With stir-frying, pan frying and deep frying, what is the best oil to use with each method of cooking? A big factor in determining which cooking oil works best for different methods is the oil's smoke point, or the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and burn. The higher the smoke point, the higher temperature the oil can be used in.
Here is a run-down of what oils work best with different types of food prep:
To make a good stir-fry, you have to use high heat to cook the food very quickly. Therefore, you must use a cooking oil with a high smoke point so it can withstand the heat without burning.
Because of its 420-degree smoke point, almond oil is best used in stir-fry or when lightly frying vegetables. This oil has one of the highest percentage of monounsaturated fat, making it one of the healthiest oils because it regulates cholesterol, protects against heart disease and reduces the risk of diabetes.
Peanut oil has a sweet, nutty flavor and a high smoke point of 440 degrees that makes it ideal for stir-frying Asian cuisine. Along with stir-frying, peanut oil is a great choice for deep frying. It's a healthy oil that is good for your heart because it is high in monounsaturated fat.
Rice bran oil has a smoke point of 500 degrees and is best to use when preparing foods with subtle, mild flavors such as seafood. The oil itself is neutral in taste and works well when used during stir-frying. Rice bran oil has health benefits that can help lower cholesterol, boost your immune system, prevent cancer, promote weight loss and contribute to clear skin.
Sesame oil is often found in Asian food and stir-fries, but there are two different versions of the oil and one does NOT do well in high-heat situations. First, the pale yellow version of sesame oil is raw and has around a 400 degree smoke point, so it is great for frying. The dark amber colored sesame oil that you may be more familiar with is made from roasted sesame seeds and is used specifically for flavoring after a dish is cooked. If you use that to fry, it will most likely burn and turn your dish bitter. Either way, sesame oil has health benefits that promote skin and hair health, help bone growth, reduce blood pressure and manage heart health.
Similarly to stir-fry, deep drying uses high temperatures to cook so the oil you use must have a high smoke point. The oils you use with stir-frying can overlap into deep frying territory, such as peanut oil, which works well in both methods. However, oils with more saturated fats are best for deep frying than in other methods because the fatty acids are more stable and able to withstand the frying process.
Cottonseed oil is a popular oil choice for deep frying because of its mild nutty flavor, but it's not exactly the healthiest oil option. Cottonseed oil has been criticized for having too little monounsaturated fats and too much saturated fat, but it also has health benefits and can help lower cholesterol.
This is a very stable oil and holds up well in high-heat environments because of its high 440-degree smoke point. It performs well when used during deep frying. Sunflower oil is nutrient-rich and packed with vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant and strengthens your immune system.
Pan-frying and sautéing use a more moderate heat than the high-heat methods of stir-frying and deep frying. Because of this, oils with lower smoke points are best used for these cooking methods.
Avocado oil is buttery and has an especially high smoke point at 520 degrees, which makes it the ideal oil for grilling or pan frying. It's most often used when preparing Brussel sprouts or other fried vegetables. Avocado oil has many benefits including reducing cholesterol and improving heart health, eye health, and reduces symptoms of arthritis.
Extracted from the meat of harvested coconuts, this oil has a natural sweetness and is best used for sautéing and baking. Because of its low 350 smoke point, it's not ideal for high-temperature preparation methods such as deep frying. This oil has benefits such as promoting weight loss by increasing fat burning and its fatty acids can work to reduce your hunger and help you eat less.
This nutty and buttery oil is perfect for pan frying, especially when preparing fish. It's high in monounsaturated fats and has a high smoke point of around 495 degrees. Like coconut oil, macadamia oil is very heart-healthy.
These oils are versatile enough to handle a wide range of cooking methods.
Canola oil is one of the most popular cooking oils in the U.S. because of its versatility. Canola oil has a neutral flavor and smoke point of 400, making it a safe choice for pan frying, stir-fry or deep drying. This oil is also healthy because it is high in monounsaturated fats and good for reducing cholesterol and controlling blood sugar.
Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined olive oil, which means the oil hasn't been treated to remove flaws after its extracted from the fruit of olive trees. This means extra virgin olive oil is the highest-quality olive oil available and has a more pungent aroma and stronger flavor than refined olive oil. This oil is versatile and can be used in all types of cooking -- frying as well as baking. It's also good for your heart and rich with vitamins.
Unlike extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil has been treated to cure its flaws and is therefore more sellable. It has a more subdued flavor and scent, and is great to use when preparing Mediterranean food. Along with its unrefined counterpart, olive oil can be used for all methods of food preparation. Olive oil has benefits such as a large amount of antioxidants that contribute to good health, and can even work to prevent strokes.
When eaten in moderation, monounsaturated fats can help reduce high cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to The American Heart Association. Therefore, oils with monounsaturated fats are healthier for you than oils with saturated fat or trans fat. All types of fat contain nine calories per gram, but while monounsaturated fats have positive effects on your health when eaten in moderation, saturated and trans fats only negatively affect your health.
The oils high with monounsaturated fats are often plant based, so olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, macadamia oil, canola oil, peanut oil and sesame oil are some of the healthiest oils.