Coconut oil has several substitutes, including avocado oil, butter, applesauce, olive oil, and grapeseed oil.
Coconut oil can be a bit of a culinary controversy. Some say coconut oil is too high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than 6 percent of daily calories. Nevertheless, keto diet fans love using coconut oil for baking, frying, homemade fat bombs, and bulletproof coffee.
Coconut oil has other detractors, too. Some don’t like the flavor of coconut or have allergies that make coconut oil a bad choice for their recipes.
If you’re trying to limit coconut oil usage for health and want a coconut oil alternative to have less saturated fat in your diet, you can find a coconut oil alternative. Not only do alternatives offer health benefits, but for those who don’t enjoy the taste of coconut oil, these coconut oil replacements make tasty choices to add to their kitchen.
Coconut oil substitutes are plentiful, but we’ve narrowed our review to the top five best coconut oil substitutes.
Coconut oil replacement choices can provide one-to-one substitutions and results equal to coconut oil or even better. They can also provide excellent health benefits.
Coconut oil substitutes deliver similar results in baking, sautéing, frying, and other cooking methods. These coconut oil replacements are favored by those who don’t like the mild coconutty flavor of coconut oil or want to decrease saturated fat for health reasons.
These top five coconut oil substitutes will add new options to all your coconut oil recipes.
1. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is one of the few cooking oils that comes from fruit instead of seeds, giving it a slight avocado flavor that many see as a plus. Avocado oil’s mildly fruity and nutty taste offers another layer of flavor for sauteing and frying.
Like coconut oil, avocado oil can stand up to high temperatures without breaking down, making it a perfect substitute for sauteing vegetables and frying meat. The flavor of avocado oil is considered mild enough to be neutral.
Avocado oil is a coconut oil substitute that brings its own health benefits to the table. It contains oleic acids, which are unsaturated, healthy fats, which studies indicate may offer the following health benefits:
- Lowering triglycerides
- Reducing blood pressure
- Lowering LDL cholesterol
- Lowering inflammatory cytokines
- Lowering blood sugar
Avocado oil is readily available in most supermarkets. If you can’t find it in yours, you may be able to find it in a local health food store or online.
As a coconut oil replacement in recipes, you can substitute avocado oil for coconut oil at a 1:1 ratio. Thus, exchanging it for coconut oil in recipes is easy.
Butter is the coconut oil substitute baking gold standard. Its flavor is superb, and it adds a wonderful texture to cookies, cakes, and rolls. Butter also adds richness to egg dishes and sauteed vegetables.
Be aware that, since butter contains water, cookies baked with butter will be less crispy than items baked with coconut oil, which is pure fat.
Also, be sure to get non-salted butter or reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to compensate for the salt in salted butter. Salted butter almost always has a higher water content than unsalted butter, which may affect your cooking or baking results.
You’ll want to keep in mind that storing butter at room temperature for more than just a few days will make it go rancid, so it is more perishable than other coconut oil substitutes. However, refrigeration or even freezing is possible as a longer-term storage solution for butter.
A drawback to using butter is that it, too, has saturated fat. Thus, it is best enjoyed in moderation. For vegans, butter isn’t an option. It also won’t stand up to the high temperatures of frying without browning or scorching.
However, butter isn’t without its health benefits. Butter contains Vitamin D and Calcium, which both support bone strength. Vitamin D also has other health benefits like supporting the immune and nervous systems, regulating insulin, and keeping your lungs and your heart healthy.
Another plus of using butter as a coconut oil replacement is that you can easily find it in the dairy case of any supermarket.
Use the same amounts of butter as a coconut oil replacement as you would coconut oil.
Vegans love coconut oil substitute baking with applesauce. Its mild, fruity flavor adds to cakes and bread recipes. As a coconut oil replacement, applesauce makes for moist baked goods without the saturated fat that coconut oil has.
Those watching their fats for health reasons will enjoy using applesauce in baking, too. Unlike some coconut oil replacements, you can’t use applesauce for sautéing or frying.
Since applesauce contains the natural fruit sugar fructose, it does not make a good substitute in savory bread recipes.
A cup of applesauce contains about 100 calories and very little fat. However, with 22.9 grams per cup, applesauce is higher in sugar and carbohydrates.
However, applesauce has several health benefits, including:
- Soluble fiber to help keep your bowel movements regular and lower blood sugar and cholesterol
- Antioxidants, which are associated with reduced risks for cancer, heart disease, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.
Applesauce is available at any supermarket in regular and organic versions, and if you have a supply of apples, you can make your own applesauce. Peel, core, and chop apples and slow-cook them in a crockpot. Varieties such as Rome and Granny Smith can provide that naturally sweet apple flavor.
Use applesauce as a coconut oil substitute at a 1:1 ratio for baking.
4. Olive Oil
Made from olives, olive oil is a healthy choice for cooking since it is high in monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is an essential part of some diets including the Mediterranean Diet and is a heart-healthy choice. This coconut oil alternative comes in refined and unrefined versions. Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined olive oil, while light olive oil is refined.
Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, which means it will burn at lower temperatures. This makes it a better choice for uses that don’t require high heat, such as salad dressings or as a dipping sauce for focaccia.
Because extra virgin olive oil can have a bold and sometimes bitter flavor, it is not a good substitute for coconut oil in sweet baking recipes such as cookies, bread, and cakes. It’s also a better match for savory items than sweeter ones. Using extra virgin olive oil in sweet baked goods can result in sweets that taste more like olive oil than anything else.
Light olive oil has a milder flavor. Light olive oil is best to use in place of coconut oils in sweets, fat bombs, candies, or baked goods.
Studies have shown that olive oil supports heart health and doesn’t carry the risks of coconut oil’s saturated fats. Olive oil has several health benefits, including:
- Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oleic acids to help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes
- Oleic acid to reduce inflammation and possibly protect against cancer
- Antioxidants to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases
- Benefits to LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels
Olive oil is easy to find in your local grocery store. Just be sure to pay attention to the label to determine if you’re getting extra virgin or light olive oil to match your recipe needs.
Olive oil can be used in the same amounts as coconut oil in recipes.
5. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil comes from the grape seeds that winemakers discard in winemaking. With a neutral flavor and high smoke point, grapeseed oil is an excellent substitute for coconut oil in a variety of recipes. Grapeseed oil is also a good choice for vegans.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral flavor that lets other foods take center stage, and it can handle the higher temperatures frying requires. Grapeseed oil is useful for sauteing meats and vegetables, as an ingredient in salad dressings, and as a dipping sauce for bread when mixed with herbs and spices.
- Less inflammation
- Less insulin resistance
- Reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers from high levels of the antioxidant vitamin E
- Less blood clotting from lowered platelet aggregation
However, grapeseed oil also comes with potential risks. Some grapeseed oils may contain high levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), which cause cancer in some animals (and possibly humans). So, it’s necessary to get your grapeseed from a reputable source.
If you can’t find grapeseed oil at your regular grocery store, you can probably find it at a local health food store. Alternately, you can order it online.
In baking, grapeseed oil is a coconut oil substitute that works well in most recipes. Bread, muffins, and cakes show the best results of grapeseed oil as a coconut oil replacement.
Use grapeseed oil as a coconut oil substitute at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that if a muffin recipe calls for ½ cup of coconut oil, substitute ½ cup of grapeseed oil.