Nothing says summer quite like coconut oil. A single whiff of this fragrant fat will have you reminiscing of warm weather and long days on the beach. But that’s not all it’s good for. From baking to frying, cooking to moisturizing, there’s no end to what coconut oil can do.
And while we love using it in recipes or keeping a jar by our sinks, one question has always perplexed many: Can you microwave coconut oil?
Yes, you can microwave coconut oil, but with caution. Extreme temperatures can cause oxidation, rancidity, and the degradation of beneficial fatty acids. Furthermore, the oil splatters can cause burns. So, it’s best to microwave in short bursts, stirring in between to prevent burning.
For more insight into the topic, I’ll answer some controversial questions about microwaving coconut oil. I’ll also explain how to melt it in the microwave and provide alternative methods.
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from the meat or kernel of matured coconut palm fruit. It is primarily composed of saturated fat and is solid at room temperature.
The two most common types are refined and unrefined. Refined coconut oil has been processed to remove some of its natural flavor, color, and odor. Unrefined, virgin coconut oil retains these properties and is best suited for cooking.
But perhaps one of coconut oil’s most notable advantages is its ability to withstand high cooking temperatures. For example, unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 350°F, whereas its more processed counterpart has a smoke point of 400°F. As a result, it is used as a substitute for other oils with lower heat tolerance.
Although used in a variety of applications, coconut oil is not without flaws. Since it is primarily composed of saturated fat, I would counsel against consuming it in large amounts as it may increase your risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, excessive consumption may cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea due to its laxative effect on the body.
Is it Safe to Microwave Coconut Oil?
Due to its high smoking point, coconut oil is safe to melt in the microwave. Nevertheless, exercise caution to avoid accidental burns from oil splatters.
- Only use glass or ceramic containers in the microwave or any container labeled as microwave-safe.
- To avoid oil splatters, cover the dish with a paper towel or microwave-safe plate.
- Nuke in short intervals to avoid spattering and to overheat the oil. You don’t want it to lose its nutritional value.
How Long Does Coconut Oil Take To Melt
The microwave is the quickest way to melt coconut oil, taking about 45-90 seconds. However, the time may vary depending on the microwave wattage, the amount of oil you’re melting, and whether frozen or thawed.
Other methods will take longer, such as melting it on the stovetop or in a saucepan. However, the key to all melting methods is to avoid overheating, which can cause it to smoke, turn black, and develop an unpleasant burnt flavor.
As a result, rather than a long, uninterrupted cooking session, I recommend melting your coconut in short bursts (10-15 seconds in a microwave). This way, you’ll have control over any eventuality and quickly intervene if necessary.
Does Coconut Oil Turn Toxic When Heated
Coconut oil will start to burn if heated past its smoking point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It will emit toxic fumes and produce harmful free radicals. These free radicals can attack cells in the body and lead to cancer.
When cooking with coconut oil, I recommend keeping the temperature below 355 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows you to control the cooking process and avoid accidentally overheating the oil.
Other precautions include setting a timer, using an oven thermometer, frequently stirring when cooking at high temperatures, and not leaving the stove unattended for long periods. If your recipe calls for high heat, such as deep frying, use a higher smoke point vegetable oil, such as avocado.
Why Does Coconut Oil Explode When Melting It in Microwave
The rapid formation of steam bubbles causes the popping sound produced by microwaving coconut oil. These bubbles form when the water molecules in the oil’s fat content become so hot that they turn into steam and expand rapidly. The bubbles then create pressure pockets that can easily pop or explode without warning.
But don’t worry! Follow these precautions, and your virgin coconut oil won’t pop at all.
- Microwave in short bursts on low power to generate less heat.
- Cover loosely to allow some steam to escape and prevent any sudden eruptions
- Stir occasionally during cooking to ensure even heating
- Don’t leave food unattended in the microwave while it cooks.
- And, for your safety, melt your coconut oil in a microwave-safe dish.
How to Microwave Coconut Oil Safely
In this section, I’ll explain the critical steps for microwaving coconut oil safely. Remember, the amount of oil will decrease slightly as you microwave it, so add an extra tablespoon to compensate for the volume loss.
- Scoop the desired amount of coconut oil from its container and place it in a microwave-safe dish.
- Cover the dish with a microwavable lid or plastic wrap to prevent oil splattering. I suggest venting the cover to allow excess steam to escape.
