Written by contributor Stacy Karen of A Delightful Home.

After purchasing my first jar of coconut oil, I was a little lost. Hard and white, it was unlike any oil I had used before.

Many questions began to surface: Will our food to have a strange texture? Will our bread taste like coconut? Will my family balk at this new ingredient?

Fast forward a few years and coconut oil is now my go-to oil for cooking , baking, moisturizing dry skin, and a frequent ingredient in my homemade body care creations.

While there are many uses for coconut oil, today I’m going to share specific details for using it in baking.

Before I do, here’s a quick rundown of the health benefits of coconut oil:

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Protects against heart disease, cancer and diabetes
  • Supports thyroid health
  • Is an excellent antioxidant
  • Antiviral
  • Boosts energy
  • Heat stable (unlike most plant oils, coconut oil does not form trans-fatty acids at higher temperatures)

Coconut oil is not your typical oil! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that coconut oil is the champion of all oils.

How to use Coconut Oil in Baking

Coconut oil is a great substitute for shortening, butter, margarine, or vegetable oil. (I generally don’t substitute butter, since butter has health benefits of its own.) Over the past few years I have gradually moved to replacing most oils with coconut oil and have found it works very well.

Coconut oil can be used successfully in most baked goods including:

I love to incorporate coconut oil into holiday baking because it makes sweet treats a little healthier. Add some whole wheat flour and natural sweetener, and you have a nourishing, real food dessert.

Using Coconut Oil in Liquid Form

In liquid form, coconut oil is an excellent substitute for vegetable oil, melted butter or margarine. One cup of solid coconut oil will melt to approximately one cup of liquid.

To use as a liquid,  melt coconut oil over low heat and allow to cool briefly. Then use as you would any other oil.

Another option is to place a jar or bowl of coconut oil on top of a warm stove to melt as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Coconut oil melts quickly.

If using cold ingredients, stir the oil in quickly (and vigorously) so that it does not solidify and make clumps. I rarely have this issue when baking (because there usually aren’t enough cold ingredients to cause a problem). It is worth noting that coconut oil works best when ingredients are at room temperature.

Using Coconut Oil in Solid Form

Coconut oil will remain in a solid state when the temperature is below 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

In solid form, coconut oil works well in recipes that require butter or shortening to be cut into dry ingredients (like scones, and pie crusts). Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it makes baked goods nice and flaky.

When softened slightly, coconut oil can be beaten along with sweetener (such as honey or sugar) the same way you would shortening or butter. (I have tried it without softening first, and it worked that way, too. It just required a little patience and persistence.)

Solid coconut oil is also an excellent choice for greasing pans. Scoop out a little solid oil and rub the sides and bottom of the pan as usual. Use any leftover to moisturize your hands and elbows!

Which type of coconut oil should I use?

Unrefined (or virgin) is the most beneficial grade of coconut oil. It is minimally processed using very little heat and has a mild coconut scent and flavor (which I rarely taste in baked goods).

The next best is expeller-pressed, which has its scent and flavor removed through a gentle deodorizing process.

The least beneficial type of coconut oil is industrial/commercial grade. This type of oil has been refined, bleached, and deodorized. It has no scent or flavor and is lacking in the vital nutrients present in virgin or expeller-pressed versions.

Coconut oil keeps for two years without refrigeration. Buying in bulk is usually the least expensive option.

Using coconut oil in baking reduces the need for other oils and helps simplify the kitchen. Keeping coconut oil, olive oil, and butter on hand, will covered most of your cooking and baking needs.

Some of my favorite recipes using coconut oil:

Chocolate Coconut Oat Bars (pictured at top)
Pumpkin Gems
Basic Soaked Muffins
Coconut Flour Orange Cake with Coconut Oil Frosting

Do you use coconut oil in baked goods? If yes, tell us your experience. If not, what concerns you the most about trying it?