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Canola, peanut or grapeseed oil for stir-fry and other frying

  • f

pick one. I can't be bothered having 4 different oils
I've been using TJs canola, but have grown tired of it.
Should I stick or are there reasons to go to peanut or grapeseed?

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  1. Grapeseed is my go-to if I'm not using olive oil. Very light (neutral, to me) taste, and a high smoke point.

    1. Grapeseed oil, seconded...in fact, after a decade long love affair with EVOO, I have rather backed off it for general purposes.

      I am buying better quality olive oil and using it more sparingly, salads and recipes that are genuinely Mediterranean in origin (eggplant parmigiano, pastitsio). Other than those specifically olivey-demanding sorts of recipes, I really like the all round neutrality and high-smoking point and health benefits of grapeseed oil.

      1. I use grapeseed and canola interchangeably. Grapeseed is probably better because it is even more neutral than canola, which has a slight odor. Peanut I only use for Chinese food because it definitely smells peanutty.

        1. Consider safflower oil. It can be hard to find, especially at a good price (try Costco, but not all stores carry it). Neutral taste and high smoke point. American safflower oil is very high in mono-unsaturated fat (as is olive oil) compared to the imported oil you'll find in Indian groceries, which is mostly polyunsaturated, so check the label if that's important to you.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Zeldog

            an ex got me hooked on safflower.... he used to take a tbsp each of safflower and flax oil morning and night. i never went that far, esp since i don't like the taste of flax at all, but i love using safflower oil in cooking.

            1. re: Zeldog

              Agreed. Not much reason to use grapeseed when safflower oil is available. Locally, I can find it at the same price as grapeseed.

              It's also pretty ideal for searing off meats because of the very high smoke point.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Safflower oil is still twice as expensive as peanut oil. There are only 2 applications that I can think of for these oils. The first would be deep frying and most people use peanut oil for this because you need 1 - 3 gallons of oil.

                The second would be stir frying and only then if you are using one of those ultra high output burners on your patio. The smoke point of peanut oil is 440°F. The smoke point for safflower oil is 510°F.

                Are you using safflower oil because it is healthier than peanut oil or because it has the highest smoke point?

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  I didn't compare it to peanut oil - I compared it to grapeseed oil, which is just as expensive where I live (YMMV). But since you asked:

                  Safflower oil has two major advantages over peanut oil. One is the very high smoke point. It is indeed better for use of a wok at very high temperature. Also, you left out an important application: searing. Safflower oil can create a better crust on a steak than any other method that is readily available to the home cook. You don't need a jet engine to get it smoking, though a particularly weak burner probably won't do it. My ceramic-top electric stove can easily get it hot enough to start smoking, and it's no marvel of modern engineering.

                  The other advantage is its very neutral flavor profile. It's great for certain emulsions where you don't want the flavor of the oil to bully around the other flavors. It's ideal in some dressings where you're going for some subtle flavors. Or anything that you think will clash with the flavor of peanut (or other nut, or olive oil, or that odd funk of canola oil).

                  I wouldn't suggest that it be the only oil a person buys. I wouldn't deep fry with it. Or baste an egg in it. Or drizzle it on my pasta. But it shines in enough applications that I think it's a good addition to the pantry.

            2. For deep fat frying and other very high temperature frying, I use refined peanut oil. For lower temperature frying and sauteing, I use vegetable oil also known as soy bean oil. Grapeseed oil is very fashionable right now. I believe its smoke point is actually lower than refined peanut oil or refined soybean oil. Grapeseed oil costs about $7 - 12 for 16 ounces. I find it difficult to even find it in larger containers. Soybean and peanut oil sells for about $3.25 for 24 ounces.

              Grapeseed oil is 12% Saturated fats; 17% Mono-unsaturated fats and 71% Poly-unsaturated fats.
              Refined soybean oil is 15% Saturated fats, 24% Mono-unsaturated fats and 61% poly-unsaturated fats.

              Refined safflower oil has about the highest smoke point (510°F) and still be cost reasonable at around $7.50 for 32 ounces. with similar fat values to grapeseed oil.

              If you want to use only 1 oil soybean or safflower would be the best choices.

              The higher the poly-unsaturated fats and the lower the Saturated fats in an oil .... the better.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Hank Hanover

                I use rice bran oil for some frying, and like it a lot. It has a high smoke point and is neutral in flavor. I also like olive oil for it's flavor contribution to some dishes (as well as the fact that like canola, it is high in MONOunsaturated fat, which is a good thing...and healthier than polyunsaturates.

                Also, the current wisdom is that some saturated fat is actually beneficial. Coconut oil is recommended by many health experts as a particularly healthy choice for cooking.
                And it makes for some damned good popcorn, too.

                1. re: The Professor


                  At $8 for 16 ounces, I think it is going to be a while before I start using rice bran oil.

                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                    Where are you seeing it at that price???
                    I don't pay nearly that much for it. Last time I bought a bottle it was around 40 ounces & cost less than $7

                    1. re: The Professor

                      I googled it and got this: http://www.google.com/products/catalo...

                      That sent me to the lowest price on the list which is 8.50 plus shipping. http://www.nutraexpress.com/rice-bran...

                      I did find a source of it by the gallon to enhance the coats of horses for $38 per gallon. http://www.pricefalls.com/products/Be...
                      Apparently, you put 4 ounces of it in 1000 pounds of feed to get that shiny coat.

                      I paid $3 for 48 ounces of soybean oil the other day and I have a gallon of peanut oil for when I deep fat fry. I think I paid $12 a gallon for it. I guess that's about $1.50 for 16 ounces and $3 for 32 ounces and $4.50 for 48 ounces so we can compare properly.

