6 Best Healthy Substitutes For Coconut Oil In Baking And Frying

Over the past decade, coconut oil has been more and more praised not only for its flavor but also for its ‘magical’ health advantages. There are, however, many people disagreeing about its actual healthiness.

While coconut oil has been popular as a vital element in ketogenic or paleo diets, and popular baking and cooking ingredient, medical practitioners have been wary about endorsing its usage.

The reason is that coconut oil is still high in saturated fat which is bad for us as they contribute to the increase of our cholesterol levels, in particular LDL (also known as “bad” cholesterol).

coconut oil vs other oils for baking

To be more precise, coconut oil has the highest content of saturated fat than any other cooking oil we are using at home.

Alongside palm kernel oil, which is used by big fast-food chains for deep frying food thanks to its low price – I wonder why that is! – it comes with an overwhelming 11.8 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon!

Now, these numbers might not say much to you, but once you see what the alternatives are to cooking with coconut oil and how much-saturated fat they have, you will be just as surprised as I was when I first found out about it.

But all that said, I still use quite a lot of coconut oil in my vegan baking recipes because coconut oil can be easily kept in a solid-state, which can be really useful if your vegan baking recipe needs a fat that has a similar texture to butter.

making a pie crust with coconut oil

If you are making a pie crust or want something to be really crispy or create flaky layers then solid, chilled coconut oil is quite a perfect vegan substitute for that.

But, without further ado, let’s have a look at the 6 best healthy substitutes for coconut oil in baking and easy conversion.

Closest Alternative

1. Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil healthy substitutes for coconut oil in baking

Avocado oil is a great choice. It is raw like extra virgin olive oil but has a higher smoking point up to 500°F or (260°C). Oil smoke point is the point at which oil starts to burn and smoke, which means it can be used for cooking at a higher temperature and is great for frying.

It does not have much flavor, which makes it a good choice for baking recipes as well as for general cooking. It’s just creamy, like an avocado!

In fact, avocado oil can tolerate higher temperatures better than most popular cooking fats, such as canola oil, corn oil, peanut oil, and coconut oil which has a smoke point of 350°F or (177°C). This high smoke point means it is ideal for frying, baking, barbecuing and grilling.

Moreover, avocado oil is a heart-healthy oil, high in oleic acid, which is a type of unsaturated fat. It contains vitamin E, and also helps the body absorb other fat-soluble vitamins.

Choosing avocado oil for your cooking means that you are choosing one of the best oil sources of monounsaturated fat that has been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol.

Coconut Oil to Avocado Oil Conversion in Baking

If you want to use avocado oil instead of coconut oil when you cook or bake something, use it in a 1:1 ratio.

As I said, its high smoking point makes it ideal for frying too, so don’t hesitate to use that for your next deep-fried meal.

Pros

  • High smoking point.
  • High in oleic acid.
  • Great for frying and baking.
  • A great addition to salad dressings and marinades, thanks to its mild taste.

Cons

  • If you don’t like the taste of an avocado, it might not be the one for you.
  • Best for Cakes.

Best For Desserts

2. Butter

Butter

What butter does in baking is to give baked goods a smooth, velvety, rich flavor plus it helps baked goods rise really well.

However, butter has been another one of those controversial cooking ingredient, with the headlines changing from one year to the next.

It is true that, when used in excess amounts, butter can be bad for your overall health… but that is the case with most fats and foods that are primarily fat sources.

When consumed in moderation, butter contains several essential elements that can contribute positively to all diets.

Nevertheless, butter does have a high content of saturated fat, which ranges from 6 to 8 grams per tablespoon, depending on the brand.

The good news is that you can always find a low-fat alternative in any supermarket, so why not get a 30% less fat buttery spread instead of the regular one?

It will taste just as great and save you from the extra saturated fat content and those extra calories!

Coconut Oil to Butter Conversion in Baking

When substituting coconut oil with butter to bake cakes or cookies use can replace it in a 1:1 ratio.

