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Confused about what oil to reach for? Here's the oil playbook you never knew you needed. 

Antara Sinha
September 15, 2017

If you’ve ever stood in a grocery store aisle dumbfounded by the sheer variety of oils on the shelves, you’re not alone. Confusing health claims, varying smoke points, fancy bottles—all exacerbated by conflicting nutrition news on fats and oils—is anyone else getting Willy Wonka tunnel scene vibes? Stress no more (and no longer cause a shopping cart traffic jam in the oils aisle). We’ve got your back with the definitive breakdown on when and where to use each type of oil. 

If you're browning, searing, or deep-frying, use... 

Neutral oils with a very high smoke point make for ideal for high-temperature use like a great char or sear. 

Peanut (450°F) With a pleasant, mild flavor, peanut oil is also high in monounsaturated fats making this a great choice for your high-temperature cooking needs. 

Light/Refined Olive Oil (468°F) By light, we mean light in color. The more refined the olive oil, the more versatile and better it will stand up to high heat.

Avocado Oil (520°F) A fruity oil, avocado oil has a mild, sweet aroma and one of the highest smoke points. 

Palm Oil (450°F) While palm oil has a hardy smoke point, it’s been bashed by health professionals for being high in saturated fat and by environmentalists for rainforest and wildlife destruction—stick to other oils if you're looking for a healthier, more ethical choice.

Safflower Oil (450°F) With a mild, neutral flavor, safflower oil also has the added benefit of being a fantastic source of vitamin E. 

If you're stir-frying or baking, use... 

These oils have neutral, versatile flavor, but keep them below 400°F to prevent burning and smoking. 

Canola Oil (400°F) With very low levels of saturated fat, canola oil is a heart-healthier oil to keep stocked in your kitchen. 

Grapeseed Oil (400°F) Also a great source of vitamin E, grapeseed oil is neutral in smell and taste, making this a solid pantry staple. 

Virgin Olive Oil (391°F) A great all-purpose, neutral oil to have on hand, virgin olive oil has a slightly higher smoke point than extra-virgin, making it better for a quick stir-fry. 

 

If you're light sautéing, baking at low heat, or making a sauce, use... 

Corn Oil (440°F) A versatile, neutral oil that's high in omega-6 fats, corn oil is another workhorse that can act as a cooking basic to keep in your kitchen. 

Extra-virgin Coconut Oil (350°F) We know you've been seeing coconut oil as a quick fix for all of life's problems, and while it's a great, fruity oil with great flavor, it's also high in saturated fat. If you're looking into lower sat-fat alternatives, you may want to try extra-virgin. 

Sesame Oil (350°F) A pleasant, nutty flavor, sesame oil works well for quick, low-heat sautés. Make sure to store this one in the fridge to extend shelf-life and prevent it from going rancid.  

If you're making marinades, dressings, or dips, use... 

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (375°F) Your low-heat fave, extra-virgin olive oil can handle a little light sautéing, but works especially well in no-heat recipes like dressings and sauces with its pungency. 

Walnut Oil (320°F) Walnut oil has a plethora of heart health benefits, and its nutty flavor makes it a perfect finishing oil on food that's already been cooked.  

Flaxseed Oil (225°F) With the lowest smoke point on our list, flaxseed is a definite no-heat oil that's best used for a light drizzle on top of salads. 

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