Your Burning Questions

What's the Best Oil for Frying?

By • October 12, 2013 • 35 Comments

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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: We bring you a heated debate on the best frying oil.

How to Choose the Best Frying Oil, from Food52

Frying is a delicate task. When you finally find the courage to plunge your food into hot oil, you only get one shot, and have to watch it like a hawk. We want to equip ourselves with the best frying medium to ensure food comes out as delicately crunchy and not as blackened crisps. That being said -- there is a significant amount of debate over which frying oil is the best: grapeseed, peanut, or canola. And what about the usual suspects of good ol' olive oil or butter?

The main characteristic an oil must possess to achieve a successful fry is a high smoke point -- bear in mind the more you use a frying oil the lower the smoking point becomes. We've talked about deep frying without fear, and conducted an pretty exhaustive review of oils, but one night this week fhb was in a bind and needed help choosing the best oil to fry cutlets.

The community responded in a grease-filled oil-off:

  • Common consensus landed on peanut oil due to its neutral taste and high smoking point.
  • Pierino voted for grapeseed and canola -- not without a challenge by ChefOno, who noted that grapeseed oil possesses potentially unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids, and that canola oil stinks like an old fish when heated (Ew!).
  • Kristen W. threw a curveball and suggested rice bran oil.
  • For those of you still overwhelmed by the oil debate, Greenstuff contributed a helpful oil comparison chart with more oils than you ever knew existed. 

What is your preferred frying oil? Tell us in the comments! 

In case you were wondering, fhb reported back, and peanut oil was the clear winner (even after testing against butter).

Photo by James Ransom

Tags: hotline, your burning questions, best question, frying, oil

Comments (35)

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about 1 month ago Faver

I like clarified butter for frying eggs and the such. High smoke point and not so bad for you. It can be mixed with any quality oil to extend it. And it tastes good!

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2 months ago jerry

the questions are complicated and the answers is simple.” maybe

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2 months ago Andrew

People, no matter how much you like fried foods the best frying oil is NO FRYING AT ALL!!! Cold pressed extra virgin oils in small amounts are good for you, but absolutely not appropriate for frying, only refinement makes oil fryable, but that brings high chemical processing of it! Butter and lard are suitable for frying but seriously, who wants to eat foods "swimming" in those? Eat it once a month as a little "sin" if you want it so much but really, not like each day or so! Palm oil and coconut oil (unrefined!) maybe even better than animal fat, but... Deforestation due to palm oil in Asia is a huge problem, so be conscious and don't use it!

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3 months ago jerry

it works for me Tara

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3 months ago Tara Mills

I use ghee or coconut oil, depending on what flavour I want to permeate the food. Both have a high smoke point and are lovely to work with.

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3 months ago nonnie

Jerry, Thank you so much for the information.

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3 months ago jerry

Grape seed oil is extracted from grape seeds, a by-product of wine making. This process usually involves various chemicals, including the toxic solvent hexane. The oils are usually extracted in factories using an industrial process. It involves high heat and various chemicals… which includes the toxic solvent hexane.In industry, hexanes are used in the formulation of glues for shoes, leather products, roofing ,for cleansing and degreasing a variety of items,and in textile manufacturing. and is also used to extract cooking oils (such as canola oil grape seed oil) from seeds, The “healthier” types of seed- and vegetable oils are “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” – this is a much more natural way to extract the oil from the seeds but If your oil doesn’t explicitly state how it is processed, then you should assume that it was extracted using chemicals like hexane.

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3 months ago nonnie

I would like to know more about the grape seed oil too

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3 months ago Andie

The best oil for frying is coconut oil. Then bacon grease. Canola oil is not real food and is bad for your health (unlike what others are saying about rendered animal fat), seed oils go rancid.

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3 months ago jerry

olive oil , coconut oil, peanut oil.& seed oil add there taste to the food can be good but changes the taste. the best oldtimer oil is rendered beef fat . it is the best for french fries & the worst for your health that is y all the old timers are gone

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3 months ago Robin

My favorite frying oil is a combo of toasted sesame and canola. The first has a high smoke point and tons of flavor. The second acts to bland out the very strong flavor of the first.

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4 months ago jerry

try rice bran oil i like very much very good taste very high smoke point

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5 months ago Carole Smith

I like avocado oil-- even tho' it's more costly.

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6 months ago Christine Mann

The only oils you should use is SUNFLOWER AND SESAME OIL, both ORGANIC. EATING FRIED DESTROYS YOU LIVER...............according to Ayurvaic belief............

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6 months ago the totally not-foolish pucko

That's nice, dear. Conversely, do avoid the lead, mercury and arsenic in some of your ayurvedic preparations or neti potting in the old Confederacy.

Stringio

6 months ago diane.turner.58

Peanut oil. Never fails.

Junechamp

6 months ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I don't deep fry very often, so I figure when I do I'm going to use the best stuff I can find. Sunflower often wins, because I think peanut oil tastes like peanuts, and I don't often want that flavor. Haven't tried rice bran oil yet, but it does make the best potato chips I've ever eaten (Mountain Sweet Berry Farm @ Union Square Greenmarket). I pan fry with duck and/or chicken fat, but have not considered deep frying with those...

Stringio

6 months ago Rosemarie McElaney

Love coconut oil but it is too expensive! I don't deep fry anything anymore. For any kind of frying I use a combination of canola and olive oil.

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6 months ago Deborah

Canola? You are concerned about spending too much on coconut but are willing to poison your system? Shame on you. I would suggest you read about canola and it's lubricant applications to mechanical appliances for heat viscosity.

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6 months ago Sandra Lane

Yes, of course, coconut oil! I completely forgot to add that. I even smear in on toast. Fries well, but it takes a lot and costs a lot.

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6 months ago the totally not-foolish pucko

Yep. Not going to deep fry with it anytime soon. On the other hand, I did do some deep frying the other day and added a dab to lend a little of that sweetness.

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6 months ago the totally not-foolish pucko

For fry-ups where I don't want the taste of the oil to get in the way I use sunflower oil, plus it's made like 20 miles from my house: http://smudeoil.com/ and incidentally: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwbB2Fj...

Otherwise I just use whatever olive oil and butter they have at the co-op, though I have been enjoying coconut oil lately.

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6 months ago farmerbaker

Peanut oil or leaf lard for me.