Virgin vs Refined Coconut Oil: 5 Things You Need To Know

Who doesn’t love coconut oil? It’s versatile, nourishing, and can replace a ton of cooking, baking and body care ingredients. There’s a lot of information available about how to use coconut oil in your day-to-day routine, but the number one question we hear is this:

What is the difference between Virgin and Refined Coconut Oil?

Let’s go over the basics:

Does Virgin Coconut Oil Taste the Same as Refined Coconut Oil?
One of the most immediate differences between Virgin and Refined Coconut Oil is the taste and aroma. While Virgin (unrefined) Coconut Oil boasts a delicious, tropical coconut scent and flavor, Refined Coconut Oil has a neutral scent and flavor.

NutivaCoconutOilDifferenceFB_1How is Coconut Oil Made?
To make Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, fresh coconut meat is scooped out of the shell by hand, then cold pressed, leaving just the oil which has a pure coconut flavor.

Nutiva Organic Refined Coconut Oil is made from dried coconut meat, or copra. Unlike other companies that use harsh chemicals to produce refined coconut oil, we gently steam refine our oil to achieve a neutral-flavor. Because of our commitment to producing the highest quality products, this process is certified organic and uses absolutely no chemicals.

How Do I Use Refined Coconut Oil?
Coconut Oil can be used for baking, cooking and body & hair care. Luckily, Virgin and Refined Coconut Oil can be used interchangeably in recipes so you won’t have a problem switching between the two.

Because of the way Refined Coconut Oil is made, it has a higher smoke point (400 degrees) than Virgin Coconut Oil, making it great for sautéing, stir-frying and baking. Plus, the neutral flavor makes it ideal for recipes where a coconut flavor isn’t desired. Virgin Coconut Oil is best for medium heat cooking up to 350 degrees.

Are you ready to try Refined Coconut Oil? Try this recipe: Stir Fry Bok Choy with Cashews.

bok-choy-stirfryWhich Coconut Oil is Better for You?
Great news! Both Refined and Virgin Coconut Oil have the same nutritional profile. No matter which coconut oil you prefer, both will contain 63% medium chain triglycerides, including 50% lauric acid.

What Should I Look For When Buying Coconut Oil?
An easy way to check if you’re buying quality coconut oil is to make sure it’s certified organic and verified Non-GMO. The next step is to confirm that Virgin Coconut Oil is cold-pressed, made without hexane, and never deodorized or bleached. Refined Coconut Oil should never be refined using harsh chemicals, so be sure to check if it’s steam-refined.

At Nutiva, we take our commitment to excellence a step further and dedicate 1% of sales to support sustainable agriculture. Specifically, we support the small farming communities in Southeast Asia where we source our coconut oil. We sponsored the planting of 100,000 coconut seedlings in 2015, and in five years these seedlings will grow into producing coconut trees and provide farmers with increased income and improved livelihood. We also partnered with Fair Trade USA to implement a school lunch program for children in our farming communities. You can read about that HERE.

Kids at LunchNow you tell us. Which is your go-to coconut oil—Virgin, Refined, or both?!


  1. Linda Adsit says

    I use both. I make snacks, cakes and cookies with the virgin oil, with or instead of butter. I make a coconut wafer with the cookie press that melts in your mouth. Coconut cakes are my heart’s delight. I do all my frying and sauteeing with the refined. It makes the world’s best latkes. I’ve graduated to Nutiva brand and will be staying.

  2. says

    Personally I love the taste and smell of coconut and I don’t mind a tablespoon or two of just plain coconut Oil. It’s healthy tasty and I figure it’s helping me even from the inside out so I’m glad to find Nutiva that sells it so reasonable. I do hope that price stays a while so I can tell al my family and friends. It’s great for stir fry regular or the and it’s great for right out of the shower for skin moisterizer AS IT ABSORBS FAIRLY FAST AND is great for a after shave facial lotion.. Although I haven’t seen it take off any pounds off my franme it still tastes good.


    • Tom says

      Funny you should mention weight loss, Randal. I began eating coconut oil several years ago–as a dementia preventative. Like Dr. Anna Newport recommends, three tablespoons per day. I gradually began losing weight. I dropped about twenty pounds and haven’t put it back on. My weight went down to where it used to be when I was in high school. I had to punch new holes in a couple of my belts. It goes without saying that I am a convinced user of coconut oil. Oh, guys can use it to oil the beard, too. The stuff congeals below 76 degrees Fahrenheit so I keep a little in an old artichoke jar in the bathroom and put it in some warm water in the wash basin while I shower. I keep an eye dropper in the jar and when I get out of the shower I put a drop or two in my hand and rub it in. Nutiva is one of my favorite companies because they are upright people.

    • Jessica says

      Right! There are miles of difference in both taste and scent. The scent is what make me feel it is more authentic. My preference as well will always be unrefined or virgin

  3. Becky Schultz says

    I have exclusively used virgin coconut oil due to my own ignorance (and my love for the aroma and flavor). Thanks for enlightening me with the full knowledge between virgin and refined. I think I need both in my house!

