Cook with Coconut Oil
Edited by Emmanuel M. Lardizabal, Eng, Lynn, Robbi and 6 others
Coconut oil makes an excellent alternative to butter, vegetable shortening, olive oil or lard when used in baking, stir-frying and sauteing. Virgin or unrefined coconut oil has a mild coconut-like flavor and aroma. It has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so it works best for cooking at lower temperatures. If you're cooking at higher temperatures, refined coconut oil is more ideal, since its smoke point is 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It's also tasteless and odorless, so it's perfect for foods that you don't want to add a coconut flavor to, such as pie crust.
How to Fry with Coconut Oil
The method for deep frying, sauteing or stir-frying with coconut oil isn't much different than other cooking oil. The flavor works especially well with chicken, shrimp or sweet potatoes, but you can use it to cook anything.
- 1Place a frying pan on the stove, and set it to the desired heat level.Advertisement
- 2Add the coconut oil to the pan. The amount you'll use will vary, depending on what type of food you're cooking. Let it heat for at least 2 to 3 minutes, or until it's fully melted and glistening.Advertisement
- 3Add the food to the heated oil. Cook the food as directed by your recipe. Adjust the temperature, if necessary, while cooking.
How to Bake with Coconut Oil
You can substitute coconut oil in place of shortening, butter or vegetable oil in all of your recipes to reduce the amount of unhealthy saturated fats in your diet. If you use virgin or extra-virgin oil, it will also lend a slight coconut flavor to your food, so it works especially well in tropical-flavored recipes. It makes an excellent addition to cupcakes, cookies, pancakes and waffles.
- 1Substitute in equal parts. Use the same amount of coconut oil as you would butter, oil or shortening in a recipe. When replacing butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of water per 1/2 cup of coconut oil. This makes up for the water content of butter.Advertisement
- 2Add salt if salted butter is part of the recipe. Since there's no salt in coconut oil, you'll need to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup of coconut oil.
- 3Use coconut oil at the same temperature as the original fat. If your recipe calls for oil or melted butter, use melted coconut oil. If it calls for solid, cold butter or shortening, add chilled or solid coconut oil.
Different Ways to Use Coconut Oil in Food
Coconut oil adds richness and flavor to almost anything it's added to. It's an unlikely ingredient that works especially well to boost the flavor and texture of certain foods.
- 1Oatmeal. Stir in a spoonful of coconut oil into your morning oatmeal to add more flavor and energy-dense nutrition.
Tips and Warnings
- If you're purchasing refined coconut oil, it's best to choose organic, expeller pressed oil that isn't processed with chemicals or solvents.
- Avoid overheating coconut oil. If the oil starts to smoke, take the pan off of the heat quickly before the food burns.
- If your recipe calls for melted coconut oil, make sure other ingredients are at room temperature, as well. Adding chilled eggs or other cold ingredients can cause the coconut oil to solidify.
How to Store Coconut Oil
Coconut oil changes from a solid to a liquid state above 76 degrees Fahrenheit, but it still lasts longer than most other cooking oils without any special storage techniques. You can store it in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or pantry for up to two years. If you purchase it in bulk, you can portion it out into smaller jars or BPA-free plastic containers for easier access while cooking. For the best results, you should melt the oil in a large pot on low heat and stir it to thoroughly mix the fiber and oil before separating it into smaller containers or jars. Avoid storing coconut oil in direct sunlight.
Health Benefits of Cooking with Coconut Oil
At one time, coconut oil was thought to contribute to heart disease because it contains saturated fat. However, further research shows that coconut oil is not only healthy for the heart, it also provides several other health benefits. This is because all saturated fats are not considered equal. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a healthy saturated fat that's responsible for many of its healthy benefits. Lauric acid also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Here are a few of coconut oil's most well-known benefits.
- 1Promotes weight loss. Coconut oil helps boost the thyroid function, which can increase metabolism and energy. The fat also processes in the liver, resulting a more stable, long-term release of energy. It also helps stabilize blood sugar and control food cravings.
- 2Aids in digestion. Coconut oil can help eliminate harmful bacteria that cause indigestion. It also helps increase the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food, such as vitamins A, E, K and D.
- 3Lowers cholesterol. The high lauric acid content of coconut oil helps lower the body's level of bad cholesterol by converting it into pregnenolone, a usable hormone.
- 4Slows aging. Coconut oil contains potent antioxidants that prevent the body from damaging its own healthy tissue, resulting in a slower aging process for the skin and cardiovascular system.