                2. re: Hank Hanover

                  I buy grapeseed oil for $4 for 16 ounces in bulk at our co-op so it is my favorite oil. Also use safflower and peanut.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Yes; this is how I buy the grapeseed oil, too. I do love it and in my area, it's affordable in bulk. I keep a olive oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil on hand for diff. things but will try safflower now too.

                3. I used all, and they all work. It is not a huge problem as long as you don't use a low smoke point oil.

                  1. I use peanut oil for frying and stir frying. It is fairy cheap when bought at Asian markets and it gives great results.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: chefj

                      Don't most Chinese restaurants use peanut oil when they stirfry?

                      I just went out and checked a few Martin Yan and a few Ming Tsai stirfry recipes. Ming Tsai's recipes recommend grapeseed or Canola oil. Martin Yan's recipes just indicated vegetable oil.

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Most Chinese restaurants just use cheap vegetable oil (which is usually soy oil). There may be some fancy, 'high end' places that use peanut oil, but most average Chinese places just use the cheaper stuff.

                        1. re: The Professor

                          I've scorched canola oil before but never soybean oil. In fact, that's the reason I switched.
                          It was a bonus that it was one of the cheapest.

                          I guess I can see where someone might keep a small amount of safflower oil for searing steaks with a super hot cast Iron skillet. Although I have never had any problems searing my steaks and I don't use safflower oil or cast iron skillets.

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            Rice Oil is crazy expensive where I live-over $10/litre-I bought one bottle and it was fine but never again-I can buy Grape Seed Oil for half that price.

                            1. re: Sam Salmon

                              Grapeseed oil has a smoke point of 420°F.

                              Corn oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil have a smoke point of 450°F.

                              Safflower oil has a smoke point of 510°F. Paying the premium for safflower oil at least sort of makes sense if your desire is to have almost the highest smoke point available(second only to Avocado oils smoke point of 520°F).

                              Doesn't grapeseed oil cost as much as safflower oil (around $5 for 16 ounces)?

                              Actually, I think safflower oil is only about $5 - 6 a quart.

                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                              you don't use cast iron for sealing steaks or you don't use it at all? I just ask because I would be bereft without it.

                              1. re: magiesmom

                                I don't have a cast iron skillet. I have an enamel over cast iron Dutch oven but that is about it.

                                I think about getting one every once in a while but haven't convinced myself yet.

                                Out of curiosity, what do you do with yours? Off hand, searing and corn bread come to mind.

                          2. re: Hank Hanover

                            "The Professor" is right.
                            But when I am cooking at home I try to use the best ingredients I can and most of my trusted sources for Chinese recipes prefer peanut or rapeseed oil.
                            I think peanut oil is the most versatile if you are only going to have one oil in your kitchen.

                        2. Perhaps the price of refined safflower oil will come down as more people use it. It would be really sweet as a do all, "go to" oil if they could get the price to within 20 - 25% of vegetable oil. That would be around $4 - 4.50 for 48 ounces.

                          1. I've read all the opinions on best oil here and I also did not know exactly which oil to use for what. After considerable research I found two webs to clear up the confusion. The health info on the various oils is quite surprising. It appears that it is most important to balance the Omega 6 and 3 intake as close to 1 to 1 as possible to avoid creating inflamation in the body which leads to all kinds of disease conditions. (This is why we are told to supplement Omega 3 in pill and fish sources as much as possible as we are overwhelmed with Omega 6 in all the other oils we are using daily)
                            The articles point out the ratios of various oils of Omega 6 to Omega 3 (remember 1-1 is the intake goal as too much Omega 6 causes inflamation in the body)

                            Hemp seed oil 3:1
                            Butter 9:1, Mostly saturated & monosaturated
                            Coconut oil ***** 86% healthy saturated, lauric acid (has antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiviral properties). Contains 66% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
                            Macadamia nut oil 1:1, 80% monosaturated, (83% Omega-9)
                            Canola oil (Expeller Pressed)**** 2:1, 62% monounsaturated, 32% polyunsaturated
                            Refined canola oil 3:1, 80% of Canola in US in GMO.
                            High quality (low acidity) extra virgin olive oil 13:1, 74% monosaturated (71.3% Omega 9)
                            Sesame Oil 42:1

                            Grapeseed oil ???- 676:1, (12% saturated, 17% monounsaturated)
                            Virgin olive oil 13:1, 74% monosaturated (71.3% Omega 9)
                            Peanut oil 32:1
                            Sunflower oil 40:1
                            Refined corn oil 83:1
                            Refined soy oil 8:1 (most are GMO)
                            Rice Bran Oil ***** 21:1, Good source of vitamin E & antioxidants
                            Refined Safflower oil 133:1 (74% Omega9
                            Avocado oil ***** 12:1,

                            Conclusion from above----
                            Expeller pressed Canola Oil with a ratio of 2-1 and smoke point of 400 is about the best and is recommended for high heat (stir fry, etc.) on Dr. Andrew Weil's website- he goes with EVO for low heat or cold use. Please note that Grapeseed is a whopping 676-1- and Safflower is 133-1--That's a lot of Omega 3 pills to take to balance out those two!!!

                            1. I use Safflower for the wok, and Solio brand non GMO canola for cooking. Occasionally I use a mix of butter and olive oil, but for everyday stuff the Solio canola oil works well. This brand is from a family farm, and it is cold pressed. I buy it at WF. In fact I bought a bottle today, and picked up a second because it was reduced by $1.00/bottle.