The Slick Truth About Cooking Oils

When cooking with oils, there are a few important things to consider.

  1. What are you using the oil for: frying, sautéing, or drizzling on food? Also, from a culinary standpoint, what flavors are you looking to enhance your food? For example, when I cook Asian cuisine I like to use sesame seed oil. I love the flavor of truffle oil,  so I like to drizzle it on potatoes after they have been cooked or potato chips.
  2. It is important to buy a healthy oil, so look for one high in nutrients and antioxidants and that has a good balance of omega-3’s and 6’s and even some incorporation of omega-9’s.
  3. Avoid buying GMO oil.  Assume that canola, soybean, and corn oils are genetically modified unless they say NonGMO or organic.
  4. Different oils need to be used at different cooking temperatures. If you heat oils past their smoke point, then you are oxidizing the oil and releasing free radicals that can be carcinogenic.  This also, will deplete their nutrients.
  5. All oils can go rancid if exposed to light, heat, and air, therefore it is important to store your oils in a dark and cool environment.  If an oil goes rancid you can typically smell and taste it. Reused oils go rancid quickly, and I recommend throwing them out.  Rancid oils can release free radicals, called oxidative rancidity, and adversely affect your health.

My list of Oils with their Associated Smoke Point

For frying, searing meat and woking – *avocado oil (520), ghee (485), which is a fat, not an oil, look for organic or grass fed, light sesame oil (410),  sunflower oil (460)

For sautéing – unrefined sesame oil (350), butter (350), which is a fat, not an oil, look for organic or grass fed, *grapeseed (420), virgin olive oil (420), olive oil (350) coconut oil (350)

For drizzling or salad dressing – flaxseed (225) or *extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) (320)

For baking – coconut oil (350) and *organic canola oil (400)

* The oils I personally use the most in each category.