A guide to oils for deep frying: How to choose the best for your cooking needs

When it comes to frying food, the type of oil you use can make all the difference. That’s because different oils have different smoke points.

The smoke point is the temperature at which the fat/oil begins to break down and smoke. The result of this is that the food gets burned, and its taste and flavor suffer.

So when choosing an oil for deep frying, you want one with a high smoke point – so that you don’t get a burnt and bitter-tasting dish.

And that brings us to the question – what are the best out of the available oils to use?

Vegetable oils, such as corn, canola, and soybean oil, are popular choices for frying due to their high smoke points and neutral flavors.

Peanut oil is another great option with a high smoke point and a slightly nutty flavor that can add depth to your dishes.

Olive oil and coconut oil, while popular in other cooking methods, are not ideal for frying due to their low smoke points.

Here are The Fryer’s Guide’s top 5:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil

22 oils for frying and their smoke points

When choosing an oil for frying, it’s important to consider the type of food you are cooking, and the temperature at which you will be frying it. For deep frying, a neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil or peanut oil, is best.

For pan-frying or sautéing, you may want to choose an oil with a more distinct flavor, such as extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil, to add depth to your dish.

Make sure to control the temperature – too low, and the food will absorb too much oil, too high – and it will get burnt.

And now, let us get into the list of 22 oils suitable for deep frying.

#Oil NameSmoke PointFlavor ProfileNutritional Properties
1Avocado oil520°F (271°C)Mild, nutty flavorHigh in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants
2Safflower oil510°F (266°C)Neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
3Rice bran oil490°F (254°C)Mild, nutty flavorHigh in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
4Olive oil (Refined)465°F (240°C)Neutral flavorHigh in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds
5Corn oil450°F (232°C)Neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
6Palm oil450°F (232°C)Mild, nutty flavorHigh in saturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants
7Peanut oil450°F (232°C)Mild, nutty flavorHigh in monounsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
8Soybean oil450°F (232°C)Neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
9Sunflower oil (Refined)450°F (232°C)Neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
10Sesame oil (Refined)450°F (232°C)Neutral flavorHigh in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
11Grape seed oil420°F (216°C)Light, neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats, and rich in antioxidants
12Cottonseed oil420°F (216°C)Neutral flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
13Canola oil400°F (204°C)Neutral flavorHigh in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
14Walnut oil400°F (204°C)Nutty, earthy flavorHigh in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds
15Vegetable oil400-450°F (204-232°C)Neutral flavorTypically a blend of different oils, high in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
16Olive oil (Virgin)390°F (199°C)Fruity, slightly bitter flavorHigh in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds
17Olive oil (Extra-virgin)375°F (191°C)Fruity, slightly bitter flavorHigh in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds
18Coconut oil350°F (177°C)Sweet, nutty flavorHigh in saturated fats, lauric acid, and antioxidants
19Sesame oil (Unrefined)350°F (177°C)Nutty, toasted flavorHigh in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats
20Hemp seed oil330°F (165°C)Nutty, grassy flavorHigh in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, and rich in antioxidants
21Flaxseed oil225°F (107°C)Nutty, earthy flavorHigh in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and lignans
22Sunflower oil (Unrefined)225°F (107°C)Nutty, toasty flavorHigh in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fats

Smoke points of oils and what it means

Different types of oils and fats have different smoke points. Vegetable oils, such as canola, corn, soybean, and sunflower oil, tend to have higher smoke points, making them suitable for high-temperature cooking methods like frying.

Animal fats, like lard and tallow, also have high smoke points and can be used for frying, but they are less commonly used due to their high saturated fat content.

Among vegetable oils, some have higher smoke points than others.

Safflower oil has the highest smoke point of all commonly used oils, at around 510°F.

Canola oil, peanut oil, and corn oil are also good choices for frying, with smoke points ranging from 400°F to 450°F.

Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil have lower smoke points and are better suited for low-temperature cooking methods like sautéing and baking.

It’s worth noting that the smoke point of oil can be affected by factors such as the quality of the oil, whether it is a pure oil or a mix of multiple oils, refined or not, and the length of time it has been heated.

Reusing oil that you already fried with before can also lower its smoke point.

Vegetable oils for deep frying and their flavor profiles

Different oils and fats have their own unique flavor profiles. Understanding these profiles can help you choose the best oil or fat for your specific dish.

Canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oil, have a neutral flavor and are great for frying foods that you want to taste like themselves.

If you’re looking for a stronger flavor, an oil that can act as a seasoning – consider using olive oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil. Olive oil has a distinct Mediterranean flavor and works well with dishes like fried calamari or eggplant.

Here are some of the most commonly used vegetable oils for frying.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a popular choice for frying due to its high smoke point of 450°F. This means it can handle high heat without breaking down and smoking.

It also has a neutral flavor profile, making it a good choice for frying a variety of foods.

