Using Coconut Oil Instead of Shortening: A Healthier Alternative in Baking

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using healthier alternatives in baking, and one popular substitute for traditional shortening is coconut oil. Coconut oil offers several benefits and can be easily incorporated into various recipes. Let's explore how you can use coconut oil instead of shortening in your baking endeavors.

What is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, which is believed to have several health benefits. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but melts easily when heated.

coconut oil instead of shortening

How to Use Coconut Oil as a Substitute for Shortening:

1. Solid vs. Liquid State:

  • Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but melts when heated. To use it as a substitute for solid shortening, simply measure out the desired amount of coconut oil and melt it gently until it becomes liquid.

2. 1:1 Replacement:

  • In most recipes, you can replace shortening with an equal amount of coconut oil. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, you can use 1 cup of melted coconut oil instead.

3. Flavor Profile:

  • Coconut oil has a distinct coconut flavor and aroma, which can add a subtle tropical touch to your baked goods. Keep this in mind when substituting it for shortening, as it may alter the flavor of the final product.

coconut oil instead of shortening

4. Texture and Consistency:

  • Coconut oil can impart a slightly different texture and mouthfeel compared to shortening. While shortening tends to produce a tender and flaky texture, coconut oil can result in a slightly denser texture. However, many people find this texture to be equally delightful.

5. Temperature Sensitivity:

  • Coconut oil has a lower melting point than shortening, so baked goods made with coconut oil may be softer at room temperature. Store them in a cool place or in the refrigerator to maintain their shape.

Benefits of Using Coconut Oil:

  1. Healthier Option: Coconut oil is high in healthy fats, particularly medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are believed to have various health benefits, including improved heart health and metabolism.
  2. Natural Flavor: The subtle coconut flavor of coconut oil can enhance the taste of baked goods, adding a hint of tropical sweetness.
  3. Versatility: Coconut oil can be used in a wide range of recipes, including cakes, cookies, pies, and more.
  4. Vegan-Friendly: Coconut oil is plant-based and suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.


Using coconut oil instead of shortening is a simple and effective way to make your baked goods healthier and more flavorful. Whether you're looking to reduce your intake of trans fats or simply add a tropical twist to your recipes, coconut oil is a versatile and delicious alternative worth trying. Experiment with different recipes and enjoy the benefits of this nutritious and flavorful ingredient in your baking endeavors!