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Mar 7, 2012 03:51 PM

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

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, 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:

                      That sent me to the lowest price on the list which is 8.50 plus shipping.

                      I did find a source of it by the gallon to enhance the coats of horses for $38 per gallon.
                      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.