Top 9 best substitutes for coconut oil for baking, frying, cooking
If you’re familiar with baking vegan recipes, you already know that almost every recipe calls for coconut oil. This oil has a solid and a liquid form, it is versatile and has a pleasant taste.
Coconut oil is a popular natural product that has a variety of uses, from cooking to skincare and more.
But what happens if you can’t find or don’t have coconut oil on hand? There are plenty of substitutes that can be used in its place.
Vegetable oil is the best coconut oil replacement because it is neutral flavored, has a high smoke point, it’s vegan, and is quite affordable. It can be used for high-heat cooking like frying, low-heat cooking, and baking.
I’m going to share the top coconut oil substitutes you can use for cooking and baking so you can easily make swaps.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What to look for in a coconut oil substitute
- 2 Best coconut oil substitutes
- 2.1 Best substitute for coconut oil overall: vegetable oil
- 2.2 Best substitute for coconut oil for baking: butter
- 2.3 Best substitute for coconut oil for frying: avocado oil
- 2.4 Best substitute for coconut oil for low-heat cooking: olive oil
- 2.5 Grapeseed oil
- 2.6 Hemp seed oil
- 2.7 Hazelnut oil
- 2.8 Almond oil
- 2.9 Applesauce
- 3 Takeaway
What to look for in a coconut oil substitute
Coconut oil is used in many ways. But when it comes to cooking, it’s mostly used for frying foods in a healthier way or as a butter substitute when baking, especially for vegan recipes.
You can buy regular coconut oil or virgin coconut oil. The difference is that regular coconut oil is refined and has a neutral flavor, while virgin coconut oil is unrefined and has a strong coconut flavor.
Also, refined coconut oil has a very mild scent whereas unrefined coconut oil has a strong coconut smell.
What makes coconut oil unique compared to other oils is that it has a solid form when at room temperature or in cooler temps, so it’s not a viscous liquid like olive oil, for example.
When heated though, it melts and becomes liquid so you can use it just like any vegetable oil.
Coconut oil also has a very distinct flavor that can be hard to replace. It tastes very neutral and bland. Contrary to popular belief, coconut oil does not have a coconutty or sweet flavor.
I would describe coconut oil as having unique and subtle flavors that don’t overpower your dishes.
So, when looking for the perfect substitute, you’ll want to find an oil that has a similar consistency (solid at room temperature but melts when heated) and flavor.
But honestly, you don’t need a solid oil as a substitute because that doesn’t really help you when cooking and baking unless you want to substitute for butter and get a similar texture.
Best coconut oil substitutes
Here are some of the best substitutes for coconut oil.
Best substitute for coconut oil overall: vegetable oil
The cheapest and best substitute for coconut oil is vegetable oil. It’s a neutral oil with a very similar consistency, making it perfect for cooking and baking.
This is a vegan oil so it’s suitable for vegan baking and cooking.
Plus, it has a very long shelf life so you don’t have to worry about it going bad.
In fact, you can substitute almost all vegetable oils with a high smoke point for coconut oil. Canola oil is another good option.
The only downside is that vegetable oil doesn’t have the same health benefits as coconut oil.
But if you’re looking for something to fry food, roast, bake, and stit-fry vegetable oil is an excellent choice.
Is it possible to use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil? Yes, almost always.
As a substitute for coconut oil, it has a neutral flavor that won’t interfere with other flavors in your cooking, and it’s also less expensive than avocado oil or grapeseed oil.
The high smoke point makes it suitable for deep-frying and many people use it to fry sweet potatoes, tofu, and meat.
You can substitute vegetable oil at a 1:1 ratio for coconut oil.
Here are the top vegetable oils to substitute for coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio:
- sunflower oil – this is a good all-purpose oil that can be used for most things
- soybean oil – this is a cheap alternative to coconut oil but it has a bit of a nutty taste
- corn oil – this oil is also quite cheap and has a neutral flavor
- canola oil – this is a good choice for those who are looking for a healthy alternative to coconut oil
- safflower oil – high linoleic safflower oil is the best choice because it has a similar composition to coconut oil and has a high smoke point
- peanut oil – best for stir-fries but it has a nutty taste which is quite strong compared to the very subtle coconut flavor
Best substitute for coconut oil for baking: butter
Butter is the best substitute for coconut oil in baking. It has a similar consistency (solid at room temperature but melts when heated) and neutral flavor, making it the perfect replacement.
Butter is a bit smoother than coconut oil but they both perform the same way when added to other ingredients.
Some people might not like to use butter instead of coconut oil because it’s not vegan.
But there are vegan substitutes for butter that you can use, such as margarine or coconut butter.
Butter is so easy to find at any grocery store and it tastes great!
However, the taste of butter is much stronger than a plant-based oil.
It has that rich, milky flavor but when you substitute butter for coconut oil, your cakes, and other baked good might taste even better.
The biggest downside to using butter is that it’s not as healthy as coconut oil because it’s high in saturated fat.
But if you’re looking for the best flavor and texture, then butter is the way to go. Melted butter can also be used as a 1:1 replacement for coconut oil in all recipes.
But the good thing is that you can use butter in its solid form too when substituting coconut oil.
Butter is also the star ingredient in these fluffy Pandesal Filipino Bread Rolls
Best substitute for coconut oil for frying: avocado oil
If you’re looking to stay healthy, avocado oil is your best bet. Avocado oil is a great replacement for coconut oil because of its high smoke point.