  4. Tina says

    I use both. I use virgin for baking, smoothies, oatmeal, coffee, and body care. My 2 year old daughter also eats it by the spoonful. The refined I use for sauteing and frying. I was so happy when you came out with the refined! I buy both by the gallon!! Thanks for making fantastic products I can feel good about buying!

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi there! Both Refined and Virgin Coconut Oil have the same nutritional profile. Both contain 63% medium chain triglycerides, including 50% lauric acid. Thanks!

  5. Cielo del Carmen says

    I’m from the Philippines, where you source Nutiva’s coconuts! 🙂 I think it’s great that you help the coconut farmers and their families sustain their livelihood by supporting them! The Philippines is overflowing with it’s natural resources and our coconut is one of them! 🙂 Personally, I prefer your Virgin more than the Refined variant. I use it for EVERYTHING – including my 5-year-old son’s facial moisturizer and my makeup remover! 🙂 Nothing beats it! 🙂 MORE POWER TO NUTIVA!!! And a biiiiiiiiiig THANK YOU from the Philippines! 🙂

  6. says

    I use both virgin & refined interchangeably depending if I want the coconut taste or not. I love coconut! And I love Nutiva! I also give my yellow lab, Bo and my King Charles Cavalier, JR a spoonful on top of their dog food. They’ve gotten to expect it and look at me expectantly if I forget!

  7. Joan says

    I never knew the difference before. Thanks for posting! I dislike the taste and smell of coconut so I don’t cook with it (until now). Only use it when making body butter and cleansers. Refined will be my choice from now on.

  8. Preston lamm says

    I have noticed a huge change on taste. I get the unrefined cold pressed. It doesn’t taste like coconuts anymore. I buy in the biggest jar 54 oz ya I cook with it, sunscreen, moisturizer etc. So been using for years and Bam flavor Changes. I still use it but not like o I used to. So why the change in flavor from coconuts plus? What.

  9. Sharon Tuscano says

    The biggest question that I would like to have answered . . . . Is the nutritional composition changed with the refined?

  10. Elynne says

    I purchased 2qt. 14 oz. of Organic extra virgin coconut oil. I began to use it in baking and everything tasted like coconuts! I abandoned it on my shelf. Now..having gone to your website I see that refined coconut oil will not taste like coconuts! Alas.. should have done more research long ago. I love the flavor of coconut but not where I do n’t want it. Hoping to find recipes on your website that will let me use up all the coconut oil in a way to enjoy the taste.

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi Elynee! It sounds like our refined coconut oil is perfect for your recipes where you do not want a coconut flavor! You can replace virgin coconut oil with refined coconut oil in any recipe. Thanks!

    • Marilyn says

      Just started using it in our 3 p.m. coffee. Whipping it in the blender gives it a nice latte foam. Also just changed from another brand to Nutiva because it’s not made in the same place they use peanuts. Thanks!

  11. Barbara Samuelsz says

    I have used Nutiva coconut oil for more than 10 years and it is the only brand I will buy. I first realized the power of it when I had a growth on my scalp that slowly got bigger and bigger and my dermatologist said it wasn’t dangerous so we wouldn’t take it off. The girl who cuts my hair commented on it getting bigger over nearly a year. I had read the coconut oil miracle book and decided to try that on the growth. I took a very small dab of coconut oil and rubbed it into the growth. The next morning I felt the growth and it had changed dramatically overnight-it felt like it was drying up! I continued to rub coconut oil into it twice a day and within 2 weeks it was COMPLETELY gone and has never come back!! The girl who cuts my hair was stunned and so was I. A couple of years later I had another growth on my body and I tried the same thing and it disappeared even faster because I didn’t allow the growth to get big. The book talks about it working on Basal Cell Carcinoma so when a friend had about 6 Basal Cell Carcinomas on her scalp and was going to get them all taken off, I gave her some coconut oil to try as I had. When she went to the surgeon, he said there was not longer anything there!! Really incredible! I love the refined as well. We use it for everything-cooking, baking, skin lotion, eye makeup remover, our dogs in their food (if I have put it on my hands for hand lotion, they try to get at my hands to lick it off-they love it!! Our cat too-he also loves it in his food or licks from my finger or tries to lick it off my hands). This product is one of God’s amazing creations!

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi, Barbara! Thank you for sharing. We love to hear stories like these. Thank you for helping us revolutionize the way the world eats!

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi there! We refine our coconut oil through a certified organic steam refining process–absolutely no chemicals are used. Our coconut oil is non-hydrogenated and trans-fat free. Thanks!

  12. Tee Bone says

    One question…I use coconut oil for oil pulling so do both virgin and refined have the same effects when used in this way?? I usually get virgin, but have recently been seeing more about refined and am very curious.
    Thanks for your help in this matter!

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi! Yes, you get the same benefits from oil pulling with refined coconut oil as you do with virgin coconut oil. Thanks!

  13. Joelle Brouet says

    I love the taste of the virgin one too much to go for the refined one but I can see how it would be a good choice if the coconut flavor is not desirable for a particular dish. I have found the Nutiva Virgin Coconut oil to have the best flavor.

