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Feb 5, 2013 08:38 PM

What oil do you use to sauté with?

I'm a beginner cook (look out for lots of upcoming silly questions from me). What oil (EVOO, grapeseed, canola etc) do you use to sauté with, particularly vegetables? Which is the healthiest and best to use at high heat and/or for long periods of time?

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  1. Differences between oils are small. Health issues with the little amounts are trivial.

    I find canola to have a fishy smell at times.

    Soy and peanut are reliable performers.

    10 Replies
    1. re: sal_acid

      Lately I've noticed a fishy smell from canola oil that lingers long after cooking. I use an organic, non-GMO, etc. oil and was surprised. I wonder if the oil should be kept in the fridge... my pantry is very cool especially in winter and all the oils are kept on a bottom shelf. Perplexing.

      1. re: Gio

        I also find that canola has a fishy smell. I use saflower and find it very neutral in smell and taste.

        1. re: joaniesl

          I never noticed a fishy smell with canola oil until a seasoned a new pan with about a half of a bottle. Smelled up the kitchen for hours.

          I switched to soy.

        2. re: Gio

          Gio, I had that experience too many times and finally threw the canola oil out.

        3. re: sal_acid

          You know, I recently have been using canola oil, and always wondered why my house smelled sorta "fried fishy" the next day... now I know why!

          1. re: juliejulez

            Thank you to everyone for all your responses! You're all sooooo amazingly helpful. Chowhound is a wealth of great info for the beginning cook. Ive been cooking for a few years but very, very basically. I love to eat, but cooking hasn't been my forte . I'm trying to change that. I've been doing what I thought was sautéing for years, but now I wonder if I was doing it right. I was using EVOO and butter for sautéing veggies. How high should the heat be when sautéing? How high can it be when sautéing with EVOO?

            Hank Hanover: those charts are AMAZING!! Thank you!

            1. re: kdlalib

              Sauté literally means "jump". Your pan should be hot enough that as the veggies cook they should sizzle and liquid does not form in the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to crowd the pan or your veggies will steam instead of sauté (and there will be liquid).

              I hope this helps.

                1. re: kdlalib

                  "How high should the heat be when sautéing?"

                  It depends. This article has some suggestions:


                  There's a video from the Rouxbe Cooking School that is very specific and precise. Not for non-stick pans, I should think. I've never seen this method but think I'll try it, just for kicks.

                  For myself, I heat the pan until the oil shimmers, then start sautéing. Works for me. Others recommend heating until smoke begins to appear, but I don't have the nerve to do that, and I suppose it would ruin some oils.

                  1. re: kdlalib

                    How hot? "Quite hot" (Beard), but not smoking. If you need more heat than olive oil will take, use another oil with a higher smoke point.

              1. I've started using grapeseed oil for its neutral flavor and relatively high smoke point.

                2 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  Me too. I've found that it works better than olive oil (or canola oil) for searing meat.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I've been using grapeseed oil more because it is way more neutral. I never could figure out what the smell was after using Canola oil. Fortunately I don't have a whole lot left.

                    1. Are you set on oil? Because I saute with butter. Just butter. I guess olive oil once in awhile, but butter 95% of the time.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Violatp

                        Same here. I spray the skillet with one shot of vegetable/canola oil (whichever brand I have on hand) and if I'm adding anything else it's 1/2 - 1 tsp. butter.

                      2. It depends on the recipe. Some oils have noticeable or even pronounced flavors. Others have relatively high or low smoke points.

                        - Recipes from around the Mediterranean usually call for olive oil. It is fine for sautéing and it's smoke point is okay for that but be careful not to get it too hot.

                        - Chinese recipes often call for peanut oil. It is a great choice for stir-frying because of its high smoke point. In my experience the peanut oil you can buy in a Chinese market has more of a peanut taste than the peanut oil that is sold into the regular American market.

                        - I often use canola oil when I am looking for an oil with little flavor. It has a high smoke point and is relatively inexpensive. Some people use grapeseed oil for the same applications. It is more expensive than canola.

                        Keep those questions coming...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: PinchOfSalt

                          This pretty much sums up my answer.

                          1. re: melpy

                            +1, Those are my 3 go to oils, depending on what I am cooking, too.