8 Best Coconut Oil Substitutes for Cooking

Need a last-minute coconut oil cooking substitute? These eight best ingredient alternatives will get you out of trouble.

best coconut oil substitutes

Coconut oil has taken the worlds of healthy food, cooking, and even cosmetics by storm. This superfood that comes from the meat of coconut fruit is a healthy fat that forms the base for delicious dishes and can even help your hair and skin.

Coconut oil is common in tropical regions around the world, including South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. It looks like a milky solid during cooler temperatures but melts into a thick, viscous liquid when heated. It has many culinary uses, including as the base for curries, as part of a marinade for meats, or even to add a nutty flavor to bakes. Traditionally, it is used to make hair smoother and softer.

However, coconut oil is not for everyone. The high levels of saturated fats are unhealthy for some people and others do not like the taste, so you may need to find a substitution. 

The Short Answer

The best substitute for coconut oil depends on the purposes that you were planning on using it for. In baking, plain butter works best thanks to its ability to interact with other ingredients. For frying, a neutral oil such as sunflower oil can replace coconut oil without changing the dish’s taste.

coconut oil on blue wooden table

Hemp Seed Oil

This oil can also be referred to as hemp oil and has several health benefits. This is one of the reasons why it is a front runner for substituting it in recipes that call for cooking oil. But don’t worry; there is no risk of intoxication when using hemp seed oil.

Hemp seed oil is taken from the seeds of the cannabis Sativa plant and does not have the intoxicating effect. It makes a good coconut oil substitute because it can withstand heat. It has a low smoke point, which makes it great for light cooking.

Its light nature makes it usable for salad dressings. Just like coconut oil, it is beneficial for the skin. It is also rich in fatty acids. Use it in equal amounts as you would coconut oil.

Grapeseed Oil

As you can imagine, this oil is taken from grape seeds. It is vegetable oil, so it’s an excellent substitute for vegans particularly. It’s a healthy substitute for most vegetable oils. It is high in Omega 4 fatty acids.

For cooking, make sure you get the cold-pressed grapeseed oil. It has a high smoking point, and as such, it is pretty versatile. You can use it for salad dressings, as well as roasting. You can also use it for baking.

Its versatility makes it a good substitute for coconut oil. For example, you can use equal amounts of grapeseed oil as you would coconut oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is one of the more common substitutes, and it is more readily available. Olive oil is from the olive plant. However, extra virgin olive oil is considered untouched and has fewer chemicals. As a result, it has a lot of health benefits; it contains numerous nutrients.

It makes a good coconut oil substitute because it is packed full of nutrients and easier to find. In addition, it can be used in equal amounts. The downside of using olive oil is that it has a more robust flavor, so it is not well suited for baking.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower seed oil is taken from sunflower seeds. It has a high smoke point and tastes a bit on the nutty side. The high smoke point makes it a good substitute, especially when frying, sautéing, and baking.

Sunflower seed oil is rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that are good for your health. You can use it in equal amounts when you substitute it in a recipe that requires coconut oil.

Almond Oil

Almond oil is derived from almonds. Even though it’s a bit on the pricey side, it makes a good substitute for coconut oil, mainly because of its high smoking point. It has a robust nutty flavor, which means you will need to make sure it doesn’t clash with your recipe. If you think it will, use it sparingly and add small amounts at a time.

It is versatile and can be used for different cooking methods, like high heat frying and baking. You can use equal amounts when you use it in place of coconut oil.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is extracted from the highly nutritious avocado fruit. It makes a good substitute for coconut oil, as it has a high smoking point. It also has a mild taste, so it blends well with many recipes.

Its versatility makes it easier to slip past, unnoticed. It has a milder taste than coconut oil. To replace coconut oil with avocado oil, you may use equal amounts.

Neem Oil

This is a vegetable pressed oil. It is popular in India primarily because of its numerous health benefits. Just like coconut oil, it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s also good for your skin.

However, Neem oil has a bitter taste, and this might not be the best when too much is added. When you use it as a substitute, it helps to add a small amount at first and increase as needed. This way, you won’t end up with a bitter dish, all in the name of using neem oil as a substitute for coconut oil.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is known as an ingredient in many hair and skin products. However, it can also be used for cooking. It has a good amount of nutrients and is a good substitute for coconut oil.

However, it is essential that you use the unrefined version when using shea butter for cooking. Check the labels before you buy. To use shea butter in place of coconut oil, use equal amounts. You can then adjust this amount to match the taste that you are looking for.