Hot Take On Oils

The temperature’s rising…who you gonna reach for?

If you’re cooking without a fat, you’re doing it wrong, because there are oodles of nutrients in veggies that our bodies cannot absorb without a little help from our fatty friends. But with so many options in your pantry, how do you know which to choose in order to get the most from it? We’ll tell you how. We’ll tell you how right now.

The main question to ask yourself is: how much heat am I working with? Every oil (including butter!) has a smoke point–AKA the highest temperature it can reach before it releases harmful free radicals and adds a bitter, acrid taste to your food. What this means is that one oil is gonna be your BFF for frying while another is gonna be at its best when it’s salad dressing time. Juggling numbers can be a bit overwhelming, so we went ahead and made you a handy dandy chart.

  • At the tippity top, we’ve got sunflower oil! This is gonna be your go-to for deep frying, especially when it’s made so lovingly by our friends at Driftless.
  • Canola oil is next in line and is also a very good frying friend in addition to being a tasty option for bakes.
  • Close behind canola is avocado oil. A glorious option for flavorful sautéing.
  • Beloved butter follows. Use it for shorter sautés and slather to your heart’s content on anything and everything (but you probably/definitely already know that).
  • Surprise surprise–extra virgin olive oil has the lowest smoke point of them all! Though it is listed as the primary cooking oil in a million jillion recipes, EVOO does best at cooler temps (think salad dressings and drizzles).