- Microwave your coconut oil in 15-second increments on medium power. The goal here is to heat the oil gently without scorching it.
- Remove the oil from the microwave and give it a good swirl between increments. Stirring the oil achieves three things: it removes any lumpy bits, evenly distributes the heat, and speeds up the process.
- Continue microwaving in 15-second increments until your coconut oil is melted or free of lumps.
- Using oven mitts, carefully remove the dish from the microwave as it will be hot. Use your oil immediately to avoid re-solidifying.
Alternative Ways of Melting/Heating Coconut Oil
If you don’t have a microwave or prefer not to use one, you can melt your coconut oil on the stovetop, in a double boiler, or in hot water (my favorite method).
All three methods apply the same rules as using a microwave. For the stovetop method, put the desired amount of coconut oil into a saucepan and set it over low heat. Stir frequently for 2 minutes or until all lumps are gone.
In the double boiler method, fill a pot with about an inch of water and bring it to a simmer. Scoop a portion of coconut oil into a metal bowl and set it inside the pot so that the bottom of the bowl is above but not touching the water. The oil will start to liquefy after a few minutes from the steam.
Last but not least is the hot water method. Fill a large container with hot water and submerge the jar of coconut oil in it. Ensure the oil jar lid is tight to prevent water from seeping in. Let it sit for 1-2 or until it’s melted.
How to Defrost Coconut Oil in Microwave
Fortunately, defrosting coconut oil in a microwave is similar to melting it. The only distinction is the power level and duration. So, here we go.
- Place the desired amount of frozen coconut oil in a microwavable container.
- Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap or a paper towel to avoid oil splattering.
- Microwave your frozen coconut oil on defrost setting in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until completely melted. If your microwave lacks a defrost function, don’t fret! I usually set mine to 30% power, and my oil always comes out perfect and smooth.
Uses of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a host of uses, from cooking to cleaning to skin care. It’s no wonder it’s become a kitchen staple in recent years. Here are five ways to use coconut oil that you may not have thought of before:
- Moisturize Your Skin – Its high-fat content makes it an excellent moisturizer for dry or damaged skin, as well as a hydrator for brittle nails and cuticles.
- Deodorant – I enjoy the scent of coconuts, so having some on my armpits is like living a fantasy. It has antibacterial properties, which aid in the control of odor-causing bacteria.
- Shaving Cream – Because of its natural antiseptic properties, coconut oil can be used as shaving cream to reduce razor burn and prevent ingrown hairs.
- Toothpaste – Coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties make it an excellent ingredient for toothpaste, helping to fight cavities and plaque while also freshening breath.
- Cooking Oil – With a higher smoke point than most oils, coconut oil can be a healthy substitute for other cooking oils such as vegetable or olive oil.
Faqs on Can You Microwave Coconut Oil
1. Is coconut oil healthier than olive oil?
Olive oil is nutritious and healthier than coconut oil because it contains less saturated fats and more polyunsaturated fats. It is also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, and phytochemicals linked to reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
2. Is it OK to put coconut oil in coffee?
Yes, it is safe to put coconut oil in coffee. It’s a healthy fat that can help boost your energy and metabolism. Plus, it’s a great way to add some flavor to your coffee. Just use a small amount, as too much can make your coffee taste oily.
3. How high can you heat coconut oil?
Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you can heat it to 350 degrees without it smoking. However, any higher than that, the oil will start to break down and release harmful chemicals.
4. Is coconut oil carcinogenic when heated?
Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point (400 degrees Fahrenheit) than Virgin, which only reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The former can be used for cooking at a higher temperature, while the latter is best for baking or as a moisturizer.
5. Can you put coconut oil in hot tea?
Yes, you can put coconut oil in hot tea. It is excellent for relieving sore throats due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, it contains vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system and keep your body running smoothly.
Microwaving coconut oil is a quick and easy way to melt it for your needs. It allows you to achieve consistency without the hassle of heating up the entire pot or pan.
However, you must proceed with caution to avoid burning yourself from the oil splatter. If you do not want to risk this, cover the bowl with a paper towel before microwaving.
Also, microwaves are notorious for drying out food, so don’t overheat the coconut oil in an attempt to melt it all at once. The best option is to nuke in short bursts, stirring in between, until completely melted.
Check out this video for more