The best coconut oil

Ana Sanchez

It's only recently that coconut oil has become popular in the United States, but it sure has taken off as a wildly in-demand cooking, health, and personal care product. If you've heard the term "healthy fats," you may be aware that coconut oil, with its medium-chain triglycerides, is considered to be one. It's also a great moisturizer for skin and hair. To learn more about the versatile substance, read this quick shopping guide. We've also included our top product recommendations like this organic extra virgin coconut oil by Viva Naturals.

Uses of coconut oil

Cooking: Coconut oil can be used for sautéing at high heats (up to 350°F) as well as for roasting. Some consumers also put a spoonful in their smoothies or coffee for its health benefits.

Vegan substitute: As a plant-based product, coconut oil can be used as a substitute for butter if you're on a vegan diet. It can be spread on baked goods or used in baking recipes.

Moisturizer: Rubbing coconut oil into the hair, scalp, or skin is a natural way to treat dry skin and hair. You can even make a DIY hair mask using coconut oil. Because it is so natural, it's also safe to moisturize babies' skin with it. It can also be used as a massage oil.

Makeup remover: For a cheap, clean beauty alternative to makeup removers, you can use coconut oil on a cotton swab to take off makeup, especially around that delicate eye area. Some beauty experts even use it as a facial cleanser.

Oil pulling: This centuries-old folk practice removes stains on the teeth and promotes dental hygiene by cleansing the mouth of bacteria. Simply swish a small amount of coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, and then spit it into the trash. 

Considerations when choosing coconut oils

Refined vs. unrefined: Coconut oil comes in refined or unrefined varieties. Unrefined may also be labeled "virgin" or "extra virgin" and is coconut oil in its most natural form. It has a more coconut-y flavor and odor to it. Refined coconut oil is bleached, resulting in a neutral oil without flavor or smell, and some users prefer not to have a coconut-y taste added to their cooking.

Food grade vs. cosmetic grade: Food-grade coconut oil has higher purity standards than cosmetic grade. In fact, we recommend using it for cosmetic purposes as well. Cosmetic-grade coconut oil should never be used for cooking; it may also contain unwanted perfumes and ingredients that you wouldn't care to roast with.

Quantity: Coconut oils can come in small 11-ounce tubs to large one-gallon buckets. Generally, larger quantities cost less per ounce. Most coconut oils come in plastic or glass containers.


Organic: Whether for culinary or cosmetic purposes, many consumers of coconut oil select organic products that are free of harmful agricultural chemicals. These are non-GMO as well.

Spray: Spray bottles of coconut oil for cooking provide a healthy alternative to nonstick cooking sprays.

Butter flavor: Some coconut oils offer a nondairy buttery flavor. We recommend melting this product over popcorn. 

Coconut oil prices

Coconut oil costs as little as 15 cents per ounce up to $1 per ounce. Refined coconut oil tends to cost less than unrefined.


Q. How do I store coconut oil?

A. Store coconut oil at room temperature in a dark, cool place. If your home gets hotter than 76°F, the coconut oil will liquefy. If this happens, you can place it in the fridge to solidify it.

Q. What are some of the health benefits of coconut oil?

A. There are myriad purported health benefits of ingesting coconut oil. Some of the claims include aiding weight loss, anti-aging, improving brain function (especially in Alzheimer's patients), combating yeast infections, curbing hunger, and raising "good" cholesterol.

Coconut oils we recommend

Best of the best: Viva Labs Finest Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Our take: An unrefined coconut oil that stands out for taste and purity.

What we like: Organic and cold-pressed. Smooth texture. Can be used for cooking and skin/hair care. Coconuts sustainably harvested.

What we dislike: Pricey.

Best bang for your buck: Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Our take: The best bargain for an organic, unrefined coconut oil.

What we like: Cold-pressed and extra virgin. Quality top-rated coconut oil with multipurpose uses. BPA-free packaging.

What we dislike: Because it's unrefined, it retains a strong coconut-y smell and taste.

Choice 3: Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

Our take: Another highly rated organic coconut oil that's unrefined.

What we like: High MCT content for keto dieters. Smooth consistency. Mild scent. Organic, non-GMO, and unbleached.

What we dislike: Rare reports of a leaky container.

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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