Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Jan

Coconut Oil and Ghee: Together At Last

You’ve heard about the virtues of coconut oil over and over again and just last week we were extolling them again. You know its got a ton of saturated fat, may strengthen mineral absorption and is associated with improved blood sugar and insulin control. The rich flavor of coconut that goes along with it is just another added bonus for most of us. We know, however, there are some of you out there who love everything about coconut oil except the flavor.

If you don’t always want to feel like you’re heading off to the tropics when you cook with coconut oil, but you still want the health benefits, try making “coconut ghee.” Reader Jeanmarie mentioned that this was her favorite fat to use in pretty much every cooking situation, so we couldn’t help but try it ourselves. Coconut ghee is a blend of coconut oil and clarified butter (butter with the milk solids and water removed).

Why remove the milk solids and water from butter? Separating the milk solids from the butterfat almost entirely removes the carbohydrates (lactose) as well as a protein that some people are sensitive to, casein. Evaporating out the water means the flavor of the butter is less diluted. Additionally, removing the milk solids and water also gives butter a higher smoke point, which means you can use ghee for sautéing, stir frying, or deep frying at high heats (375-485 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on purity).

Combining ghee with coconut oil is like having the best of both worlds. You get the nutty flavor of butter and the subtle sweetness of coconut oil to create one delicious saturated fat.

You’ll want to start with some unsalted butter. If you splurge a little and buy some higher-quality butter it will probably still be cheaper than buying already-made ghee, which can be quite expensive. In a small pot melt the butter over medium heat.

When it is bubbling and melted, turn the heat to medium-low and as white foam rises to the top skim it off carefully with a spoon.

Depending on how meticulous you are, this process can take at least 15-20 minutes.

During this time the butter will become a little darker and take on a richer flavor. You might also notice some darker clumps of milk protein sinking to the bottom. Next, if you really want to clarify the butter, pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel.

This will catch any last remaining milk solids and leave you with pure, golden ghee.

Using 1/2 pound of butter will give you about a cup of ghee. If you mix this with 1/2 cup of coconut oil, the ghee will have a very faint flavor of coconut. If you add a little less coconut oil, the coconut flavor will pretty much disappear.

As Jeanmarie says, “keep stirring or shaking the mixture of ghee and coconut oil in a jar so it stays blended as it cools and solidifies.”

Kept in a covered jar, coconut ghee will keep for months at room temperature without spoiling. It can be used in pretty much any cooking situation.

And how does the reader who inspired this post describe their coconut ghee?

“Neutral but yummy.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Will you be trying this? Do you have your own homemade fat making recipes? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment board!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Coconut Ghee – the Primal “speedball”

    My goodness that looks gloriously good.

    Geoff wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • Or, “two great tastes that taste great together”… wait, that one’s taken.

      “Primal Speedball” it is!

      Adam Kayce wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • I have been making a coconut oil, ghee, palm oil mixture for some time. The palm oil by itself is a little too red for some foods because it discolors them. The coconut oil has a strong coconut taste. The ghee doesn’t have the carotenoids or virus shedding effects of the other two, but does have a nice buttery flavor. Mixing all three in roughly equal parts makes a great cooking oil that isn’t too pigmented or too coconutty for Italian spices.

      Karen Vaughan wrote on February 9th, 2010
      • Karen, I used some red palm oil in combo with ghee once and it was the only way I’ve found palm oil to be palatable. Too strong for me! So you’re right, a blend gives the benefits of each fat. Thanks for the reminder, I think I’ll try it again.

        Jeanmarie wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • Can the coconut ghee be stored in aluminum? And what’s best use for solids skimmed off?

        Judy wrote on February 6th, 2012
        • solids have the nutty flavour simply dust with little jaggery(better)/Honey(Best) or sugar(not recommended and eat warm…superb fudge…
          best food, i remember how ghee/ghrit(Sanskrit root word) and all by products are extolled in India.
          Ayur veda says mixing coconut ,sesame and Ghee in equal proportions is the best elixir when eaten with a diet rich in vitamin c (Amla,lemon& turmeric) to fight ageing.

          anu wrote on November 19th, 2013
  2. Coconut oil + ghee = fantastic.

