How to Bake with Coconut Oil

Written by contributor Stacy Karen of A Delightful Home

After purchasing my first jar of coconut oil, I was a little lost. Hard and white, it was unlike any oil I had used before.

Many questions began to surface: Will our food to have a strange texture? Will our bread taste like coconut? Will my family balk at this new ingredient?

Fast forward a few years and coconut oil is now my go-to oil for cooking , baking, moisturizing dry skin, and a frequent ingredient in my homemade body care creations.

While there are many uses for coconut oil, today I’m going to share specific details for using it in baking.

Before I do, here’s a quick rundown of the health benefits of coconut oil:

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Protects against heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • Supports thyroid health
  • Is an excellent antioxidant
  • Antiviral
  • Boosts energy
  • Heat stable (unlike most plant oils, coconut oil does not form trans-fatty acids at higher temperatures)

Coconut oil is not your typical oil! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that coconut oil is the champion of all oils.

How to use Coconut Oil in Baking

Coconut oil is a great substitute for shortening, butter, margarine, or vegetable oil. (I generally don’t substitute butter, since butter has health benefits of its own.) Over the past few years I have gradually moved to replacing most oils with coconut oil and have found it works very well.

Coconut oil can be used successfully in most baked goods including:

I love to incorporate coconut oil into holiday baking because it makes sweet treats a little healthier. Add some whole wheat flour and natural sweetener, and you have a nourishing, real food dessert.

Using Coconut Oil in Liquid Form

In liquid form, coconut oil is an excellent substitute for vegetable oil, melted butter or margarine. One cup of solid coconut oil will melt to approximately one cup of liquid.

To use as a liquid,  melt coconut oil over low heat and allow to cool briefly. Then use as you would any other oil.

Another option is to place a jar or bowl of coconut oil on top of a warm stove to melt as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Coconut oil melts quickly.

If using cold ingredients, stir the oil in quickly (and vigorously) so that it does not solidify and make clumps. I rarely have this issue when baking (because there usually aren’t enough cold ingredients to cause a problem). It is worth noting that coconut oil works best when ingredients are at room temperature.

Using Coconut Oil in Solid Form

Coconut oil will remain in a solid state when the temperature is below 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

In solid form, coconut oil works well in recipes that require butter or shortening to be cut into dry ingredients (like scones, and pie crusts). Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it makes baked goods nice and flaky.

When softened slightly, coconut oil can be beaten along with sweetener (such as honey or sugar) the same way you would shortening or butter. (I have tried it without softening first, and it worked that way, too. It just required a little patience and persistence.)

Solid coconut oil is also an excellent choice for greasing pans. Scoop out a little solid oil and rub the sides and bottom of the pan as usual. Use any leftover to moisturize your hands and elbows!

Which type of coconut oil should I use?

Unrefined (or virgin) is the most beneficial grade of coconut oil. It is minimally processed using very little heat and has a mild coconut scent and flavor (which I rarely taste in baked goods).

The next best is expeller-pressed, which has its scent and flavor removed through a gentle deodorizing process.

The least beneficial type of coconut oil is industrial/commercial grade. This type of oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized. It has no scent or flavor and is lacking in the vital nutrients present in virgin or expeller-pressed versions.

Coconut oil keeps for two years without refrigeration. Buying in bulk is usually the least expensive option.

Using coconut oil in baking reduces the need for other oils and helps simplify the kitchen. Keeping coconut oil, olive oil, and butter on hand, will covered most of your cooking and baking needs.

Some of my favorite recipes using coconut oil:

Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars (pictured at top)
Pumpkin Gems

Basic Soaked Muffins

Coconut Flour Orange Cake with Coconut Oil Frosting

Do you use coconut oil in baked goods? If yes, tell us your experience. If not, what concerns you the most about trying it?

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  1. Thanks for this information, Stacy. I just bought my 1st jar of coconut oil last weekend. Some of this basic information like 1 cup solid c.o. = 1 cup liquid c.o. & the breakdown of the various types of c.o. available is incredibly helpful! I’m very much looking forward to trying your recipes for homemade body care – much of my motivation for the trip last weekend to the health/whole foods store.

  2. Great post, Stacy! I’ve been using coconut oil in my baking, but I wasn’t 100% if I was always doing things right. Like does the solid form equal the same amount in liquid form? Thanks for clearing some things up!

    What about heating the coconut oil in the microwave? Does that change/ruin it some how?

    • I haven’t looked into microwaving coconut oil. I’d love to know what others think. I am one of those people who doesn’t like to microwave anything, but I do every now and then.

  3. I have just begun to use coconut oil. This post is excellent info for helping learn how to integrate into my everyday cooking.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Good info, I’ve been thinking about getting coconut oil but have delayed because I’ve seen some negative press about it recently.

  5. I love baking with coconut oil. Those chocolate coconut oat bars sound delicious! I just added them to my recipe book.

  6. We used to sorta avoid dairy, but now we’re ruthlessly eliminating it, so THANK YOU for this. Plus, amazon just delivered a new pack of Nutiva to my doorstep t this morning, so I’m ready to take these ideas for a spin. Excellent timing!