You can use it as a substitute for cooking oil in stir-fry, roasting, and frying recipes because it has a high smoke point (520 F) compared to coconut oil’s 350 F smoke point.
Avocado oil is quite expensive though so if you’re on a budget, it might be a bit too pricey. However, avocado oil is the best substitute for coconut oil if you plan on frying anything.
Avocado oil is a great alternative to coconut oil. Because of its high smoke point and neutral flavor, this cooking oil can be used as a 1:1 substitute in stir-fries, roasts, and frying.
In addition to its cholesterol-lowering properties, avocado oil is also an excellent source of antioxidants thus it has some health benefits.
Most people like to substitute coconut oil with avocado oil when high heat cooking. It has a bit of an earthy flavor that can enhance the flavor of food.
Be careful which brand of avocado oil you use. Chosen is a good choice some other cheaper brands contain fillers or may be rancid.
Best substitute for coconut oil for low-heat cooking: olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the best type of olive oil to use as a substitute for coconut oil. It has a fruity, peppery flavor that can enhance the flavor of your food
But you can use any olive oil as a coconut oil substitute in a ratio of 1:1.
Virgin or extra-virgin olive oil is always better because it has a higher smoke point and a better flavor.
But if you’re on a budget, any olive oil will do.
Olive oil is quite a healthy option because it’s high in monounsaturated fats, oleic acid, and antioxidants.
People like to use olive oil in salad dressings, stir-fries, and baked goods for recipes that require coconut oil.
But it does have a strong flavor so if you’re looking for a coconut oil substitute that’s flavorless, olive oil might not be the best option.
Olive oil’s flavor is best described as peppery, fruity, and pungent. If you don’t mind the flavor of olive oil, then it’s a great option.
Grapeseed oil is another good option for a coconut oil substitute. It has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, making it ideal for cooking.
Grapeseed oil is a good choice for those who are looking for a healthy alternative to coconut oil.
I am mentioning it here because it is high in polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants. It also has a higher smoke point than olive oil, making it a better choice for cooking at high temperatures.
You can use grapeseed oil as a substitute for coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio.
It’s a good choice for stir-fries, baking, and deep-frying and that’s why many chefs consider it one of the top coconut oil substitutions.
Cooking grapeseed oil is not as pricy as some of the nut oils.
Hemp seed oil
Hemp seed oil is another good option for those looking for a healthy alternative to coconut oil.
Don’t mistake this for non-cooking hemp oil which is used for CBD products.
Hemp seed oil has a nutty flavor and can be used as a 1:1 replacement for coconut oil in baking and cooking.
This oil is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it a good choice for those who want to improve their heart health.
It also has a high smoke point, making it a good choice for cooking.
Hemp seed oil is a bit more expensive than other oils on this list but it’s a good choice for those who are looking for a healthy alternative to coconut oil.
Hemp seed oil loses some of its nutritional value when heated so it’s best used in cold dishes like salad dressings or as a finishing oil.
I wouldn’t recommend it for frying – it’s better to use something like sunflower oil instead.
You can use hemp seed oil instead of coconut oil as a 1:1 substitute.
Hazelnut oil is a good choice for those who want to add some flavor to their food.
This oil has a nutty flavor that can enhance the flavor of baked goods and other recipes.
Hazelnut oil is a good choice for those who are looking for an oil with health benefits.
It’s high in antioxidants and has been shown to improve heart health.
Hazelnut oil is a bit more expensive than other oils but since it has a pleasant flavor, it’s especially suitable for baking when you need a high-quality coconut oil replacement.
You can replace coconut oil with hazelnut oil at a 1:1 ratio.
Hazelnut oil has a smoke point of 430°F (221°C) so it’s suitable for high heat cooking too!
Almond oil is another good choice for those who want to add some flavor to their food.
Almond oil has a nutty flavor but it’s healthy because it is a good source of vitamin E.
You can use the almond oil in a 1:1 ratio and it has a similar texture to hazelnut or hemp seed oil.
It works well in baked goods, salad dressings, and as a finishing oil.
If you don’t mind a bit of a toasted nut flavor in your food, then you can use almond oil in many ways.
Again, this substitute is a bit pricier than cheaper ones like olive oil.
You can find good deals on almond oil here.
Did you know that you can substitute apple sauce for coconut oil when baking? It seems like an odd ingredient to use initially but it actually works quite well.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to coconut oil, applesauce is a good choice.
Apple sauce is preferred by vegan bakers and unsweetened applesauce may be one of the best substitutes for coconut oil.
Applesauce contains a lot of water, so it can be used to replace the oil’s moisture, but it can also make baked goods spongy if there is too much moisture.
Use half applesauce and half an alternative oil (such as avocado oil) in place of one serving of coconut oil to balance out the texture.
Using applesauce in place of coconut oil will result in a lower fat content, but a higher carbohydrate content. Coconut oil’s consistency can be achieved with a mixture of half oil and half applesauce.
Coconut oil is a popular natural product with a variety of uses.
As you’ve seen, the best coconut oil substitutes are vegetable oils but don’t overlook the rich creamy quality of butter either.
You can easily use grapeseed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and more as a coconut oil replacement in a 1:1 ratio.
Keep in mind that each oil has its own unique flavor so you may want to experiment a bit to find the best substitute for your needs.
Now that you know some of the best coconut oil substitutes, put them to use the next time you’re in a pinch.
Also find out what are the best alternatives to coconut flour in case you don’t have any at hand
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.