Difference between Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter

Updated on March 27, 2017

One of the most extensively used natural ingredients for beauty, health, and wellness is coconut oil. Unknown to many, however, is the fact that there is also such thing as coconut butter. Is coconut butter an alternative to coconut oil? Are they interchangeable? This article will explore the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter.

Descriptions

Coconut Oil
Solid coconut oil and liquid coconut oil

Coconut oil is produced by cold-pressing mature coconuts to separate the oil from the flesh. Due to its high level of saturated fat, coconut oil is an opaque, mushy solid when at room temperature and becomes liquid when exposed to heat. Extra virgin coconut oil has a mellow, nutty taste and odor while refined coconut oil has faint coconut taste and smell.

Many people prefer to cook with coconut oil because of its high smoke point (can be over 350°F), which means it can withstand extreme heat without burning. It is perfect for sautéing, stir-frying, and baking as an alternative to vegetable oil or butter. In its solid form, it can also be spread on bread or mixed with vegetables.

Aside from its culinary uses, coconut oil is also used in homemade beauty remedies. It is widely used for oil-pulling, a teeth cleansing method that involves swishing coconut oil around in the mouth for a period of time. It can also be mixed with baking soda and then used as a natural deodorant. Additionally, coconut oil is an ingredient in biodiesel, engine lubricant, and soaps.

Almost half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which makes your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (a good kind of cholesterol) increase. However, experts advise that coconut oil should still be used sparingly because of its high fat and calorie content. Coconut oil also has negligible amounts of iron, vitamin K, and vitamin E.

Coconut oil is widely used and readily available at grocery stores and health food stores. It can store up to six months at 75 °F.

coconut butter
Coconut butter in a wooden bowl

On the other hand, coconut butter is produced by pureeing coconut meat. It has a very thick and heavy consistency at room temperature but is spreadable and smooth when exposed to heat. It has a powerful coconut taste and aroma.

Coconut butter is 60% saturated fat (from the coconut oil). However, it is a good source of protein and dietary fiber from the coconut meat. It also has small amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Coconut butter has a low smoke point so it is not recommended for cooking. However, it is perfect for making candies because of its sweet coconut flavor. It can also be spread on pancakes and bread, used to make egg-free mayonnaise, and even added to coffee as an alternative to creamer. It is also mixed in oatmeals, smoothies, or paired with fruits.

Aside from its culinary purpose, coconut butter can also be used as a natural shaving cream, lip and skin moisturizer, and as a non-chemical treatment for rashes.

Coconut butter can sometimes be hard to find. It is usually sold in specialty markets and health food stores and can be quite expensive. It can also be made at home by pulverizing raw coconut meat.

Coconut Oil vs Coconut Butter

What, then, is the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter?

Coconut oil is made by cold-pressing mature coconuts to separate the oil and the flesh. It is solid and opaque at room temperature and liquid at high temperature. In contrast, coconut butter is made by pureeing coconut meat. It is waxy at room temperature and creamy when exposed to heat. Its flavor and aroma are more powerful than that of the coconut oil.

Coconut oil consists almost entirely of saturated fat whereas coconut butter contains fat, protein, dietary fiber, and traces of iron, magnesium, and potassium.

In terms of culinary uses, coconut oil is perfect for cooking because of its high smoke point. It can also be used as a bread spread or as a vegetable topping. Coconut butter burns easily so it is not recommended for cooking but can be used in making candies, mayonnaise, or as a bread spread.

Moreover, coconut oil is more common than coconut butter. Coconut butter can sometimes be hard to find and it is expensive.

Comparison Chart

Coconut OilCoconut Butter
Produced by cold-pressing the oil to separate it from the coconut fleshProduced by pureeing coconut meat
Opaque, mushy, and solid when at room temperature and becomes liquid when exposed to heatHas a very thick and heavy consistency; creamy and smooth when exposed to heat
Extra virgin coconut oil has a mellow, nutty taste and odor; refined coconut oil has a faint coconut taste and smellHas a powerful coconut taste and aroma
Consists almost entirely of fat but has traces of iron, vitamin K, and vitamin E; contains lauric acidContains fat, protein, and dietary fiber; also has traces of iron, magnesium, and potassium
Has a high smoke point which makes it ideal for cookingHas a low smoke point which means it burns easily when exposed to heat
Used as a bread spread; drizzled over popcorn and vegetables; also used for oil-pulling or as a natural deodorant; used as an ingredient in biodiesel, engine lubricant, and soapsUsed as a bread and pancake spread; used in making smoothies and candies because of its sweet coconut flavor; used as an ingredient in egg-free mayonnaise; also added to coffee as an alternative to creamer
Readily available at grocery stores and health food storesCan be hard to find and expensive; usually found in specialty stores and health food stores