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Healthy oil with high smoke point?

A question to all Chowhounds - what are your favourite oils for high temperature cooking? Peanut oil seems to hold up best but I needs alternatives for guests with allergies. I generally change the menu on these occasions but some times I really want a quick deep fry for finger foods (herbs, root vegetables, tempura, etc.).

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  1. Depends on what your cooking. Corn oil, peanut, soybean and safflower all have a flash point of right around 450 degrees. For stir fry I often blend with sesame oil even though the flash point is slightly lower.

    1. avocado oil has the highest smoke point, followed by safflower and high-oleic sunflower. then there's grapeseed, virgin [not extra] olive oil, and all the others.

      avocado is pretty pricey, so if you want to save some $$, go for the safflower or sunflower. if allergies are a concern, DEFINITELY skip the corn, peanut & soy.

      5 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I don't know if it's just me or if others have the same problem, but I do not like the long after taste or flavor of safflower oil. I thought maybe the refining process had been improved so I bought some "top drawer" safflower oil last week. Same old, same old! It now resides in the gallon bottle of oils to send off to the recyling plant. I once browsed The French Laundry Cookbook in a bookstore, saw all the recipes calling for safflower oil and left the book there! Am I alone in this? It's not a pleasant after taste for me, nor is it a taste I'm interested in acquiring. So I'm sticking with peanut and olive oils.

        1. re: Caroline1

          I’m with you Caroline. I’ve tried most oils for frying, e.g., vegetable, corn, canola, etc. and I get a strong after taste with all of them and the house stinks for days. I find that if I’m doing a light fry such as browning chicken or sautéing vegetables, EVOO works fine and tastes good. If I’m making something like battered fish, french fries or fried chicken Crisco shortening works best and clean-up is a breeze if you leave it in the pan overnight as it will solidify and you can scrape it out in the morning. Also, it now contains no trans fat so it’s a little healthier for you than the old version.

          1. re: TomDel

            <.5 grams of trans fat per serving = 0 for nutritional labelling purposes. Either way, this is less than before (3 I think), but there's still some.

        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Among these, which do you find have the most neutral or lightest flavor. I use other oils for their distinct flavor in other applications but, for example, when cooking vegetable tempura I like to lightly stir my dry ingredients into the wet with chopsticks and deep fry at the highest heat I can maintain - a very quick browning and prompt removal so the oil doesn't soak in or cling.

          I have mixed feelings about fried foods - generally I find them to heavy and greasy - frequently tasting strongly of oil. However, when really lightly battered and quickly fried there are few things I enjoy more. I like to do the same with tissue thin rice wrappers and fresh vegetables. Light enough that the skin crips in seconds and the vegetables are only wilted.

          Sorry to go on like this I'm making myself hungry and getting excited about cooking our next meal...

          1. re: vonwotan

            don't apologize - sounds delicious :)

            from lightest/most neutral to most flavorful:
            grapeseed
            safflower & sunflower
            olive
            avocado

            happy frying!

        3. I thought because peanut oil was refined it would not cause an allergic reaction? Can anyone shed some light on this?

          3 Replies
          1. re: KTinNYC

            it's not supposed to, but there's no guarantee. most research has shown that allergic people can tolerate pure, refined peanut oil, but there's always a risk that it's been contaminated, or that it contains other peanut protein fractions to which the allergic person is sensitive. it's rare & unlikely, but i say don't risk it if you have another option.

            1. re: KTinNYC

              Like goodhealthgourmet said, you shouldn't risk it. first of all because it can cause a serious reaction, and second because allergies tend to worsen with greater exposure to the allergen, so using peanut oil would only increase the cahnce that they would later on have a bad reaction

              1. re: kindofabigdeal

                I will add that I have a peanut allergy and have never had a problem with peanut oil.

                In response to the post by kindofabigdeal (though it is now over a year later), I can't personally agree that allergies tend to worsen with greater exposure to the allergen. For me, it conflicts with my general understanding of how tolerance and resistance is built in the body. And with my understanding of vaccines or homeopathy. But whether or not this is factually accurate, such has been the case in my own life.

                I started with allergies to all nuts and slowly, slowly, slowly through tiny exposures have (so far) conquered almonds, pistachio, hazelnut, macadamia, pine nuts and sesame seed. Why? Beacause I'm a foodie goddamit! I can't resist, even in the face of death. And it has been SOO worth it thus far, but others should definitely make their own call and listen to their bodies if they want to try such methods.

                Anyway, here's an interesting case in which children who were highly allergic to peanuts received small doses of peanut flour which were increased in tiny increments. In those cases, maintaining exposure seemingly cured their allergy: http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/...

                Anyhow, regarding oils, I use sunflower oil for high-heat cooking or when I want a neutral-tasting oil. In all other cases I use EVOO. I keep toasted sesame and nut oils on hand for flavor. I keep flax for nutritional benefit nut never use it in cooking.

                I love homemade hummus seasoned with lemon, garlic, sea salt, and macadamia nut oil. I adore macadamia nut oil. Lovely flavor.

                Also macadamia oil and lemon to dress a orzo-vegetable salad.

            2. Would love to hear more about avocado oil from the folks that use that and why it might be the healthiest! I use peanut oil. Here's a link that might be of use:

              http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Collec...

              1 Reply
              1. re: scoopG

                avocado oil is even lower than olive in saturated fat, and slightly higher in monounsaturated fat, and it's a good source of omega-6 fatty acids.

                it's also rich in Vitamin E [important for cardiovascular health and healthy skin], contains high levels of alpha and beta-carotenes, Vitamin A, beta-sitosterols [plant sterols that are known to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels], and lutein [important for vision & eye health]. plus, it's cholesterol-free.

                not only can avocado oil reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, it can also increase HDL-cholesterol and reduce triglycerides.

                and since it has such a high smoke point, it's less likely to break down and form toxic compounds when exposed to high temp.

                oh, and to top it all off, the stuff is delicious! the flavor is rich and buttery.

              2. Soybean is one of the best for the quick deep frying. I learned this from my favorite falafel shop. I like it better than peanut oil because it does not overpower the food in flavor.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Lori SF

                  Thanks goodhealthgourmet for that. I'll be on the lookout for this oil. Lori SF, peanut oil is very neutral in flavor and keeps very well and I do not find it overpowers any food.

                  1. re: scoopG

                    it's much more readily available now than it used to be. look for any of the following brands of expeller-pressed avocado oil:

                    olivado gourmet
                    spectrum naturals
                    NOW foods

                    1. re: scoopG

                      I like peanut oil but I still find too much of a distinct in character for most dishes. Avocado oil is nice, I find soybean just a bit lighter.

                  2. from wikipedia...

                    Macadamia oil is an excellent frying oil due to its high heat capacity. Several properties of macadamia oil are particularly important for use as an edible oil:
                    It contains up to 85% monounsaturated fats,
                    has an unrefrigerated shelf life of one to two years, and
                    a smoke point of 410°F.

                    1. I've heard good things about rice bran oil.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: spellweaver16

                        you've heard correctly. rice bran oil is excellent...it's just much less readily available than some of the others.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I use rice bran oil. It's light, has a super high smoke point, and is supposed to be healthier for you. I use it for the flavor (or lack of I should say) and the high smoke point. It's easy to get in the stores here in Thailand. :)

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I probably use some combination of Evoo 97% of the time even though the flash point varies quite a lot brand to brand. Honestly in every day cooking I rarely find myself thinking seriously about flash point temp. I just don't see the major benefit in most cases of using an oil that may flash 40 degrees higher. Butter is far lower than any of theese and there is zero chance that I will ever give up butter.
                            I haven't tried rice bran oil. Does any one know who carries it? Whole Foods?

                            1. re: Docsknotinn

                              some whole foods markets - but not all- carry it. ask the grocery manager where to find it on the shelf. they occasionally hide it with the ethnic ingredients instead of displaying it with the other oils.

                              the reason for using oils that have high smoke point is related to safety/health concerns. at high temp, the oils can begin to break down and release toxic chemicals even before they smell acrid or start to throw off a lot of smoke.

                        2. Grapeseed. The most neutral in my experience. Perfect for popcorn (unless you want to intensify corn flavor by using corn oil).

                          Canola is a no-go: many (not all) people detect a distinctly fishy aftertaste when it's used for a while on high heat. This has to do with its polyunsaturated fat profile and processing. Safflower oil can suffer from this too, but not in my experience as frequently.

                          Soybean is my typical go-to bulk oil (I find its flavor more neutral than peanut) for deep frying.

                          I use corn oil for things where I want that flavor.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Brisbane

                            Another vote for grapeseed oil. You can get it in larger (less expensive per unit) containers at middle eastern markets. Rice bran oil is great, but really too expensive to use in the quantity you need for deep frying. Same for macadamia and avocado oils.

                            If you're cooking for guests you need to be aware that some people are really sensitive to the fishy qualities in Canola oil. I even taste it straight out of the bottle before it's been heated (before I realized what the problem was, I kept throwing mine out because I thought it was rancid!).

                            1. re: meatn3

                              That link didn't work for me, but I found the page you were referring to and thought I'd post it in case anyone else came along and was interested: http://www.spectrumorganics.com/image...

                            2. I use Tea Seed Oil for sauteing, deep frying and baking. The smoke point of this oil is 485F,with a high positive inflammation factor rating of 1125

                              1. California Rice Oil Company
                                http://www.californiariceoil.com/
                                490º smoke point. Neutral flavor.