When coconut butter blew up in the vegan blogosphere a few years ago, I was honestly kind of appalled. Like, seriously, y’all are losing it over this product that costs about $11 a jar, and you expect your readers to buy it in order to try some of your recipes? You are clearly out of touch with reality.

My disgust was undoubtedly magnified by the fact that at the time, I was working as a home organizer/glorified maid for an extravagantly wealthy nonworking “artist” who seemed to legitimately get off on eating food that the lowly commoner couldn’t afford. Seriously, it seemed like every item in this person’s cupboards was artisanal, organic, and purchased from obscure foodie boutiques.

It’s not that I don’t ever fork over absurd amounts of money for edible commodities; I definitely do. I also feel good about eating things that are healthy, environmentally friendly, and ethically sourced. But I truly loathe the whole “lifestyle” thing, where marketing teams set out to convince you that exorbitantly priced products are essential to your glowing, healthy, natural image.* You just don’t need coconut butter or goji berries or camu powder or anything else that costs, pound-for-pound, more than gold. These things are not essential to a healthy and satisfying vegan diet, and I think it does everyone a disservice to act like that’s the case. So I found the rampant use of coconut butter on many vegan food blogs slightly rage-inducing, and never even considered purchasing a jar of it myself.

I had pretty much blocked the stuff out of my mind until I came across a tutorial this spring for making coconut butter at home. It seemed like it would be an incredibly simple and incredibly cheap endeavor, so I figured I’d give it a shot and get a taste of how the 1% eats.** And hey — it totally worked! As it turns out, if you have access to cheap desiccated coconut (bulk bins are a good bet!), you can make yourself a jar of coconut butter for just a couple of bucks. Pretty cool, right?

So what do you do with this stuff? It’s obviously ultra decadent and tastes great by the spoonful, drizzled onto sweet potatoes or ice cream or blended into dessert smoothies, but my favorite use for it is as a 1-to-1 substitute for coconut oil. I used to avoid raw dessert recipes, many of which call for a ton of coconut oil, which my stomach doesn’t handle well. Anecdotally, I find that coconut butter, which retains all the fiber of dried coconut, makes those dishes a little less hard on my stomach. It doesn’t hurt, either, that homemade coconut butter is much cheaper by weight than coconut oil! I’ve also taken to using it to replace store-bought vegan butter in cookie recipes with great success. Just keep in mind that coconut butter naturally has more texture than coconut oil, so you might not want to use it in desserts that require an ultra-silky texture.

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How to Make Coconut Butter
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: ~1.5 cups
  • 12 oz. unsweetened, shredded desiccated coconut (~4.5 cups)
  1. Put coconut in a food processor (or blender).
  2. Blend on high for about 10 minutes, scraping down sides occasionally, until completely smooth. The length of time will vary depending on the strength of your food processor or blender. As with nut butters, you'll notice that the mixture will go through stages: first it will be crumbly, then it will become a thick paste, and finally, it'll turn into a relatively smooth liquid. Just be patient and keep blending until it reaches that final stage. You don't want to burn out your food processor's motor, so as you blend, pay attention to the warmth of your blender's motor. If it gets really hot, just take a break for a few minutes and let it cool down slightly before doing more blending. Repeat as necessary!
  3. Store in an air-tight jar. As long as you're careful not to drop crumbs or any other foreign objects into it over time, you don't need to refrigerate it. If you do refrigerate it, or if your pantry stays pretty cool, it will solidify. If this doesn't suit your needs, you can soften it by placing the entire jar in a bowl of hot water for half an hour or so.
You can of course use less than 4.5 cups of coconut to start with, but if you're using a full-sized blender, using this large amount will make blending much easier.


*This is just one of many reasons I will never get a cookbook contract!

**Just kidding! I know the 1% eats a steady diet of the flesh of newborns. It’s actually the 6%ers who bathe in hot tubs of coconut butter.