Over the past 10 years, the landscape of cooking oils has changed. These days the shelf of the cooking-oil section of the supermarket is a crowded spot. This abundance of oil options can cause confusion about which oils may be the healthiest ones to use. With so many cooking oils out there, it can be difficult to make sense of the types and their respective uses. Fret not, as we guide you on the types of oil and their uses in food.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
This unrefined oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet because it’s the highest quality of olive oil, that portrays the true taste of olives. Unlike many other olive oils, this is untouched by chemicals or heat and contains more natural vitamins and minerals.
How to Cook With It: Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil is not a no-go, but it does have a lower smoke point than many other oils and burns at a lower temperature. Since it tends to be a pricier side oil, save the good EVOO for dipping and dressing, and use regular olive oil for cooking and baking.
Avocado oil is a super versatile and delicious type of oil. Unlike a lot of oils that are pressed from a seed, avocado oil is made of the same creamy goodness that makes guacamole. This heart-healthy oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent arterial damage, heart disease, and blood pressure.
How to Cook With It: You can make just about anything with avocado oil because of its high smoke point and delish taste. Make a homemade mayo with 2 egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 cup of avocado oil and salt. This way you can skip the sugar and artificial preservatives that lead to belly fat.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Pumpkin seed oil is a power-packed food rich in vitamin A, K, E, as well as both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It has a rich green color and nutty flavor that can make the perfect addition to a dish.
How to Cook With It: It’s best to use pumpkin seed oil for light sautéing or low-heat baking since it may lose some nutritional value when heated. It makes for a delicious salad dressing, dip or marinade base, and even pairs well with ice cream.
Coconut oil is a hot topic these days and for good reason. There are some pretty amazing benefits of coconut oil that come from using it on your skin, hair, and especially in your food! The fats that come from coconut oil convert more easily to energy than other fat, helping to boost metabolism, curbing appetite, and aiding weight loss.
How to Cook With It: Replace some of those heavy fats you’d typically use with this healthy fat; you’ll get some good health perks some major flavor. With a moderate-heat roasting level, coconut oil is the perfect cooking oil for sauteing and roasting. It adds a great taste to baked good and can even be mixed into your morning brew (aka bulletproof coffee) for an extra boost of energy and taste. You should avoid using it in vinaigrettes and most marinades since coconut oil becomes solid at room temperature.
Ghee is a form of clarified butter that has gained recognition more recently with diets cutting out dairy increasingly becoming popular. The milk protein has been removed from butter so people who are dairy-intolerant can (typically) consume it. It’s a great source of fat-soluble vitamins with a more intense nutty flavor than butter. Ghee is composed almost entirely of fat and should still be used in moderation.
How to Cook With It: Use ghee similarly to how you would use butter. With a high smoke point, it works great in multiple ways! Another great thing about ghee is that you can leave it at room temperature since there’s no dairy, making it perfectly spreadable for toast. Or try greasing a pan, adding to a pan-fried fish dish or making a chicken rub, it can be used for just about any meal you’re making.
You may have seen grapeseed oil in hair and skin products, but its medicinal properties are just as useful in cooking. It has a simple, nonexistent taste that doesn’t overpower other ingredients and is generally less expensive than EVOO. Make sure when buying grapeseed oil for culinary application that it’s clearly labeled food grade. (You don’t want to accidentally eat a hair mask full of chemicals!) This is a great source of essential fatty acids and vitamin C. But make sure to consume in moderation because it also contains a high amount of omega-6s that can increase inflammation and cause weight gain.
How to Cook With It: Grapeseed oil has a very high smoking point that can be utilized with any type of cooking— sauteing, frying, roasting, searing and can be a great addition to a marinade or vinaigrette. Caramelize onions and mushrooms in grapeseed oil to get a sweet side dish.
Walnuts are chock-full of nutritional benefits. (Watch our video on the benefits of walnuts!) They’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and hold a significant source of iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. The flavor of this oil is rich and nutty. Diets rich in walnuts and walnut oil have been shown to help the body respond better to stress and keep diastolic blood pressure levels down.
How to Cook With It: Walnut oil is best used uncooked and shouldn’t be used at high temperatures because it becomes slightly bitter once cooked. But it makes a delicious addition to salad dressings and pastas, as well as an awesome homemade chocolate hazelnut spread. Combine 1 cup of roasted hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of walnut oil in a high-speed blender, and mix until creamy.
Also known as hemp oil, has properties that help reduce cholesterol, heal skin and control metabolism. You can find this oil in tons of natural body care products but it’s also used in food. The flavor is subtle and adds a great element to many recipes.
How to Cook With It: Don’t. Hemp seed oil loses all its nutrients and no longer has its flavor once it reaches a high temperature and is best used as a finishing oil. Instead, add it to your hummus, weight loss smoothies, and sandwich spreads to reap max benefits!
Canola has a near-even ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. This dietary ratio has shown to help battle cancer, arthritis, and asthma. It’s also gleaming with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that may play a role in weight maintenance.
How to Cook With It: This is the good option for everyday cooking, from eggs to chicken. Canola oil can endure relatively high levels of heat and has a neutral flavor that won’t overpower a dish.