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Ask Dr. Gourmet



Does coconut oil have a high smoke point?

I noted that in your information about which oils to use for cooking, you made no mention about coconut oil. I have read that coconut oil is much to be preferred when cooking because it is able to be heated to a much higher temperature than other oils.

Do you have a reason for excluding its use in such situations?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Coconuts

The "smoke point" is the temperature at which, when heated, an oil will begin to smoke. The smoke point of coconut oil is actually quite low by comparison to other oils. Unrefined coconut oil smokes in the range of 350° F. That's about the same as butter or lard. A more refined coconut oil would have a higher smoke point (just above 400° F), but for very high temperature cooking I usually use grapeseed oil or extra light olive oil. Here's a link to the smoke points of various oils:

http://www.drgourmet.com/ingredients/smokepoints.shtml

There's a lot of controversy about coconut oil because it is very high in saturated fat. A tablespoon contains about 14 grams of fat and almost 12 grams of that is saturated fat. Some recent research points to this not being as bad for you as saturated fats from animal sources, and it is certainly not the problem that trans-fats are.

Personally, I don't use coconut oil because I don't much like the flavor.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet