or freezer, coconut oil can become hard enough that you may have trouble getting the right amount of it for a recipe. Rather than having to work to chip out the precise volume from a hard block of hardened oil, you can freeze it in smaller and more manageable amounts. Do this by pouring the liquid coconut oil into an ice cube tray that you then place in the freezer until the oil is solid. Decant your coconut oil cubes into a resealable bag that you can keep in the freezer.

When you need some coconut oil, just take out the number of cubes that you need and melt them. Not only do coconut oil cubes make it easy to measure out exactly the amount you need, but being frozen can extend the oil’s shelf life.

Do keep your coconut oil near the stove.

If you prefer to use your coconut oil in its liquid state, you will need to heat it to a temperature above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping it on a shelf near your stove can ensure that all or part of it remains liquid. If possible, keep it on a shelf above your stove. The heat from the stove as you cook will keep it from solidifying.

Do make sure that the other ingredients are at room temperature in baking recipes when you plan to use coconut oil.

Because coconut oil hardens at low temperatures, adding it to ingredients just out of the refrigerator can be tricky. If your recipe calls for the coconut oil to be combined with other liquid ingredients like milk or eggs, the coconut oil may clump up if the liquids are cold. This can make mixing a cake batter or cookie dough difficult. Allowing your cold items to warm up to room temperature will keep the coconut oil from hardening.

Do learn about the different kinds of coconut oil.

There are different kinds of coconut oil — refined and unrefined. It is important to learn about their properties when deciding which type to use. Unrefined coconut oil is characterized by its strong aroma, which is the familiar and distinctive aroma associated with coconut flakes and other coconut products. The flavor or refined coconut oil is closer to neutral.

Don’t use coconut oil at very high temperatures.

Like other unrefined cooking oils, unrefined coconut oil is unsuitable for high-heat cooking styles. It has a relatively low smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that you probably don’t want to use it for stir-frying or deep-frying.

Don’t use coconut oil as a 1:1 substitute for butter.

Coconut oil is a great substitute for butter as long as you adjust your quantities. It is not as simple as switching the two out. Butter contains water so coconut oil contains more fat than the equivalent amount of butter, which means that you will need to use about 25 percent less of it when replacing butter. Increase the non-fat liquid component in the recipe to compensate for the missing water from butter.