If you want to use butter instead of coconut oil to fry or sauté something, you should use clarified butter instead of regular butter as regular butter has a very low smoke point and it will start to some quite easily when frying at a high temperature.

Use melted butter instead of melted coconut oil in recipes that call for it. If a recipe asks for cold coconut oil, use the equivalent amount of cold butter.

Pros

  • Gives a smooth, creamy flavor and crispy or flaky texture.
  • Great for baking cookies, shortbread, butter cake or crumble topping.
  • Adds moister to baked goods.
  • Aids in leavening.

Cons

  • Regular butter has a high content of saturated fat
  • If not clarified, will start to smoke easily at high temperatures.
  • Not suitable for vegans.

Best Mild Taste

3. Canola Oil

Canola Oil

As its name suggests, canola oil is produced by crushed rapeseeds. It is one of the most flavorless oils that has been hailed as one of the best ones for our cardiovascular health.

That is because canola oil contains the lowest amount of saturated fat than most other oils, meaning that it can help people with lowering their cholesterol.

With just 0.9 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, it has become a dietary trend that is considered by many to be the runner-up on the list of best oils, only to be defeated by olive oil.

Canola oil is a valuable source of omega-3 essential fatty acid linolenic acid, which can help to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Canola oil has a high smoke point of 400-450°F which equals 200-230°C, making it suitable for frying, cooking in high heat, and preparing meals that are deep-fried, shallow-fried, and grilled, stir-fried, and even baked.

However, almost all commercial canola oils are processed using hexane, which is a petroleum derivative. The whole process is done at high temperatures, which can lead to the degeneration of omega fats.

As a result, while canola oil is a great alternative to coconut oil when cooking at home, it might not be the best when you’re eating out as you can never be sure what oil was used for cooking your meal.

So, if you can find a trusted local source supplying raw, unprocessed canola oil, that is the best option to go for!

Coconut Oil to Canola Oil Conversion in Baking

Same as the rest of the oils in our list so far, it can be used in a 1:1 ratio when replacing coconut oil.

Pros

  • It has omega-6 fatty acids for healthy growth.
  • Had a very neutral taste.
  • Contains vitamins E and K.

Cons

  • Commercial canola oils are highly processed, which can lead to the degeneration of omega fats.

Best For Low Fat Diet

4. Apple Sauce

Apple Sauce

Unsweetened applesauce is an excellent oil alternative in baked products such as cupcakes, cakes, and even bread because it keeps the dough moist and saves you from that high-calorie fat content.

Applesauce’s fat content is close to zero since apples are mostly a source of carbs. This makes it perfect for low-fat baking, Also, if you follow a vegan diet and want to substitute butter, apple sauce is a good option.

To use an apple sauce that is as ‘clean’ as possible, I’d suggest you make it yourselves, rather than buying it ready-made as most applesauce on the market have a lot of added sugar in them, which you may not really need in your baking recipe as apples have enough natural sugar in them.

In addition to that, it is quite simple and easy to make your own apple sauce. All you need is some apples cut into pieces and then boiled for about 5 minutes or as long as they need to soften before you blend them in a blender or a food processor.

Apples add dietary fibers to your recipe and instead of using coconut oil or butter or any other fat, it will also help you significantly reduce the fat content and overall calories in foods that need to be cooked.

Especially when it comes to cakes and other baked goods that already have a high calorific content, this is a great way to cheat your way to an extra slice!

Coconut Oil to Apple Sauce Conversion in Baking

When cooking with applesauce instead of coconut oil or any other fat, simply use a 1:1 ratio to replace one with the other, so if your recipe asks for 2 cups of coconut oil, simply substitute it with 2 cups of applesauce.

Pros

  • The fat content is close to zero.
  • It is sweet by itself so you can lower the amount of sugar you add to your recipes.
  • Applesauce is great to add moisture to cakes.
  • It tastes great.

Cons

  • Can’t be used for frying food.
  • Could make baked goods heavier and chewier.

