Coconut oil comes from the fleshy part of the coconut and is a product that is often used in vegan recipes thanks to the fact that it’s entirely plant-based.
What Is Coconut Oil Used For and Why Might You Need a Substitute?
When you buy coconut oil, you’ll notice that it comes in solid form. However, once it is heated up, it turns into a liquid.
In recent years, coconut oil has become something of a trendy ingredient and it’s associated with many different health benefits. However, there have been studies that have shown that consuming coconut oil in excess could lead to high cholesterol so it’s best to have it in moderation.
For this reason, or maybe because you have an allergy or just don’t have any coconut oil in the kitchen right now, you may be looking for an alternative. What you need to keep in mind when choosing a coconut oil substitute is that different products work better for different things. For example, you wouldn’t use the same coconut oil alternative for baking as you would for frying.
If you’re looking to find the best alternative for coconut oil then you need to keep in mind that you have to choose an oil with a neutral flavour. Out of all of the oils, vegetable oil is probably the best option as it will not affect how the food tastes and is also plant-based so suitable for vegan recipes.
What Oil Is Most Similar to Coconut Oil?
However, you can also use things like grapeseed oil, sunflower oil and avocado oil; all of which I’ll discuss within this guide.
Whether you’re frying veggies, baking cakes or drizzling food in oil, you might not want to always use coconut oil. The good news is that there are lots of alternatives and I’ll discuss some of the best in the following sections.
Best Coconut Oil Substitutes
The reason that butter is such a good substitute for coconut oil is because of its consistency. Just like coconut oil, butter is solid at room temperature but when you heat it up, it’ll melt and turn into a liquid.
More than this, butter gives a lot more flavour than coconut oil so if you’re looking to enhance the taste of your recipe, this is perfect. You’ll also notice that, when you use butter in place of coconut oil, the texture of baked goods, such as cookies, is much chewier.
Just like coconut oil, olive oil is completely plant-based so it’s suitable for anyone, including those following a vegan diet. However, I’d never recommend using olive oil if you are baking as it can really alter the flavour, and not in a good way!
Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
However, if you’re making things like salad dressings or soups then olive oil is one of the best coconut oil substitutes you can buy. What’s more, it has a lot more health benefits which is never a bad thing.
The bad news is that vegetable oil doesn’t have as many health benefits as some of the other alternatives that I’ll talk about in this guide. But if you’re using it for something like deep frying, the high smoke point of the oil makes it ideal for this type of cooking.
Many people would agree that avocado oil is by far one of the best substitutes for avocado oil.
What’s more, I love how healthy avocado oil is. It actually has the opposite effect on your cholesterol than coconut oil so if you’re looking to reduce cholesterol, it’s worth including avocado oil in your diet. On top of this, it’s a brilliant source of antioxidants.
However, you have to keep in mind that avocado oil is one of the most pricey on this list, especially when you compare it to things like sunflower or vegetable oil. For this reason, it’s preferred for things that only require a small amount of oil.
One of the things that makes it such a good sub is that it contains very high levels of moisture. This will replace the moisture you would have gotten from the oil. But the one issue is that the texture is vastly different so this may affect the texture of your baked goods, making them more spongy than you might like.
The good news is that there is a way to counter this. You can use half apple sauce and half of one of the other oils I’ve discussed here, such as avocado oil.
Another great thing about apple sauce is that the fat content is nowhere near as high as coconut oil so if this is something you’re looking to cut out of your diet, it might be the right choice for you. That said, it does contain more carbs so be aware of that.
Finally, I’d urge you to consider that apple sauce does have quite a distinct flavour and this could affect the taste of your recipe.
In terms of how healthy almond oil is, there’s good news! Not only is this type of oil very low in saturated fats but studies have also shown that it may improve your cardiovascular health when taken as part of a healthy diet.
Hemp Seed Oil
Whilst we can’t include all of the health benefits of hemp seed oil in this article, we can tell you that it contains all nine of the amino acids that humans need. What’s more, studies have shown that taking hemp seed oil orally can improve skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
So, what’s inside hemp seed oil that’s good for you? Well, in a single serving, you’ll get up to 10 grams of protein which is brilliant if you’re following a keto diet or are generally health-conscious. Having more protein in your diet will mean that you feel fuller for longer so if you’re looking to lose weight, this is a viable method.
With all of that in mind, it’s worth pointing out that a lot of the nutritional value of hemp seed oil is lost once it’s heated up. For this reason, it’s best to use it chilled or at room temperature.
How you use hemp seed oil in place of coconut oil is key. This type of oil is best used for things like pesto, dips and marinades.
Do keep in mind that it does have quite a rich earthy taste which you will notice affects the flavour of your food. That’s not a bad thing but it does make it important to use it correctly as it’s not a taste you’d want in your cookies. However, drizzled over salad, it’s delicious!
Grapeseed oil is a popular choice and for good reason. It’s an excellent substitute if you’re making dressings and the flavour is super clean and neutral so it won’t affect the taste of whatever you’re cooking.
I’d also recommend grapeseed oil if you need something for roasting or frying; it really is one of the most versatile of all the coconut oil substitutes.
More than this, it has a very high smoking point so you won’t have problems using it for things like roast potatoes.
You’re probably wondering about the health benefits of grapeseed oil. Unlike coconut oil, this oil will lower your cholesterol rather than raising it which is always good news. On top of this, it’s been proven to improve your heart health; it’s a win-win!
The reason that grapeseed oil is so good for you is that it contains polyunsaturated fats like omega 6 and omega 9. These are super good for you!
Hazelnut oil has a very fragrant aroma and a nice sweetness to it. If you like hazelnuts, then the chances are that you’ll also like this oil. Because of the sweet taste, I think it’s a wonderful choice when baking and will really enhance the taste of things like cakes and cookies.
Hazelnut oil has a high smoke point so it’s also a fantastic choice when you're grilling, frying or roasting foods. On top of this, the nutty flavour really adds a new layer to taste to your recipes.
You’ll also love that hazelnut oil has high nutritional value and has a monounsaturated fat content that will aid you when you’re trying to lose weight. Additionally, hazelnut oil will reduce cholesterol which is something that, as we have learned, coconut oil isn’t great at.
Finally, we have sunflower oil. This is one of the most commonly used oils in the world, along with vegetable oil. It’s widely available in supermarkets and doesn’t cost the earth so you are in a position where you don’t need to be sparing.
The main problem with sunflower oil is that it’s not the most healthy choice but if you really need something quick and you already have it in your pantry then it’ll work well as a replacement for coconut oil.
But while sunflower oil isn’t the most healthy alternative, it does contain a lot of vitamin E which is great for boosting the immune system and keeping viruses at bay. This oil is also rich in antioxidants and will keep your blood vessels healthy so it’s not all bad news.
I wouldn’t recommend using sunflower oil for baking but when you’re frying, the high smoke point makes this an excellent choice. What’s more, this oil will always give your food a really crispy texture so it’s brilliant for things like fries and battered chicken.
Coconut oil has really boomed in popularity both in the kitchen and in health and beauty. However, it isn’t the healthiest oil in the world when consumed in large amounts and some people may have allergies or simply not like the oil.
But there are a lot of recipes that call for coconut oil so you may have wondered if there are any alternatives. There are lots of things that you can use instead such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil and even apple sauce.
Try experimenting with different substitutes to find the right taste for your favourite dishes. It’ll certainly make your kitchen a more diverse place.
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