Everything You Need to Know About Avocado Oil

AvocadoMelpomenem (via Canva.com)

Avocado oil is a cooking oil made from the pulp of ripe avocados. You can use it raw for dressing salads or drizzling some of it on seared meat and sautéed vegetables. Or you can pan-fry, deep-fry, and bake with it.

Thanks to its high smoke point compared to other cooking oils, avocado oil is suitable for high-heat cooking. Refined avocado oil has a smoke point of 520°F (271°C) whereas that of unrefined avocado oil is slightly lower at 480°F (249°C).

Avocado oil is an intense green or pale yellow color depending on the purity and the quality of the oil. It has a slight taste of avocado with grassy, buttery undertones, and slightly smoky undertones. It’s one of the more peculiar cooking oils out there; not everyone likes it.

Though avocado oil is not as common as other cooking oils, it is carried by most grocery stores. Walmart, Target, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and Costco carry various brands of avocado oil.

Look for avocado oil in the cooking oils aisle at the supermarket. It’s typically sold in 8.5, 16.9, 33.8, 67.6, and 128-oz bottles made of plastic or glass. You can also buy avocado oil from online retailers, especially if you’re looking to buy multiple bottles in bulk and at a discount. 

Before doing so, make sure to check out my tips for selecting avocado oil, as well as my top three picks. Because there are few enforceable standards for avocado oil, choosing a good product that delivers on the promise on its label can be hard to do.

Substitute avocado oil with grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil. Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point of 390°F (195°C) and a light flavor. In comparison, extra virgin olive oil has a richer aroma and flavor but comes with a slightly lower smoke point of 375°F (190°C).

What Avocado Oil Is Made From

Avocado oil is made from ripe avocados, the fruit of the avocado tree (with the botanical name of Persea Americana).

Avocado, the fruit of the Persea Americana tree, is large and pear-shaped. It’s usually 3-8 inches (7-20 cm) long and weighs between 3 ½ and 35 ½ oz (100 g and 1 kg).

Avocados have leathery green skin and a large smooth seed, both of which are easy to remove. The fruit itself is starchy, smooth, aromatic, and flavorful.

Thanks to their high fat content (15% oil by flesh weight), avocados are suitable for making oil. They’re also a popular alternative to meats and cheeses for vegetarians and vegans.

Whereas olive oil is made from olives grown and harvested for that purpose, avocado oil is usually made by fruit rejected from the fresh food trade.

For example, the avocados could be too small to sell in stores or have some kind of cosmetic damage to them.

For the best quality avocado oil, the avocados shouldn’t be too ripe, AOCS, an international authority on fats and oils, explains on their website.

The avocados should show signs of minimal rots or any other postharvest damage (for example, greying flesh due to prolonged storage after harvest).

Where Does Avocado Oil Come From?

Thought Catalog (via Unsplash)

The Persea Americana tree, whose fruit avocado oil is made from, is native to Central America. Aztecs discovered the avocado around 500 B.C. and named it āhuacatl, which means testicle

Strange name, I know, but it’s understandable when you consider the texture, shape, and size of avocado fruit… and the fact that it grows in pairs 🙂 .

Today, avocado is mostly grown in South America, the West Coast, the Southwestern Pacific, and South Africa

The top growers of avocado worldwide are Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Peru. Nearly 90% of the avocados produced in the U.S. are grown in the state of California.

Avocado oil is usually extracted in the same country that the avocado fruit is grown in. Some batches of oil are bottled in the same country the fruit was grown in, then exported internationally. Others are shipped in steel barrels and bottled abroad.

The Types of Avocado Oil

In general, there are three ways to classify avocado oil:

  1. Based on how the oil was extracted from the pulp of the fruit, avocado oil can either be refined or unrefined.
  2. Based on the quality of the fruit, avocado oil can be extra-virgin (highest quality, highest price), virgin (medium quality, medium price), or regular (lowest quality, lowest price).
  3. Based on the purity of the oil, avocado oil can be pure (consisting of 100% avocado oil) or blend (mixed with other vegetable oils).

The best avocado oil is unrefined and pure. It consists of 100% extra virgin avocado oil. It’s extracted mechanically and without the use of any chemicals from the pulp of well-ripened, high-quality avocados at a temperature of 113-122°F (45-50°C).

Which Avocado Oil Is Real?

