Can gluten free eat coconut oil?

Coconut oil has become an increasingly popular food ingredient and cooking oil in recent years. With its high levels of saturated fats and potential health benefits, many people are interested in using coconut oil in their diets. For those who follow a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, understanding whether coconut oil is safe to consume is an important consideration.

Is Coconut Oil Naturally Gluten Free?

Coconut oil is derived from the meat of mature coconuts. It undergoes processing to create the final oil product that is used for consumption and cooking. During this process, there are no gluten-containing ingredients added to coconut oil. Therefore, pure coconut oil with no additives is considered naturally gluten-free.

The main components of coconut oil are fats called triglycerides. It does not naturally contain any protein, which is where gluten is found. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Since coconut oil does not contain any gluten-based proteins, it is safe for those following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Checking for Gluten-Free Certification

Even though coconut oil itself does not contain gluten, it is still important to check that the specific brand of coconut oil you are using is certified gluten-free. Some brands may add flavorings, vitamins or other ingredients into coconut oil blends that could contain gluten. These added ingredients may come from gluten-containing grains.

To be sure the coconut oil you choose is 100% gluten-free, look for a certification label on the packaging. This certification means that the product has been tested to verify it has an undetectable level of gluten, under 20 parts per million according to FDA standards.

Some of the main gluten-free certifications to look for include:

  • Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
  • Celiac Support Association Recognition Seal
  • Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP)
  • Gluten Intolerance Group Certified Gluten-Free Logo

Choosing coconut oils with one of these trusted gluten-free labels will give you assurance that the product contains no gluten and is safe for a gluten-free diet.

Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination is another factor to consider when choosing gluten-free coconut oil. This occurs when gluten-containing grains come into contact with the oil during harvesting, processing, transportation or storage.

Some potential sources of cross-contamination may include:

  • Processing equipment that is also used for gluten-containing foods
  • Food storage bins that previously held gluten-containing ingredients
  • Food preparation surfaces where gluten was present
  • Shared transportation trucks or shipping containers

To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, look for coconut oils that are produced in gluten-free facilities. Companies that process coconut oil in dedicated gluten-free facilities prevent cross-contamination by only using equipment and storage areas not exposed to gluten.

Organic and Unrefined Coconut Oils

Organic and unrefined coconut oils are less likely to have questionable additives and undergo less processing. This makes them a safer choice for avoiding gluten compared to refined coconut oils. Organic certification also requires that preventative measures are in place to avoid cross-contamination.

Unrefined coconut oil, also called virgin or extra virgin coconut oil, is extracted from fresh coconut meat. It undergoes minimal processing and no added ingredients. Organic virgin coconut oil is an ideal choice when seeking a gluten-free oil.

Using Coconut Oil on a Gluten-Free Diet

When you have confirmed the coconut oil is certified gluten-free and produced in a gluten-free facility, it can be safely included as part of a gluten-free diet:

  • Use coconut oil for cooking gluten-free foods like vegetables, eggs, fish and meat.
  • Add coconut oil to smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or other gluten-free foods.
  • Apply coconut oil on skin and hair as a moisturizer.
  • Use coconut oil as a base for gluten-free sauces, dressings and condiments.

Those following a gluten-free diet need to remain vigilant about only using oils, condiments, sauces and other packaged foods that are certified gluten-free and unadulterated. Referring to reputable gluten-free food lists and checking labels for certifications continues to be the safest practice for gluten-free living.

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

In addition to being naturally gluten-free, coconut oil offers several health benefits that make it appealing for a gluten-free lifestyle:

  • Rich in MCTs: Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat digested differently than most other fats. MCTs are efficiently metabolized for energy rather than stored as fat.
  • High in Lauric Acid: This beneficial saturated fat has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
  • Non-Inflammatory: Coconut oil does not contain omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that can contribute to inflammation when overly consumed.
  • Blood Sugar Support: The MCTs in coconut oil may help with blood sugar regulation compared to high-carbohydrate foods.

