Can you cook with coconut oil? 

In this brief article, we will address the query “Can you cook in coconut oil?” We will also discuss its origin, facts beyond its publicity, and a few other things to consider if you wish to make the switch to coconut oil. 

Can you cook with coconut oil? 

Yes, coconut oil can be used for cooking; it is regarded as ideal for high-temperature cooking methods, as its chemical composition makes it resistant to being broken down by heat. 

A major advantage of coconut oil is its resistance to oxidation and polymerization because of its high degree of saturation, as compared to other oils, making it more stable for long-term storage and cooking. 

It is stable for single use shallow frying, but not recommended for deep-frying because of its low smoke point. (1)

The smoke point is the temperature at which a fat or oil produces a continuous wisp of smoke and is a useful indicator of an oil or fat’s suitability for frying. A general rule is that fats with a higher smoke point are better suited for deep frying, whilst fats with a smoke point below 200 °C are not.

The smoke point of unrefined coconut oil is 177 °C. In this light coconut oil is better suited for shallow frying, which is done at much lower temperatures. (2)

What is the nutritional profile of coconut oil?

Coconut oil consists entirely of fat, with approximately 80-90% of it being saturated fat. As a result, the oil exhibits a solid texture when exposed to cold or room temperatures. 

The fat in coconut oil is composed of various types of saturated fatty acids. The primary fatty acid is lauric acid, accounting for around 47% of the composition. 

Smaller amounts of myristic and palmitic acids are also present, which have been linked to an increase in harmful LDL cholesterol levels according to research. Additionally, coconut oil contains trace amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

In terms of nutritional content, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol or fiber. It also contains only minimal quantities of vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols. Plant sterols have a similar chemical structure to blood cholesterol and may aid in blocking cholesterol absorption in the body. 

However, the amount of plant sterols present in a few tablespoons of coconut oil is insufficient to produce a significant beneficial effect. (3)

What are the health effects of coconut oil?

There is increasing popularity for coconut oil products due to the perceived health effects of certain medium-chain fatty acids.

However, lauric acid, the primary fatty acid found in coconut oil, has been suggested to behave as both a medium- and long-chain fatty acid from a metabolic standpoint. 

Limited but consistent evidence supports the topical use for prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis, as well as in “oil pulling” for prevention of dental caries. 

Coconut oil products may also be useful in preventing hair damage due to protein loss during grooming processes and ultraviolet (UV) exposure; however, more studies are needed to confirm this effect. 

Limited evidence does not support use for prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, bone loss, or glycemic control. Evidence on weight loss and cardiovascular disease warrants larger clinical intervention studies. (1)

Does coconut oil have adverse effects?

The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific advisory statement in 2017 to replace saturated fats (including coconut and other tropical oils) with unsaturated fats. 

Based on a review of seven controlled trials, coconut oil was found to raise harmful LDL cholesterol levels. The AHA advised against the use of coconut oil, and suggested limiting all saturated fat. 

For those at risk for or who have heart disease, they advise no more than 6% of total calories from saturated fat, or about 13 grams based on a 2000-calorie diet. One tablespoon of coconut oil comes close to that limit at about 12 grams of saturated fat. 

Coconut oil contains as many calories and total fat as other fat sources, about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. Coconut oil is best used in small amounts as a periodic alternative to other oils in baking and cooking, in the context of a healthy eating pattern. (3)

What is the shelf life of coconut oil? 

Coconut oil has proven to be an excellent choice for frying due to its stability and wide acceptance. When it comes to shelf life, refined coconut oil typically lasts for a few months, while virgin coconut oil can maintain its quality for an extended period. 

Additionally, blends of coconut oil, which combine two or more types of oil, have demonstrated remarkable stability even after being stored for up to 12 months. 

This resilience holds true across different packaging systems, both flexible and rigid, and under varying temperature conditions. (3, 4)

How to store coconut oil?

It is crucial to store coconut oil in a well-sealed and air-tight container to maintain its quality. After each use, ensure thorough resealing of the container to prevent oxygen from interacting with the oil and to keep contaminants out.

Two critical factors to consider when storing coconut oil are light and temperature. To preserve the quality of the oil for an extended period, store it in a cool and dark place, away from heat sources and direct sunlight exposure.

Furthermore, while it is not necessary, you can choose to store your coconut oil in the refrigerator. However, note that the oil will solidify and become hard at low temperatures. Refrigeration can increase the shelf life of the oil and reduce the risk of spoilage.

Moreover, designate a specific place to store your coconut oil to minimize temperature and texture fluctuations. These fluctuations can contribute to chemical reactions within the product.

When scooping coconut oil from the jar, ensure the utensil you use is clean. Using dirty utensils can introduce bacteria and germs, increasing the chances of the oil becoming rancid and reducing its overall shelf life. (3)

Other FAQs about Oils  that you may be interested in.

How to store coconut oil?

How to reuse frying oil?

How to melt coconut oil?


In this brief article, we have addressed the query “Can you cook in coconut oil?” We have also discussed its origin, facts about coconut oil, and a few other things to consider if you wish to make the switch to coconut oil. 


  1. Wallace, T. C.  Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1–11. 2018.
  2. Boateng L, Ansong R, Owusu WB, Steiner-Asiedu M. Coconut oil and palm oil ‘s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Med J. 50(3):189-196. 2016.
  3. Harvard The Nutrition Source. Coconut oil, 677 Huntington Avenue, 2023.
  4. Yashi Srivastava, Anil D. Semwal, Gopal K. Sharma, Chapter 16 – Virgin Coconut Oil as Functional Oil, Therapeutic, Probiotic, and Unconventional Foods,291-301, 2018.