Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs
Ingredients

Pepper Guides: The Best Oils to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

April 25, 2016

The best cooking is essentially, about the basics. Good food must have a good foundation; even the oil you use makes a radical difference in both taste and execution. Common misconceptions will have you reserving peanut or sesame oil for Asian cooking, or believing that the average vegetable or canola oil is the cheapest and best alternative. Here, we break down the most important qualities of each basic oil on the market, and what uses they serve.

Smoking point: The smoke point is the temperature at which oil begins to smoke when subjected to heat. What cause the smoking are the minerals, enzymes, free fatty acids, and other compounds degrading into the air. It is the limit at which oil should be used. That means that depending on the origin and processing of the oil, its applications in cooking varies.

Refined vs. unrefined: Unrefined or virgin oils are normally cold-pressed. The process allows the oil to retain its flavor, minerals, enzymes, and color. Unfortunately, all those properties dramatically decrease smoke point and shelf life. Unrefined oil is best as finishing oil or for low temperature cooking. Refined oil can undergo one or more processes such as treatment with high-pressure steam, bleaching, distilling, addition of preservatives, etc. In other words, it is exposed to heat, chemicals, or all of the above. The results are: higher smoke point, neutral flavors, lighter color, consistency, and longer shelf life.

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Peanut (refined)

Uses: Frying, searing, sautéing, stir-fry
Smoke point: 232 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Sesame (unrefined)

Uses: Finishing oil, seasoning, dressing
Smoke point: 177 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Olive (extra virgin, unrefined)

Uses: Finishing oil, dressing, low-heat sautéing
Smoke point: 160 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Soybean (refined)

Uses: Frying, sautéing, stir-fry, searing
Smoke point: 232 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Palm (refined)

Uses: Frying, sautéing, stir-fry, searing (Note: controversial for its environmental implications)
Smoke point: 230 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Coconut (refined)

Uses: Sautéing, frying
Smoke point: 204 C

Pepper Guides: The Best Oil to Use for Basic Cooking Needs

Canola (refined)

Uses: Frying, dressing, and sautéing
Smoke point: 204 C

Monica Yang SEE AUTHOR Monica Yang Monica tries to be healthy, but is not very good at it. She loves food, traveling, and reading. Weaknesses include: good coffee, stationery, and home furnishing stores.
7 comments in this post SHOW

7 responses to “Pepper Guides: The Best Oils to Use for Basic Cooking Needs”

  1. Nikki says:

    Hi, I think you forgot the corn oil

  2. Ito Tuason says:

    In your opinion Monica, what then would be the “healthiest” cooking amongst those you mentioned?

    • Monica Yang says:

      Thanks Ito! Oils are usually divided into 3 types of fat: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fatty acids. Most people consider saturated fat to be unhealthy.

      Some people also don’t like refined oil because of the processing and addition of chemicals.

      With all of that said, canola oil is very low in saturated fat but is almost always refined. It’s also based on your personal preferences 🙂

      • Ito Tuason says:

        Hi Monica thank you for sharing with me information on the different oils. I’m glad that I’ve been using canola oil for quite some time now based on suggestions of friends as well. Thanks again.

  3. Ito Tuason says:

    Thanks of your very informative description of the different cooking oils in the market. I’ve passed on these info to friends as well. Great article!

  4. Ito Tuason says:

    *Thanks for your …

  5. cutedoc says:

    best for frying is peanut oil, or sauteing in high heat like that of chinese restaurants. For home cooking coconut oil will do the works

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