These Are the Best Oils for Frying

Published Categorized as Food
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If you and your family like fried foods, these are the cooking oils you should (and shouldn’t) be using.

In the cooking oils aisle at your local grocery store, you have an almost unlimited choice of varieties, brands, and packaging. And though every manufacturer claims that their oil is the cheapest, healthiest, and most versatile, you know as well as I do that not all oils are the same.

Some oils have a low smoke point—that is, they decompose quickly and burn when exposed to the heat of cooking in a pan or pot. Such oils are suitable mostly for dressing salads and drizzling over already cooked meats and veg.

When frying food, whether shallow-frying it in a skillet or deep-frying it in a pot, you should use a cooking oil with a high smoke point that can withstand high heat without burning. So which cooking oils fit this description?

Below are some of the Home Cook World editorial team’s favorites.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is made from a mixture of oils from plant sources such as seeds, grains, nuts, and fruits. Sometimes, soybean oil is labeled as vegetable oil. Other times, it’s a mix of corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, or others.

Vegetable oil is cheap, and you can find it in almost every grocery store. It has no odor or flavor, so you get to taste the food and not the oil. It also has a high smoke point, making it ideal for cooking over high heat.

Smoke point:

450°F (≈ 230°C)

Why use vegetable oil:

So if you want to stock your pantry with cooking oil that isn’t too expensive and that you can use for everything from searing steaks to shallow-frying schnitzel to deep-frying chicken breasts, by all means, opt for vegetable oil.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is made from the seeds of the canola plant. The plants produce bright yellow flowers that carry tiny black seeds. Those flowers are harvested, and the oil is extracted from the seeds through processing.

Canola oil is affordable, is available in every well-stocked supermarket, and is highly versatile because it has no smell or taste. It has a high smoke point, so you can use it for any recipe that involves frying—no matter how high the heat.

Smoke point:

400°F (≈ 205°C)

Why use canola oil:

Canola oil is a cheap and easy-to-find cooking oil that’s low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats.

Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil is made from the hard outer layer of rice called chaff, hull, or husk. It’s pricier than some of the other oils on our list, but it’s also said to be a heart-healthy cooking oil containing plenty of minerals and vitamins.

Rice bran oil isn’t the cheapest oil in the grocery store, so it’s not for every shopper’s budget. It also has a distinct, popcorn-like aroma and a caramel-like flavor. As a result, it’s great for searing steaks and cooking French fries.

Smoke point:

490°F (≈ 255°C)

Why use rice bran oil:

If you’re looking for a high-heat frying oil that will give your food a unique flavor and that’s relatively high in unsaturated fats (the good kind), look no further than rice bran oil.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is made from the pulp of avocados, the fruit of the avocado tree. It’s a heart-healthy oil rich in oleic acid, the same omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid that gives olive oil its touted nutritional properties.

Unlike olive oil, however, avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points of all edible oils and is therefore suitable for all high-heat cooking methods, from searing and sautéing to shallow-frying and deep-frying.

Smoke point:

520°F (≈ 270°C)

Why use avocado oil:

Avocado oil is not only suitable for frying at high heat, but also for dressing salads and sprinkling over roasted meat and vegetables. However, it also comes at a steep price tag, and not all avocado oils in the store are created equal.

Which Oils Are Not Suitable for Frying?

Now that we’ve covered the oils that you should use for frying, let’s take a minute or two to talk about the oils that are not fit for the job.

Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent oil for adding to sauces, dressings, and baked goods. You can also use it for frying over low to medium heat, but don’t use it over high heat as it will burn and make your food taste unpleasantly acrid.

The same applies to animal fats (butter, lard, tallow, duck fat, etc.). They are suitable for frying at low to medium heat, but not necessarily at high heat. The exception is clarified butter.

Learn more: The Smoke Point of Cooking Fats and Oils

How Long Do Frying Oils Last?

Most cooking oils will keep for a year as long as they’re kept in a cool, dry place, away from heat and sunlight, in a tinted glass bottle with a closed cap. After that, they go rancid and develop an off odor and unpleasant taste; at which point should be thrown away.

Store your cooking oils in the pantry or a dark cupboard. Avoid the windowsill and keep away from the stove, fridge, dryer, and hot water pipes, all of which emit heat that can lessen cooking oil’s shelf life.

How Many Times Can You Reuse Frying Oil?

Many cooks see throwing away cooking oil after the first use as a waste, especially if they deep-fry in it. But how many times can you really reuse cooking oil before you should throw it away?

The answer depends on what you’re frying.

If you’re frying breaded or battered goods that leave a lot of residues, you probably shouldn’t reuse the oil more than 3-4 times. If you’re frying clean foods like French fries, you can reuse the oil 7-8 times.

By Dim Nikov

Cooking for family and friends, one dish at a time. I love to make food that's delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare.