There are so many different types of oils in use in the typical kitchen it can be a real headache choosing the best oils for cooking, baking or adding flavour so we have prepared a handy guide to cooking oils for you.
Some are more suitable or more healthy than others and they each have different smoking points. So here is a breakdown of some common types of oils and their uses:
Olive oil is a popular oil that is made from the fruit of the olive tree. It is a source of monounsaturated fats and has a distinct flavor. It can be used for cooking, baking, and as a condiment. It has a low smoke point, so it is not suitable for high heat cooking methods such as frying.
Since it is a source of monounsaturated fats, it has shown to have a number of potential health benefits. Some potential benefits of olive oil include:
- Heart health: Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Weight management: Some research suggests that consuming olive oil as part of a healthy diet may help with weight management by reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness. A great example is this simple linguine with fennel salad recipe.
- Diabetes management: Olive oil may help to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes.
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Olive oil contains antioxidants and other compounds that may have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be beneficial for people with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
- Skin health: Olive oil may help to improve the appearance of the skin by providing moisture and acting as an emollient. It may also have some anti-aging effects.
Canola oil is a vegetable oil that is made from a type of rape plant. Canola oil is a neutral-tasting oil that is high in monounsaturated fats and has a moderate smoke point, making it suitable for a variety of cooking methods.
Canola oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is believed to have numerous health benefits. Canola oil has a mild flavour and is relatively inexpensive, which makes it one of the best general-purpose cooking oils.
Vegetable oil is the most popular type of cooking oil, but it’s actually a generic term for oils made from a variety of plants, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower. It is a neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods such as frying – it also tends to be quite inexpensive when compared to other oils.
If you liked fried food you will love our recipe for triple-cooked sweet potato fries.
Grapeseed oil is a type of vegetable oil that is made from the seeds of grapes. It is a light-coloured oil with a mild, nutty flavour and a high smoke point. Grapeseed oil is also popular as a base for salad dressings and marinades because of its neutral flavour.
Grapeseed oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, particularly linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid. It is also a good source of vitamin E and other antioxidants.
Grapeseed oil is also sometimes used as a natural skin and hair care product because of its moisturising and nourishing properties. It is believed to be non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog pores and is suitable for use on all skin types.
Coconut oil is a semi-solid oil that is high in saturated fats and has a distinctive coconut flavour. It has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like sautéing, frying. It can also be used in place of butter in baking recipes.
Coconut oil is made from the meat of the coconut. There are several ways that coconut oil can be made, but the most common method involves drying the coconut meat, also known as copra, and then pressing it to extract the oil.
Our recipe for spelt muffins uses coconut oil too; give it a try!
Peanut oil is an oil with a nutty flavour that is high in monounsaturated fats and has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods such as sautéing and frying. Peanut oil is used in many Thai dishes, such as this delightful Thai chicken noodle soup.
Sesame oil is an oil with a nutty, slightly sweet flavour that is high in monounsaturated fats and has a moderate smoke point. It is often used as a condiment in Asian cooking; such as in this delicious ginger chicken recipe.
Sesame oil is made from sesame seeds, which are small, flat seeds with a nutty flavour. There are two main types of sesame oil: unrefined and refined. The process of making unrefined sesame oil is similar to the process of making cold-pressed olive oil.
Avocado oil is a monounsaturated fat that is extracted from the flesh of avocados. It is known for its rich, nutty flavor and has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods such as grilling, frying, and sautéing.
Avocado oil is is also high in vitamin E and can be used as a moisturiser for the skin.
If you love the taste of avocado you should try this Jicama, orange and avocado salad.
Best Practices With Cooking Oils
There are many different types of oils that can be used for cooking, baking, and as a condiment. Here are tips to consider for using oil correctly in your diet.
- Choose a healthy oil: There are many types of oils to choose from, each with different nutrient profiles. Some healthy options include olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
- Use oil in moderation: Oils are high in calories and fat, so it’s important to use them in moderation. A good general rule is to aim for no more than 10% of daily calories to come from oil.
- Choose the right oil for the right cooking method: Different oils have different smoke points, which is the temperature at which they begin to break down and release harmful fumes. Choose an oil with a high smoke point for high heat cooking methods such as frying, and an oil with a lower smoke point for lower heat cooking methods such as sautéing.
- (Store oil properly: To extend the shelf life of oil, store it in a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Avoid storing oil near the stove or in a sunny window.
- Use oil in place of solid fats: When baking or cooking, try using oil in place of solid fats such as butter or shortening to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the recipe.
Popular Questions About Cooking Oils
What is a monounsaturated fat?
Monounsaturated fats are types of fats that can be beneficial for your health when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. They are found in a variety of foods, including avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Monounsaturated fats are known to be heart-healthy fats because they can help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which is the “bad” cholesterol that can contribute to the development of heart disease. They are also thought to be beneficial for blood sugar control, weight management, and overall health.
What does a high smoke-point mean?
The smoke point of an oil or fat is the temperature at which it begins to break down and produce smoke. Oils with a high smoke point are more stable at high temperatures and are less likely to break down or become rancid. They are therefore better suited for high-heat cooking methods such as frying, grilling, and sautéing.
On the other hand, oils with a low smoke point are more prone to breaking down and producing smoke at lower temperatures. They are better suited for low-heat cooking methods such as dressing salads or dips.
It is important to choose the right oil with a suitable smoke point for the type of cooking you are doing. Using an oil with a smoke point that is too low for the cooking temperature can cause the oil to break down and produce harmful compounds, which can affect the flavor and nutritional value of the food. It can also produce smoke, which can be a fire hazard.
Examples of oils with high smoke points include avocado oil, peanut oil, and grapeseed oil. Examples of oils with low smoke points include olive oil and sesame oil.
We hope you found this article about the best cooking oils really helpful; if you did, you might also enjoy reading our article about how to cook the perfect steak, or about the five mother sauces.