Serious Eats / Debbie Wee

Coconut oil has become an indispensable part of the modern cook’s repertoire, as it’s one of the only commonly available vegetable fats to remain solid at room temperature without the aid of hydrogenation. Coconut oil is available in two forms: virgin and refined. Virgin coconut oil retains some flavor and aroma; refined coconut oil is essentially odorless and tasteless. In addition to being a good vegan substitute for traditional solid fats like butter and lard, refined coconut oil allows citrus flavors to shine through, which makes it Stella Parks’ fat of choice for desserts like blueberry-lemon scones and lemon-ginger sandwich cookies. Of course, sometimes coconut flavor is desirable: this coconut cake uses virgin coconut oil in both the cake batter and frosting to achieve a deep, pronounced flavor. Here are fifteen coconut oil recipes that leverage the special properties of this essential ingredient.

Classic Banana Bread

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The key to making the best-tasting banana bread is using a blend of spices to amplify the banana flavor, along with a few other tricks to keep the crumb moist and tender. Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it gives this banana bread a uniquely rich yet buttery crumb.

Cannoli

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This recipe for making the best cannoli calls for frying the shells in refined coconut oil. Since the oil is solid at room temperature, the resulting shells have a crisp and buttery texture that never feels greasy or soggy.

Rolled Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik.

These simple, tender sugar cookies are perfect for care packages and holiday gifts alike. Using coconut oil in the cookie dough minimizes browning while baking and keeps them moist for longer than those made with butter.

Triple Coconut Cake

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This riff on the Southern classic incorporates coconut in every form, giving the cake an all-natural flavor and super-moist crumb. Virgin coconut oil is used instead of butter in both the cake and frosting, adding extra coconut flavor and aroma.

Homemade Brownie Mix

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Make this easy brownie mix to keep on the pantry shelf for fast and fudgy chocolate brownies whenever you like. Refined coconut oil is solid at room temperature, with an extraordinary shelf life that makes it the perfect foundation for a shelf-stable mix.

New-Fashioned Snickerdoodles

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A blend of butter and coconut oil gives these cookies a unique texture and aromatic richness, all wrapped up in a cinnamon sugar shell.

The Best Homemade Chocolate Dip (a.k.a. Magic Shell)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Coconut oil casts a spell on melted dark chocolate, allowing it to quickly solidify when poured over ice cream and form a delicious candy shell. Once you’ve mastered this sorcery with a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream, try your hand at making Klondike bars from scratch, or coating pudding pops with an extra layer of chocolatey goodness.

Potato Doughnuts

Serious Eats / Debbie Wee

These pillowy-soft doughnuts start with a dough made with mashed potatoes and brown butter. Once formed, they’re fried in refined coconut oil, which yields light, crisp doughnuts with a buttery finish.

Stracciatella Gelato

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Stracciatella gelato is such a simple recipe that it demands the best of the best. For her recipe, Stella starts out with a high-quality, single-origin chocolate that’s flavorful enough to stand out at cold temperatures, then melts it with coconut oil. Once broken into shards and added to the gelato, each piece of chocolate delivers a satisfying snap before melting on the tongue.

Thick and Fluffy Pancakes From Homemade Pancake Mix

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A food processor makes this homemade pancake mix a snap, and thanks to refined coconut oil, it can sit on the shelf for months on end. When you’re ready for breakfast, all you need to make light and fluffy pancakes is a splash of milk and an egg—no whipping required! For a homemade mix that yields a thinner flapjack, see Stella’s recipe here.

Blueberry-Lemon Scones

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A blend of coconut oil and full-fat coconut milk provides just the right sense of richness in these light, lemony scones. Since there is no lactose at all in these “accidentally vegan” scones, there’s nothing to get in the way of the fruit’s bright flavor.

Speculoos (Biscoff Cookie Butter)

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This silky-smooth spread is as thick as creamy peanut butter, but packed with the caramelized flavor and aromatic spices of Belgian speculoos. The cookie butter owes its thick and firm consistency to refined coconut oil.

Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cookies

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Who doesn’t want their cookies stuffed with Oreos? For this meta treat, blending butter with coconut oil creates a cookie that’s rich, chewy, and mild—the perfect canvas for crunchy Oreo cookie bits.

Crispy Lemon-Ginger Sandwich Cookies

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

These ginger cookies are spicy and zesty, with a refreshingly tart and bright lemon filling. Using refined coconut oil in place of butter allows the citrus to shine through, giving the filling an especially zippy flavor.

Vegan Cauliflower-Creamed Spinach

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

In this vegan take on the comfort food classic, puréed cauliflower forms a creamy base to bind the spinach. Coconut oil, with its high saturated fat content, produces a richer-tasting result than other types of vegetable oil.

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