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What Are Some Good Ways to Cook With Coconut Oil?

Oct 5 2020
3 min read
close-up of jar of coconut oil

Q: I keep hearing that coconut oil is good for me. How can I use it in my cooking?

A: Given its origin, coconut oil may sound like something that is most easily incorporated into some desserts. But coconut oil actually has many uses that can bring out its unique flavor and be beneficial to the health factor of your recipe and dish. This ingredient is very versatile.

Coconut oil is rich in a saturated fatty acid called lauric acid, so it is readily used for energy instead of stored as fat in the body. Researchers have also found that coconut oil has some antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and hydrating properties, and is a rich source of certain polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies pointing to coconut oil’s ability to ward off beta-amyloid production in the brain, which may help thwart or improve dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Still, coconut oil is calorie-rich, like any fat, so it’s best to use it in moderation. And remember that an array of healthy fats conveys the most health benefits.

Here are some of our favorite ways to use coconut oil. Some involve using it as a substitute for butter or shortening because it is solid at room temperature. Some take advantage of coconut oil’s tropical flavor or the fact that it can be heated to high temperatures without changing its nutrient profile. Others are just unique ways to change up common meals.

(We suggest using extra virgin or virgin organic coconut oil whenever possible.)

At Breakfast

  • Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your favorite smoothie recipe.
  • Stir a spoonful into hot oatmeal or other hot cereal.
  • Make hot cocoa with skim milk, almond milk or coconut milk and stir in a spoonful of coconut oil.
  • Stir a spoonful into hot herbal tea, cider or coffee.
  • Use coconut oil instead of butter in our simple recipe for Biscuits, or use it as the fat in muffin or quick bread recipes.

For Quick Meals or Snacks

  • Stir a spoonful into a bowl of hot soup.
  • Use a light spread of coconut oil when making a grilled sandwich.
  • Substitute coconut oil for butter when making bars, cookies or brownies.

At Dinner

  • Use coconut oil to sauté the onions and garlic for any recipe. The flavors are perfect together in a curry dish, a meal that uses coconut milk, or dishes based on sweet vegetables like winter squash or carrots.
  • Add a spoonful of coconut oil to the water while cooking rice. Finish off with another spoonful before serving.
  • Roast vegetables or new potatoes in coconut oil.
  • Use a little coconut oil to sauté fish, shrimp or chicken breasts, or in your stir-fry.

Bon appétit!