Our Favourite Cooking Oils

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You have plenty of options when it comes to choosing which type of oil to pan fry, stir fry or drizzle with. Which oil is right for you? That depends largely on the type of cooking you’re doing. An oil’s smoke point, which is the point when oil starts burning and smoking, is one of the most important things to consider. If you heat an oil past its smoke point, it not only harms the flavour, but many of the nutrients in the oil degrade and the oil will release harmful compounds called free radicals. We have selected some of the most used oils in our kitchen below.

Our Favourite Cooking Oils

Olive Oil

Olive oil one of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat, as long as it’s ‘extra virgin’. An extra virgin oil is one that is NOT refined, which means they are of a higher quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains monounsaturated fat and some polyunsaturated fatty acids which are recommended for better heart health. Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point compared to other oils, so it’s best for low-medium heat cooking or used in baking, marinades or dressings. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil provides a delicious flavour but should be consumed in moderation if possible. It has a beautiful, strong taste and aroma when added to your cooking. Another benefit is its ability to heat up to high temperatures without breaking down and producing smoke. However, the main point of conflict is its high saturated fat content. Not all saturated fats are bad for our general health, but having too much can increase blood cholesterol levels and lipid profiles. The thing to remember is, coconut oil is not a ‘superfood’ as the media has portrayed in the past.

Vegetable Oil 

Vegetable oils come from varying plant sources including canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm and sunflower oils. Vegetable oils are refined and processed, which means they can lack flavour and nutritional value. However, they are ideal for shallow and deep frying due to the high smoke point and neutral flavour profile.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is derived from rapeseed (a flowering plant) and contains a good amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Of all vegetable oils, canola oil tends to have the least amount of saturated fats. It has a high smoke point, which means it is ideal for high-heat cooking.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil can be a great choice for simple foods cooked using a variety of preparation methods. It is unrefined like extra virgin olive oil and has a higher smoking point. This means it can be used to cook at a higher heat and is great for stir-frying. It doesn’t have much flavour, which makes it a good option for cooked foods and dressing raw ingredients. Avocado oil contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as high amounts of vitamin E. Avocado oil tends to be more expensive when compared to the price of other vegetable oils.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is extremely high in vitamin E. Just one tablespoon contains 28% of a person’s daily recommended intake of the nutrient. It has a high smoke point and mild flavour, which means it won’t overwhelm a dish. However, sunflower oil contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. Consuming too many omega-6s without balancing with omega 3s can lead to excess inflammation in the body, so moderation is key.

Peanut Oil

Nut oils, like peanut, can be fun to experiment with in the kitchen, especially since there are so many different varieties on the market. Peanut oil has one of the highest amounts of monounsaturated fats when compared to other cooking oils. It is flavourful with a nutty taste and smell and cooks well at high heats - a great choice for many Asian dishes. One of the downsides of using this oil is a large number people suffer from allergic reactions to peanuts, which can be tricky for hospitality businesses or when entertaining. 

Sesame Oil

This oil is often used for its potent flavour; a little goes a long way. It contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, though it’s not especially high in other nutrients. It has a high smoke point and can be used for high-heat cooking. For some recipes, you may want to combine with another oil (eg canola) as it can be quite strong for some people. The best way to preserve its flavour is to add a drizzle right at the very end of cooking to maximise its pungency.  

Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil is produced from rice bran, the outer brown layer of a rice kernel. It’s a good oil to use due to potential health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control and heart health. It also offers several antioxidants which may provide anti-inflammatory effects. It is also known for its high smoke point of 232 °C and mild flavour, making it great for high-temperature cooking such as stir frying and deep frying.

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