From extra virgin olive oil to coconut oil, and more, there are hundreds of cooking oils and oils for salads to choose from! Here are some uses and health benefits that help you find your favorite oil, and tips which to use more sparingly. Whether you want a healthy salad or deep-fried doughnuts, there’s an oil for everything! Here are some great oils to use for every occasion.
Which Fat to Fry?
Various solid and liquid fats are perfect for frying. Look for oils with low water content so that the fat does not splash. Don’t use reduced-fat butter or margarine for frying! But you can use conventional butter and margarine, heat-resistant oils, and solid fats such as coconut fat, lard, or tallow.
Vegetable oils are lighter from a health point of view. They contain no cholesterol and in most cases have a more favorable fatty acid composition than animal fats. Different vegetable oils work well for different dishes. Olive oils, for example, are great for Mediterranean dishes. Refined oils such as canola oil or coconut oil, which have a neutral taste, are more suitable for sweet dishes such as pancakes.
Not all fats and oils survive the high temperatures that occur during grilling or deep-frying without being damaged. And that can be 180 – 260 degrees or even more. Suitable fats must have a high smoke point, i.e. they only decompose at very high temperatures. The more saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids that a fat contains the higher its smoke point. Fats with a high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as healthy flaxseed oil, are completely unsuitable for high temperatures due to their composition. Olive oil consists of about 75% oil acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is therefore relatively heat-stable and suitable for grilling. Canola oil and peanut oil also work well. Solid fats such as clarified butter (ghee), palm oil, coconut oil, hardened canola oil, sunflower oil or soybean oil also work well for high-temperature cooking.
Which Oils Are Good for Salads?
Cold-pressed native oils, like extra virgin olive oil, are a good dressing choice for cold dishes such as salads. They have been carefully produced and contain important vitamins. Cold-pressed refined vegetable oils retain their typical taste. Depending on the salad, you can mix it up and give the salad dressing a special taste with an oil.
Try one of several cold-pressed nut oils available like walnut oil, pistachio oil hazelnut oil, various olive oils, pumpkin seed oil, grape seed oil, flaxseed oil, corn oil, and more. Be creative with these oils to bring unique flavors to your salads!
Surprisingly Simple Vinaigrette
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ tsp sea salt to taste
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper to taste
- In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Stir well with a whisk or a fork until the ingredients are completely combined.
- Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 10 days for future use.
What Are the Right Oils for Grilling?
There are so many great options for grilling! A little fat can add an extra oomph to your seafood, meat, or vegetable dishes. One of my favorite recipes to grill is “The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever.” from Mel Joulwan. Most of the flavor comes from brining your chicken in advance, but you finish it off with some coconut-oil based seasonings. Olive oil could work well here, too.
Brush your grilled shrimp with a little olive oil and garlic for a simple and delicious meal that you can grill really quickly. You can add a flavor punch to grilled peaches with a bit of canola oil or butter. Or perhaps you’d prefer a robust kick of richness to red meats with a little butter.
Choosing an oil with a high smoke point such as vegetable oil, canola oil, rice bran oil, or grapeseed oil. Or, try a blend of extra virgin avocado and olive oils, with a touch of sunflower oil.
Should You Use Butter or Margarine on Bread?
The dispute as to which spreadable fat is the healthier product continues to rage on. Butter and margarine differ in their composition, and in their taste. Both spreadable fats offer positive and less favorable properties. Butter naturally contains a low proportion of trans fatty acids and cholesterol. On the other hand, margarine is often made from vegetable oils and contains more unsaturated fatty acids, but it is not a natural fat.
Those who cannot decide can also use mixed fats (e.g. butter and canola oil) as an alternative. They offer the full butter taste and the benefits of vegetable oils. But if you’re relatively healthy and only consume a few spreadable fats, just eat whichever fat tastes better!
What Are the Best Oils for Baking?
When baking, each dough might need a different type of fat. For marble cake or muffins, for example, you can use refined canola oil instead of margarine. With other doughs such as shortcrust pastry, however, the fat needs a firmer consistency so that butter or margarine would be better.
Pizza oils are still up for debate! Many think if you should only add good olive oil, because of the taste, if you’re adding any oil at all.
A simple yeast dough just needs water, flour, yeast, and salt. With these ingredients, you can bake pizza very well. However, some people find the dough a bit hard. With a small dash of high-quality oil, you can roll out the dough better and thinner. The bottom does not crack and gets a soft crust. But whether or not you add olive oil to the pizza dough or not remains a matter of taste.
Is Coconut Oil as Good as its Reputation?
There are some amazing claims about coconut oil! Some say it has positive effects on the cardiovascular system, metabolism, and cholesterol levels. Other advocates claim it can even help you lose weight when cooking. So, does it live up to the hype?
At this point, the proponents promise too much, because coconut oil contains about 90 percent saturated fatty acids. The main advantage is that you can heat this oil at higher temperatures than other oils with unsaturated fatty acids. So it’s well-suited for frying, as it does not develop any dangerous trans fats.
Start Cooking with Oils!
Which is your all-round favorite oil to use in the kitchen? Or do you have many oils to bring variety into your dishes? Let us know in the comments! And bon appetit!