What you should REALLY use different oils for in cooking
Sunflower, vegetable, coconut, avocado, olive and hemp – the list of different oils you can use in cooking is seemingly endless.
But do you really be which of these oils you should be using to whip up a delicious dish in the kitchen – and when?
FEMAIL has put together the ultimate guide to what each oil is best for – and you may find you’ve been using them in completely the wrong way.
Taken from the coconut fruit, coconut oil was stigmatised for many years due to its high levels of saturated fat. But recent research has revealed that the type of saturated fat in unrefined versions of the oil may actually reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol
Best for: Baking and frying at high temperatures as it has a very high smoke point.
It’s also reported to have health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and improving heart health – though it is made up of 90 per cent saturated fat. Many ‘healthy’ cookbooks also recommend you use the unrefined version of this oil so best to have in stock if your favourite celebrity chef uses it.
Worst for: Drizzling and dressings.
Best for: Baking and for adding flavour.
Worst for: Drizzling and dressings, light frying.
Best for: Drizzling only.
Worst for: Any kind of cooking. Its healthy fats could turn into harmful fats if cooked with, it’s said.
Sunflower oil is one of the most popular cooking oils – but a study in 2015 showed that cooking with it produces dangerous levels of aldehydes – 20 times higher than the World Health Organisation recommends
Best for: General cooking and light frying – though research from 2015 suggests it is one of the unhealthiest oils to use for cooking and should be avoided unless used as a dressing.
Worst for: Frying at a high temperature.
Best for: Drizzling and dressings – to take advantage of its light, nutty flavour.
Worst for: Cooking – it can become bitter once heated.
Olive oil is said to contain monounsaturated fats which reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, which helps heart health
Best for: General cooking and dressings.
Worst for: Frying at high temperatures – it doesn’t have a very high smoke point.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Best for: Drizzling, dips and dressings – its fruity flavour is best unheated.
Worst for: Cooking or frying – it has a very low smoke point and its beautiful flavour will go to waste if used in everyday cooking.
Best for: General cooking – it can be used to deep fry but not at extremely high temperatures. Its mild flavour means it acts as a good base for most dishes.
Worst for: Dressings.
PEANUT (GROUNDNUT) OIL
Studies have found that groundnut oil contains high levels of antioxidants, as well as plenty of vitamin E
Best for: Deep frying and stir fries – it has a high smoke point. Many people like to use it because it has a mild flavour which acts as a good neutral base for cooking.
Worst for: Dressings – though it can be used to finish off dishes. Also one to avoid if you have a peanut allergy, for obvious reasons.
Best for: Frying at high temperatures and baking – works particularly well for homemade flatbread and tortillas.
Worst for: General cooking and any light frying.
Avocado oil has a fresh, peppery taste when used for finishing a dish
Best for: Dressing, drizzling and dips, as well as stir-frying due to its high smoke point (the highest of any natural oil).
Worst for: Light frying – but it’s quite a versatile oil and can be used for general cooking, though its price may put you off using it everyday. Its flavour is stronger than most as well, so watch how it affects the taste of your dish.
Best for: Frying and sauteeing at high temperatures due to its high smoke point
Worst for: Dressings and for any light frying at low temperatures
It is the lightest oil available, and contains the lowest amount of saturated fats. Like olive oil, it contains lots of monounsaturated fats – but contains much more vitamin E than the better known cooking oil
Best for: Dressings and drizzling if you buy an extra-virgin version, as well as frying – and it’s apparently great for roast potatoes if you don’t have any goose fat to hand.
Worst for: Its flavour isn’t to everyone’s taste so avoid using as finishing oil if you don’t like it. Otherwise, it’s a very versatile oil for general cooking.
GOOSE OR DUCK FAT
Best for: Roasting and frying at high temperatures – and best for roast potatoes.
Worst for: Any light frying or grilling.
Best for: Dressing, drizzling and dips.
Worst for: General cooking due to its nutty flavour.
Best for: Dressings, drizzling and Asian cooking due to its rich sesame flavour.
Worst for: General cooking – it’s usually pricey so best to avoid for day-to-day use.