For first-time buyers, picking the right coconut oil can be a challenge. Refined or unrefined? Virgin or extra-virgin? Cold-pressed or steamed? Solid or liquid? Allow us to help: The most important distinction here is refined versus unrefined. Refined, or processed, coconut oil has a milder coconut taste and a higher smoke point. Unrefined, or virgin, coconut oil retains more coconut flavor, but starts smoking at 350ºF—making it ideal for spreading on toast, adding to smoothies, or even blending into your coffee, but less suitable for frying. (Whether it’s virgin or extra-virgin really doesn’t matter.) Our three coconut-oil picks cover both bases, as well as the cold-pressed, steamed, and liquid categories.
This organic virgin coconut oil is cold-pressed—an expensive, labor-intensive process that conserves nutrients and flavor. With a smoke point of 350ºF, it can be used for some lower-temp cooking and baking, but is best reserved for smoothies, stews, soups, and curries.
Refined with steam, this organic processed option has a neutral flavor that won’t overwhelm non–coconut-centric dishes. A smoke point of 450ºF makes it a more versatile cooking oil, safe for sautéeing, stir-frying, and baking. Just don’t put it in the broiler!
A heat process to remove certain fats (long-chain fatty acids, to be precise) can turn a solid coconut oil into a liquid that won’t harden, even when cold. This easy-to-pour organic coconut oil is easy to incorporate into soups, sauces, marinades, and salad dressings, and more. With a negligible coconut aroma and smoke point of 350ºF it can also be used for low-temp cooking.