Whether it’s macrobiotics, Ayurvedic practices, raw food or food combining—I love finding ways to reduce stress and increase energy. I’ll take my research and obsession with freshness and nutrient density, and turn them into approachable tips to help you prosper. Regardless if you are plant-based or not, I hope to help you reach optimal wellness with the most up-to-date information on healthy living.
Oils used in moderation can be a healthy and flavorful addition to your recipes. However when in the oil aisle it seems like you need to crack the Da Vinci Code to figure out which is best for baking, sautéing, or making a salad dressing. That ends today! Here is my quick and easy guide to what oils to use for what culinary purpose.
Let’s start with a little need-to-know vocabulary:
This means that the oil was obtained from pressing and grinding mechanism not reaching heat above 120 degrees. This is a really good procedure because heat can affect both the taste and nutritional value.
This method is similar to cold pressed but tends to add a little more heat, not reaching over 210 degrees. This is also a good method, although the product will be slightly less nutrient dense than with cold-pressed.
Red Flag! Avoid oils with this on the label. Just like flours and sugars, oils that are refined have been altered usually by heat, bleach or other solvents and are not the best for our health.
This is a good term to see on the product. It means that the oil is of high quality, has not been exposed to heat or chemicals. Extra virgin means that it has been pressed using only pressure, comes from the first pressing of the oil, and meets the optimal acidity level resulting in the most pure and desirable taste.
The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to start smoking when subjected to heat. You never want to let oil smoke; that means it has become too hot and creates toxic fumes and free radicals. This terminology is going to be the most helpful when choosing your oils for the right job; you don’t want to fry or bake with an oil that has a low smoking point.
Now that we’ve laid down the base knowledge let’s get to the specifics! For your convenience, here is a reference chart for proper oil selection. When making these recommendations I took into account smoke point as well as flavor. Some oils may have a high smoke point making them eligible for frying but the flavor may give your dishes an undesirable taste.
|Type of oil||Smoking Point (degrees F)||Recommended Use|
|Vega Antioxidant Omega Oil||Salad dressing, dips, smoothies, and drizzling (NO cooking, baking or frying)|
|Flaxseed||225||Salad dressing, dips, and drizzling|
|Olive – Extra Virgin||320||Frying|
|Coconut – Extra Virgin||350||Baking, sautéing, dressings, frostings|
|Sesame – Light||410||Frying|
|Sesame – Dark||410||Stir-frying and sauces|
|Olive – Virgin||420||Frying|
|Sun Flower||450||Baking or frying|
|Peanut||450||Baking or frying|
|Avocado||520||Frying, dressings, drizzling|
Bonus tip: Coconut oil has a great deal of uses outside the kitchen especially for natural beauty! Learn more here.
What is your favorite oil to cook with?