Avocado, Canola, Olive… Which Cooking Oil Do I Need?

Does anybody else use the Pinterest food section on a daily basis? I look every single day, it’s an obsession. But I have noticed that lately, many of the recipes are using new and different cooking oils. I usually have 2 oils in my kitchen, extra virgin olive and canola. That’s it. No avocado, grape seed, or coconut… When did cooking oil get so complicated?!

cooking oil

So I got curious, whats the difference and should I be making the switch?

Cooking Oil Smoke Point

This is the temperature at which the oil or fat produces smoke. Ok, that is a very simplified definition but essentially, the higher the smoke point, the better for cooking. Here are some of the higher smoke point oils:

  1. Avocado Oil: 520 F
  2. Canola Oil: 375 – 450 F
  3. Safflower Oil, refined: 510 F
  4. Sunflower Oil, semi refined: 450 F

Room Temperature Consistency

This is important because you don’t want to use oils that are solid at room temperature in things like salad dressings.

  1. Coconut Oil
    • When cold it has a butter-like texture so it is great for dairy free baked goods. Smoke point is 350 F, do not exceed this.
  2. Palm Oil

Oils You Shouldn’t Heat

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. Hemp Seed Oil
  3. Toasted Nut and Seed Oils

Light Olive Oil vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

It may sound like light olive oil is a calorie conscious version of EVOO, but it is not. In fact, the calorie count is the same. The difference is what happens after the olives are crushed. For EVOO, nothing happens after the crushing! The olives are crushed and the oil is collected. It has a strong, robust taste with a low smoke point of 325 F. It provides great flavoring for a vinaigrette or for drizzling on to food after it is cooked.

Light olive oil takes the process one step further. The collected oil from the crushed olives is treated with chemical solvents that neutralize its flavor. The result is a neutral tasting oil that has a high smoke point of 470 F. It is great for cooking and for using to create your own oil infusions.

This is a very short list of oil options, but when considering a new oil, start by looking at the smoke point if you plan on cooking with it. After that, consider if you want a neutral flavor or a more distinct flavoring. I think Avocado oil is a great option that I will be adding into my usual cooking choices!.

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