Cooking and Frying with Coconut Oil Review – Does it Work?

5 out of 5 leaves

5 out of 5 leaves

Coconut Oil is a made from the meat of coconuts.  While high in saturated fat, many natural health professionals advise that the main type of saturated fat in coconut oil promotes the formation of healthy cholesterol (HDL).  In fact, many in the real food community recommend coconut oil as the smartest oil you can use in cooking.  Many domestic chefs are still unfamiliar with this healthy fat and are unsure how to use it.  We’ve discussed previously how well coconut oil can be incorporated into your baked goodsCan coconut  oil also be easily substituted for other fats when cooking?

The Good

  • Better for You – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats available
  • Versatile – can be substituted for almost any other fat in a recipe
  • Mild flavor – coconut oil can vary from flavorless to having a slightly sweet and nutty flavor depending on how it’s produced.

The Bad

  • Can be expensive – especially for the highest quality versions
  • Solid at room temperature, which can be inconvenient depending on the recipe

My Experience

It wasn’t long ago that coconut oil registered on my food radar.  Growing up in the midwest, I’m not sure I had ever even heard of it.  But as I started following along with the “crunchy mom” blogs, everyone everywhere kept going on about coconut oil.  It turns out, that coconut oil is a super healthy fat that can be used in baking, cooking and personal care.

After I got used to baking with coconut oil, I decided to move onto cooking with it  (You know the difference between cooking and baking, right?).  You can use coconut oil in pretty much any recipe that includes a fat.  I’ve had great success sautéing vegetables, frying chicken, toasting breads and grains, and we love making old-fashioned popcorn with it.

Coconut oil has a really low melting point. It liquefies very quickly in the pan, so don’t walk away!

In every case that I’ve tried it, coconut oil has worked GREAT in cooking!  If you pay attention, sometimes there can be a light flavor of coconut.  But I’ve snuck it into many dishes without my husband and family noticing.

Coconut oil is becoming easy to find – but you should be aware that there are many different methods of coconut oil manufacture, and lots of grades of oil out there.  You can get oil that is refined, unrefined, virgin, raw, expeller pressed, centrifuged, and the list goes on.  Certainly some method of manufacture are less healthy than others (hexane extraction, anyone?).  So do your homework and read your labels, just as you would with any major cooking ingredient.  One of my favorite real food blogs, Food Renegade, has a great article on how to choose a good coconut here.

And here’s one of my favorites: Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil available on Amazon (affiliate link)

Have you tried coconut oil for cooking or frying?  What’s your favorite dish that you’ve used it in?


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39 Responses to Cooking and Frying with Coconut Oil Review – Does it Work?

  1. Great article. I have slowly been making the transition to coconut oil due to all the great reasons to use it, but the biggest drawback (in my opinion) is the flavor. I don’t like the coconut flavor in my foods. I just wrote a post this past week about using coconut oil for skin care and I use it more in that regard myself!

    Great blog! I just found you on facebook…

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Linda! I’ve found that refined coconut oil has much less flavor than unrefined. If I’m making a dish wehre I really dont want any coconut flavor in the way (popcorn, for example), I use refined.

      • jae says:

        Hi, Enjoyed reading your post. I love to use coconut oil as well. I have to agree about the taste of coconut in some foods. But I have actually grown accustomed to it. It doesn’t really bother me because we cook a lot Caribbean and West Indian foods that call for coconut cream and oil anyway. I don’t use refined because I heard Dr. Oz say that Unrefined is best and so when I looked it up I read why. Very interesting info. Although, I do think it would be okay to use refined on occasion.

      • Deila says:

        Unrefined coconut oil is better for you because it has no added chemicals. Refine coconut oil has chemicals added to take away the coconut smell away not completely . point is it has chemicals additives.

  2. Candice says:

    I love cooking with Coconut oil…and the healthy side affects are awesome! My favourite things to do is fry my homemade chicken strips in it

  3. aynzan says:

    I have been using refined coconut oil and everything ‘coconut’ for a long time.We use coconut oil , coconut cream and scrapped coconut in our daily cooking.We depend on the coconut to give taste and flavour to the food.However I didnt know unrefined coconut oil is used in cooking..Thanks for the article.:)

    • Victoria says:

      Hi aynzan – can you tell me more about coconut cream? What is it, and what do you do with it?

  4. michelle h says:

    My husband just recently started making popcorn with coconut oil and cut down half the butter he used to drown it in. Very good!

  5. Angela says:

    We’ve been using it for a little over a yr … I’ve yet to bake with it though. Are there any tips you can share? Can you use it in a baking recipe, swapping out the canola, crisco, etc?
    Thanks lots~

  6. 'Becca says:

    I love coconut oil as a substitute for butter sometimes (on toast, etc.) and for dry skin, but my favorite way to use it is greasing baking pans. It stays in place really well, and the bread or muffins just pop right out!

