Types of Cooking Fats and Oils
Smoking Points of Fats and Oils

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Types of Cooking Fats and Oils - Smoking Points of Fats and Oils

Not all fats are the same. The more refined an oil, the higher the smoke point. That's because refining removes the impurities that can cause the oil to smoke.

Did you know that a fat is no longer good for consumption after it has exceeded its smoke point and has begun to break down?


Saturated Fats:

Saturated fats are mainly animal fats and are solid at room temperature. These fats include butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, egg yolks, lard and fatty meats. Some plants fats are also high in saturated fats such as coconut oil and palm oils. Saturated fats raise blood cholesterol more than any other food you eat. By using the right oils and fats for the right reasons, you can preserve the healthful benefits. Your foods will not only taste their best, but also be healthy.


Unsaturated Fats:

These fats can come from both animal and plant products. There are three (3) types:

Monounsaturated Fats - Usually come from seeds or nuts such as avocado, olive, peanut, and canola oils. These fats are liquid at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated Fats - Usually come from vegetables, seeds, or nuts such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cotton seed, and sesame seeds oils. These fats are liquid at room temperature.

Trans Fatty Acids - Trans fats are produced when liquid oil is made into a solid fat, such as shortening or margarine. This process is called hydrogenation. Trans fats act like saturated fats and can raise your cholesterol level.

 


Smoking Points of Fats and Oils

Based on the above classification, the ideal cooking oil should contain higher amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with a minimal or no saturated fats and trans fats.

Different fats and oils have different uses. Each performs best within a certain range of temperature. Some are made for high heat cooking, while others have intense flavors that are best enjoyed by drizzling directly on food. The smoke point of an oil or fat is the temperature at which it gives off smoke. The smoke point of oil depends to a very large extent on its purity and age at the time of measurement. A simple rule of thumb is that the lighter the color of the oil, the higher its smoke point. When frying, it is important to choose an oil with a very high smoking point. Most foods are fried between the temperatures of 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit so it is best to choose an oil with a smoking point above 400 degrees.
 

Fats or Oils

Description

Cooking Uses

Type of Fat

Smoke Point F

Smoke Point C

Almond Oil


Has a subtle toasted almond aroma and flavor.
 


Used in saut and stir fry of Oriental foods.
 

Monounsaturated

420F

216C

Avocado Oil


Vibrant green in color with a has a soft nutty taste and a mild avocado aroma. This is a very healthy oil with a profile similar to olive oil. This oil can be used for very high temperature applications.
 

Stir frying, searing

Monounsaturated

520F

271C

Butter


Whole butter is a mix of fats, milk solids, and moisture derived by churning cream until the oil droplets stick together and can be separated out.
 

Baking, cooking

Saturated

350F

177C

Butter (Ghee), clarified


Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter since clarification eliminates the milk solids (which burn at lower temps).
 

Frying, sauting

Saturated

375-485F (depending on purity)

190-250C (depending on purity),


Canola Oil (Rapeseed oil)
 

A light, golden-colored oil.

Good all-purpose oil. Used in salads and cooking.

Monounsaturated

400F

204C

Coconut Oil


A heavy nearly colorless oil extracted from fresh coconuts.
 

coatings, confectionary, shortening
 

Saturated

350F

177C

Corn Oil


A mild, medium-yellow color refined oil. Made from the germ of the corn kernel.
 

Frying, salad dressings, shortening

Polyunsaturated

450F

232C

Cottonseed Oil


Pale-yellow oil that is extracted from the seed of the cotton plant.
 


Margarine, salad dressings, shortening. Also used for frying.
 

Polyunsaturated

420F

216C

Grapeseed Oil

Light, medium-yellow oil that is a by-product of wine making.


Excellent choice of cooking oil for sauting or frying. Also used in salad dressings.
 

Polyunsaturated

392F

200C

Hazelnut Oil


The nuts are ground and roasted and then pressed in a hydraulic press to extract the delicate oil.  
 

Salad dressings, marinades and baked goods.

Monounsaturated

 

430F

221C

Lard


The white solid or semi-solid rendered fat of a hog. This was once the most popular cooking and baking fat, but has been replaced by vegetable shortenings.

Baking and frying

Saturated

370F

182 C

Macadamia Nut Oil


This oil is cold pressed from the decadent macadamia nut, extracting a light oil similar in quality to the finest extra virgin olive oil.
 

Saut, pan fry, sear, deep fry, stir fry, grill, broil, baking.

Monounsaturated

 

390F

199 C

Olive Oil


Oils vary in weight and may be pale yellow to deep green depending on fruit used and processing.
 

cooking, salad dressings, saut, pan fry, sear, deep fry, stir fry, grill, broil, baking

Monounsaturated

Extra Virgin - 320F
Virgin -
420F
Pomace -
460F
Extra Light -
468F

160C
216C
238C
242C

Palm Oil


A yellowish-orange fatty oil obtained especially from the crushed nuts of an African palm.
 

Cooking, flavoring

Saturated

446F

230C

Peanut Oil


Pale yellow refined oil with a very subtle scent and flavor. Made from pressed steam-cooked peanuts. Used primarily in Asian cooking.

Frying, cooking, salad dressings

Monounsaturated

450F

232C

Rice Bran Oil


Rice bran oil is produced from the rice bran, which is removed from the grain of rice as it is processed.
 

Frying, saut, salad dressings, baking, dipping oils

Monounsaturated

490F

254C

Safflower Oil


A golden color with a light texture. Made from the seeds of safflowers.
 

Margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings

Polyunsaturated

450F

232C

Sesame Oil


Comes in two types - a light, very mild Middle Eastern type and a darker Asian type pressed from toasted sesame seeds.

Cooking, salad dressings

Polyunsaturated

410F

232C

Shortening, Vegetable


Blended oil solidified using various processes, including whipping in air and hydrogenation. May have real or artificial butter flavor added.
 

Baking, frying

Saturated

360F

182 C

Soybean Oil


A fairly heavy oil with a pronounced flavor and aroma.

Margarine, salad dressings, shortening

Polyunsaturated

450F

232C

Sunflower Oil


A light odorless and nearly flavorless oil pressed from sunflower seeds. Pale yellow.
 

Cooking, margarine, salad dressings, shortening

Polyunsaturated

450F

232C

Vegetable Oil


Made by blending several different refined oils. Designed to have a mild flavor and a high smoke point.

Cooking, salad dressings

Polyunsaturated

 

 

Walnut Oil


Medium-yellow oil with a nutty flavor and aroma. More perishable than most other oils.
 

Saut, pan fry, sear, deep fry, stir fry, grill, broil

Monounsaturated

400F

204C

 

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health.

Hormel Foods.

Spectrum Oils.

The Culinary Institute of America (1996). The New Professional Chef, 6th edition, John Wiley & Sons


 


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