Heyyyy ohh! Here we go into another Vegan Baking Basics post! It’s been a while since I’ve rambled on in too much detail about things that have to do with the ins and outs of vegan baking, so I figured it was time for another post. In the past, I’ve covered baking with cashews, how to use a flax egg, and how to make the absolute best vegan cookies, but I figured it was time to talk about one of the biggest components of vegan baking: baking with coconut oil vs olive oil!
In traditional baking and cooking, butter is the end all, be all of fats. But, since vegan baking involves no dairy, butter is out and all the other fats are in. I’m going to cover my two favorite vegan baking fats, coconut oil and olive oil. Ready to bake? Let’s go!
When you should be baking with coconut oil
I think this one goes without saying, but far and away, my favorite vegan baking fat is coconut oil. I know it’s been more of a trendy ingredient lately and has recently gotten a bad rap, but it’s honestly one of the best replacements for butter in vegan baking. While I know it’s isn’t butter and doesn’t truly mimic the texture and taste of it either, it comes pretty darn close when you’re looking to replicate the flaky, buttery texture of croissants or puff pastry.
One of the best things about baking with coconut oil is that it stays solid at room temperature (most of the time) and can be partially softened to replicate the texture of softened butter. Some of my favorite cookies and cakes are made with coconut oil, especially since they bake pretty evenly and then become more pliable at room temperature.
A word of caution when using coconut oil in baking recipes though, make sure it is fully blended or creamed into the batter before baking. I’ve made many a batch of cookies where I was left with large chunks of coconut oil and ended up with cookies that were super melty on the edges or had large pockets of oozed out coconut oil. Just treat it like you are creaming butter and it should turn out perfectly!
For brand preference on coconut oil, I’m not all that picky. I usually go with the store brand or cheapest option at Whole Foods and almost always get the unrefined version. I’ve gotten refined on accident in the past and, for me, it tends to not lend itself as well to baking. Since it’s refined, it doesn’t melt or soften quite as quickly, so I’m always left trying to dig chunks out of the jar while I’m just really trying to make a batch of cookies. Try a few brands and see what works for you!
When you should be baking with olive oil
Moving onto my next favorite baking fat, olive oil! As you can tell from my love of coconut oil above, I haven’t really delved into using olive oil in baking as much as coconut oil. I think there are pros and cons to both, but one of the most convenient things about olive oil is that it’s almost always easy to find and is most likely cheaper than coconut oil.
Olive oil is a bit different to bake with since it’s liquid at room temperature and doesn’t tend to lend itself to making puff pastry and the like. Olive oil does make a killer vegan biscuit and makes a flaky sweet danish bread, so it does have serious potential in vegan baking.
One of the things I have found about baking things like cookies with olive oil is that the dough definitely needs to be refrigerated or frozen before baking. Since the oil is already liquid, baking cookie batter right away will result in cookies that spread and are too soft already, losing the potential for those perfect crispy edges and gooey centers.
I love using olive oil in cakes and muffins the most since it lends a lot of moisture and flavor to a simple recipe. I’m actually working on a lemon olive oil cake for the summer, so more to come on that one. My best words of advice when it comes to baking with olive oil is to only bake with it if the recipe calls for it. If a recipe is calling for coconut oil and you use olive oil, the results are probably not going to be the same.
For brands, I again usually go with a trusted store brand or higher quality olive oil, since some can be blended with other, lower quality oils and result in a watery olive oil overall. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend the olive oil pictured above, it’s not the best store brand I’ve bought and hasn’t really baked well for me while I’ve had it. Again, try a few brands out and see what works best for you and your price point here.
Was that too much rambling about baking with coconut oil vs olive oil? If you have any other questions about vegan baking or when to use which, shoot! I feel like it’s helpful to understand when and where to use each, especially if vegan baking is new to you. Plus, everyone wants their next batch of cookies or crossaints to turn out perfectly, right? Enjoy!