These health benefits make coconut oil an excellent addition to a gluten-free diet. Using coconut oil in place of other inflammatory oils can provide nutritional advantages.

Potential Drawbacks of Coconut Oil

While coconut oil offers some health upsides, there are also a few potential drawbacks to consider:

  • It is high in saturated fat – Coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat. Too much saturated fat from any source may increase blood cholesterol levels.
  • Risk of weight gain – All fats are high in calories. Portion control is important when adding any oil to your diet.
  • Allergies – Some people have allergies to coconut and should avoid coconut oil.
  • GI symptoms – Eating too much coconut oil at once may cause nausea, diarrhea or stomach upset in some people as the body adjusts.

Overall, coconut oil can be part of a healthy gluten-free diet when used in moderation. Focus on obtaining adequate nutrition from whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and gluten-free grains. Use coconut oil as a periodic cooking oil or condiment rather than relying on it as a primary fat source.

Cooking and Baking with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has a high smoke point of 350°F. This makes it well suited for cooking methods like stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, baking and pan-frying. The oil imparts a light coconut flavor that works well in both savory and sweet dishes.

When cooking with coconut oil, keep in mind that it will be solid below 76°F due to the high saturated fat content. You can melt the coconut oil to measure it as a liquid when needed. Some ways to use coconut oil for cooking and baking include:

  • Sauté or stir-fry vegetables, shrimp, chicken or beef
  • Toast gluten-free bread or make grilled cheese
  • Grease pans for baking gluten-free muffins, cookies or pie crusts
  • Roast vegetables tossed in coconut oil and spices
  • Add to smoothies or hot cereals like gluten-free oats
  • Blend into hummus, pesto or salad dressings
  • Pop popcorn tossed in coconut oil and salt

Coconut oil can also be used to enhance many other gluten-free recipes. Start by substituting it for other oils or solid fats called for in a recipe. You may need to experiment with adjustments to get the right consistency in baked goods.

Top Brands of Gluten-Free Coconut Oil

Here are some top recommended brands for safely gluten-free coconut oils:

Brand Product Certifications
Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil USDA Organic, Non-GMO
Native Forest Organic Virgin Coconut Oil USDA Organic
Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free
Anjou Coconut Oil Non-GMO, Gluten-Free
Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil USDA Organic, Non-GMO

These reputable brands undergo third-party testing to verify the coconut oil is free of gluten and safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Look for oils that are certified organic, non-GMO and produced in dedicated gluten-free facilities for optimal quality.

Coconut Oil Recipes

Coconut oil works great in all kinds of gluten-free recipes. Here are a few recipe ideas to try:

Coconut Shrimp with Mango-Lime Dipping Sauce


  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1⁄3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1⁄2 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
  • Mango-Lime Dipping Sauce:
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Pat shrimp dry and place in bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil and toss to coat.
  3. In shallow dish, mix panko, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge shrimp in panko mixture pressing to adhere, place on baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle shrimp with remaining coconut oil.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes until crispy, flipping halfway.
  7. In bowl, mix mango, lime juice, olive oil, honey and salt. Serve alongside coconut shrimp for dipping.

Coconut Flour Banana Bread

Gluten-free flour blend:

  • 1 1⁄4 cups coconut flour
  • 1⁄4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1⁄4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet ingredients:

  • 3 medium bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1⁄3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. In large bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour blend.
  3. In separate bowl, mix bananas, eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

The Bottom Line

Coconut oil makes a nice addition to a gluten-free diet due to its versatility and nutrition profile. When choosing coconut oil, be sure to select a reputable brand that is certified gluten-free to avoid any contamination. Organic virgin coconut oil is an optimal choice.

Use coconut oil in moderation as you would with other fats, focusing primarily on whole foods for nutrition. Enjoy coconut oil for occasional cooking and baking along with benefiting from its health-promoting properties. With the proper precautions, coconut oil can be safely enjoyed as part of a gluten-free lifestyle.

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