Everyone says that grapeseed oil is one of the better cooking oils in the grocery store. But does that mean you can use it for frying?
Made from grape seeds, a byproduct of winemaking, grapeseed oil is touted as a heart-healthy oil that every health-conscious cook should have in their pantry.
The USDA FoodData Central shows that grapeseed oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which, according to the American Heart Association, can help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Another reason grapeseed oil is often promoted as healthy is its high Vitamin E content, writes Kris Gunnars at Healthline. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help fight free radicals, which the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health describes as “loose electrons that can damage cells in the body.”
Clearly, grapeseed oil is one of the better options for a cooking oil in the home kitchen. But can you use it for frying?
Is It a Good Idea to Fry With Grapeseed Oil?
Every cooking oil has a smoke point, the temperature at which it stops shining and shimmering and begins to break down and burn.
You know you’ve heated an oil past its smoke point when it emits a steady stream of bluish smoke and it makes your food taste acrid. As it does, the oil releases harmful compounds inside the pan as well as into the air.
In other words, the smoke point is one of the ways to determine if a given cooking oil is suitable for frying—a category of cooking methods that require relatively high heat—or not. So let’s take a look at how it is with grapeseed oil.
Grapeseed oil is a neutral-flavored cooking with a smoke point of 390°F to 420°F (200°C to 215°C), which makes it suitable for frying over medium to medium-high heat. However, you should avoid using it over high heat.
Deep frying is usually done at temperatures from 325°F to 375°F (160°C to 190°C). As long as you stay in the lower range (consider using an oil thermometer), you can deep fry with grapeseed oil without worrying about the oil exceeding its smoke point.
As long as you use medium to medium-high heat, you should also be able to sear steaks, sauté vegetables, and shallow fry breaded or battered foods with grapeseed oil without hassle. Just remember not to turn the burner all the way up or the oil will start to smoke.
Think twice about grilling or broiling with grapeseed oil. Most gas grills operate at 425°F (220°C), and charcoal burns at even higher temperatures. The typical broiler gets hot to about 500°F (260°C), well above grapeseed oil’s smoke point.
What Else Should You Know?
It’s much easier to overheat cooking oil in an empty pan than in a pan with ingredients in it. So the greatest care to not exceed grapeseed oil should be taken while you’re preheating the cooking vessel.
Although frying at medium to medium-high heat may sound limiting, the truth is that you very rarely need high heat. In fact, you should only turn the burner on full when simmering sauces and liquids. In all other cases, gentler heating is the better choice because it browns your food while also cooking it through.
We’ve all been there: a burger or sausage looks perfectly cooked, but is actually runny and bloody in the middle. The culprit is too high a heat, and the solution is to use less of it the next time.
Learn more: When Should You Cook Over High Heat?
What Other Oils Are Good for Frying?
As a general rule of thumb, any cooking oil with a high smoke point is good for frying. If you reuse the oil, keep in mind that its smoke point will drop with each and every use until it is no longer suitable for frying.
Vegetable oil, canola oil, rice bran oil, and avocado oil are among the best oils for frying. Other oils that can withstand high temperatures are clarified butter (not to be confused with regular butter), corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil.
Yes, grapeseed oil is a cooking oil that’s suitable for frying as long as you don’t fry with it over high heat (which you rarely need to). Other good oils for high-heat cooking are avocado oil, canola oil, and rice bran oil.