Have you ever stood in front of the cooking oil section at a grocery store, feeling puzzled:

Should I try this fancy-looking avocado oil or stick to the coconut oil my mum used to have? Is there such a thing as a good and healthy cooking oil?

A person in a red shirt in a store nodding his head indicating YES (GIF by Trey Kennedy)

A person in a store saying,

When you choose the right cooking oil, your meals will taste better.

The Essentials

Smoke Point

  • You need to know the temperature at which the oil stops shimmering and starts burning and smoking.

  • If the oil is heated past its smoke point, you'll damage its flavor, destroying many of the nutrients in the oil and releasing harmful compounds (a.k.a. free radicals) at the same time.

Heat & Taste

  • Choose your oil based on the temperature you'll heat it at. Some oils hold up to high heat better than others.

  • Pick an oil with the taste profile you're aiming for. Otherwise, use a neutral oil like canola, safflower, peanut, or corn oil.

Extraction Method

Sauce Jars (Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash)Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash

The way the oil is extracted will have an effect on your cooking.

Refined, bleached, and deodorized (RBD)

  • Best for high-temperature cooking and frying

  • Made by crushing the plant to extract the oil, then extracting the crushed material with a low-boiling solvent to recover the remaining oil

Unrefined

  • Best for salad dressing and low-temperature cooking

  • Extracted mechanically with no heat from an external source, so they retain the bulk of their natural nutrients

  • Look for cold-pressed, unrefined, or virgin on the label

Are Some Oils Unsafe?

  • Extracted from ripe olives by pressing

  • Of the highest quality

  • Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point (i.e., 325°F to 375°F or 165°C to 190°C)

  • Good for sautéing, drizzling over finished dishes, and making salad dressings and dips

  • Cooking with olive oil, along with other healthy diet habits like eating leafy greens, can help prevent losses in brain function as you age

Benefits of olive oil, such us protecting heart health and supporting brain health (Olive Oil Cooking GIF by Jennifer Accoman

More Oils To Consider

Coconut oil

A bowl of coconut oil (Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash)Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash
  • low to medium smoke point (i.e., 350°F or 175°C), and turns into a solid fat at room temperature

  • a great alternative for butter in most baking recipes, and also works well with chicken or sautéing veggies

Sesame oil

A pile of sesame seeds (Photo by Mockupo on Unsplash)Photo by Mockupo on Unsplash
  • high smoke point (i.e., 350°F to 450°F or 177°C to 232°C), and a rich, nutty flavor

  • can be used in dressings, sauces, and moderate-heat cooking like sautéing

  • great for Asian cuisines

Avocado oil

Fresh cut avocados (Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash)Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash
  • at 520°F or 270°C, one of the highest smoke points of any oil

  • the best choice for super-high-temperature cooking

  • ideal for searing, stir-frying, grilling, roasting, and nearly any other type of cooking

  • has a buttery flavor as well as heart-healthy oleic acid

Canola oil

Canola flowers (Photo by Denes Kozma on Unsplash)Photo by Denes Kozma on Unsplash
  • higher smoke point (i.e., 428°F to 446°F or 220°C to 230°C), making it an excellent choice for both cooking and baking

  • suitable for sautéing and stir-frying meals

  • a healthy choice due to its low saturated fat level and high monounsaturated fat content (oleic acid)

Quiz

Xavier wants to grill steaks for dinner (over 450°F). What would be his best oil choice?

Avocado oil

Grapeseed oil

Extra virgin olive oil

Coconut oil

What’s The Best Way To Store Cooking Oil?

Oils will go rancid and produce hazardous chemicals when exposed to air, heat, and light.

  • Store in a cold, dark area, such as a cabinet, rather than on the kitchen counter

  • It's best to keep it in the fridge after you've opened it 

  • Check your oil on a regular basis and discard it if it has developed an "off" odor

Take Action

A cat spinning around over the text

License:

Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

I feel confident that I can apply what I learned.

I would recommend this Byte.

Connect with Rumie learners

Browse more content, receive support, share your expertise, and keep learning through text and voice chat!

This Byte has been authored by

XZ

Xinyue Zuo

Instructional Designer