Have you ever had to do the famous Google search “What oil should I use for cooking…?” If you just answered yes, don’t feel bad at one time or another we all have searched for the best oils to use to cook our favorite foods. Sometimes with one eye twitching over the complete madness of it all.
There are so many oils just in your local market alone; you can get dizzy and completely frazzled, trying to figure out the proper oils you need for sautéing, cooking, baking, roasting, and or frying your favorite chicken.
After having a detailed discussion the other night with a friend over oil uses, as well as the smoke points of various oils; I decided to make life a little easier for you by doing this handy little guide of “What oils should I use for cooking…” from the most often used oils such as peanut oil, canola, vegetable oils and olive oil there are an extraordinary amount of fats out there to use for different purposes– So let’s help you find the correct one for your next meal.
What oils should I use for…
For baking: Coconut, palm, canola, and high oleic safflower and sunflower oil work best.
For frying: Because they stand up well to the heat, avocado, peanut, palm, and sesame oil are ideal for frying.
For sautéing: butter, avocado, canola, coconut, grapeseed, olive, sesame, and high oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
For dipping, dressings, and marinades: flax, olive, peanut, toasted sesame or walnut oil.
What are the most often used oils in-home culinary cooking?
Avocado Oil: Pressed from avocados, this smooth, nutty oil is more than 50% monounsaturated, making it a heart-nourishing choice. Used it in salad dressings or to sauté fish, chicken.
Canola Oil: Canola is a cousin of cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It’s a variety of rapeseed that’s part of the mustard family, which includes those veggies as mentioned above. It’s beneficial for heart health thanks to its fatty acid profile and omega-3 and low saturated fat contents and perfect for light cooking, sauces, and desserts like homemade mayo or tender cakes.
Coconut Oil: Pressed from the fruit of the coconut palm tree, coconut oil is ideal for light fair and subtly flavored dishes.
Corn Oil: Most corn oil is extracted only from the germ of the corn kernel and is golden-yellow; unrefined oil will have a darker color and richer corn taste.
Grapeseed Oil: Grapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes, a byproduct of the wine-making industry. Use it on salads and raw veggies or in dips, sauces, and salsa.
Olive Oil: One of the oldest known culinary oils, olive oil has heart-friendly monounsaturated fat. Extra virgin olive oil results from the first cold pressing of olives, while mild “pure” olive oil is a blend of refined olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.
Peanut Oil: Peanut oil comes from peanuts; its high monounsaturated content makes it heart-healthy. Peanut oil is best for frying, light sautéing, and stir-fries.
Sesame Oil: The seed of the sesame plant provides sesame oil. Unrefined sesame oil is excellent as a critical flavor part of sauces or dressings. Use refined sesame oil for high heat applications like frying and toasted sesame oil for stir-fries and Asian sauces and dips. Sesame also has a high antioxidant content.
Some notable oils I should mention…
Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening: is used by some for baking and frying.
Lard: was commonly used as a cooking fat or shortening, also was used as a spread like butter (Can you believe that?) till early 80’s when it’s popularity began rapidly to decline with the new “Fat-Free” fads.
Smoke Point: In cooking, the smoke point of an oil or fat is the temperature at which, under defined conditions, enough volatile compounds emerge from the fuel that a bluish smoke becomes visible. Below you will find a chart of the smoke points to commonly used household culinary oils.
|TYPE OF FAT||SMOKE POINT||NEUTRAL?|
|Rice Bran Oil||490°F/260°C||Yes|
|Light 0r Refined Olive Oil||465°F/240°C||Yes|
|Virgin Avocado Oil||375°-400°F/190-205°C||No|
|Extra-Virgin Olive Oil||325°-375°F/165-190°C||No|
How should I store my cooking oils?
- Air, heat, light, and age affect the quality and the shelf life of many types of edible oils, which deteriorate through oxidation. The oxidation process is greatly enhanced when edible oils are stored in containers that are not airtight and in areas where the oil is exposed to heat and light. If improperly stored, some oils can easily take on other flavors.
- An unpleasant smell or taste indicates that the oil is no longer desirable for consumption. A wine smell or taste may show that the oil was not stored properly. A metallic flavor demonstrates that the oil was stored in a container made of reactive metal.
- Most unrefined oils will keep for 3 to 6 months if stored correctly in a cool dark place. The refrigerator is the best place to store unrefined oils. Although most will solidify in the colder temperature, they will return to a liquid state that is removed from the refrigerator one or two hours before use.
- Refined oils tend to keep twice as long as unrefined oils – at least 6 to 12 months if stored properly.
- An oil high in polyunsaturated fat has a much shorter shelf life than oils high in monounsaturated or saturated fat and should be stored in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life.
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