    If your grocery store carries Kerrygold brand butter, try that. Their cows are grassfed, and though they aren’t organic certified, they don’t use hormones or antibiotics.

    Pikaia wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • I happen to work at Whole Foods, and we just put Kerrygold on sale last month. I tasted it, then stocked the hell up! It’s fantastic stuff. At the time, it’s cheaper than my usual butter choice, which is Organic Valley Pasture Butter.

      Bret M. wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • The Costco in our area has started selling Kerrygold brand butter. They have it in 3# packages for a reasonable price.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on April 2nd, 2011
  3. Wow what a great idea! I just might have to suggest that to my husband. Thanks for sharing, Jeanmarie.

    Alicia wrote on January 29th, 2010
  4. This post couldn’t be more timely and custom tailored. i just bought coconut oil for the first time…and i’m sensitive to the carbs in milk. so I am going to make this FOR SURE. It’s pretty cool how Mark skims off the best wisdom and experience from his primal readers and his research, strains it carefully and mixes it together into this useful blog!

    DThalman wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • And his worker bees do, too!

      Aaron Blaisdell wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • No doubt that MDA readers are a wealth of information and inspiration for me and the Worker Bees. Obviously the community deserves a ton of credit for the success of this site and movement. Thanks to Jeanmarie and everyone else that visits, comments, speaks up in the forum, and shares their experiences and knowledge!

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 29th, 2010
  5. I’ve been using this product for quite a while now:

    I have a hard time finding good pastured butter or ghee where I live so this is the next best thing. I use it for almost everything. The only other oils I use are lard or olive oil, occasionally bacon grease.

    Tal wrote on January 29th, 2010
  6. Looks like another fun project to experiment with. I have about ten pounds of raw milk butter from a local farmer who has three Jerseys.

    I notice that sometimes the butter tastes a little spoiled if I leave it out on the counter with a loose cover for more than a week or so. I am wondering if this new mixture will sit out ok as long as I keep it in a truly sealed container? It is just easier to work with when it is room temp! Any thoughts?

    Rodney wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • Rodney, I keep my coconut ghee on the counter, near the stove, as I generally use it in any and all cooking every day. (It’s good straight from the jar, actually!) So far mine has kept very nicely, but I use it up pretty fast. (I use 2-3 pounds of butter at a time when I make it, and I don’t actually measure how much coconut oil, but approximately the amount as the finished ghee, or slightly less.)

      If you’re in a hot climate, it could melt a bit and possibly start to separate, so if that happens you can give it a break in the fridge. Otherwise, there’s no reason to think it won’t keep at least as well as ghee and coconut oil would separately.

      Jeanmarie wrote on January 29th, 2010
      • Thanks Jeanmarie,

        I now have a weekend project to add to my to do list. Sounds like fun!

        Rodney wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • Rodney, your butter spoils because it is from raw milk(unpasteurized) and it is the leftover milk solids that are spoiling. The good part of that butter is that it is not pasteurized so it still has all the good “bugs” in it. Making ghee will take care of the spoiling problems because the milk solids are removed and heating is what pasteuriztion is.

      Is your local farmer willing (or able) to sell you raw milk? If you can get a gallon of raw milk, let it seperate, laddle off the cream on top, chill and then spoon it on top of fresh black raspberries. A truely decedent but healthy treat.

      Luann wrote on February 9th, 2010
  7. You can buy ghee at any Indian grocery store.
    Mark, do you think a lot of saturated fat in your diet would put your gall bladder in nitrous mode?

    Kishore wrote on January 29th, 2010
  8. I am definitely going to try the ghee + coconut oil. Looks like a great addition to the PB!

    Is there a difference between using raw butter and pasteurized butter when making ghee? Raw butter seems like it would be more beneficial to pasteurized butter if we eat it in its raw state. Otherwise, is there really a difference between using raw grass-fed butter to make ghee versus using a pasteurized organic butter?

    bfaber87 wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • Personally, I use pasteurized butter just because raw is so pricey that when I buy it, I want to consume it raw. I’ve been pleased with Kerry Gold, Organic Valley’s pastured butter, and Sierra Nevada Vat-Cultured Butter, what’s available in Mendocino County, CA. Strauss Organic is also very nice.

      Jeanmarie wrote on January 29th, 2010
  9. What an awesome idea!

    gregandbeaker wrote on January 29th, 2010
  10. If you have an Indian grocer in your town, it’s probably cheaper to buy ghee than it is to make it.

    Bryan Larsen wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • Totally going to check into this! Thanks for the tip. I bought ghee the other day at my locally grocery store, but definitely don’t care for the price. (And life is waaaay to busy to stop and make some). Going to check out my Indian grocer!

      Leah wrote on June 6th, 2016
  11. I know what I’m doing this weekend =)

    darienx19 wrote on January 29th, 2010
  12. When I cook, I use equal amounts of CO and ghee to get both the yummy flavors. I second Pikaia. I make ghee from Kerry Gold butter and it tastes awesome.

    maba wrote on January 29th, 2010
  13. *burp* Recipe approved 😉

    Grok wrote on January 29th, 2010
  14. Great idea! When you make ghee at home, you can ensure that it is sterile. It is a great ointment for dry eyes (should you be so brave). I put some aside fresh from the stove and keep it in a sterile glass medicine jar for opthalmic use before bed whenever my eyes are dry and irritated. Note, I am talking about pure, sterile ghee before any addition of coconut oil.

    Bobby Fernandez wrote on January 29th, 2010
  15. I’m definitely going to try this real soon!

    hypnotikk wrote on January 29th, 2010
  16. Brilliant idea.

    I don’t mind that coconut flavor, but I know that if I cook with it too often my husband starts frowning at dinner.

    I can’t wait to try this!

    FoodRenegade wrote on January 29th, 2010
  17. When you clarify the butter after would it be safe to say its dairy free?

    Matt wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • It isn’t dairy-free, but you can call it lactose-, casein-, and whey-free.

      C wrote on January 29th, 2010
      • That makes sense, thanks for the clarification.

        Jeanmarie wrote on January 29th, 2010
        • Brilliant pun.

          You get 1000 points for the recipe and 100,000 points for the pun. If the pun wasn’t on purpose you get a million points because you’re subconsciously awesome.

          Caveman Sam wrote on January 29th, 2010
        • Clarification. Too funny

          Terri wrote on February 5th, 2014
  18. “If you have an Indian grocer in your town, it’s probably cheaper to buy ghee than it is to make it.”

    Be careful at the Indian grocer’s. The most widely used form of Ghee is an artificial substitute which is basically Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil. It is touted by big companies as ‘healthier’ and it is certainly cheaper than the real thing. Dairy Ghee is commonly labeled ‘Asli’ (real, as opposed to fake), but even this is no legal guarantee of quality or provenance. Make your own. Millions of South Asians used to.

    dada wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • In “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes,” Jennifer McLagan says that traditional dairy ghee is called usili ghee and the kind made from vegetable oil is vanaspati ghee, so definitely be sure you have the right kind if you get it from an Indian grocer. It’s hard to see how it could be cheaper than homemade unless they’re cutting corners, and ghee is so easy to make (especially with the aid of Mark’s great photos to guide you if you haven’t done it before). I have bought it before and it’s ridiculously expensive at the grocery store. Haven’t tried an Indian market though.
      Matt, if you clarify it well and strain it, the ghee is virtually dairy free, but I wouldn’t claim it equals something purified under laboratory conditions, which might matter for someone who is very, very sensitive. It should be fine for most dairy-sensitive folks, from what I’ve read. I’m lactose-intolerant myself.

