March 21, 2019 · Written by Foodtolive Team

The Complete Guide to Cooking Oils

Cooking oils are a kitchen essential. Whether you’re just someone cooking at home or a professional chef cooking in a 5-star restaurant, cooking oils are a staple ingredient.

But which oil is best for your needs? When you’re at the grocery store facing shelf after shelf of oils, the sheer range of choices can be a little overwhelming. There’s so much variety just for one ingredient: canola, vegetable, avocado, sunflower–the list goes on and on.

But with a little knowledge and know-how, you’ll have no problem picking out your next bottle of cooking oil at the store.


Choosing the Right Oil

Choosing the Right Oil1

There are three things to keep in mind when it comes to cooking oils: temperature, flavor, and price point.

There’s a reason why there are so many oils on grocery store shelves; it’s because different types of oil work better for different types of foods.

Some oils lose their flavor in hotter temperatures, while others are perfect for throwing on a scalding hot pan and keep its taste without a hitch.

Make sure you know what an oil’s smoke point is, which is the temperature at which oil begins to burn and smoke. It could be the difference between filling your kitchen with rancid-smelling smoke or following through with a delicious home-cooked meal.


Common Cooking Oils

Common Cooking Oils2

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a staple of dishes from the Philippines, India, and the Caribbean, but it has experienced a rise in popularity thanks to its purported health benefits.

Vegetable Oil
This flavorless oil is best for deep frying food and giving it a crunchy, crispy texture. It has a smoke point between 400º and 450º.

Canola Oil
Similar to vegetable oil, canola is another basic, flavorless oil that can sear, brown, fry, or roast. Canola oil has a smoke point of 400º.

Olive Oil
Perhaps the most complex oil on this list, olive oil has a range of smoke points and flavor profiles, depending on which type you purchase.

Extra virgin has a smoke point of 325º (and great for drizzling on salads and veggies), Virgin has one of 420º, and extra light olive oil’s smoke point is even higher.

This oil offers a subtle flavor that can do a lot for dishes, but the smoke point is relatively low, just 350º.


Other Oils

Other Oils

If you want to branch out and experiment with different types of cooking oils, there’s plenty to choose from.

Sunflower Oil
This oil has a subtle taste and high smoke point 450º.3 If you want a replacement for your vegetable oil, sunflower oil would be a comparable swap.

Avocado Oil
The fats from avocados are touted as some of the healthiest you can get. So it makes sense that avocado oil would carry the same benefits.

Avocado oil is great for drizzling on salads, adding to marinades, or just substituting other fats in baking and cooking.4

It also has the highest smoke point of any oil on this list, topping off at 520º.5

Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is perfect for frying, as it has a high smoke point of 437℉. It’s interesting, light taste can greatly enhance dishes.6