Your Burning Questions

What's the Best Oil for Frying?

By • October 12, 2013 • 65 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

Topics: Hanukkah

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Comments (65)

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21 days ago Américo Afonso

Óleo de coco, o melhor

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24 days ago Ruth

While many omega fat oils are incredibly healthy when consumed raw, the fragile bonds in these fats break down when exposed to heat, regardless of their smoke point. These oils might taste great in cooking and not burn, but from a health perspective, the best oils for heat exposure are saturated fat-based such as butter, ghee (organic best) and coconut oil (and taste great too!).

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about 1 month ago billifland

Definitely peanut oil for deep frying. Half butter & half peanut oil for shallow fry, EG: salmon/rissoles ETC

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about 1 month ago Vivienne Bellamy

Rice Bran Oil! Very light, with a high smoke point.

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about 1 month ago jb

I would not use Olive Oil for high heat cooking. It degrades.

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about 1 month ago jb

Yes, grassfed, pastured lard, especially from leaf fat is great!

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about 1 month ago Brent Joseph Fenske

I've read the secret to the best frying is using lard or adding lard to your oil of choice.

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about 1 month ago kay

I, carefully, use olive oil for some things...and when frying corn tortillas...corn oil is the best !

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about 1 month ago jb

Cast iron is a time honored material for cooking. Stainless is wonderful. Newer pans are unproven. Remember Teflon?
Use good oils/fats that do not degrade, cook at a lower temp.
We need good oils & fats in our diet. If you want to cook oil less, steam, poach, braise.

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about 1 month ago Steve Puu

Oil less fryer with 70% Less Oil. A new generation of cooking equipment. You can see here: How does it work? http://airfryerreviews...

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2 months ago Jose Luis Moreno

I have been using virgin coconut oil for frying for the last few years with amazing results. This oil never gets dark or smelly and offers a clean frying experience time after time. For me it's by far the best possible oil when cooking with temperature. I found out about it at www.aceitedecoco.org

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2 months ago uni

I have never stopped using pure organic butter. Lo and behold! Butter has been redeemed. I agree with a previous commentor that one should never use extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Heat destroys its fragrance and it's way too viscous. I find it puzzling when celebrity chefs who should know better use extra virgin for sautéing. I do take issue with a comment that peanut oil is neutral in flavor. It has plenty of fragrance and I can always tell when it has been used. I don't often deep fry but when I do, peanut oil it my go-to choice.

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3 months ago Robert

Depends on the food you are frying. Deep fat frying I prefer Peanut Oil that has a relatively high smoke point. Sauteing foods, I have used Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil. Since I have learned all the health concerns on Canola Oil (Rapeseed) I have thrown out all I had.

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3 months ago NicoleandMills

Sunflower Oil, all the way. It's one of the healthiest high heat oils and imparts the least amount of flavor, making it super versatile. I personally fry in my cast iron skillet and have friends who are peanut sensitive so peanut oil is out, I have used canola which made my house smell like old fish, and coconut is such a particular flavor it doesn't go with everything. Sunflower oil is really the best I've used.

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3 months ago Lilliana

How about Avacado oil? Heart healthy.

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5 months ago Becky Bearden

Old school, Crisco baby!! ;-)

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5 months ago Victo

Butter for eggs, organic lard or coconut oil for frying or sauteeing. Seed oils have too much Omega 6 that oxidizes in the body.

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5 months ago Evelyn Johnson

Ghee and Olive Oil for sautéing. Lard and Safflower Oil for frying. Lard for biscuits and piecrusts. Butter for pancakes and toast etc.

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5 months ago jb

Red Palm Oil or homemade lard