Sauteing with Coconut Oil

 I’ve heard buzz about the health benefits of coconut oil. Can I sauté with it in place of vegetable oil?

There's buzz about the health benefits of coconut oil. Can you sauté with it in place of vegetable oil?

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, so what’s this about health benefits? It turns out that coconut oil is also high in lauric acid, which proponents tout for antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, among other things. Leaving the health issues to the health experts, we grabbed a few jars of oil and headed into the test kitchen.  Unlike most oils, coconut oil is solid at room temperature (like butter, it turns liquid when heated) and keeps in that environment for up to a year. We began by examining both refined and virgin (unrefined) coconut oil. The minute we unscrewed the jar, the unrefined oil revealed its powerful coconut presence. The food we cooked with it tasted like Coppertone. Stick with the refined oil, which has a neutral flavor. (The jars aren’t always labeled clearly, but the aroma is a giveaway.) We continued our testing with refined coconut oil only. We sautéed green beans and breaded pork chops in refined coconut oil, and tasted them side by side with beans and chops that we’d cooked in the same amount of vegetable oil. Our tasters couldn’t tell the difference.

THE BOTTOM LINE  Skip the unrefined coconut oil—it adds potent coconut flavor to whatever you sauté in it. Go ahead and try refined coconut oil as a replacement for vegetable or canola oil for sautéing.

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