    • Victoria says:

      I haven’t tried it on toast yet, but you’re not the first person to mention it. Hmmmmmm…

  7. Andrea says:

    I’m not quite sure why but coconut oil was one of the last things I tried in my real food transitional journey. I just used it for the first time last week and I’m hooked! I can’t wait to use it for many more things, especially baking.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Measuring coconut oil for baking is easy with a clear measuring cup and cold water. Those of us old enough to remember baking with Crisco before all of the fancy oils were available learned that if we needed 3/4 cup of Crisco for a recipe, we could fill a 2-cup measuring cup to the 1-cup line with cold water, then pack in the Crisco until the water reached the 1 3/4 mark. Just be sure to pack it DOWN so the coconut oil is not floating on the top of the water. When you’re there, simply pour off the cold water and scrape the solid fat into the mix. I usually turn the measuring to several different angles first to make sure I get ALL of the water out, so it is a bit more work than simply measuring liquid.
    Another option is to put your glass measuring cup in a pan full of HOT water then add the coconut oil slowly so it melts until it reaches the right line, then be sure to let it cool before adding to your recipe, although it melts at a much lower temp than Crisco, so you might not need to let it cool, depending on how hot your water is.

  9. I love coconut oil. Especially with popcorn!

  10. Vanessa says:

    I too love coconut oil! I try to use it for everything, I have yet to try it with popcorn though. I may have to try.

  11. Wildchildwandering says:

    I,too, have recently started using coconut oil in cooking and baking. My son does not like coconut, so I used the refine when making pancake or where I think the coconut taste might come through. In my herbal class on Friday, we were told that refined coconut oil does not have the benefits of the unrefined and that it is actually harmful do to how it is refined. Does anyone know if this applies to the organic refined – which is what I use – or just the regular stuff like they use on popcorn in the movie theaters (this is the stuff that was mentioned in class). It is so hard to try to be healthy these days!!!

  12. Wildchildwandering says:

    Actually find the answer to my question from one of the links in the article, Food Renegade: Thanks:)

  13. Sue says:

    I love cooking with coconut oil; nothing sticks in my cast iron pan since I switched over from butter!
    I also use it as one of the main ingredients in my handmade soaps. It’s a beautifully versatile oil.

    Visiting today from the Farmgirl Friday blog hop 🙂

  14. Britni says:

    I have wanted to try cooking with coconut oil for a long time, but I’ve been scared too! I may have to suck it up and give it a try though! Thanks for sharing such helpful info and linking up to Throwback Thursday 🙂

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  18. Lily says:

    I don’t understand why this rush on the coconut oil I thought it was normal thing to use, cause my family is using coconut oil for years, since I was a little girl I watch my grandmother making coconut oil in the kitchen we use it to cook-bake and for the skin of our new borns and ourself. so why is it like something new?

    • Victoria says:

      I know that coconut oil has always been a part of everyday life for many who come from Asian cultures (perhaps your family does too?) Here in the west, it was vilified for a long time because it has a very high percentage of saturated fats, and doctors warned folks to avoid it to keep their hearts healthy. Now we know that the fats in coconut oil are much healthier in many ways than the fake and processed oils that are on the market. I think this is a good example of the western world finally cluing in to the knowledge that the east has had for centuries!

  19. Earlene says:

    Can coconut oil used for frying chicken be saved and re-used, or it is better to toss it after one use?

    • Jenny says:

      I never toss my oil….except on rare occasion when I burn it (once or twice in 5 years.) I filter it from time to time and add to it. Meats can add juices to the oil. I fry a lot of homemade brats. I absorb the juices by frying a tortilla in it, then cooking as normal.

  20. It is very pricey but great info. I didn’t know HOW you could use it. We are going on vacation in June. I am going to be the dessert maker. So I am bringing the dry ingredients, my mixer etc. If I am able to stock up on this, then all I will need to buy once we get there is eggs. Of course I’m going to experiment with brownies and a pound cake first. Thanks! ~TALU

  21. Sandra says:

    Gee, I’ve been reading a lot about using coconut oil on the face, worried about it’s affect on ones cholesterol. Is it more heart healthy than olive. I’m concerned that it starts out solid.

  22. A Vermeire Wire says:

    I got addicted to omelets a couple years ago. Once I found out about coconut oil I started using it for everything. A side from my near daily omelets on toast is great, however I do suggest a VERY light sprinkle of salt. I feel it completely covers the coconut flavor and reminds me more of butter. I use it for stir-fry in combination with a little sesame oil for flavor. And I’ve started frying with a combo of vegetable, olive, and coconut oil. Today I even just fried in what was left last time and then added olive oil and coconut oil. Not deep fry but just 1/2 to 3/4 inch in a pan. There was a good bit of ‘froth’ for lack of a better word, but usually comes out nice and golden breading, good crunch too, unless there is too much flour. I haven’t tried this with a batter though, just an egg wash and breading. Tonight there was too much flour so I under-fried them in the pan and finished them to a darker fry color under the broiler, on a rack or broiler pan to drain the oil away. I heard about it at a lecture having to do with how the nutrition we take in reacts in out body. One of the big things about coconut oil is the largely made up of medium-chain triglycerides. I know the cliches that come with wikipedia but try to think of it more of a list of references instead of a source itself.

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  25. Superka says:

    I’ve recently tried coconut oil and I have to say, it’s not that bad. I’ve cooked egg and French toast already, both was very clean on the palate compared to if I had of used olive oil or canola. Despite the pungent smell it gives off, I love it. Def use it again

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