There are so many great conversations on the Hotline—it's hard to choose a favorite. Here, we bring you a heated debate on the best frying oil, plus a community-approved winner.
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?
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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 Food52 community member 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, which is up toward the top, at 400°F.
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, which is extracted from the outer brown layer of rice and has a very high smoke point of 450°F.
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.
Watch: How to Make Fried Dough
As for olive oil or butter, well, both have excellent flavor but a pretty low smoke point, which rules them out as candidates for deep-frying. Olive oil tends to work best for dressings, drizzling over finished dishes, or low-heat cooking. Butter, on the other hand, is great for baking, low-heat stovetop cooking, and spreading over warm muffins, toast, and the like; you can also mix it with other oils to somewhat side-step its low smoke point.
Once you pick your go-to frying oil, it's time to start cooking—here are some of our favorite crispy, crunchy fried recipes. And in case you were wondering, fhb reported back, and peanut oil was clearly the best oil for frying (even after testing against butter).