Your Burning Questions

What's the Best Oil for Frying?

By • October 12, 2013 • 45 Comments

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

Jump to Comments (45)

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

Comments (45)

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about 1 month ago Nancy

I like coconut oil as it is the healthiest I believe and also has a high burn temp.Nancy

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about 1 month ago Nancy

I use butter for eggs.Nancy

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2 months ago Faver

I do not choose to receive further comments on this subject.

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2 months ago Kathleen French

Nothing beats peanut oil. truly the only thing I deep fry anymore is the ocassional chicken my french fries never turned out so I stopped trying. I use peanut oil for stir frying too

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2 months ago Augustina Ragwitz

I don't deep fry very often, but when I do it's with home rendered lard or beef tallow. I am able to get the raw fat from the Farmers' Market and then I render it myself using the "warm" setting on my slow cooker. Tallow is amazing to fry with and you can store the used oil at room temperature. If you've never tried french fries in beef tallow (the way McDonald's USED to make them) you haven't really tasted french fries. I do sometimes use lard, but I usually only have high quality leaf lard (the original shortening) which I'd rather save for baking. Alternatively, you can render fat from pork belly for deep frying and that's pretty nice too. I don't like coconut oil because it imparts too much coconut flavor to the final product. I also avoid anything but saturated fats for deep frying. Traditionally we've used saturated fats for deep frying and they are much more stable at high temperatures than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

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2 months ago MissBrendaWi

Personally, I prefer a good 10W30 oil. Most times 3 quarts will do, when cooking

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3 months ago Jill

I only had about 12 oz of High-Heat Safflower oil. I added about 48 oz of Organic Coconut oil to fry up a bunch of sopapillas for my son's Arizona State Fair project. They came out great. I would highly recommend using this healthy substitute for frying (if you're going to fry). I also use coconut oil in brownies, sauteing veggies, and on my skin as a moisturizer. It rocks.

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3 months ago Bruce

Thanks for the chart. This is very helpful.

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4 months ago katline

Katline
Helpful tip! If you're looking for a good deep fryer for your kitchen this year, Amazon is the place to go. Got this %45 discount: http://amzn.to/1fo1y1V - I'm so excited that I just had to share with someone.

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6 months 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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7 months ago jerry

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

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7 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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7 months ago jerry

it works for me Tara

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7 months ago Tara

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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7 months ago nonnie

Jerry, Thank you so much for the information.

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7 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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7 months ago nonnie

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

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7 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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7 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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7 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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9 months ago jerry

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

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9 months ago Carole Smith

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

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11 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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11 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

11 months ago diane.turner.58

Peanut oil. Never fails.

Junechamp

11 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...

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2 months ago Augustina Ragwitz

Hey ChefJune! I'm also in NYC and Grazin' Angus at the Union Square Greenmarket has raw beef tallow. It's perfect for deep frying and not very expensive. Just chop it up and throw it in the crockpot on the warm setting for an hour or two until the fat is rendered out. I strain out the fat and give the leftover bits to my dog as treats. To store the tallow, I line a pyrex storage container with parchment paper and pour the oil into it. When cooled, tallow is solid at room temperature. You can store it at room temperature as long as it stays solid or in the fridge or freezer. If you just want to use it in chunks instead of a big block all at once for frying you can also pour it into a silicon ice cube mold.

Stringio

11 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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10 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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11 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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11 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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11 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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11 months ago farmerbaker

Peanut oil or leaf lard for me.

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11 months ago Claire kelly

Broighter gold rapeseed oil all the way from limavady. Northern Ireland

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7 months ago Robin

Rape seed oil is Canola oil. The Canadians thought rape seed sounded bad, so they created a better sounding acronym.

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7 months ago Claire kelly

Hi Robin that's one of the lovely things about the net -exchanging info and ideas. I'm in NIreland and over here we think of rapeseed as being healthy, as you can see from this article (also we don't do gm over here ) it is also very much an artisan product in Ireland with local farmers growing it often organically and pressing it on their own farms http://www.dailymail.co...

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7 months ago Robin

Dear Claire, I imagine everything in Ireland is better. I went to a chowder cook off a year ago and the best chowder was a smokey fish chowder with tons of Irish butter and hawked by men with that wonderful sounding brogue.

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7 months ago Claire kelly

Robin.
Your description of that chowder is making me hungry LOL
I am so lucky in that I know the people who make Abernethy Butter (you should google it) It is literally hand churned from cream that comes from just down the road and the only thing added is a little salt. It tastes just like the homemade butter my granny used to use (she used to send vegetables my grandpa grew up to the farmer up the road and in return he sent down a slab of homemade butter)
All the best restaurants use it in London because it is so pure
Mind you like all countries we have our fast food too and many people eat a dreadful diet of processed food. I grow my own and try to shop local in order to support the local community and also get a better product. Happy cooking

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7 months ago Robin

Claire,
You are lucky. I just had to tell you that I had some Irish friends in college and was privileged to spend Christmas with one of their families who had a farm in Maine that had been theirs for generations. The uncle and aunt who were still farming the land invited me to dinner. Bread from the wheat they grew, milk from their cow, ham from their pig and hand churned butter. It was the best dinner of my life...except for the family feud. Happy cooking to you, as well.

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11 months ago gnee

Homemade lard

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11 months ago Sandra Lane

I have done a lot of research on oils. We are beginning to see that the "old oils" are really the best. Animal oils are being slowly redeemed while vegetable oils are not so great after all. Canola & corn oils are the worst. For one thing, you can pretty well assume that they're genetically modified if produced in the US. "Vegetable oils" are euphemisms for what they don't want you to know. Olive oil converts when heated, as do many other veg. oils, to trans fats. The best are: grass fed, organic ghee, home rendered pork lard, and duck or goose fat. However, it takes a lot of lard to fry doughnuts. In that case, I just don't do it often and I use peanut oil, organic if I can find it. Stay away from hard shortenings like Crisco. And in this case, you get what you pay for: the cheaper it is, the worse it is for you. This even applies to olive oils.

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11 months ago Panfusine

Ghee pairs well for sweet dishes (and the occasional poori & bhature - deep fried puffed Indian bread), but can be prohibitively expensive for regular use in savory recipes, especially the organic ones. but all said and done, it yields some of the tastiest food!

Ilima

11 months ago bellly

ghee!

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11 months ago Helens

I'm afraid I use regular vegetable oil because it's £1 per liter and does the job. I'd prefer to use peanut, but it's far too cost prohibitive at the moment.

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11 months ago Panfusine

Kristen W, thanks so much for the input about the rice bran oil,
Deep Frying season is coming up, (a.k.a Diwali) and I'd love to know more about Rice bran oil, which brand etc etc..
Had experimented recently with grapeseed oil, loved the lack of odor, but rather alarmed by ChefONO's input.