    • Oh, yes! I forgot about that benefit. It’s great for people eliminating dairy. Replacing butter with coconut oil often works well in recipes. Yay for that!

  7. Thank you for the post, Stacy. I recently purchased some coconut oil to use in a body lotion recipe but have not cooked with it yet. Your post convinced me to try it! I have been trying to perfect my vegan pie crust so I will use the coconut oil instead of Earth Balance vegan butter in my pumpkin pie this week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I buy coconut oil from Whole Foods and it says it is for “medium heat, up to 280 degrees.” How do you use it as your go-to oil when it isn’t a “high heat” oil? Anything I cook in the oven is usually 400 degrees or above. Advice?

  9. I use coconut oil for popcorn. 3 TBSP into the popper; 1 cup of corn. After it’s finished popping, I toss it with sea salt and flaxseed oil. YUM!

  10. avatar
    nopinkhere says:

    Thank you for the info about expeller-pressed coconut oil. I’ve tried using coconut oil in baking and other recipes, but my husband complains about noticing the coconut taste. I’m glad to know there is another option.

  11. Great post for those new to Coconut Oil. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I started using coconut oil for the first time this summer and now I can’t imagine my life without it. I haven’t tried baking with it so the breakdown you provided is really helpful. Great post!

  13. We used in making popcorn and LOVE the slight coconut taste.

  14. I started using coconut oil about two years ago. I bought it for baking AND to use it for diaper rash issues with cloth diapers. Thankfully I only need it for baking now.
    I agree that it’s better to work with room temperature ingredients as it can solidify fast it you add it to cold eggs. I try to avoid microwaving the oil so I buy it in glass jars so it can melt on the stove when it’s on for other uses.

  15. Thanks for this! I love coconut oil in theory, but have been having a hard time using it. I often am using whole wheat flour alongside, which is usually cold from being in the freezer…so lots of lumps which are still there after baking…icky! I still have problems with pie crust too, and I’m not sure why. I cut it into the flour just like I would butter, but I end up with lumps of it still there after baking. I’m wonderning if I need to try a different brand? Right now I have Tropical Traditions, which I thought was supposed to be good.

  16. Thank you so much for the useful information. In my blog I have a post about 15 ways how to use coconut oil. Love this product!

  17. This is cool!!! Substituting butter with coconut oil?!?! That I did not know – thanks!
    Coconut oil should definitely be much healthier – full of medium chain fatty acids, which seem to be beneficial for the body to metabolize. I would just be worried about peroxidation or conversion into trans-fatty acids such if these were baked?

  18. I just bought my first jar of coconut oil a few weeks ago and have been stumped about how to incorporate it into my cooking. I just wanted to thank you for your post as it has been incredibly helpful — now I can’t wait to start baking! I have heard nothing but good things about coconut oil and am confident it will be a welcomed addition into our healthy eating lifestyle. Thanks again!

  19. I love baking with it and we love the hint of coconut. I made a Coconut Chicken that all of my kids and hubby love. I just put chicken tender strips (frozen chicken) dipped in egg then lightly breaded in bread crumbs then cooked in a little coconut oil–sooo yummy. I have ordered my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions–are their other options as far as great quality (we like the taste of the coconut and want the best quality) but better pricing?

  20. avatar
    LynneQi says:

    Thanks! I use coconut oil in just about everything now in place of other oils for cooking. Still like butter for toast. :)

    One thing I discovered is that with coconut oil, you can carmelize onions in about half the time of any other oil! A BIG plus for recipes that call for that 45-minute process.

  21. Thank you soo much for all the information. I love baking but Im trying to do it in a healthier way and this helps me know how to better use it :) Im making some whole wheat rasin bread with it right now 😉 Thanks for the great post.

  22. Has anyone tried substituting Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free flour in this recipe. Family member recently needed to go GF, and I am struggling at making recipes that taste like he’s used to.

  23. I used Coconut oil instead of canola oil for my Amish pumpkin friendship bread. The recipe called for a 1/3 cup and the bread flattened as it cooled and was very dense. Tasted great though. Today when I baked I reduced the oil to a 1/4 cup and this worked better, not as dense and didn’t flatten. :)

  24. I am interested to know how to bake Beet Root slices with littlt coconut oil.Thanks in anticipation
    Rita Shah, Mumbai

  25. I’m new to using coconut oil and would like to try using it in a buttercream frosting recipe that calls for butter. Do you think this can be substituted? An will it change the flavor of my frosting? I know that butter also has its benefits, but the amount a buttercream frosting calls for just cannot be healthy! Thank you!

  26. Hi there, in my limited experience, I’ve found that you need slightly less coconut oil than you would if you were using butter in the same recipe… has anyone else found this?

  27. avatar
    Gfree Girl says:

    I just melted, cooled and substituted coconut oil for veg oil (1:1) in my gluten free brownie mix and added just a tiny bit of shredded coconut. Divine!

  28. , thank you so much for posting this! It is gonna be so helpful when I order museli online! Impressive!

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