How To Use Different Cooking Oils

Cooking oil an seasoning on a wooden table

If you’re working on your kitchen skills this year,  then understanding which oils to fry, sauté, marinate, and bake with will greatly enhance your chef skills. Here’s a 101 lesson on how to use different cooking oils.

Why Choosing the Right Cooking Oil Matters

You heard that there are a lot of benefits to using coconut oil, so now you want to use it with everything. Not so fast. There are a few factors that affect how well a cooking oil is suited for different recipes. Besides the flavor the oil imparts, the number one factor is how the oil responds to heat.  The first thing to note is the oil’s smoke point — the temperature at which the oil stops sizzling and starts burning.  Most unrefined oils like extra virgin olive oil have low smoke points while refined oils like peanut and canola oil have high smoke points.

For fats like coconut oil and ghee, you’ll also need to consider their melting point. Because these oils become solid at room temperature, you wouldn’t want to use them in dressings, dipping sauces, or marinades.

Best Cooking Oils for Low to Moderate Temperatures

Marinating, making a dressing, dipping sauce, or lightly sautéing veggies? These oils are great for that. They have low smoke points but plenty of flavors and nutritional value that can enhance foods like smoothies or sauces.  For the first three oils, we suggest avoiding any heat.  Walnut oil turns bitter once cooked. Hemp seed oil loses most of its nutritional value when heated. And flaxseed oil is packed with nutritional value but doesn’t have a pleasant flavor. Use it only sparingly in smoothies or sauces. The rest can be used at temperatures adequate for light sautéing.

  • Walnut Oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Pumpkin Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cold Pressed Sesame Oil

Best Cooking Oils for Moderate to High Temperatures

If you’re recipe calls for pan-searing, baking, roasting, grilling or deep frying these oils are your kitchen buddies. Coconut Oil and Olive oil are the only oils on this list that have a caveat. Although they can handle moderately high temperatures, they burn a bit quicker than the other oils on the list. So, don’t use them to deep fry or pan-sear anything.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Ghee
  • Regular Sesame Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Canola Oil

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Good for both

These oils are great for both cool temperatures and high heat.

  • Avocado Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil

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