What’s the difference between coconut oil, coconut paste, and coconut butter? With all things equal, coconut oil is not the same as coconut paste.
While all these products are made from coconuts they have different properties and serve different culinary purposes.
Coconut Oil is the oil from the coconut. When it is cold it sets into what looks like a butter (hence the confusion). When coconut oil is warmed to above 24 degrees Celsius (76 Fahrenheit) it melts to form a liquid. It’s great for a range of cooking purposes, bug repellent, massage, beauty products, tooth or gum pain, a metabolism booster and so on. I love the stuff it is truly a panacea.
Coconut Paste is the whole coconut (flesh and oil) ground down into a smooth fudge like paste. It is sweet and delicious and fabulous in desserts. Try a spoonful with some orange segments and juice and you have a simple heavenly dessert. Coconut paste is not available everywhere and is somewhat of a specialty that you may need to ask for specifically, or you will be palmed off with some regular coconut oil. Coconut Butter is the same thing as coconut paste but is what Americans call it.
Sometimes downing a spoonful of coconut oil is a chore. Not so with coconut paste. The one on the left is like dessert in a jar. Coconut paste has the fiber of the coconut meat and remains in a solid state at warmer temperature. It won’t really ever turn into a liquid, but when warm, can become a very viscous batter/paste. I love to use this in desserts because it lends itself to a fudge texture and supplies a boost of sweetness. I wouldn’t be trying to gargle with this to alleviate a sore throat like I would with coconut oil and I also wouldn’t rub this on my skin. The oil is perfect for that and cheaper.
On the left is the fudge paste, on the right is the ubiquitous oil. Moral of the story? They are different and it is worth getting your hands on some so you can taste the difference. If you were in a pinch and unable to locate coconut paste, you could use coconut oil in lieu, but it won’t supply the taste or texture that the recipe maker was aiming to give you.
Natalie Prigoone is the author of The Great Uncooking a raw food detox book and A Piece of Cake: Easy Raw Desserts. She is a yoga teacher, high school teacher and raw food chef. Natalie discovered raw foods and their healing magic in 2011. She is passionate about healthy life hacks, and creating recipes that lead to greater health and healing. Follow her on Instagram @thegreatuncooking or Facebook.