Corn oil

Corn oil is another popular choice for frying due to its high smoke point of around 450°F.

It has a relatively neutral flavor profile, so it won’t impart any unwanted flavors to your food. It’s also a good choice for deep-frying or shallow-frying in a skillet. It is great for frying foods like French fries or onion rings.

Soybean oil

Soybean oil is a versatile oil that can be used for a variety of frying methods, including deep-frying, sautéing, and pan-frying. It has a high smoke point of around 450°F, making it a good choice for high-heat cooking. It also has a neutral flavor profile, so it won’t compete with the flavors of your food.

Canola oil

Canola oil is a popular choice for frying due to its high smoke point of around 400°F. It has a neutral flavor profile, making it a good choice for frying a variety of foods. It’s also a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can be beneficial for heart health.

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is a popular choice for frying due to its high smoke point of around 450°F. It has a nutty flavor profile, which can be a nice complement to certain foods. It’s also a good choice for deep-frying or shallow-frying in a skillet.

Animal fats in deep frying

When it comes to frying, animal fats are a popular choice due to their high smoke point and rich flavor.

Here are several types of animal fats that are often used for frying – butter, lard, and beef tallow.

Butter

Butter is a popular choice for sautéing and pan-frying due to its rich, creamy flavor. It is great for frying eggs or making a roux.

However, it has a relatively low smoke point of around 350°F, which makes it unsuitable for deep-frying. Butter also contains a high amount of moisture, which can cause food to become soggy if not used correctly.

Lard

Lard is a rendered form of pork fat that has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point of around 370°F. It is commonly used for deep-frying due to its ability to create a crispy crust on foods. Lard also contains a high amount of saturated fat, which makes it a controversial choice for some people.

You’d often see lard (and beef tallow below) used in Southern cuisine for frying chicken or potatoes.

Beef tallow

Beef tallow is a rendered form of beef fat that has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point of around 400°F. It is commonly used for deep-frying due to its ability to create a crispy crust on foods. Beef tallow also contains a high amount of saturated fat, which makes it a controversial choice for some people.

When choosing an animal fat for frying, it is important to consider its smoke point, flavor profile, and nutritional properties.

The flavor profile of the fat can also affect the taste of the food, so it is important to choose a fat that complements the flavors of the dish.

Nutritional properties of oils and fats

When it comes to choosing the right oil or fat for frying, it’s important to consider their nutritional properties. Here are the nutritional properties of some common oils and fats used in frying, including their content of saturated and unsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamin E.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are considered healthy fats. It has a relatively low amount of saturated fat, making it a good choice for frying. Sunflower oil is also a good source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage.

Corn oil

Corn oil is high in PUFAs, but it also contains a significant amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation if consumed in excess. It has a moderate amount of saturated fat, making it a decent option for frying. Corn oil is also a good source of vitamin E.

Soybean oil

Soybean oil is high in PUFAs and omega-6 fatty acids, which can be beneficial in moderation but may cause inflammation if consumed in excess. It has a moderate amount of saturated fat, making it a decent option for frying. Soybean oil is also a good source of vitamin E.

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are considered healthy fats. It has a low amount of saturated fat, making it a good choice for frying. Peanut oil is also a good source of vitamin E.

Canola oil

Canola oil is high in MUFAs and PUFAs, making it a healthy choice for frying. It has a low amount of saturated fat, making it a good option for those looking to reduce their intake of saturated fat. Canola oil is also a good source of vitamin E.

Butter

Butter is high in saturated fat, making it a less healthy option for frying. It also contains a small amount of MUFAs and PUFAs. Butter is not a good source of vitamin E.

Lard

Lard is high in saturated fat, making it a less healthy option for frying. It also contains a small amount of MUFAs and PUFAs. Lard is not a good source of vitamin E.

Beef tallow

Beef tallow is high in saturated fat, making it a less healthy option for frying. It also contains a small amount of MUFAs and PUFAs. Beef tallow is not a good source of vitamin E.

When choosing an oil or fat for frying, it’s important to consider their nutritional properties. Oils and fats high in healthy fats, such as PUFAs and MUFAs, and low in saturated fat are generally better options for frying. Vitamin E is also an important nutrient to consider, as it can help protect your cells from damage.

Final thoughts

Choosing the right oil for frying can make a big difference in the taste and healthfulness of your food. You want an oil that can handle high temperatures without breaking down and producing harmful compounds.

Deep frying

For deep frying, use oils with a high smoke point and a neutral flavor, such as canola oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil. These oils can handle high temperatures without breaking down and producing harmful compounds. Additionally, they have a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the food you’re frying.

Pan-frying

For pan frying, use oils with a lower smoke point and a more distinct flavor, such as olive oil or coconut oil. These oils add flavor to the food you’re frying and can handle the lower temperatures of pan frying without breaking down.

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