Best For Health

5. Olive Oil

Olive Oil

The cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil has such a full and fresh taste, and it is the ideal substitute for coconut oil and any other oil in your baking recipes giving your baked good dept and beautiful texture.

Even when we want to enjoy a fried delicacy, extra light olive oil is again the healthiest and most durable oil that we can use.

For frying, extra light olive oil can withstand higher temperatures than cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Even at high temperatures, it handles well without losing its properties and nutrients, i.e. it has a higher smoking point that reaches up to 410°F/ 210°C. It, therefore, produces far fewer and less harmful substances.

In addition to that, the polyphenols, and Vitamin E it contains are powerful antioxidants. So, if we choose frying as a way of cooking, it is the ideal oil.

Finally, many sweets and pastries, especially ethnic traditional ones like baklava, must be made with olive oil, while others that ask for coconut oil can also easily be replaced with extra virgin olive oil and have a delicate, fruity taste whilst retaining their moisture.

However, just like with canola oil, you must be careful when buying olive oil. The best olive oil for baking is organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin one.

Word of warning, more than two-thirds of olive oils on the shelves in the US supermarkets might be fake or not very good quality, so you should make sure to buy the real stuff! Here is how to choose the right olive oil.

Coconut Oil to Olive Oil Conversion in Baking

Keep the 1:1 ratio when replacing coconut oil with extra virgin olive oil. However, even though some desserts call for olive oil, its intense flavor might not be ideal for some cake types like velvet cake.

Pros
  • Low saturated fat content (1.8 grams per tablespoon).
  • Especially great for homemade bread and brownie recipes.
  • Helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Contains powerful antioxidants like polyphenols and Vitamin E

Cons

  • Olive oil, because it is liquid, is not a good substitute for baking recipes that call for solid room temperature coconut oil or butter.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is not good for any high-heat frying like searing, deep-frying, or stir-frying.

Great All-Rounder

6. Peanut Oil

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is great for adding a beautiful nutty flavor to your baking recipes and it is also an excellent oil used when frying at very high temperatures.

It is a common oil used by many Asian restaurants because it is great for fried dishes, like fried chicken or French fries.

It has a high smoke point of 437℉/225℃ which makes it a perfect replacement for coconut oil when you want to fry food. With only 2.3 grams of saturated fat, it is another oil on our list with a low ‘bad’ fat content. 

Also known as groundnut oil, it is still a relatively unknown nut oil. Nevertheless, it is worth trying it, as it contains up to 50% monounsaturated fats and is an excellent source of vitamin E that, in combination with the ‘good’ fats it contains, can protect against heart disease.

If there is one downside with peanut oil, that is its peanut taste which can be quite strong and may not suit some recipes. Regardless of that, this is a great oil for baking, frying, and general cooking and desserts.

From sauteed and stir-fried foods to popcorn and sweets with peanut butter such as cookies, peanut oil is another substitute oil you should try instead of coconut oil.

Coconut Oil to Peanut Oil Conversion in Baking

You must have guessed by now that the ratio is pretty much the same as with all the oils on this list.

So, when replacing coconut oil with peanut oil, keep the 1:1 ratio in mind, but be aware of the intense flavor it has and perhaps uses less if you don’t want the peanut taste to be the one that’s the most prevalent in your dish.

Pros

  • Great for frying and baking food.
  • Excellent source of vitamin E.
  • Adds a lovely peanut taste to desserts.
  • High smoke point.

Cons

  • Its peanut taste might not be ideal for all recipes.
  • Unrefined peanut oil could cause reactions in allergy sufferers.

Read Also: Best Oils For Frying – Recommended Temperatures And Cooking Times.

In Summary
Coconut oil is a great ingredient for certain baking recipes, especially as a vegan butter substitute but there are other, more healthy substitutes for coconut oil in baking that you can try out. Consider using olive, avocado, peanut oil, or even applesauce in your baking recipes.