Life-changing ways to cook with coconut oil

It's no secret that coconut oil is all the rage. No longer shunned for its high amount of saturated fat, researchers now know that the fats found in coconut oil, called medium-chain triglycerides (that's MCT's for short) boast significant health claims. In fact, consumption of coconut oil has been said to aid with weight loss, fight inflammation, improve memory, and also act as a natural antibiotic. Confused about exactly how to use it in your kitchen? We've got you covered. 

Which type of coconut oil to buy?

There are two different kinds of coconut oil that you should keep stocked in your kitchen. The first, which is unrefined, raw, virgin coconut oil, is the superstar of coconut oils, and the one most touted for its health benefits. With a smoke point of 350F, it can be used for any preparation or recipe under this temperature. But never fear, your high-heat recipes can benefit from refined coconut oil, which can be safely used up to 400F and higher, while still maintaining its MCT content

When buying refined coconut oil, make sure to go with a trusted brand, which refines the oil using a steam, rather than chemical process, and is not hydrogenated – we want to avoid those trans fats! Store in a cool, dry place, like your cupboard, and don't be alarmed when you see that coconut oil is typically solid at room temperature – if you need it to be liquid, just give it a few seconds in the microwave. So, now that you have your two types of coconut oil on hand, here are some ways you can use them in the kitchen. 

Add coconut oil to coffee or tea

Does coconut oil stirred into tea or coffee sound strange? It shouldn't! Coconut oil is a surprisingly delicious and healthy alternative to milk or cream in hot drinks. Try stirring in a spoonful of virgin coconut oil the next time you make yourself a cuppa. If you are not loving the oily mouthfeel of your drink, you may want to blend the coconut oil in with a blender. The resulting frothy, latte-like beverage will be well-worth the extra effort.

Use coconut oil to sauté or pan fry

Coconut oil is the ideal healthy substitute for butter or other cooking oils when sautéing and pan-frying foods – even scrambled eggs! Don't hesitate because you fear an overly coconutty taste, as coconut oil has a mild flavor that absorbs the other flavors you cook with. From veggies to chicken, coconut oil is a healthy and yummy choice.

Roast vegetables and meats with coconut oil

Look to refined coconut oil for roasting veggies, potatoes, and meats at higher temperatures. Use it to coat the uncooked food just like you would use any other cooking oil. The fragrance that will fill your kitchen will be more coconutty than the actual taste of your food, as refined coconut oil has an even milder coconut flavor than raw, unrefined coconut oil.

Add coconut oil to your smoothies

A tablespoon of raw coconut oil in your morning smoothie is the perfect healthy way to jumpstart your day. Coconut oil is a terrific energy booster because its high level of MCTs provide the body with ketones, a quick energy source that can help to reduce the storage of fat and increase metabolism. If that's not enough to convince you that coconut oil is ideal for weight loss, get this: it's also reportedly an appetite suppressant. Studies have shown that regular consumption of MCTs results in an overall reduction in calories eaten.

Substitute coconut oil for butter when baking

Great news! Coconut oil is a healthful, vegan substitute for butter and other oils in practically all your favorite baked recipes. Coconut oil has less water content than butter, so when using it as a butter replacement, make sure you add a half teaspoon of water to your recipe for every half-cup of coconut oil you use when baking. 

Coconut oil for a crumb topping

Want to make a healthy hit for your next bake sale? Coconut oil is an amazing alternative to butter when making a crisp or crumble topping. Simply make the substitution evenly, no need to add water. You will marvel at the buttery texture and smooth flavor that coconut oil lends to your favorite crumbles. We tried it with The Pioneer Woman's Raspberry Crisp recipe and got amazing results. 

Use coconut oil to make popcorn

Sneak a bag of homemade coconut oil popcorn into the movie theatre for a guilt-free treat! Grab a jar of refined coconut oil and make your popcorn on the stove top as you normally would. Sprinkle with a little pink himalayan salt and you are good to go! Missing that buttery topping? Try melting a little additional coconut oil to drizzle on top. 

Make a coconut oil chocolate shell

Coconut oil has the perfect consistency and fat content to make a healthified version of that chocolate magic shell ice cream topping you loved so much as a kid. Two parts chocolate to one part coconut oil is all you need to make your sweet treat. Mix these two ingredients in a bowl, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until it's silky smooth, and voila. Ice cream is only one idea for this decadent chocolate shell. Use it to top frozen fruit skewers, pretzel rods, or whatever else you can think of! 

Spread coconut oil on toast

Who doesn't love a slice of warm, buttery toast? Well, believe it or not, coconut oil spread on toast delivers a similar savory flavor and texture as its dairy-filled counterpart. Enjoy it alone, or take Martha's advice and top with sliced avocado for a drool-worthy snack or meal that's loaded with healthy fats.