How to Use Coconut Oil

Since coconut oil offers such fantastic health benefits, I try to work it into our diet as much as possible. These days we go through cups and cups of coconut oil every month. Back when I was first getting into traditional foods, however, I remember that I had a hard time figuring out just what to do with coconut oil. Unlike more commonplace traditional foods, adding coconut oil to your diet can be a bit of a learning curve. Here’s how I like to use coconut oil in my kitchen.

Virgin vs. Refined Coconut Oil

There are two different types of coconut oil: virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil has been processed so that it’s tasteless and odorless, while virgin (or unrefined) coconut oil still tastes and smells like coconut. Virgin coconut oil has slightly more health benefits than refined coconut oil, but refined coconut oil is still very good for you as long as you buy a good-quality, expeller-pressed variety. Find quality sources of both types of coconut oil here.

Choosing Between Virgin and Unrefined Coconut Oil

I keep both virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil stocked in my kitchen. I decide between the two oils for a particular application based on a few factors:

  • Taste: This is the number one factor I consider. Depending on the dish, virgin coconut oil can impart a noticeable coconut taste to your cooking and baking. In some instances, this flavor is a welcome addition, but in others it can be offensive or overpowering. If you don’t think a coconut flavor is a good match for whatever you’re making, opt for refined coconut oil.
  • Price: Depending on your source for coconut oils, you may find that you can buy one version more inexpensively than the other. Right now, for instance, I pay less for virgin coconut oil than I do for refined coconut oil. In instances where I don’t mind a coconut flavor, I will opt for virgin coconut oil because it’s slightly less expensive. If you can get a better price on refined coconut oil, you may make the opposite decision, perhaps deciding to save your virgin coconut oil for particular applications in which you can really appreciate the flavor.
  • Health Benefits: The final factor to consider is that virgin coconut oil offers more health benefits than refined coconut oil. Even if you can purchase refined coconut oil more inexpensively, you may choose to deliberately include a portion of virgin coconut oil in your diet just for the health benefits.

Baking with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be used to replace most oils in baking. For sweet recipes like muffins, fruit crisps, cupcakes, and so on, I like to use virgin coconut oil to replace the original oil in the recipe. Virgin coconut oil has a slightly sweet taste so I think it pairs perfectly with fruit, chocolate, or any other sweet flavors. These days, we’re so accustomed to eating a ton of coconut that most of the time we can’t even taste the coconut oil, but even back when I was first starting out I don’t remember finding the coconut taste particularly noticeable or offensive. If you think you might be sensitive to it, though, you might want to start out just replacing a portion of the original oil with coconut oil.

I don’t typically use coconut oil in savory baked goods, although that may mostly be because I just don’t tend to make a lot of those recipes. I think refined coconut oil would work well in most of these recipes, unless you think you’ll miss the flavor of the original oil.

Cooking with Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil makes a wonderful all-purpose cooking oil. I keep a bucket of refined coconut oil next to our stove, which we use it for eggs, vegetables, meats, and any other cooked dishes that we don’t want to taste like coconut.

I use virgin coconut oil for sweeter cooking, like when we’re making butternut squash fries, sautéed apples, or pancakes. As I mentioned earlier, I think the coconut flavor goes really well with these types of flavors.

Other Ways to Eat Coconut Oil

Our favorite non-cooked/baked ways to use coconut oil are homemade mint chocolates, coconut berry delights, and lemon coconut delights. Coconut oil is also great for a variety of other non-baked treats like coconut haystacks or chocolate macaroons.

You can also just eat coconut oil plain off a spoon…although I personally really do not care for that sensation!

A Couple of Non-Food Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can also be useful outside of your kitchen. Many people like to use it as a skin moisturizer. I’ve never been fond of straight coconut oil on my skin, but I did have good success using coconut oil in this homemade hard lotion recipe.

Coconut oil is also a common ingredient in homemade deodorant recipes. I used to use (and love) this homemade coconut oil deodorant recipe. (At some point it started giving me a rash, though, so I eventually switched to using milk of magnesia as deodorant.)

This post is shared at Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Living Green Tuesdays, Traditional Tuesdays, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Homemaking Link-Up, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Whole Foods Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Works for Me Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Eat Make Grow Thursday, Fill Those Jars Friday, Fight Back Friday, Freaky Friday, and Party Wave Wednesday

How do you use coconut oil?

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17 Responses to How to Use Coconut Oil

  1. Thank you for sharing my chocolate macaroon recipe! Great post – sharing on FB!
    Lindsey Gremont recently posted..Real Food Meal Ideas for Business TravelMy Profile

  2. Very helpful. I’ve pinned and shared on fb page re link love.
    Susan@learningandyearning recently posted..Long Way on a Little by Shannon Hayes: A Book ReviewMy Profile

  3. AndiRae says:

    Thanks for the link to the mint chocolates. I really enjoy mint chocolates and look forward to making these – especially since a good portion of the sweetness comes from stevia!

  4. Sometimes I wonder what I did before coconut oil. I use it EVERYWHERE. Great post.

    I’d love it if you’d share this on my healthy living link-up: http://thankyourbody.com/thank-your-body-thursday-1/
    Robin @ Thank Your Body recently posted..Thank Your Body Thursday #1My Profile

  5. Stacey says:

    You mentioned the coconut deoderant gave you a rash…mine did too and some research revealed it was the baking soda. I now hold off completely on the soda and the deoderant is wonderful!

    • Meghan says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Stacey. After I stopped using the coconut oil deodorant, I started using milk of magnesia, which actually works even better for me than the coconut oil. It sounds really weird, but it works!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Well, darn! Now I wish I would have bought the refined coconut oil from Bountiful Baskets while they were offering it! I always have the organic virgin oil on hand, but thought because the other was processed that it would not be good. I really struggle with making homemade wheat tortillas because olive oil is so strong and canola is nasty, refined, GMO crap! Refined coconut oil would have been perfect.
    Anyways, another way we use coconut oil is mixing in raw honey and cinnamon to make a cinnamon honey “butter” spread for cornbread or toast or anything…it is so yummy. I’m not a big fan of just eating coconut oil straight from a spoon, so this makes a good alternative. I don’t really follow a recipe, I just mix it together. It doesn’t require a lot of honey, just enough to sweeten it.

    • Meghan says:

      Yeah, I thought that the refined coconut oil was bad for a long time, too. It was so nice finding out that it’s still good for you! I bet it will go great in your tortillas.

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  10. Tracy says:

    We get our coconut oil in by slathering a think layer on our toast before a drizzle of honey & cinnamon or almond butter, or a mixture of all of those… YUM. Or if we’re not doing toast, I drop a huge spoonful of it into our oatmeal and mix it in (along with a big spoonful of organic butter…) Oh yum… also mix it into our rice just before serving it – it completely “disappears” and the fam doesn’t even know I’ve snuck it in… again! It’s good in hot tea too! And spread on pancakes/waffles… oh how we love our coconut oil!

  11. Vanessa says:

    I like to use it for makeup remover.

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