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Can Coconut Oil Stand High Heat? Or Should You Get It Out the Kitchen?

August 7, 2021

Only refined coconut oil can stand the heat that is required of high heat cooking.

As an increasing number of my clients have started to cook with coconut oil, many have complained about smoking during the process. This has led them to ask me can coconut oil stand high heat. As I have been using coconut oil for my food for quite a while, I had an answer.

In this post you will be able to discover how well coconut oil can hold up against heat and why this is. Let’s begin!

What is High Heat in Cooking?

The first thing that you need to understand is what high heat actually means. In the world of cooking, high heat is defined as between 400°F and 600°F.

There are a few different ways to use high heat. The first is to thicken sauces by forcing liquids to evaporate. You can also sauté vegetables and sear meats more quickly at this temperature.

This means that oils used for high heat cooking have to have smoke points above that of reached during the cooking process. Here is why not all coconut oils fit this bill…

sautéing vegetables

How Hot is Too Hot for Coconut Oil?

You probably already know what a smoke point is, but let’s go through it so that you get a better understanding of how coconut oil functions in high heat. As the name suggests, smoke point refers to the point which the oil begins to smoke and burn.

This temperature is important, because when cooking with any kind of oil, you want to ensure that you stay well below this point. If the oil in your pan reaches its smoking point, it will lend a burnt, acrid taste to the food. Not to mention, it also begins to release some harmful components in the smoke.

So, what is coconut oil’s smoke point and why aren’t all types of coconut oil equally as good for high heat cooking?

Well, as you are aware, there are two main types of coconut oil – unrefined and refined coconut oil. The differences in their manufacturing process and components mean that these two oils have two separate smoke points.

Unrefined coconut oil tops out at 350°F, while refined coconut oil only begins to start smoking above 400°F. This means that while unrefined oil can’t be used in high heat cooking, refined coconut oil can be.

Even then, you should be mindful of the temperatures that you are cooking at. If you want to sear your food at really high temperatures, then even refined coconut oil may not do the trick. It is a good idea to run a test beforehand.

If the coconut oil begins to smoke before it reaches the ideal temperature for your cooking process, then it is a good idea to opt for another cooking oil.

Related Reading
Here's Your Guide to Find the Best Coconut Oils for Cooking

Is It Bad to Heat Coconut Oil to Too High Temperatures?

Yes, it is best to stay below the smoke point of coconut oil for health and safety reasons.

When coconut oil begins to smoke, it can release toxic and carcinogenic substances in the smoke. This is most often seen with refined coconut oil. Now, occasionally inhaling or consuming these components won’t do you too much harm.

However, if this happens too often, it may increase your likelihood of developing certain diseases.

You should also be aware that the potency of these components can increase if you re-use the coconut oil after bringing it to its smoking point. So, in case your coconut oil did smoke in the pan, make sure to discard it immediately afterwards.

deep frying seafood with oil

Can You Use Coconut Oil for Deep Frying?

OK, so you may not always be able to sauté or sear with coconut oil, but can you deep fry with it?

The answer to this would be yes! You typically deep fry foods at around 350°F and 375°F. This means that you will be able to easily use refined coconut oil for this process.

Once again, unrefined coconut oil isn’t a good option as the temperature needed to deep fry foods is a little too close to its smoking point. Thus, you will have to make an unnecessary effort to get a better handle on the temperature of the oil in the pan.

Still, always keep an eye on the temperature. You can use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the oil continuously. As long as you stay well below 400°F, you will be able to ensure that your food comes out tasting great.

Can You Bake with Coconut Oil?

Now, you may be wondering about baking. After all, most foods have to be baked at pretty high temperatures – sometimes higher than the smoking point of coconut oil. Still, a lot of recipes will let you use coconut oil in their baking recipes. How can you be certain that the oil will hold up?

Well, this has to do with the specific conditions that baking inside of an oven creates. First of all, there is a good chance that your coconut oil is mixed with other liquids and ingredients. Thus, there are other components that can absorb and disrupt the overall temperature.

There is also the fact that your food isn’t actually going to reach the temperature that is mentioned on the dial of your oven. Due to this, it is quite safe for you to use coconut oil in your baking. It is particularly good when used in baked goods such as cakes, breads, and buns.   

From this post you now know that coconut oil isn’t always good for high heat cooking. Refined coconut oil does stand a better chance than unrefined oil, but even it has its limits. The good news, though, is that coconut oil can still be used for deep frying and baking.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you have to check out our Pinterest page. We have a lot of other posts on the various physical characteristics of coconut oil and how to use it best.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Riya Borah
Nutritionist Educator | Riya Borah is a nutritionist educator and her job involves guiding people towards a healthier lifestyle. Growing up in India, Riya was aware of just how much coconut was used on a daily basis. This encouraged her to research the properties of this versatile drupe. It opened her eyes to both the limitation and possibilities of coconut. Her aim is to now educate as many people as possible about the best ways to utilize coconut in their own lives.
An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.
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