How To: Cook and Bake with Coconut Oil [Recipe: Banana-Oat Pancakes]

Food, How-To

Shredded Coconut

Finding healthy alternatives for cooking and baking is always desirable, but not always easy. Over the past few years, we have been hearing about coconut oil everywhere. Whether you’re on a website that caters to beauty junkies or foodies, you are going to see something about coconut oil.


Lately, coconut oil is booming in the world of cooking and baking. There are so many benefits to using it in place of high-fat, high-calorie cooking oils (think: butter). We spoke with Jennifer Aaronson, editorial director of food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living magazine, who recently worked on a “Better Bake Sale” story about using healthier alternatives to white flour, oil and food coloring. She gave us some inside scoop about baking (and cooking) with coconut oil.

IGT: What benefit do you see coconut oil having over other substitutes in baking like yogurt and apple sauce?
Yogurt and apple sauce lack the fat content needed to make a baked good truly moist and luscious. Coconut oil gives that great mouth feel and texture to baked goods that one expects.

IGT: Are there benefits of using coconut oil other than it being very healthy?
It is super tasty! Also, it can act as a solid and as a liquid.

IGT: For recipes requiring vegetable oil and/or butter, would you use the same amount of coconut oil as you would if you used these?
Yes, on all of the recipes I have tried so far (cookies, quick breads, pancakes, etc.) it has been a 1 for 1 swap.jennifer-aaronson-0111-d106342-0514_sq

IGT: Would you recommend making coconut butter for the butter portion of recipes?
If a recipe calls for creaming butter and I want to use coconut oil, I will put the oil in the refrigerator until it is at a creamy-solid state then use it as I would softened butter. If a recipe calls for melting butter, then I would use coconut oil in its liquid form.

IGT: Do you cook with coconut oil or do you prefer to use it in baking?
Yes, I love to pop my popcorn in it, and stir fry seafood like scallops or shrimp- the flavor of the oil is very complimentary and it is able to withstand the high heat cooking.

IGT: As for taste, do you think food tastes much different when you use coconut oil rather than butter or other oils?
Yes, it definitely imparts a coconut flavor- you have to be ready for that and to like it!

IGT: What are the advantages to using coconut oil versus olive oil?
I use them at different times. I would never use coconut oil in recipes that I didn’t truly want a bit of coconut flavor added to them.

IGT: Does it need to be melted or is it ready to be used out of the jar?
Depends on what recipe you are using it for (see above answer).

IGT: What is one tip do you have for people when using coconut oil for baking and cooking?
To try it! Use it wherever you want the added flavor and the increased health benefits. I use it whenever I can and whenever it makes sense as a complimentary flavor.

IGT:What are some of your favorite recipes that use coconut oil?
Dark Chocolate Truffles and Banana Oat Pancakes are two favorites.

Photo: Bryan Gardner

Banana-Oat Pancakes
Recipe type: Breakfast & Brunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • ½ mashed banana
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 Tbsp flaxmeal
  • 4 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch coarse salt
  • Orange segments for serving
  • Honey for serving
  1. In a bowl, combine banana, almond milk, flaxmeal, and 2 tsp oil and let stand until thick, about 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk in oat flour, coconut, orange juice, baking powder, cinnamon, and a pinch salt. (Batter will be thick.)
  3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon in ¼ cup batter and flatten into 3-inch rounds with a spatula. Cook until golden, flipping once, about 6 minutes per side. Serve with orange segments and honey.

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