When Do You Use Coconut Oil Versus Other Oils?

Recently, I was the lucky recipient of a sample* of coconut oil from Nutiva, and I wanted to ask you, dear readers, for your thoughts and advice.

Coconut oil is a striking, unusual oil. It’s more expensive than standard cooking oils (like olive oil, soybean oil or corn oil), but yet it's also superior in some ways. After all, regular oils are bland--they’re supposed to be!--and they just do their jobs: lubricating a cooking surface, acting as medium to sauté veggies and temper spices, and so on.

Coconut oil does these things too, but with some added bonuses. It’s solid at room temperature (it melts at about 76F/24C) so it makes cooking, handling and cleanup a lot easier. It has a relatively high smoke point of 350F/175C, higher than butter, although somewhat lower than some other typical cooking oils.

But the biggest bonus is of coconut oil is that it’s fragrant--temptingly and deliciously so. And yet therein lies a challenge: a fragrant oil will really help out some recipes... but perhaps hinder others.

And here’s where I'd like to ask my readers for their advice. What recipes would you use coconut oil with?

I can imagine many Asian and Indian recipes benefitting immensely with coconut oil. I've repeatedly made my Easy Fried Rice with coconut oil and it comes out better than ever. My Coconut Curry with Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas and Thai Tofu in Lime Sauce are obviously suitable recipes too. Even this week's delicious and easy Curried Chickpeas and Tofu would benefit from coconut oil instead of a plain-jane oil.

And yet, I’m not sure I want my next batch of fresh basil pesto to smell like coconuts, so I’d probably continue to use olive oil with that recipe. But then again, maybe coconut oil would be an intriguing idea here too?

Readers, what oils do you use for which types of cooking? Have you tried coconut oil, and what did you think? Share your thoughts below!

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* Other than receiving two small trial containers of coconut oil from Nutiva, I was not compensated for this post. I was also quite impressed with the product. As always, my opinions here at Casual Kitchen are my own.


Karin said...

Coconut oil can be very tasty in baked goods! I made some zucchini muffins the other night that were lightly scented with coconut - so delicious!

Tragic Sandwich said...

I use it when I'm cooking scrambled eggs.

AmandaLP said...

I use refined expeller pressed coconut oil for the vast majority of my cooking. I use the unrefined ("extra virgin") for anything with a coconut taste, like curries, sweet things, etc.

Unrefined Coconut Oil is THE BEST to pop popcorn in! Topped with more coconut oil and butter and sea salt, it is AWESOME!

Owlhaven said...

I hear ya! When I first bought coconut oil, I put it in everything (it's HEALTHY!) and then one of my sons said something about everything tasting the same, and I realized he was right-- the coconut flavor was overwhelming everything
Since then I scaled back. I use it for popcorn and some baked goods. I also like to use it when I make Coconut Chicken, which is basically homemade chicken nuggets breaded with flaked coconut. I've enjoyed it in homemade granola too. (search my blog for the recipes if you're interested.)

Bville Dan said...

We use coconut oil for most pan cooking now, and like the flavor in many things...fried rice, scrambled eggs, tofu, wok veggies, and others. I think that if you use a non-stick pan, you can use just a little so it doesn't have an overpowering flavor.

But can you please comment on anything you know about the trans-fat issue? Namely - I've read that many "healthy" oils with no trans fat when cold change into trans fat when heated during cooking, and that coco doesn't do this. What can you say about this? Thanks!

Unknown said...

I find it to be a great alternative to olive oil. It can be purchased at Costco at a very reasonable price. It is the same brand you sampled. And organic too!! Terpsma

Daniel said...

Love these ideas. I'll be using this with some scrambled eggs for sure, thanks Tragic Sandwich for the suggestion.

Bville Dan, unfortunately I'm out of my area of expertise. Anybody else have an informed view on Dan's question?

Glen, thanks for sharing that tip, much obliged!


Sarah W. said...

I would echo Amando: There are other brands and pressings of CO that don't leave the flavor in the oil. I use those for anything and save the EVCO for things I want the flavor in like the curries, veggies, baking, popcorn (yes!!), etc. I also love frying plantains in it. And my absolute favorite is melting some dark chocolate in it and pouring it over ice cream: instant Magic Shell!! :)

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

I've used it in some baked goods and in recipes when the taste would be a good accent but I'm not turning to it for everything...I LOVE olive oil too much.

I can discern the scent and taste so will be interesting to see what you think when you do those scrambled eggs...I personally can not imagine that!

Besides that...way too pricey to use more than every once in a while. I think I've seen it at Costco but have yet to want to pop $30 for oil!

Sally said...

Bville Dan: According to the Weston Price Foundation, the notion that heating oils can cause the formation of trans-fats is a myth. It simply can't be done.


Debra Schramm said...

I also use expeller pressed coconut oil because it has no flavor; therefore, it's the only cooking oil I use. I use olive & hemp oil for salad dressings.

AZMother said...

I have been also using the brand Costco sells for scrambled eggs [just a small amount is needed], sauteed mushrooms [divine], browning chicken breasts, meat or seafood for stir fries, searing meats for slow cooking or roasting and some baking that calls for oil. I have found that the flavour is barely noticeable if you use a dab. And a little goes a long way. I love the smell of anything cooking in it :)