Safflower oil and coconut oil are two of the most popular and versatile cooking oils. While both oils have their own unique qualities and benefits, they also have some notable differences in terms of flavor, nutrition, and cooking properties. So, which one is better?
Let’s dive into this safflower oil vs coconut oil debate and find out!
Comparing safflower oil vs coconut oil
|Safflower oil||Coconut oil, Virgin/Unrefined||Coconut oil, Refined|
|Solid or Liquid?||Liquid||Semi solid||Semi solid|
|Smoke Point (Fahrenheit)||475-500 degrees||350 degrees||400 degrees|
|Good for Cooking…||Raw, low, moderate, and high heat||Raw, low heat, moderate heat||Raw, low heat, moderate heat|
|Allergens||Safflower||Coconut, tree nut||Coconut, tree nut|
Differences between safflower oil and coconut oil
Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the safflower plant, which is related to the sunflower plant and is commercially cultivated for its vegetable oil. They use a process called cold-pressing, ensuring that the oil retains its natural flavors and nutrients. Like coconut oil, safflower oil is also often used in cosmetics as a moisturizing agent!
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts through either dry or wet processing methods. Dry processing involves drying the coconut meat, while wet processing involves pressing the meat to obtain the oil.
One of the major benefits of safflower oil is that it has a higher smoke point than coconut oil and many other refined oils, which means you won’t have to worry about exceeding its smoke point when cooking at high temperatures.
Safflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which means it’s a liquid even when refrigerated, whereas coconut oil is semi-solid at room temperature and goes very solid when put in the refrigerator.
Safflower oil is usually flavorless and colorless, making it a neutral oil that’s a versatile choice for all types of dishes. Coconut oil, on the other hand, offers a distinct tropical flavor and aroma, which can add a delightful twist to your recipes, especially if you’re a fan of all things coconut like us!
Virgin/unrefined vs refined coconut oil
There are two main types of coconut oil – virgin/unrefined and refined.
To give you a quick rundown, virgin coconut oil (the good stuff!) is made from fresh coconut meat, without any chemical processing, and is typically unbleached and unrefined. Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that has been chemically processed, bleached, and deodorized.
While refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point and a more neutral flavor, it is also stripped of some of the nutrients. Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, has a stronger flavor and is rich in nutrients.
Baking and cooking with safflower oil vs coconut oil
Safflower oil’s mild taste and high smoke point (up to 500 degrees!) make it perfect for everything from pan-frying, stir-frying, and deep-frying things like french fries to salad dressings and baking. Use it like you would extra-virgin olive oil.
Refined safflower oil is best for baking, as it has a neutral flavor, and “high-oleic safflower oil” is better for frying and other high-heat cooking methods, since it is higher in monounsaturated fats and more stable at high temperatures.
Coconut oil has a stronger flavor than safflower oil, so it’s best reserved when you want that tropical flavor to come through. Use unrefined coconut oil for low to medium heat cooking methods like sautéing and baking, and refined coconut oil for high-heat cooking applications. It’s also great for making curries and giving a tropical twist to your stir-fries.
Can safflower oil and coconut oil be substituted for each other?
Absolutely! Safflower oil and coconut oil can often be substituted for each other, depending on the dish you’re making. If you’re looking for a more neutral flavor and higher smoke point, safflower oil can be a great substitute for coconut oil in baking or cooking.
On the other hand, if you want a touch of coconut goodness or need a solid fat, coconut oil can step in for safflower oil. Just keep in mind that the flavors and properties of each oil may slightly alter the final outcome, so adjust accordingly.
Nutrition: Safflower oil vs coconut oil
Although safflower and coconut oil have the same amount of total fat and number of calories per tablespoon, they types of fat in each are different.
Safflower oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contains a good amount of vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties. It’s also over 70% linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fat), which might help reduce the risk of heart disease. However, although safflower oil has a high smoke point, polyunsaturated fats oxidize more quickly at high temperatures – becoming toxic.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels. However, it contains lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) that may have some potential health benefits.
As always, when it comes to fats, moderation is key!
|Per tablespoon (15mL)||Safflower oil||Coconut oil, Virgin/Unrefined||Coconut oil, Refined|
|Polyunsaturated||1.5 g||0 g||1 g|
|Monounsaturated||11 g||1 g||1 g|
|Saturated||1 g||13 g||12 g|
|Trans||0||0 g||0 g|
|Total Fat||14 g||14 g||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to store safflower oil and coconut oil
Safflower oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. You can also refrigerate it to prolong its shelf life. The best part is, it won’t solidify in the fridge, so it’s great when storing homemade salad dressing!
As for coconut oil, it can be stored at room temperature, but make sure to keep it away from heat sources and direct sunlight to keep it from going rancid.
Both safflower and coconut oil have a shelf life of up to 2 years.
Safflower oil vs coconut oil: Which is better
Ultimately, the choice between safflower oil and coconut oil depends on your cooking preferences and the specific dish you’re preparing.
If you’re aiming for a versatile, all-purpose oil that can withstand high temperatures, safflower oil is an excellent option. On the other hand, if you’re looking to infuse your dishes with a tropical twist and enjoy the potential nutritional benefits of MCTs, coconut oil is a fantastic choice! Here are my top picks for the best coconut oil you can buy.
I keep both oils in my pantry for these different reasons, but safflower oil is my go-to for cooking because of its neutral flavor and high smoke point, which make it good for pretty much anything!
Both sunflower oil and coconut oil can be healthy in moderation, but coconut oil is higher in saturated fat (unhealthy fat), while sunflower oil is higher in unsaturated fats (healthy fats), which are good for heart health in moderate amounts.
Safflower oil is a vegetable oil extracted from safflower seeds, while coconut oil is derived from the meat of coconuts. Safflower oil is higher in polyunsaturated fats and has a milder flavor, while coconut oil is higher in saturated fats and has a distinctly tropical flavor.
Olive oil and avocado oil are generally considered healthier than coconut oil. They contain higher amounts of monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health, while coconut oil is higher in saturated fats which can raise cholesterol levels.