Unfortunately for consumers like you and me, there are no enforceable standards for avocado oil in the U.S. or internationally. Most of the avocado oils sold carried by grocery stores are mislabeled, blended with lesser-grade oils, and of generally poor quality.

A recent study of avocado oils sold in the U.S. published in the October 2020 issue of the Food Control journal concluded that “there is an urgent need to develop standards for avocado oil to protect consumers.” Yikes.

For example, the study found that two avocado oils labeled as “extra virgin” and one labeled as “pure” were blended with lesser-grade soybean oil.

Even among the highest-priced products, the purity and quality of the oils were questionable. The oils showed signs of “improper or prolonged storage” of the avocado fruit before extraction of the oil, “use of damaged or rotten fruits,” or “extreme and harsh processing conditions.”

Sooner or later, a regulatory body will kick in and enforce standards to protect consumers from low-quality products and producers from unfair competition. 

Until then, people like you and I need to learn how to read (and interpret) what it says on the back of the label

Here’s my best advice on how to do that.

How to Select Avocado Oil

As a rule of thumb, a good bottle of avocado oil sold at the supermarket should have the following traits:

  • It’s unrefined, which means it has been extracted using only mechanical means, at a temperature of 113-122°F (45-50°C), and without the use of any chemicals.
  • It’s extra-virgin, which means it’s made from the highest-quality avocados that were well-ripened and had the least amount of rotting and defects.
  • It’s pure, which means it’s made from 100% extra-virgin avocado oil and hasn’t been mixed with lesser-grade avocado (or another vegetable) oil.
  • It’s sold in a dark glass bottle, which protects the avocado oil from direct or indirect exposure to sunlight.

High-quality avocado oil has a saturated green color and a grassy, slightly buttery taste. If your avocado oil has a yellowish or transparent color or a noticeable fishy taste, this is considered a sign of poor quality.

As you browse the avocado oils typically sold in the cooking oils and vinegar aisle, you’ll notice that very few oils actually meet these criteria. 

Depending on where you live and which store you shop from, you may be better off buying avocado oil online. I’ll share my top avocado oil pick later in this post.

My Top Picks for Avocado Oil

Thinking of buying avocado oil online? 

Few avocado oils offer the balance between excellent quality and reasonable price as Avohass Kenya Extra Virgin Avocado Oil at Amazon.

Sale
Avohass Kenya Extra Virgin Avocado Oil 16.9 fl oz Bottle
  • EXTRA VIRGIN AVOCADO OIL, FIRST COLD PRESSED, UNREFINED: Avohass Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is made with 35-40 premium Grade A avocados that...
  • MINIMAL PROCESSING: Extra Virgin quality avocado oil implies that only premium, unbruised, perfectly ripe fruit can be used. No heat,...
  • NON GMO PROJECT VERIFIED & CERTIFIED KOSHER: Our Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is Paleo & Whole30 compliant and naturally gluten free, dairy...

This blog is reader-supported. When you buy through the links in my posts, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

This 16.9-oz dark glass bottle consists of extra virgin avocado oil that’s made from high-quality avocados. The avocados are grown and the oil is cold-pressed in Kenya. The avocado oil is then shipped to the U.S. and bottled in California.

It’s unrefined and has the clean, fresh, and natural flavor that you’re looking for when buying avocado oil. Compared to other avocado oils, this one is on the pricier side. However, the purity, quality, and consistency of this product are rare and worth the price.

Avohass also produce avocado oils from New Zealand (grown, extracted, and bottled in New Zealand) and USDA Certified Organic California (grown, extracted, and bottled in CA, US) avocados.

This blog is reader-supported. When you buy through the links in my posts, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

All of the three avocado oils that I’ve highlighted above are unrefined, extra virgin, and pure. If you’d like to experiment with other brands, make sure to “read the fine print” by looking at the customer reviews and Q&A section.

You’ll use up one 16.9-oz bottle for anywhere from 10 to 30 days depending on your household size and how much you cook with it.

As a rule of thumb, a household of 2 persons can expect to consume a 16.9-oz bottle of avocado oil for 10 days.

How Avocado Oil Is Made

To make avocado oil, producers buy low-priced avocados rejected from the local or international fresh food trade. The avocados can still be of sound quality. They could also be of poor quality.

The quality of the avocados used for making avocado oil depends on the location, producer, and batch. Sound-quality avocados are essential to producing high-grade avocado oil. Unfortunately, most producers have subpar standards and label their products misleadingly.

