Which oil should I use?

The “smoke point” of an oil is the temperature at which it begins to break down and, well, smoke. Every type of oil has a different temperature at which this occurs, and it’s important to choose the correct oil for the cooking method you are using in order to keep the food from tasting burned. The more refined an oil is and the lighter it is, the higher the smoke point as well. That’s because the refining process removes impurities. And speaking of impurities, never reuse oil for frying as it will degrade somewhat because it has already been heated, and it will retain bits and pieces of fried food in it (impurities) which will further reduce the smoke point.

So, which oil should you use? There was a time when our grandmothers cooked almost exclusively with lard or vegetable shortening.

We all know that a fried egg for breakfast always tastes better fried in butter, but use a medium low temperature to keep the bottom and edges of the egg from burning and ending up hard.

If you want to sauté a chicken breast in a little bit of butter, add a tablespoon of olive oil. It will raise the smoke point and helps to keep the butter from burning as the chicken breast will take longer to cook than that egg and you’ll be using a slightly higher temperature.

If you are deep frying, you should use an oil that can be heated to a higher temperature.  Ideally, deep frying should be done at 375 degrees. If you don’t heat the oil to that temperature, the food you are cooking will soak up the oil with soggy, greasy results.

Here is a list of oils, their smoke points and some suggested uses.


Type of Oil

Smoke Point

Suggested Uses

  Almond   Oil

420o   F

  Sautéing  and stir frying
  Avocado   Oil


  Stir frying and searing

250-300o   F

  Eggs, grilled sandwiches, and baking
  Canola   Oil

400o   F

  Coconut   Oil

450o   F

  Baking and candy making
  Corn   Oil

400-450o   F

  Ghee  (Clarified butter)

375-485o   F

  Sautéing and frying
  Grapeseed   Oil

420o   F

  Sautéing and frying
  Hazelnut   Oil

430o   F

  Marinades and salad dressings

370o   F

  Baking and frying
  Macadamia  Oil

413o   F

  Sautéing, searing, and stir frying
  Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)

375-406o   F

  Salad dressings
  Peanut Oil

450o   F

  Deep frying
  Safflower Oil

510o   F

  Mayonnaise and salad dressings
  Sesame Oil

450o   F

  Sautéing and stir frying
  Soybean Oil

450-475o   F

  Used in margarine, shortening and  in       salad  dressings
  Sunflower   Oil

440o   F

  Used in margarine, shortening and salad dressings
  Vegetable   shortening

360o   F

  Baking and frying
  Walnut   Oil

400o   F

  Sautéing, searing and stir frying


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