Coconut oil and coconut butter are not the same! Here are their distinctions.
While coconut oil has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, its counterpart, coconut butter, has not shared as much of the limelight. You may have seen it in a recipe or two and thought to just substitute it with coconut oil. You can switch between the two for a couple of things, but there are several distinct differences in each that make them special in their own way. Below are a few of the main distinctions.
Coconut oil comes from cold-pressed coconut meat and is solid at room temperature. The hardened oil will flake as you try to spoon it out of the jar, but will also easily melt with a touch of heat. You can keep the oil in the pantry or a cool, dark place.
Coconut butter includes coconut oil in the whole-coconut puree. It is solid at room temperature but will spread more easily than coconut oil. You should store coconut butter in the refrigerator and you will be able to softly spoon it out when you are ready to use it.
Think of coconut oil and coconut butter in a similar way you would think of peanut oil and peanut butter. When cooking, you will more likely reach for coconut oil rather than the butter. You can sauté, stir fry, and simmer with the oil and it will gently integrate a slightly sweet, nutty taste into your meals.
You will more likely use coconut butter straight from the container. It has a much lower smoke point than coconut oil and can easily burn when you try to use it on the stove. But you can spread it on toast, spoon some into a smoothie, or scoop a little on top of your cooked veggies. You can easily bake with coconut butter as well. It mixes into doughs and batters and works into no-bake pastry creams and treats as well.
Coconut oil, like all cooking oils, is composed almost entirely of fat. One tablespoon contains about 14 grams of fat and around 130 calories. Since the majority of this fat is saturated, first glance would write off the oil as unhealthy, artery-clogging, and dangerous for one’s heart. However, there is an asterisk after the saturated fat stat. The saturated fat in coconut oil mainly consists of a medium-chain fatty acid, lauric acid, which the body responds differently to than other saturated fats. Coconut oil has actually been known to reduce cholesterol levels, improving HDL levels and creating a more sustainable environment for your heart.
Similar to coconut oil, coconut butter contains much of the same medium-chain fatty acid. One tablespoon contains about 10 grams of fat and around 100 calories. Since the butter comes from the whole coconut rather than the meat alone, it also includes a little fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Try this crowd-pleasing dairy-free tart made with both coconut oil and coconut butter!