Avocado oil is made in two stages. The first stage is mechanical extraction at low temperature that produces unrefined, high-grade oil. The second stage is mechanical extraction at high heat or chemical extraction that produces refined, lesser-grade oil. Here’s the difference between the two.

Unrefined Avocado Oil Production

Unrefined avocado oil is extracted using mechanical means and without chemical solvents. In a way, the process for making unrefined avocado oil is very similar to that of extra virgin olive oil.

To make unrefined avocado oil, producers remove the skin and seed from a batch of ripe avocados, grind the pulp of the fruit into a paste, and malax the paste for 45-50 minutes at 113-122°F (45-50°C).

“Malaxation” is the process of slowly churning or mixing the avocado paste over low heat. This allows the producer to extract the oil droplets from the avocado paste without damaging the nutritional value, texture, aroma, and taste of the avocado oil.

The avocado oil is separated from the liquids of the fruit in a high-speed decanting centrifuge, then the oil is finally extracted in a machine known as a polishing centrifuge.

The oil is then bottled, the bottles are labeled, and get distributed until they end up at the cooking oils and vinegar aisle at the supermarket.

Unrefined avocado oil should have a saturated green color and a natural, slightly grassy taste.

The leftover pulp from the avocado oil’s extraction is typically used to make refined oil. Producers who don’t make refined avocado oil turn the leftover pulp into animal feed or return it to the orchards for soil conditioning and mulch.

Redined Avocado Oil Production

Refined avocado oil is made by using high-heat processing and/or chemical extraction.

Most refined avocado oils are expeller-pressed. Expeller pressing is a mechanical process that extracts oils at high heat and high pressure. Usually, it’s used for extracting oils from seeds and nuts, but it can also be used to extract oil from the leftover avocado pulp (no seeds and stone).

It’s bleached and deodorized to remove the imperfections of taste and smell that are otherwise natural to a lesser-grade oil such as this.

Refined avocado oil has a neutral color, ranging from transparent to yellow with slight tints of green. It’s completely odorless and generally tasteless.

Is Avocado Oil Healthy?

The health benefits of avocado oil have been touted throughout history. 

For example, medical journals from the 16th century report the use of avocado oil to treat rashes and scars. Before avocado oil became a cooking oil, most commercial extraction of avocado oil was actually done for the needs of the cosmetic industry.

When it comes to home cooking, the use of avocado oil as a cooking oil is actually a fairly recent trend: 3.12 million metric tons of olive oil are produced every year across the world, in comparison to 2,000 tons/year for avocado oil.

This is also why not all of the claimed benefits of avocado oil have been researched as profoundly as other cooking oils.

Here’s the general consensus in the scientific community.

In general, avocado oil is a heart-healthy cooking oil that consists of 60-70% monounsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat. It has a low free fatty acid content (typically less than 0.08-2%) and is rich in Vitamin E.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat that’s found naturally in animal fats and vegetable oils. In a number of studies, monounsaturated fat has been demonstrated to lower LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol.
The potential benefits of avocado oil have been demonstrated in a number of animal studies, which show that the consumption of avocado oil may benefit heart health, including reduced heart pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Can You Use Avocado Oil for Frying?

Yes, you can use avocado oil for pan-frying and deep-frying. Avocado oil has a high smoke point (of 520°F for refined and 480°F for unrefined avocado oil), which makes it perfectly suitable for cooking at high heat.

Unrefined avocado oil is nutritious and rich in monounsaturated fat. Generally, it’s a healthy alternative to most processed cooking oils that health-conscious home cooks should consider. 

However, it also comes at a high price point. Avocado oil retails for anywhere from $0.35 to $2/fl oz, compared to $0.2-$0.3/fl oz for sunflower oil and $0.15-$.25/fl oz for canola oil.

Can You Use Avocado Oil for Baking?

Yes, you can use avocado oil for baking. Avocado oil has an intense green color and a slight taste of avocado with a grassy and buttery undertone, which some home cooks find complementary to their baked goods.

Thanks to avocado oil’s high smoke point, there’s also little chance of the oil burning and smoking in your oven.

Can Avocado Oil Go Bad?

An opened bottle of avocado oil will last for 6-8 months in your pantry or inside a kitchen cabinet, and for 9-12 months when refrigerated. Make sure to store the avocado oil in an air-tight dark-glass bottle.

If you suspect that a bottle of avocado oil has gone bad, use your senses. Does the oil smell off? Taste 1 teaspoon of it. Does it taste rancid? If that’s the case, then don’t eat or cook with the oil—discard it instead.

