If you’re on that Mediterranean diet train, you’re probably well-versed in the nuances of olive oil. On that paleo or keto diet hype instead? Then you’re likely using either avocado oil or coconut oil in your meals. And if you’re following your grandma’s cooking methods, you don’t use oils at all, but good ol’ reliable lard.
Regardless of what diet you’re on, or which oil is right for you, one thing rings true: You shouldn’t use any oil for deep frying or pan frying. For the healthiest oil for frying, you’ll need to look into the fat’s ability to withstand high heat.
Consider the oil’s smoke point
An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to burn and smoke. Every type of fat, including butters, lards, and cooking oils, has that specific smoke point temp. Heating oil past its smoke point results in more than setting off the smoke detector and creating a rancid taste, though.
When oil surpasses its smoke point, fat starts to break down, creating that off-putting smell and taste. What’s really happening, however, is the oil begins releasing harmful compounds, including carcinogenic, cancer-causing free radicals. This means an oil’s smoke point ultimately dictates how healthy a cooking oil is for your body.
What is the healthiest oil for deep-frying?
For a solid deep-fry, you’ll need to heat an oil to somewhere between 350-400° F if you want that signature crust on the outside of your food. So, you’ll need something with a smoke point of at least 400° F.
Consider heart-healthy oils like safflower oil and rice bran oil, which can withstand temperatures up to 500° F. You can also look to peanut oil and sunflower oil if you’re frying at 450° F, or canola oil and vegetable oil for temperatures around 400° F.
What is the healthiest oil for pan-frying?
Pan-frying is a bit healthier and won’t get your food as crispy as deep-frying, but does require less oil. It also requires generally lower temperatures, making it ideal for fats with smoke points at 350° F or lower.
We generally opt for monounsaturated fats when pan-frying. Healthy fats for pan-frying can include avocado oil, canola oil, and olive oil. Coconut oil is another popular choice for pan-frying, but its health benefits are controversial because of the oil’s high levels of saturated fat.
Photo Credit: kazoka/Shutterstock.com;DenisProduction.com /Shutterstock.com