Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What do you cook with?

What kind of oil do you use when cooking/frying?  Believe it or not, it does matter.
I once heard that we shouldn't cook with olive oil, because the heat breaks it down into "bad stuff". I found this curious, since there is so much hype surrounding olive oil.  So, naturally, I had to google to find out for sure. First, let me explain in simple terms why it matters which oil you use.

Every oil has what is called a smoke point.  This is how hot an oil can get before it starts smoking. Once it starts smoking it breaks down, leaving a depletion of nutrients and the building up of harmful oxygen radicals, which are known to cause cancer.  Yikes. Not good.  Thus, it is important to know the smoke point of the oil you intend to use.

I personally have begun using grapeseed oil, since it has a high smoke point of 485 degrees F and is an excellent source of vitamin E.  As for the olive oil inquiry?  Well, you should be okay in most instances, though I did read that this issue is widely debated because it depends upon how the oil is processed and whether or not it is refined, etc.  Below is a chart of smoking points, copied exactly from its source,

225 F: Canola Oil, Unrefined
     : Flaxseed Oil, Unrefined
     : Safflower Oil, Unrefined
     : Sunflower Oil, Unrefined
320 F: Corn Oil, Unrefined
     : High-Oleic Sunflower Oil,
     : Olive Oil, Unrefined
     : Peanut Oil, Unrefined
     : Safflower Oil, Semi-Refined
     : Soy Oil, Unrefined
     : Walnut Oil, Unrefined
325 F: Shortening, Emulsified
330 F: Hemp Seed Oil¥¥
350 F: Butter (Good Eats)
     : Canola Oil, Semi-Refined
     : Coconut Oil†
     : Sesame Oil, Unrefined
     : Soy Oil, Semi-Refined
356-370 F: Vegetable Shortening
361-401 F: Lard
375 F: Olive Oil (Good Eats)
389 F: Macadamia Nut Oil††
400 F: Canola Oil, Refined
     : Walnut Oil, Semi-Refined
406 F: Olive Oil, Extra Virgin*
410 F: Corn Oil (Good Eats)
     : Sesame Oil**
420 F: Cottonseed Oil†
     : Grapeseed Oil¥
     : Olive Oil, Virgin**
430 F: Almond Oil***
     : Hazelnut Oil***
435 F: Canola Oil (Good Eats)
438 F: Olive Oil*
     : Rapeseed Oil***
440 F: Peanut Oil†
     : Sunflower Oil†
450 F: Corn Oil, Refined
     : High-Oleic Sunflower Oil,
     : Peanut Oil, Refined
       (Good Eats)
     : Safflower Oil, Ref.
       (Good Eats)
     : Sesame Oil, Semi-Refined
     : Soy Oil, Refined
     : Sunflower Oil, Semi-Refined
460 F: Olive Pomace Oil**
468 F: Olive Oil, Extra Light*
485 F: Grapeseed Oil**
495 F: Soy Bean Oil†
510 F: Safflower Oil†
520 F: Avocado Oil, Refined

I hope this helps with your next stir-fry.


  1. Interesting! Thanks for sharing! Visiting from VB!

  2. This is great - I've been meaning to look up smoke points for a while (since I started making my own popcorn at home for the kids). But my pantry is mainly stocked with olive oil - I use it for cooking and for making salad dressings. I also love toasted sesame oil and sometimes use coconut oil.
    Thanks for sharing this,

  3. I have this very post waiting to be published. Good for you for actually realizing the importance of cooking with the right oil. We use grapeseed oil, coconut oil, red palm oil and peanut oil for deep frying. These are our only oils for cooking. We don't use canola as it is one of the top three genetically modified crops in the US. Same goes for corn. We don't use anything chemically refined (sorry Crisco). We use olive oil from our olive trees (thank you Lebanon) for salads and sometimes walnut or hazelnut oil. (we make these ourselves along with our own raw coconut oil.)

  4. I've been using olive oil for years, but also like grape seed oil and a few others. They just taste better than shortening.

  5. Really interesting post! I usually use olive oil, but have not tried grape seed. Coconut oil would probably make everything taste fantastic!