How to Store Avocado Oil

To maximize the shelf life of avocado oil, store it in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight, in an airtight dark-glass bottle. 

The best places for storing cooking oils in your home are your pantry or a kitchen cabinet. Keep cooking oils away from windows, your stove, and your fridge.

When cooking oil is exposed to sunlight and heat, it will oxidize. Oxidation is a chain of chemical reactions in the oil that lessen its quality and cause it to turn rancid, essentially becoming unfit for use and developing an off taste and unpleasant smell.

Comparing Avocado Oil to Other Cooking Oils

Curious how avocado oil compares to other staple cooking oils?

Avocado Oil vs. Olive Oil

As a whole, avocado oil and olive oil have very similar nutritional facts. Their use also bolsters similar health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil and unrefined avocado oil are generally interchangeable, both when eaten raw and used for cooking.

Avocado oil is extracted from the pulp of avocados. Olive oil is derived from olives. Both of these cooking oils consist mostly of oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (per 100 g)Unrefined Avocado Oil (per 100 g)
Calories884 kcal884 kcal
Total Fat100 g100 g
Saturated fat14 g12 g
Polyunsaturated fat11 g13 g
Monounsaturated fat73 g71 g
Sodium2 mg0 mg
Potassium1 mg0 mg
Vitamin E33% Daily Value23% Daily Value
Vitamin K9% Daily Value0% Daily Value

Unlike olive oil, which will fill your kitchen with smoke, avocado oil can be used for cooking at high heat

The smoke point of avocado oil is 480-520°F (249-271°C), whereas that of olive oil is only 375°F (190°C). 

When cooking oil is heated above its smoke point, it stops to glisten and shimmer and starts to break down. This causes it to emit toxic fumes and develop harmful compounds.

Avocado oil has a subtle smell and taste of avocado, which may not appeal to folks who don’t like avocado in the first place. 

Before turning avocado oil into your go-to cooking oil, test out (for example, by drizzling some of it on a salad and making French fries with it) how your household likes it.

Avocado Oil vs. Canola Oil

Both avocado and canola oils are considered relatively healthy cooking fats (when consumed in moderation).

Canola oil is refined. Its production involves high heat and exposure to chemical solvents. Quality unrefined avocado oil is mechanically extracted at low temperatures and without the use of chemicals.

Another key difference between avocado oil and canola oil is the price point. A quick check in an online retailer shows that avocado oil retails for anywhere from $0.35 to $2/fl oz in comparison to $0.15-$.25/fl oz for canola oil.

Canola Oil (per 100 g)Unrefined Avocado Oil (per 100 g)
Calories884 kcal884 kcal
Total Fat100 g100 g
Saturated fat8 g12 g
Polyunsaturated fat26 g13 g
Monounsaturated fat61 g71 g
Vitamin E16% Daily Value23% Daily Value
Vitamin K13% Daily Value0%

According to the USDA, avocado oil does not contain Vitamin K in sufficient quantities to be measured. On the other hand, canola oil contains the most Vitamin K of all common cooking oils (a 100 gram serving of canola oil contains 13% of Daily Value).

Avocado Oil vs. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil consists of significantly more saturated fat compared to avocado oil (87% and 12%, respectively). 

According to Mayo Clinic, monounsaturated fat, which avocado oil contains more of, is considered the healthier fat of the two.

Coconut Oil (per 100 g)Unrefined Avocado Oil (per 100 g)
Calories884 kcal884 kcal
Total Fat100 g100 g
Saturated fat87 g12 g
Polyunsaturated fat1.8 g13 g
Monounsaturated fat6 g71 g
Vitamin E0% Daily Value23% Daily Value

Perhaps the biggest contrast between coconut oil and avocado oil is that coconut oil has the lowest smoke point when compared to most cooking oils, and avocado oil tends to have the highest.

The smoke point of coconut is 350°F (175°C), the same as butter, which means it’s really easy to burn. Avocado oil has a smoke point of 480-520°F (249-271°C) and it’s by far one of the best vegetable oils for high-heat cooking.

Conclusion

Now you know what avocado oil is, where it comes from, how it’s made, and—most importantly—how to tell real from fake avocado oil at the grocery store.

Do you eat or cook with avocado oil in your household? If so, what do you like and dislike about it? Share your thoughts with me and the rest of this post’s readers by leaving a comment below.

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