      Jeanmarie wrote on January 29th, 2010
  19. dada,
    I noticed this on my last shopping trip. One brand of Ghee listed “Ghee, and pure ‘Ghee Flavoring'”

    WTF??? Why would Ghee NEED ‘Ghee Flavoring’?

    Asli Ghee, it is. Thanks for the tip!

    kuno1chi wrote on January 29th, 2010
  20. Fat-tastic!

    Meredith wrote on January 29th, 2010
  21. I may have to give this one a try!

    Todd Dosenberry wrote on January 29th, 2010
  22. Consider it done. O M G!

    Rachel Allen wrote on January 29th, 2010
  23. Hey, I just noticed the recipe calls for Unsalted butter. What happens if I use salted? Deal buster, or minor difference? Thanks!

    Rodney wrote on January 29th, 2010
  24. sound very yummy…..I might have to try it

    rik wrote on January 29th, 2010
  25. Hmmm, might try it with storebought butter, but I sure wouldn’t want to make this with my raw milk butter!!

    Jenny wrote on January 29th, 2010
  26. If you really wanted to go all out, you could always get some organic cream, churn it (shake it in the bottle it comes in) and make your own fresh butter that way.

    Dogs wrote on January 29th, 2010
    • how do you do that? mine comes in a little carton, do i just put it in a bottle and shake it? since it’s heavy organic cream, no carbs, i’d be assured of no bad reaction from that butter!

      DThalman wrote on January 30th, 2010
      • If you have a blender, use it. Works perfectly.

        anand srivastava wrote on February 1st, 2010
  27. my favourite way of eating butter or ghee for that matter is too mix it with raw egg yolks (i choose those that have more pronounced orange color) + some salt, and use it as dip for some other stuff

    gn wrote on January 30th, 2010
  28. Anyone else think those pictures remind them of fight club? lol. Nice post. I LOVE coconuts.

    Richard Shelmerdine wrote on January 30th, 2010
  29. sounds like a great recipe..I’ll give it a try. Thanks Mark

    Bobasmurf wrote on January 30th, 2010
  30. can you use salted butter?

    Suzanne wrote on January 30th, 2010
    • Most of the sources I consulted — Fat: A Misunderstood Ingredient; On Food and Cooking; Nourishing Traditions; The Joy of Cooking — specify unsalted butter, but don’t say why. Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child) is unclear. It says French unsalted butter and American salted butter are interchangeable in cooking, then goes on to talk about clarified butter without specifying unsalted or not. Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food, 2.0, doesn’t specify.

      Salt is used as a preservative in regular butter “but changes the flavor,” as Joy of Cooking notes. I suspect using salted butter won’t ruin it, and I suspect I’ve used it before in ghee (some salted, some unsalted in one batch), but the consensus is to use unsalted. For one thing, you’d be concentrating the salt because clarifying removes the water from butter, and an unsalted product is more versatile. You also get to control the quality of the salt, choosing, say, Celtic sea salt to use in cooking, when you use unsalted butter to make ghee.

      I read ages ago that salt can mask the taste of poor quality butter, an argument for only using unsalted. In either case, choose the best quality butter, preferably from cows pastured on green grass.

      Jeanmarie wrote on January 30th, 2010
      • I think the only place it really matters is in baking (which often calls for unsalted) and I used to prefer salted butter on bread, but likely most PBers don’t do much of either one anymore.

        I believe it was Cook’s Illustrated that said recently if you need to substitute unsalted for salted, it’s approximately 1/4 teaspoon of salt per pound of butter, but that the amount of salt added to commercial salted butter will vary with the season, so be sure to taste as you go. If a recipe calls for unsalted butter and all you have is salted, be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe per the above ratio.

        Shebeeste wrote on February 18th, 2010
  31. I’m very excited about making this. We’ve used coconut oil to cook up some coconut shrimp and pineapple chicken, but every once in a while the coconut flavor isn’t favorable for the other meat dishes. Typically, we turn to our rendered pork lard (that we got from a local butcher with our half pig) to cook our other meats, but this ghee + butter solution offers variety to our menu!

