Coconut Butter vs Coconut Oil

Raw coconut with coconut butter, coconut oil, and coconut milk

One question that often arises in terms of wellness, self care, and cooking applications is the difference in coconut butter vs coconut oil. While the two share a number of similarities, there are also some key distinctions. So, is coconut butter the same as coconut oil and which is better? Read on to get the answers you need. 

Differences in Texture

As the names of these two substances suggest, one area in which coconut butter and coconut oil differ is with regard to texture. Both are solid at room temperature (although for coconut oil this can vary depending on your climate), but coconut butter softens under conditions of heat, whereas coconut oil liquifies. We’ll get into this a bit later on, but these differences between coconut butter vs coconut oil can have a big impact on determining which ingredient to use in the kitchen.

Differences in Taste

Since they’re both derived from coconut (via different methods), coconut butter and coconut oil have some definite similarities when it comes to their flavor profiles. However, while both have distinctly “coconutty” scents and flavors, coconut butter might be described as more of a pure coconut taste, while coconut oil’s flavor can vary in intensity depending on whether or not it’s refined. As a general rule, unrefined coconut oil has the strongest flavor, whereas refined coconut oil may be close to flavorless, or at least far more neutral. 

Smiling woman cooking with fresh ingredients in kitchen

Differences in How They’re Made

One way in which coconut butter is not the same as coconut oil is with regard to how they’re derived. Similarly to peanut butter and peanut oil, or other nut butters vs their oil counterparts, coconut butter vs coconut oil has to do with whether the meat and the oil are retained, or just the oil. To make coconut butter, the meat of the coconut is essentially pureed (oil and all) to yield something with the consistency of a soft, thick paste. To make coconut oil, the coconut meat is cold-pressed (much like the process involved in forming olive oil), to extract the oil itself while leaving the coconut meat behind. Once this process has been performed, the oil may remain unprocessed (leaving it as “extra virgin” coconut oil) or refined, which is then noted on the final product label. 

Differences in Nutrition

It is important to note that there are differences in nutrition between coconut butter vs coconut oil. Since coconut butter contains not only the oil but the meat of the coconut, it’s perhaps to be expected that it’s more fibrous. It’s also a bit lower in saturated fat. Coconut butter also outstrips coconut oil with regard to potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein content. Interestingly, there’s little difference in the caloric content of coconut butter and coconut oil. It’s worth noting that whether (and how) coconut oil is refined can have an impact on its nutritional content, but the differences are typically very minor, with the nutritional content of virgin and refined coconut oil staying relatively comparable.

How to Use Coconut Butter vs Coconut Oil

Extra virgin coconut oil is typically best for stovetop cooking up to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Refined coconut oil can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. Coconut butter is not the same as coconut oil when it comes to cooking, and should generally be avoided for stovetop cooking, unless it’s at a very low heat for a short period of time. Here are a few of our favorite food applications for coconut oil and coconut butter.

Some Cooking Uses for Coconut Oil:

  • Sautéing and stir-frying dishes with veggies and rice
  • As a substitute for olive oil or other vegetable oils, particularly with foods that pair better with coconut than a Mediterranean flavor profile
  • Thai and Caribbean-inspired sauces and dips
  • Drizzled over popcorn or nuts for a healthy snack

Some Cooking Uses for Coconut Butter:

  • Spreading directly on toast, bagels, muffins, waffles, or other baked goods
  • As a thickening agent (and a kick of coconut flavor) in frozen cocktails and smoothies
  • As a finishing touch for steel cut oat breakfasts
  • Homemade icing, soft candies, and other confections that don’t require cooking

More Uses Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter

Woman in a white bathrobe looking into a mirror and applying moisturizer to her skin

One of our favorite things about both coconut butter vs coconut oil is their wide array of uses, both in the kitchen and beyond. While coconut butter may not be the same as coconut oil, both can be used for a number of self care and wellness applications. Here are just a few:

  • Natural substitute for lotion or complement to your favorite body butter
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Intensive moisturizer for burns or irritated skin (as a note, always be sure to follow proper burn treatment guidelines and make sure you’re not allergic to coconut before using coconut butter or coconut oil in this way)
  • As a simple, delectably-scented natural lip balm

Considering all the possibilities of these two amazing ingredients, coconut oil and coconut butter are well worth having on hand, and not just for cooking. Get in touch with us at Wildly Organic and let us know how you like to use coconut products in your home! 

Now that you know some of the primary differences with coconut butter vs coconut oil, keep reading to discover six busted myths about coconut oil.

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