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Cooking with Coconut Oil

By Alana Sugar, January 19, 2014  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

Coconut Oil Biscuits

Coconut Oil Biscuits

Coconut oil is all the rage these days. I like using it to replace butter or oil in my favorite recipes, like these tender Coconut Oil Biscuits or this wonderful Coconut Crumb Cake. The coconut has been an important food source for people living in the tropical areas of Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South America. It’s thought to promote and support good health and great cooking — and it’s good for your skin!   

Pressed from the fruit of the coconut palm tree, coconut oil is ideal for light fare and subtly flavored dishes. It gives a perfect hint of coconut flavor to ethnic dishes like Chicken and Vegetable Curry Soup. It’s divine in baked goods, desserts, confections and smoothies — try Raw Banana Ice Cream. Use it to cook veggies or drizzle over popcorn, for a delicious, can’t-quite-place-it flavor. In addition to eating coconut oil, you can also warm it up and use it as a massage oil, or rub it into your skin and hair for a radiant shine. 

Raw Banana Ice CreamIf you’ve never cooked with coconut oil, you’re in for a treat. Look for certified organic, either virgin (unrefined) or refined, depending on your recipe and your personal taste. Organic virgin coconut oil has a soft coconut aroma and more pronounced coconut flavor. If you don’t care for the taste or smell of coconut but you want the benefits of the oil, the organic refined version is a perfect choice. It stands up beautifully to high heat and doesn’t impart a coconut flavor or aroma. 

Give these tips and recipes a try:

  • Use coconut oil for tropically influenced recipes. Try Tropical Quinoa Pilaf with Coconut, Sweet Potatoes and Kale or Coconut-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
  • Melt over hot cooked grains, cereals and veggies.
  • Use organic refined coconut oil for sautéing, stir-frying and baking. If you prefer a stronger coconut flavor, try virgin or extra-virgin, but remember, it can burn more quickly, making it better for medium to low-heat cooking. 
  • If you love vegan and you love the tropics, then our Coconut Tofu with Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce is just right for you.
  • Coconut Roasted Sweet PotatoesStir a spoonful into hot cooked soups, stews and chilies.
  • Scramble eggs in coconut oil, or melt over hot, poached eggs.
  • Use in bread baking or for making crackers like these Seeded Coconut Crackers.
  • Stir or cook into curry dishes.
  • Make potato or Sweet Potato Pancakes cooked in coconut oil.
  • Spread over French toast, whole grain toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles. 
  • Sauté favorite veggies in coconut oil, add cooked legumes (great time to use your canned beans or lentils!) and spices for a quick, delicious meal. 
  • Rub a chicken with coconut oil and seasonings before roasting. 
  • Pan-fry fish in coconut oil. Try Seared Tuna with Cumin or Seared Tuna Steaks with Coconut, Corn and Cilantro.  
  • Cook bananas in coconut oil with nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. 
  • Make hot cocoa and stir in a spoonful of coconut oil.
  • Upgrade fried chicken with these crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders cooked in coconut oil.
  • Try it as body lotion, a hair conditioner, to soften nail cuticles and as a moisturizer for your face. 

Do you use coconut oil? Got a recipe or great tip? Let me know. 

