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Everything You Need to Know to Substitute Coconut Oil for Butter

Want to substitute coconut oil for butter? Well, this post will outline what kind of ratio to rely on for recipes as well as what to expect when you swap out butter. Here is a comprehensive guide for making the switch!

Substituting Coconut Oil for Butter in Cooking

When deciding whether a particular fat or oil is good for frying or sautéing food, you have to think about the smoke point. This is the point at which oil begins to well, smoke. Past this point, fats and oils begin to break down to produce a bitter smell and aroma that can affect the taste of the food.

Therefore, it is important to select a fat or oil with a higher smoking point, as it allows you to fry or cook your food more effectively. The smoke point of butter is 350°F (175°C). The good news is that coconut oil has the same smoke point! Due to this, there will be no issue for substituting coconut oil for butter in this regard.

Man pouring oil to the cooking pan

Bridging the Taste Gap

Of course, one of the reasons that you fry or cook foods in butter is to help infuse your dishes with that delicious buttery taste. Now, coconut oil has its own flavor and it can impart this flavor to the foods that you are cooking. If you don’t mind the smell and taste of coconut oil, then this isn’t a problem. In case you do, you can try some of the suggestions below…

If you would prefer an oil with a neutral flavor, then you may want to consider a refined coconut oil. This type of coconut oil has been processed, stripping it of most of its smell and flavor. As such, the natural flavors of the food that you are cooking in will not be impacted in any way.

You should be aware that when refined oil is processed some nutrients are removed as well. Due to this, it will not be as good for as unrefined coconut oil.

Don’t mind this? Then try Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil for frying. It is completely flavorless and even stays liquid at room temperature, removing the need to melt the oil first. As an added bonus, the oil is still on the healthy side as it does contain some MCT, an important nutrient of coconut oil.

If you are after that butter flavor, then there are still some options available to you. Some coconut oils have been flavored to mimic butter. As you can imagine, the flavor isn’t always on point, but it can be a suitable flavor substitute.

One of the best options here is the Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil with Butter Flavor. Since it doesn’t contain any dairy ingredients at all, this is a good choice for vegans. Although refined, the oil has been extracted in such a way that it has maintained a high lauric acid and MCT percentage.

Can Coconut Oil Replace Butter in Baking?

Yes, many people use coconut oil instead of butter when baking. It is especially popular among vegan bakers or those who are trying to cut out dairy. You can make this swap for cookies, breads, cakes, pie crusts, and other baked goods.

However, there are some differences to anticipate with coconut oil vs. butter in baking. For instance, you have to be aware of ratios, how one ingredient can act differently than the other and more. You can find all the details about this below…

Person taking a tray of muffins from the oven

Baking With Coconut Oil Instead of Butter

Here are the top things to be aware of:

Butter to Coconut Oil Ratio

The butter to coconut oil ratio is 1:1. This means that you can use the same amount of coconut oil as the instructions recommend for butter. If the recipe calls for one cup of butter, then you should use one cup of coconut oil.

Even though there aren’t changes in the measurements doesn’t mean that your recipe will come out precisely the same. This is because butter has a higher liquid content than coconut oil which is all fat. As such, you can expect differences in texture.

This is especially notable when you substitute coconut oil for butter in cookies. Here, you can expect a crumblier cookie. The good news, though, is that if you make breads or cakes using coconut oil, it is unlikely that you will notice any difference.

Maintaining the Same Texture

As you know, butter can be used in cold, softened, or liquefied form in baking. Make sure that the coconut oil matches the texture mentioned in the recipe.

For instance, for cookies you may require softened butter. If your kitchen is cold enough, you can simply scoop out the solid coconut oil to use in the recipe. Otherwise, you may want to place the coconut oil in the refrigerator until it is solid, but not too hard.

If you are using the coconut oil for a pie crust, though, you may realize that you will require the oil to be quite solid. This means that you should leave it in the refrigerator for longer. This will make it easier for the pie crust to maintain its structure.

In case it is a warm day or you are baking in a hot kitchen, you will need to keep the pie crust in a cooler location. This will prevent the coconut oil from melting and ruining the structure. Unless indicated that you should do so, don’t place the pie crust in the refrigerator.

If the pie crust is too cold, it may not bake the same way. This could either result in a longer baking period or the resulting crust may have an odd structure or texture. Therefore, it is best not to risk it.

For melted butter, you can either use refined coconut or refined coconut oil that has been melted. There are a few different ways that you can melt the oil. You can put it in a pan and gently heat it until it just begins to melt.

You can also microwave the oil a heatproof bowl. However, make sure to only heat for a few seconds at a time. Then, take it out, stir the coconut oil. Do this until the oil just begins to melt. The liquefied oil will melt the rest of the solid portions.

Using Coconut Oil in Buttercream Frosting

If you would like to omit butter from buttercream frosting, then you can use coconut oil instead. The coconut oil should be solid, but not hard. You will need to cream it with sugar first before mixing in the other ingredients as needed.

It is important to remember that coconut oil can melt very easily. As a result, the frosting will need to remain refrigerated at all times. And, once the cake or cupcakes have been frosted, they must be refrigerated until they are meant to be eaten.

You may not want to use this frosting for any baked goods that have to be kept out in the heat for too long. It is definitely a recipe that is best reserved for cooler months.

Lady making dough for pastries

Tips for Using Coconut Oil in Baking

Here are a few tips for using coconut oil in baking recipes:

Be Mindful of the Temperature

The main thing to keep in mind about coconut oil is how quickly it can turn from a liquid to a solid and vice versa. This is especially significant when you need the oil to be a bit more solid. Leaving your coconut oil in a slightly warm kitchen or even next to a warm appliance is often enough to melt small amounts.

At the same time, don’t place the oil in the refrigerator unless it needs to be really solid. Instead, leave it in a cool room so that it can maintain its natural state.

Use Room Temperature Ingredients

If you are using any ingredients that have been previously refrigerated, make sure to take them out of the refrigerator and leave them out on the counter. Only use them in the recipe with the coconut oil once they have reached room temperature.

As mentioned above, it doesn’t take much for coconut oil to change form. And, if you use it with too-cold ingredients, then it is going to take on a more solid form and will not be as easy to mix into a batter. In turn, this can change up the structure of the batter and alter how the baked goods turn out.

Consider the Addition of the Coconut Flavor

It should be noted that not all coconut oils have a strong coconut taste – it can change from one brand to the next. Still, you should think about what kind of impact a coconut flavor will have on your baked goods. If you are making something that is infused with coconut essence, then this will not be a problem.

In case you want another flavor to be dominant, though, it is a good idea to choose an oil that imparts no flavor at all. As previously stated, refined coconut oils are best for this. Or, you could have a taste test with unrefined oils to find out which one fits the bill.  

This is a comprehensive list of how to substitute coconut oil for butter. You should know be able to use it for cooking, frying, baking, and more!

Enjoyed this post? Then check out the other posts on our Pinterest page to find lots of useful information on how to use coconut oil in your cooking.

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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