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Are You Using the Right Type of Oil When You Cook?

Posted 09/07/2018

A Brief Explanation of Smoke Points

A smoke point is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke, and thus burn. When cooking, you want to select an oil that has a smoke point that can support the temperature you plan to cook at. For high temperature cooking, you’re going to want to use an oil with a high smoke point. Generally, the more refined an oil is, the higher the smoke point is. You don’t want to go over an oil’s smoke point when cooking. Now that we have that out of the way, lets move on to which of the most common oils are best for specific applications.

Oils, Smoke Points and Uses

Olive Oil

Smoke Point

Olive oil is a little tricky because it comes in several forms and smoke points vary for each type. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 320°F, virgin olive oil’s smoke point is 420°F and extra light olive oil is 468°F.

What is it good for?

Olive oil is great for medium heat applications, such as sautéing. Olive oils are also great for sauces and salad dressings because of the fuller flavor olive oil offers.

Olive Oil In Glass Container - Olive Oil Smoke Point and Use Tips

Sunflower Oil

Smoke Point

Sunflower oil boasts a high smoke point of 450°F.

What is it good for?

Since sunflower oil has a high smoke point and light flavor, it’s perfect for frying. Chick-fil-a, a popular fast food chain predominantly found in the Southeast US uses sunflower oil for all of their frying. Sunflower oil is also low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E, so it’s also a good option for salad dressing and baking.

Canola Oil

Smoke Point

Canola oil’s smoke points depend on whether it’s refined or unrefined. If it’s unrefined, the smoke point is 225°F, and if it’s refined, the smoke point raises significantly to 425-475°F. If you’re unsure if your canola oil is refined or unrefined, it’s probably refined. If the label says, “expeller pressed,” then that means it’s unrefined, but more often than not, canola oil is refined.

What is it good for?

Canola oil has a variety of uses depending on how refined or unrefined it is. As stated above, most of the time, canola oil is refined, and refined canola oil is great for medium-high heat applications, like sautéing, pan frying, stir-frying and baking.

Canola (Rapeseed) Flowers for Canola Oil - Canola Oil Smoke Point and Use Tips

Coconut Oil

Smoke Point

Coconut oil has gained a lot of popularity over the past several years, and for good reason. Coming in with a smoke point of 325°F, coconut oil is a healthy alternative to a lot of other oils.

What is it good for?

Coconut oil is great for low to medium heat applications, like light sautéing. Coconut is also fantastic for baking and gives a little bit extra to recipes with it’s light coconut flavor without being overpowering.

Coconut Oil in jar - Coconut Oil Smoke Point and Use Tips

Peanut Oil

Smoke Point

Peanut oil is up there when it comes to smoke point, offering a smoke point of 450°F.

What is it good for?

Peanut oil is especially good for stir frying. Peanut oil is also commonly used for deep frying, pan frying, roasting and grilling.

Peanuts In A Dish - Peanut Oil Smoke Point and Use Tips

Avocado Oil

Smoke Point

The smoke point of avocado oil is higher than all other oils, with a smoke point of 520°F.

What is it good for?

Avocado has been identified as one of the most healthy oils available, high in oleic acid, monounsaturated fats and Vitamins A, E and D. Avocado oil, because of its unusually high smoke point, is great for searing, sautéing at high heat, deep frying and stir-frying.

Avocados in a bowl - Avocado oil smoke point and use tips


Smoke Point

Butter is a beautiful thing, coming in with a smoke point of 325-375°F. Butter is considered one of the safest and most stable cooking fats.

What is it good for?

Butter is great for sautéing, sauces and lower heat cooking.

Tablespoons of Butter In a Glass Bowl - Butter Smoke Point and Use Tips

The Final Word

So now that we’ve covered the basic, get back into your kitchen and start using the correct oil for the job! You’ll have a better cooking experience that doesn’t involve a lot of smoke and you’ll have food cooked properly!