Category: Food & Recipes




Morgan says ...
This was a great post as I have been curious about using coconut oil but didn't really know where to start. Are there nutritional benefits associated with the switch to coconut oil or is it really used for a change in flavor? Thanks!
01/20/2014 8:20:14 AM CST
marty says ...
01/20/2014 1:37:47 PM CST
Lynn Doherty says ...
My husband and Granddaughter are in LOVE with your berry scones!! I thought I saw a cookbook on Amazon that has recipes from Whole Foods Market, do you sell the book at the store and is the scone recipe in the book? Thanks for any information you have. Lynn
01/23/2014 10:48:01 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MORGAN - There are some folks that choose coconut oil for added health benefits. I have not been able to tell any flavor differences but everyone's palette is different!
01/24/2014 2:28:50 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LYNN - Our cookbooks vary between stores. I have not heard of one selling on Amazon. You can always check with your local store to see what books they have in stock!
01/24/2014 2:30:28 PM CST
susan says ...
We've been using coconut oil for about a year I would guess - we buy it by the gallon and I just bought a 5-gallon pail. I put it in just about anything hot - hot cereal, coffee, casseroles, soups.... I bake with it, grease my crockpot and pans with it, use it on my face I've begun using it on my shoulder which I've injured, hoping it will heal whatever is injured. We make chocolate candy with it using raw chocolate, raw honey or maple syrup and fruits and nuts... the possibilities are endless! We don't notice the taste, but I greased a pan one day and took the item to work and someone who is allergic to coconut picked up on it right away. It has also been said to help the brain - people with Alzheimers, Parkinsons, those types of things. We have a family memeber that has some issues and when they take the coconut oil in adequate amounts I think I can tell a difference in them. There are numerous health benefits.
01/25/2014 10:35:36 AM CST
MARIAN says ...
i needed this info. i always thought coconut oil was a bad oil. now i will try it. thanks a lot. i appreciate you.
01/26/2014 5:03:34 PM CST
les wilson says ...
great cooking ideas for using coconut oil. whole foods needs to do a cooking class on this subjest
01/29/2014 1:47:44 PM CST
Jennie says ...
These recipes all look good. I tried the sweet potatoes very good. I have been making sweets in general but brownies specifically are fabulous with coconut oil. I get the best comments from friends and family. They love it but can't quite figure it out. Coconut oil in nutty coconut oatmeal is wonderful too.
01/29/2014 1:50:13 PM CST
Amy says ...
I absolutely adore coconut oil and think it's so underused in cooking. Thanks for the fantastic post!
01/29/2014 1:56:47 PM CST
Mary W says ...
More coconut (oil, flour, etc) related recipes please--especially baking....thanks for all you do!
01/29/2014 1:58:21 PM CST
Sandy says ...
I'm so happy to see this article. I just bought a jar of organic coconut oil to use in a baking recipe I found. I was surprised to see that the "oil" is a solid in the jar. Are you supposed to heat it to make it liquid before adding to recipes?
01/29/2014 3:03:12 PM CST
Michele says ...
Im not really sure how to substitute the amount of coconut oil in recipes. IF I choose to use it instead of regular oil, do you use the same amount? What else would I use it in place of? I have a container of it in my closet for 6 months and still have not opened it. I know I can cook with it in pretty much everything, but when I follow recipes I don't know how to substitute.
01/29/2014 3:32:25 PM CST
Susan says ...
Is it better to use in solid form and melt or liquid form? If solid form, what is the best way to liquefy it? Thank you.
01/29/2014 4:42:31 PM CST
Joyce says ...
Thanks so much for the tutorial on Coconut oil. I have been wanting to try it, but was unsure of ways to use it. Now I'm getting it and trying some of your suggestions.
01/29/2014 4:49:28 PM CST
Florine Kreeb says ...
Thanks for the tips. I saw the coconut oil at Whole Foods in Charlotte but wasn't sure what to do with it. Now, I am definitely going to buy some and try it out.
01/29/2014 5:26:32 PM CST
Sherrel Jones says ...
I would like to know where it ranks compared to canola oil and olive oil and the other nut oils when heated and in healthy cooking. What is its flash point? Why is it healthy? If a person breaks out when coconut oil is in a lotion does that mean they could be allergic to coconut oil?
01/29/2014 6:27:30 PM CST
Kazetta King says ...
excellent information
01/29/2014 9:01:05 PM CST
Darlene says ...
Susan-thank you for so much good info. You talked about using coconut oil for pain...I put peppermint essential drops in my melted coconut oil and put it on my painful areas. I melt about a 1/4 cup coconut oil in the microwave and add 7 drops of peppermint oil, then, use a wash cloth to soak it up and rub onto my pain when I go to bed. Not only does it feel ever so good, it smells so nice, too.
01/29/2014 9:19:58 PM CST
Phil Burgio says ...
I blend a stick of butter and 1/4 coconut oil for a very good butter spread.
01/29/2014 11:39:51 PM CST
Susan Hemann says ...
I am on Weight Watchers and coconut oil is WW friendly, if you don't go over board. Could you elaborate on the uses for your body and hair?
01/30/2014 6:01:30 AM CST
Jonna says ...
I can't wait to try all of these recipes! I use coconut oil for my skin and hair, and for some cooking. I use it as a substitute for butter or oil in a few recipes and to make pancakes. I can't wait to try the recipes in this article and put them on my blog!
01/30/2014 7:40:41 AM CST
Ann says ...
Can solid coconut butter be used like coconut oil? It looks like a spread to replace butter or margarine. I have Artisana brand 100% Organic Coconut Butter. Can I use it like you are describing above? Thanks.
01/30/2014 9:10:47 AM CST
Stephanie says ...
I love coconut oil, but right now I mainly use it as a cooking oil. I am curious on how to use it as a butter substitute in baking. Does it require coconut milk and coconut oil like in the biscuits and cake recipes in this article? Is there a conversion to try in a classic baking recipe that could make it healthier? Thanks for the info!
01/30/2014 9:34:52 AM CST
Christy says ...
Unrefined coconut oil also works great as an all-natural solution for diaper rash.
01/30/2014 10:23:05 AM CST