Any college amateur chef has set off the fire alarm once or twice. Perhaps trying a new recipe that called for deep-frying, sautéing, or baking certain ingredients caused the fire, but using the wrong cooking oil resulted in a messy cloud of smoke. To avoid any future false alarms or peeved roommates, use this guide to which oils should be used for certain types of cooking.
Choosing the right cooking oil from a plethora of options can be a daunting task. In order to pick, you must first know why you are using it. The type of oil used for a salad dressing will be very different than the type used for pan-searing steak tenderloin. Why? The flavor, fatty acid composition, along with the smoke point of the oil will dictate your decision making in the kitchen. Smoke Point is the temperature at which the fats begin to break down to produce smoke, and ultimately affect the taste of your food.
Not all oils are created equal. Some should not be heated for flavor and nutrition retention. Use these types of oils to get a healthy dose of omega-3s.
- Wheat Germ Oil (225°F)
- Flax Seed Oil (225°F)
- Walnut Oil (320°F)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (320°F)
- Sesame Oil (410°F)
Sautéing, Sauces, and Baking
So you’re upping the ante and need to use to heat to craft your delicious dish, try these types of oils for medium heat recipes.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil (320°F)
- Hemp Seed Oil (330°F)
- Coconut Oil (350°F)
- Butter (350°F)
- Soybean Oil (450°F)
- Corn Oil (450°F)
- Safflower Oil (450°F)
Stir Frying or High Temp Oven-Baking
Alright, let’s not create a cloud of smoke trying to make stir fry veggies. Here are your go-to oils for moderately high- temperature cooking techniques.
- Grapeseed Oil (392°F)
- Canola Oil (400°F)
- Peanut Oil (450°F)
- Light Olive Oil (Refined) (460-468°F)
Frying and Searing
Maybe you want to make some fried chicken and waffles for a Sunday brunch treat! You most definitely need the right oil so you don’t waste your precious time and money cleaning up a disaster. Go for these:
- Almond Oil (420°F)
- Sunflower Oil (450°F)
- Ghee Clarified Butter (485°F)
- Rice-Bran Oil (490°F)
- Avocado Oil (520°F)
Clearer liquids, typically more refined oils, will have higher smoke points. Vegetable oils will also have higher smoke points than animal oils. Remember that oils are a type of fat and it is easy to go overboard, so be mindful when pouring. Get your burners ready. Now you can keep your eyebrow hair.
Jackie Parker is currently a senior nutritional sciences student on the dietetics track at Texas A&M University.