Five popular cooking oils
These days, you can walk down the aisles of any Lunds or Byerly’s store and find a wide variety of different cooking oils to choose from. Many of us use olive oil as our main cooking oil, especially because of its widely publicized health benefits.
But did you know that olive oil isn’t the best oil for everything? Because it has a low smoke point, it can burn pretty easily at high cooking temperatures, making your food taste bad and filling it with carcinogenic free radicals.
Here’s a breakdown of five popular oils and how to use them:
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- Best used uncooked or cooked at low to medium temperatures.
- Will burn at temperatures higher than 320 degrees F.
- Helps to balance the acidity in high-acid foods such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine and lemon juice.
- A great choice for salad dressings, marinades, sauces and dips, or drizzled over cooked pasta or vegetables.
- There are two types: Toasted or light.
- Toasted sesame oil has an intense, nutty flavor and darker appearance. Primarily used for seasoning. Delicious in Asian stir-fry dishes or noodle recipes. A little goes a long way; toasted sesame oil is not recommended as a cooking oil, as its flavor would overpower the rest of the dish.
- Light sesame oil is gets its name from its light color. It’s made with untoasted sesame seeds and comes in both refined and unrefined versions. Unrefined light sesame oil can be used in salad dressings and marinades. Refined light sesame oil can be used as a cooking oil for meats and vegetables, or for deep frying.
- Unrefined sesame oil will burn at temperatures above 350 F.
- Refined sesame oil will burn at temperatures above 450 F.
- Toasted sesame oil will burn at temperatures above 410 F.
- Often comes in solid form. Coconut oil will melt at temperatures higher than 76 F and burn at temperatures higher than 350 F.
- Contains saturated fats from lauric acid, which has many health and hygiene benefits.
- Coconut oil is a wonderful all-purpose oil. It can be used in baking as a substitute for butter or shortening. It’s great for stir-fry dishes or sautéing, too. You can even add coconut oil to smoothies!
- Extracted from the seeds of grapes.
- Can be used as a substitute for EVOO.
- Will burn at temperatures higher than 390 F.
- Good for stir-fry dishes, sautéing and baking.
- Has a clean, light taste that works well in salad dressings.
- Canola oil has less saturated fat than any other oil commonly used in the U.S.
- Will burn at temperatures higher than 400 F.
- Has a light flavor, great for salad dressings, sauces and marinades.
- Works well for sautéing, grilling, baking and stir-fry dishes.
- Use it to coat pans for nonstick baking.