  14. Amie Warren says

    I have been only using virgin, becuse I thought refined coconut oil did not have the lauric acid. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t fry in it, though, so now that I know the refined still has the lauric acid, I’ll go ahead and cook with that and save myself some money. I’ll still use the virgin for medicinal and cosmetic uses, because I do love the smell so much.

    I won’t use anything but Nutiva brand. I’ve tried others, and just was not as satisfied. I’m a customer for life.

  15. Tee Bone says

    I use coconut oil to do my oil pulling. I usually use virgin, but I have been seeing a lot about refined lately and I am wondering if there is any difference when used for this purpose??? Thanks for your assistance in understanding this matter!

    • Team Nutiva says

      Hi! Great question! It’s just a matter of personal preference. If you enjoy the flavor + scent of coconut, you will likely prefer the Virgin vs. Refined. If not, then choose the Refined. You can’t go wrong either way!

  16. says

    I use both the virgin and refined coconut oils by Nutiva. I absolutely love them. I have tried other brands and always come back to Nutiva. I have been using Nutiva exclusively for six months and do not plan to switch. They are amazing. I make hair masks, lotions, treatments and even us it on my baby since he was about 6 months. I had a wart from pregnancy and heard coconut oil will slowly make it disappear. Guess what??? It is gone! Other brands didn’t work but Nutiva made it disappear in a week! I was amazed! So I never plan on using anything else. Plus it absorbs so well in your skin where other brands sit on top of the skin. Thank you Nutiva for making such a quality product. You have a customer for life!

  17. Karen says

    I use both for oil pulling. Even my dentist has noticed the difference. Also use unrefined (1TBS) on my coffee put it in the blender for a couple of seconds and it comes out like a latte. S
    Delish! I use it as a moisturizer , for my grandsons cradle cap, in my smoothies I love my coconut oil!

  18. suezen says

    Since I begin using coconut oil -and only Nutiva, never ever any other brand, I’ always was an unrefined coconut oil user. However, after learning that the refined has a higher smoke point I believe I will start using that for my cooked recipes that I make and keep the unrefined for raw foods and my personal care. Thank you for that article, Nutiva, because I would not have known that.
    My very best to you and the crew. Susan Kindler, LMT

  19. Cindy Barton says

    I love everything Nutiva! I haven’t purchased the refined oil as I didn’t think it had all the good stuff in it. I will be ordering it along with the virgin. I love the coconut manna. Thanks for such healthy options.

  20. Barrie says

    I love unrefined coconut oil but my family doesn’t like the taste of coconut so I use both, depending on what I’m making. I tried another brand to review and it just doesn’t have the good flavor of Nutiva! I’ll never purchase any brand again!

  21. Marilyn McKenzie-KELTON says

    Love,love,love the delicious cococonut flavor of Nutiva cold process,Virgin Coconut Oil! Funny thing happened, the more coconut oil I ate, since April 2016, the more body fat weight, I lost; along with exercise & strength-training, of course! My favorite healthy snack is WASA flat bread crackers, spread with a thick layer of Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil, sprinkled with pinch of Sea Salt. Savory Delicious! For dessert, I do the same, but layer with thinly sliced Apples & a sprinkle of Cinnamon. Sweet Delicious!

  22. Diane says

    Hi. I have used only your virgin coconut oil so far, but bought the unrefined recently solely because it is in a glass jar rather than #1 (ugh) plastic. Is the virgin oil available in glass as well?

  23. Deye says

    I take a tbsp every morning of your regular cocunut oil. I purchased the refined and glad it has no flavour or scent. Please tell me I am getting all the same benefits that regular coconut provides. Thanks

  24. Doug McGregor says

    I was just going to buy your virgin organic cold pressed coconut oil at my market but it did not say “Hexane
    Free”, on the label so I did not buy it. Is your oil hexane free and why is it not stated!on the label? It also said the oil was from the Philippines and Sri Lanka? I’m confused and do you have quality control in those countries and can you safely say that hexane is not being used in the process? Thank you! Doug

  25. preeti says

    Hi,Actually I want to reduce my weight around 10kgs,how can coconut oil helps me to reduce weight and what kind of coconut oil is best for my problem.please help me.awaiting for ur ans.

    • Team Nutiva says

      Please seek out the advice and opinion from your doctor, nutritionist or other health care practitioner on this. Thanks!

  26. Jo says

    I’m a coconut girl all the way! I love the smell and the taste,so I use the unrefined coconut oil. I use it to cook and bake with, in my smoothies, in my hair and scalp, in my homemade skin products, etc. I love this stuff! I also love what your company is doing to help local farmers and schools in the areas in which you source your coconut oil from. It’s so nice to give back to the community. Blessings!

  27. Hellen says

    Coming from Indonesia, i’m more used to the refined coconut oil. It’s what we use for cooking for healthier choice and better taste dishes. I remember it wasn’t available in the US 3 years ago, but it is now so I’m glad i get to use it for my cooking


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