Palm kernel oil is not one of the most common ingredients in home cooking, it is more likely to be used in the commercial production of packaged foods and cosmetics, so when you are looking for a substitute, we don’t blame you for being confused! In order to know the best alternative for oil, you need to know a bit more about the oil itself. But in the meantime, to help out, here are five of the best palm kernel oil substitutes for any situation:
- Refined coconut oil
- Walnut oil
- Pecan oil
- Palm oil
- Unrefined coconut oil
Best All-Around Substitute For Palm Kernel Oil: Refined Coconut Oil
Oil from the palm kernel is derived from the seed of the palm fruit. It’s closely related to palm oil, given both are obtained from the same fruit and share similarities with another tropical oil, coconut oil. Coconut oil is a widely preferred alternative for cooking and cosmetic applications for those who do not wish to use palm or palm kernel oil due to environmental concerns.
While refined coconut oil may not be the purest form available, it’s favored by many due to its ability to deliver many of the benefits of coconut oil without the intense flavor. It also boasts a higher smoke point and may be less likely to cause allergic reactions.
In recipes, coconut oil can be used as a direct replacement for palm kernel oil in a 1:1 ratio.
Best Raw Cooking Substitute For Palm Kernel Oil: Walnut Oil
Walnut oil is a delicious nutty oil with delicate walnut flavors. It has a low smoke point, so it is best in raw dishes or as a finishing oil for flavor in salads and desserts. It is high in healthy omega-3 and can also be used topically!
Palm kernel oil is usually solid at room temperature, so it is not well suited to many raw dishes as it has to be melted first.
Best Palm Kernel Oil Substitute for Regular Cooking: Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil has a smoke point: of 400 degrees, so it is suitable for regular and moderate-heat cooking. As it is refined, it does not add too much of the distinctive coconut flavor to dishes like unrefined coconut oil might.
You can use refined coconut oil as a base for frying, and I find it works best with Asian flavors.
Best Palm Kernel Oil Substitute for High-Heat Cooking: Pecan Oil
Pecan oil is a high-smoke point oil of 470 degrees that is great for high-heat cooking, and yes, it tastes like pecans with a sweet, nutty flavor. It is versatile and tastes great in oven-roasted vegetables, chicken, and pork and drizzled on salads or desserts.
The downside? It is expensive, so probably not what you want to use when you need a high quantity for things like deep frying.
Palm Kernel Oil Substitute that is Closest in Flavor: Walnut Oil
It is not easy to find a closely flavored substitute for palm kernel oil. Palm kernel oil has a hint of fruit, grass, and some people might even say eucalyptus. It also has nutty undertones that mimic the nuttiness in walnut oil. The flavor between the two is still quite different, though; walnut oil is just the least different!
Best Neutral Flavored Palm Kernel Oil Substitute: Refined Coconut Oil
Palm kernel oil has a distinct taste that not everyone will like. So, if you want something more neutral, refined coconut oil might be the right choice for you.
When oil is refined, most of the flavor and smell are removed, so it should be nearly tasteless when heated up.
Best Budget-Friendly Palm Kernel Oil Substitute: Refined Coconut Oil or Palm Oil
A budget-friendly alternative to palm kernel oil could be refined coconut oil or palm oil, both of which can be found for as little as 30 cents per fluid ounce, though refined coconut oil is usually easier to find these days.
Best Healthy Palm Kernel Oil Substitute: Unrefined Coconut Oil
Unrefined coconut oil is the pure, unprocessed oil obtained directly from fresh coconut meat. Because it undergoes minimal processing, it maintains its beneficial fats like lauric acid and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The body readily absorbs these fats, offering an immediate energy source.
It is also high in vitamin E and antioxidants. Unrefined coconut oil is slightly more expensive than refined coconut oil but still much cheaper than palm kernel oil. It has a mild coconut flavor, making it great for baking and cooking if coconut flavors are your jam!
Best Keto/Paleo/Whole30 Palm Kernel Oil Substitute: Unrefined Coconut Oil
Unrefined Coconut Oil possesses several characteristics that make it an excellent fit for a keto diet. One of these is its content of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Unlike long-chain fats, MCTs are directly processed by the liver, transforming into ketones or serving as an immediate energy source.
Unrefined Coconut Oil is also a favorite staple in paleo and Whole30 diets due to its minimal processing and versatility. It can substitute most refined seed oils in your kitchen cabinet.
They both have nutritional benefits, but unrefined coconut oil is your best bet if the goal is to reap the benefits of using MCTs and other healthy fats.
Palm oil is being banned in Europe due to its environmental effects, including deforestation and loss of endangered species habitats. Some palm oil companies are sustainable, so the ban only applies to companies that cannot demonstrate their oil is sustainable. The new regulation is expected to be implemented in 2026.
Palm oil is so controversial for environmental and human rights issues. Environmental concerns include massive deforestation, loss of species habitats, and air pollution from burning forests. Human rights concerns include labor exploitation as well as land theft.