There are several byproducts made from the mighty coconut fruit, from shredded coconut meat to coconut milk. High-fat coconut products like coconut butter and coconut oil share many similarities, which might leave you wondering – what’s the difference between coconut butter and coconut oil?
The main differences between coconut butter and coconut oil are:
- How they’re made/their texture – coconut oil is 100% fat extracted from coconuts and is smooth in texture, while coconut butter is blended coconut flesh and contains some fiber in addition to being high in fat.
- Their uses – coconut oil is more popular in cooking and baking, while coconut butter is more often used as a topping, spread, or flavor enhancer thanks to its stronger coconut flavor. And both have skincare uses.
If you’re curious about how coconut butter and coconut oil are made, as well as their nutritional information, uses, and more, then this article is for you!
Main differences between coconut butter vs coconut oil
Coconut butter is made by grinding dried coconut meat into a paste. Coconut butter has a thick, pasty consistency with a slightly gritty texture from the bits of coconut flesh. Coconut butter naturally contains coconut oil in it, but it isn’t pure fat like coconut oil.
When it’s warm, coconut butter is thin and runny. When solid, it can become more gritty thanks to the fibrous parts of the coconut flesh that are included.
The term ‘coconut manna’ is used to describe coconut butter, so the names can be used interchangeably. You can find coconut butter in jars in stores or online, and you can also make your own by blending unsweetened shredded coconut and optional ingredients like vanilla and sea salt using a food processor or high-powered blender.
Coconut is a high-fat fruit, which makes it unique compared to most other types of fruit. Coconut oil is made by pressing the high-fat oil from coconut meat or dried coconut meat, which is called copra.
Virgin coconut oil (here’s how to make your own coconut oil, or you can buy our top coconut oil brand) is usually made from fresh coconut meat, while refined coconut oil is generally made from copra. Unlike coconut butter, coconut oil is 100% fat and doesn’t contain any fiber from the coconut flesh.
Coconut oil becomes liquid when heated and is solid at room temperature. Because coconut oil doesn’t contain any fiber like coconut butter does, it has a smooth texture without any grit.
The table below summarizes the nutritional information for coconut butter vs coconut oil:
|Organic unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil1 (per tablespoon)||Organic raw coconut butter2 (per tablespoon)|
|Total Fat||14 g||11 g|
|Saturated Fat||13 g||9 g|
|Total Carbohydrates||0 g||4 g|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||3 g|
|Total Sugars||0 g||1 g|
|Protein||0 g||1 g|
Sources: USDA, Thrive Market
Popular uses for coconut butter vs coconut oil
- As a spread: Thanks to its thicker texture, coconut butter is popular as a spread, such as over toast or baked goods. In addition, coconut butter is a good alternative to peanut butter or almond butter for those with nut allergies.
A side note on allergies: the USDA considers coconuts as tree nuts, but many people with tree nut allergies can safely consume coconut products.
- In drinks and food: Try stirring coconut butter into hot beverages to add coconut flavor, mixing into hot dishes like oatmeal, or using it wherever you want to taste the coconut. Because it contains more of the actual coconut (not just the oil), coconut butter has a stronger coconut flavor, which is why it might be preferred over coconut oil in these instances.
- Skincare: You might have noticed that coconut butter is a popular ingredient in skin creams and lotions thanks to its hydrating properties. Keep in mind that coconut butter can be gritty, so if you’re using it as a standalone moisturizer, you might prefer the texture of coconut oil for skincare.
- Cooking and baking: Coconut oil has become a popular cooking oil in place of more refined vegetable oils. It has a lower smoke point than many other oils (350 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 410 degrees for olive oil), which means it will break and form smoke at high temperatures.
Because of its lower smoke point, save coconut oil for lower-heat cooking, or better yet – baking! Use coconut oil as a substitute for butter, especially in vegan, dairy-free, or Paleo diets.
- Boosting fat content: Popular among keto dieters (a type of very low-carb diet), coconut oil can be added to foods and drinks to boost fat content without adding any carbs.
Another benefit of coconut oil is that it’s rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that is broken down and metabolized (used for energy) more quickly than long-chain fats. This feature means MCTs can be more advantageous for those with weight loss goals since MCTs are less likely to be stored as fat.
- Skincare: If you want an excellent skin moisturizer, coconut oil fits the bill. Although it’s a bit greasy, coconut oil is absorbed into your skin quickly and is a good option if you prefer more natural skincare without added ingredients.
Take caution when using coconut oil on your face, since it might clog your pores and cause acne. Similarly, using coconut oil on your hair or scalp may make it greasy.
Benefits of coconut butter vs coconut oil
- Contains fiber, a beneficial nutrient for gut health.
- Stronger coconut flavor compared to coconut oil.
- More potential uses in cooking and baking due to its grit-free texture.
- Smoother application when using in your skincare routine.
The best coconut butter and coconut oil
Here at The Coconut Mama, we believe that the best coconut products are those you make at home. That way you can control the ingredients and their quality, storage containers, and everything else end-to-end.
That said, time doesn’t grow on trees – so if you need to buy either, make sure to use our guides for finding the best coconut butter and best coconut oil you can buy – we’ve done all the hard work, checked labels, and carefully evaluated these brands with the goal of recommending only wholesome, all-natural products.
Coconut oil is ideal for cooking and baking, while coconut butter is more suitable for use as a topping/spread on things that are already cooked or baked.
Both coconut butter and coconut oil are similar in their nutritional value – the main difference is that coconut butter contains fiber, while coconut oil doesn’t. They are both high in saturated fat, so should be eaten in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.
Due to its fiber content, coconut butter may edge out coconut oil in terms of being better for your health.