The Ultimate Guide to Coconut Oil Substitutes: How to Use Them and Why

Coconut oil has long been hailed as a versatile and healthful ingredient in cooking, skincare, and more. However, there are times when you may find yourself in need of a coconut oil substitute. Whether it’s due to allergies, dietary preferences, or simply running out of this tropical oil, fear not! In this article, we will look into various coconut oil substitutes, explain how to use them effectively, and provide insights into the reasons behind choosing each alternative.

Understanding Coconut Oil

Before we look into the substitutes, it is essential to understand the properties and uses of coconut oil. Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of coconuts and is rich in saturated fats, particularly medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs make it ideal for various purposes including cooking, baking, skincare and haircare.

Why Seek Substitutes?

Dietary Restrictions and Allergies

Some individuals may have allergies to coconut or follow dietary plans that exclude saturated fats. In such cases, finding a suitable substitute is important for maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding allergic reactions.

Flavor Preferences

Coconut oil has a distinct flavor and aroma that might not always complement the dish you’re preparing. Substitutes can help achieve the desired taste without overpowering other ingredients.

Ethical and Environmental Concerns

In light of environmental and ethical considerations, some people prefer to avoid coconut oil due to concerns over it’s production and sustainability. Choosing alternatives can align better with their values.

Coconut Oil Substitutes

Now, let’s explore various coconut oil substitutes and their applications:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy alternative rich in mono-unsaturated fats. It is suitable for sauteing, frying and baking. When substituting, use it in a 1:1 ratio with coconut oil.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil boasts a high smoke point and a neutral flavor profile, making it ideal for frying and high heat cooking. Replace coconut oil with avocado oil in a 1:1 ratio.

Butter or Ghee

For baking and sauteing, consider using butter or ghee. While these contain saturated fats, they offer a unique flavor profile that can enhance certain recipes.

Nut Butters

Nut butters like almond or peanut butter can replace coconut oil in baking, adding richness and nutty flavor. Use a 1:1 ratio, but be mindful of allergies.


In vegan baking, applesauce is an excellent substitute for coconut oil. Use it in a 1:1 ratio for moisture and a touch of sweetness.

Vegetable or Canola Oil

Both vegetable and canola oils are neutral in flavor and suitable for frying and baking. Use them in a 1:1 ratio with coconut oil.

Coconut Milk

If you’re after the coconut flavor rather than the oil’s consistency, you can go for coconut milk. Use it in recipes that require creaminess and a hint of coconut flavor.

How to Use Coconut Oil Substitutes

Using coconut oil substitutes effectively involves considering the unique properties of each substitute:

Cooking and Baking

When substituting in recipes, pay attention to the substitute’s smoke point, flavor profile, and viscosity. Adjust quantities as needed to achieve the desired result.


Many coconut oil substitutes are excellent for skincare too. For example, olive oil can be used as a makeup remover or moisturizer, while shea butter is an excellent choice for body lotions.


For hair masks and treatments, nut oils like almond or argan oil can replace coconut oil. Apply as needed to nourish and condition your hair.

Health Considerations

It is important to note that while coconut oil has been praised for it’s potential health benefits such as improving cholesterol levels, some substitutes may offer unique advantages. For instance, olive oil is linked to heart health, while avocado oil is rich in antioxidants.

Sustainability and Ethics

If you are considering substitutes due to ethical or environmental concerns, research the production practices of each substitute. Look for sustainably sourced options and support brands committed to responsible sourcing.


Coconut oil substitutes offer a world of possibilities for cooking, baking, skincare, and more. Whether you are accommodating dietary restrictions, seeking unique flavors, or making ethical choices, there is a suitable substitute for every need. By understanding the properties of various substitutes and their applications, you can confidently explore new culinary horizons and align your choices with your values. So go ahead, experiment with these alternatives, and unlock a world of delicious possibilities.