    Marissa wrote on January 30th, 2010
  32. I concocted this recipe this morning, easy enough, can’t wait to try it.

    Ethan wrote on January 30th, 2010
  33. This looks good! I wonder how it would be in more traditional (but low carb/paleo) Hispanic cuisine? I have never used coconut oil. I started my new lifestyle just a few weeks ago and am learning all kinds of things.

    Lupe wrote on January 30th, 2010
  34. Given this is a base common to multiple Indian dishes, it had been a staple in my diet until I went off to college. Tastes good and it’s easy on the health!

    Please Don't Diet wrote on January 30th, 2010
  35. I made some but haven’t tried it yet. Does it smell kind of like caramel to anyone else? Can’t stop sniffing it.

    Primalchild wrote on January 31st, 2010
    • Yes, it will smell caramelly if you cook it long enough, perhaps at a slightly higher temperature. Congratulations if you got to the caramel! According to my sources, that means higher anti-oxidants, curiously enough.

      My best ever ghee was a batch that I almost burned because of not keeping a close enough eye on it. It ended up being the most heavenly caramel-smelling and tasting ghee ever. (I don’t remember whether I added coconut oil to that batch, it was about the same time I started doing that.)

      Jeanmarie wrote on January 31st, 2010
  36. The batch I just made smells like caramel too….mmmm..every whiff reminds me of creme brulee…

    Iceskater wrote on January 31st, 2010
  37. my eggs tasted so good this morning scrambled up in this!

    DThalman wrote on January 31st, 2010
  38. I just made this and I wonder if I overcooked. When I was done my butter looked almost like iced tea. I actually had the burner down low and it barely cooked over 10 minutes. I used unsalted Kerygold. It seemed to me to be done around 7 or 8 minutes but I kept going. Is there a problem if it is light brown?

    Clay wrote on January 31st, 2010
  39. Wow, I don’t know how it could be done so quickly. I tend to go slowly and it could take an hour. The water has to evaporate, so don’t put a lid on your saucepan. Did you use a heavy-bottomed pan? The butter should be bubbling until the water is gone, and by that time the whey should have risen to the top, froth at first until it dries out and forms a slight film (if you don’t skim it as it froths up), and the milk solids (mostly casein protein) should drop to the bottom.

    So essentially, all the main components should have separated themselves out for the ghee to be done: the water has bubbled away and evaporated, the whey has risen to the top and been skimmed, and the casein has dropped to the bottom and will turn brown with sufficient time and temperature (this adds to the flavor), and left in the middle, most of what’s left, is the golden butter oil that you pour off, ideally through a filter as Mark’s photos illustrate above.
    So what is light brown, the butter oil or the casein at the bottom? Did you pour off the oil into clean jars? That’s your ghee. That’s when you add the coconut oil and stir the two together. (Or leave it out for regular ghee.)

    Jeanmarie wrote on January 31st, 2010
    • I used a thick bottom pan (Wolfgang Puck) I had the temperature on low on my burner to try not to burn it. I strained it through a paper towel and metal skimmer. I could not find cheese cloth in the store and apparently among this economic recession they can’t afford someone on the floor because I walked the Vons around the corner from me three times and did not stumble across one courtesy clerk. Run on sentence I know but I was a little steamed and decided a paper towel would suffice. The mixture is now drying and has the apperance of sewer water. The thing is it smells really good. Kind of nuty with a hint of coconut. It’s been a couple hours and it has the consistency of hours old bacon grease. If it’s dry enough by tomorrow I’ll give it run on my eggs and report back. Thanks for the recipe and the help.

      Clay wrote on January 31st, 2010
      • BTW the butter cooked down to just over 1/2 cup after I strained it. Started with 8 oz.

        Clay wrote on January 31st, 2010
        • you can usually find cheese cloth at hardware stores! it’s used to strain paint and stuff like that.

          Peggy wrote on February 1st, 2010
        • Same here. I added the coconut oil 1/4 cup at a time to get it to my taste.

          Genie wrote on May 16th, 2014

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