* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

BEST Palm Oil Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of palm oil substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured I’ve got you covered.

Peanut and rice bran oils are great options if you want a sustainable alternative to palm oil. But if it’s not a concern, cooking oils like refined coconut or light olive oil will do. If you want something biodegradable and cheap, go for an animal fat like lard.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I made a (super delicious) vegetable stir-fry to test out different palm oil substitutes.

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil sourced from palm fruits. Unrefined palm oil is reddish, but most versions on the market are refined, which gives them a golden color.

It has a neutral flavor and you can heat it up to 455F, meaning it’s super versatile. It’s also cheap.

But sustainability has been a problem for palm oil for years. Demand for it is high, which has driven the creation of oil palm plantations at the expense of the world’s most biodiverse rainforests

When I was looking for substitutes I considered how sustainable they were, as well as how versatile they were.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts: 

SubstitutesSubstitute directionsVerdict
Peanut oilReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Rice bran oilReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Other cooking oilsReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
TallowReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
LardReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Bacon greaseReplace with half the amount8/10
MargarineReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10

Note: it’s actually very hard to find a truly sustainable alternative to palm oil because most of the options would soon become unsustainable if we were to produce them in the quantities we produce palm oil in.

The answer lies in moderation!

Common uses of palm oil

  • For high-heat cooking methods (sautéing, deep-frying, etc.): Try using peanut oil, rice bran oil, and other cooking oils. Tallow also works, but it’s better suited for savory dishes.
  • For baking and roasting: Try using lard. You can also use margarine, but it may impart an artificial butter flavor that more experienced palates will notice.

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is a surprisingly sustainable alternative to palm oil. 

Peanuts require minimal water to grow. And they play a crucial role in soil health by ‘fixing’ nitrogen, enriching the soil for subsequent crops.

The oil itself has a mild flavor and a high smoke point, so you can use it for high-heat cooking. 

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with peanut oil.

The caveat lies in its high omega-6 fatty acid content, which isn’t great if you eat too much of it.

Like with everything, balance is key! 

Pssst… go the extra mile and opt for locally-sourced peanut oil.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with peanut oil.

Rice bran oil

Rice bran oil is quickly earning its badge as a sustainable alternative to palm oil. 

It’s produced from the bran, AKA outer layer of rice grains that usually gets discarded, so it’s a winner on the zero-waste front! 

Again, it has a mild flavor and a high smoke point – so you can use it for everything you’d use palm oil for.

And it’s a good source of poly and mono-unsaturated fats – the good ones you want to incorporate in your diet! 

The only downside is it’s a fair bit pricier than palm oil, but the trade-off is worth it if you want to be sustainable.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with rice bran oil.

Other cooking oils

There’s no shortage of cooking oils derived from different plants for you to choose from as a replacement for palm oil.

You can heat all of the following oils to high temperatures, and they have a primarily neutral flavor. Exactly what we’re looking for.

These oils aren’t perfectly sustainable (check out Sustained Kitchen for all the details on why), but if you can find a local organic seller of these, you’ll be doing a great job on reducing your carbon footprint!

  • Refined coconut oil
  • Refined sunflower oil
  • Canola/rapeseed oil
  • Light olive oil
  • Refined avocado oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil 

As I said before, if any of these oils were to get super popular and become mass produced on a massive scale, they’d be damaging to the environment.

But for now, they’re not quite as bad as palm oil.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in your 1:1 ratio with your choice of cooking oil. 


Tallow is another fat made from a waste product: scraps of beef trimmings, which you can get from your local butchers for super cheap!

The fat is slowly rendered on a low heat for around 4 hours. Long, but worth it! 

Once you have your batch of tallow, it’s good to go for about three months. And you can use it for any cooking application: from baking to deep-frying. 

Tallow is flavorless, but it has a subtle meaty richness to it that you don’t get from plant-based oils.

Pssst… another positive for tallow is that animal fats are biodegradable unlike vegetable oils.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in your 1:1 ratio with tallow.

Bacon grease

Do you cook bacon regularly?

If you answered yes, bacon grease could be an excellent substitute for palm oil in your kitchen. 

That leftover fat in the saucepan is affectionately known as ‘liquid gold’, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

It’s got a very strong smokey, savory flavor and a low smoke point. So you can’t use it for deep frying. But it’s great for sautéing and baking.

If the flavor is too much for you, you can mix it with a more neutral oil to tone it down.

How to substitute: replace palm oil with half the amount of bacon grease.


Lard is very similar to tallow, but it comes from pork far instead of beef.

It’s very affordable, so is in par with palm oil in that sense. And it’s really easy to find.

It doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own, but it does have a nice richness to it.

But before you get too excited, remember lard is high in saturated fats so use it in moderation.

Pro tip: lard makes the best flaky pastry.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with lard.


Margarine is another decent replacement for palm oil. 

It’s typically made with palm oil (which makes this a not-so-sustainable option!), so it has a high smoke point straight out of the box.

And it’s just as cheap as palm oil! 

My only issue with margarine is the artificial buttery flavor, but you can always work around it by using more seasoning in your dishes.

How to substitute: replace palm oil in a 1:1 ratio with margarine.

Other substitutes to consider

The list above features my top picks for palm oil substitutes, but here are other options you can consider trying: 

  • Clarified butter/ghee – this has a higher smoke point than palm oil and will bring an added nutty note to your dishes. You can easily make it from regular butter.
  • Schmaltz – is another solid substitute if you want to use up scraps of chicken fat. It has a lower smoke point, but it’ll infuse your dish with a delicious caramelized chicken flavor.
  • Duck fat – if money isn’t an issue and you’d like to inject your dishes with more flavor, try duck fat! It has mildly sweet, buttery notes that’ll make your dishes sing. 
  • Food-grade cocoa butter – an great vegan alternative to palm oil. It has a prominent sweet aroma but a mild flavor, making it suitable for savory and sweet dishes. It’s biodegradable and sustainable grown.

Substitutes to avoid

I lots of suggestions while I was researching, and here are two I came across on other blogs that won’t work as a replacement for palm oil.

  • Flaxseed oil – this isn’t suitable as a direct substitute for palm oil in most cooking applications because it has a low smoke point, so it breaks down and can become harmful when heated. 
  • Jojoba oil – this is actually a wax ester rather than an actual cooking oil, and it’s commonly used in natural beauty products due to its similarities with human skin oil. Its properties make it unsuitable for cooking or food preparation. 

Best Palm Oil substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I tested loads of palm oil substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: palm oil substitutes, substitutes for palm oil
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 120kcal


  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp rice bran oil
  • 1 tbsp other cooking oils
  • 1 tbsp tallow
  • 1 tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 1 tbsp margarine


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen palm oil substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 120kcal

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating