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Oct 12, 2013 08:10 AM

Cake recipe says "Vegetable Oil" -- which is best?

This is a recipe with buttermilk, cocoa, coffee -- for a good chocolate cake.
Is canola oil less good than corn oil, or peanut, etc.? I don't want to add flavor with the oil, but want good texture and moistness.
Thank you!

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  1. use a light flavorless oil. grapeseed is good. for grocery store brands, i like crisco or wesson -- but NOT with canola. i just don't like canola, because it has an off, "fishy" kind of funk to it.

    peanut oil is expensive, and best to use for frying (because of the high smoke point).

    2 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      I agree with you, alkapal. The taste of canola causes a gag reflux in me and some other members of my family. We always look at the ingredients on anything that may contain an oil and if it had canola listed, we do not purchase it.

      A few years ago I forgot to check and made a very expensive purchase. The moment I opened the item, my daughter and I both were both startled by the smell of canola. Threw the expensive item in the trash after sealing securely.

      We also cannot stand the smell or taste of grapeseed oil.

      1. I'm a bit confused by your question, because when a recipe for baking calls for vegetable oil, they mean actual vegetable oil since it's virtually flavorless. I just buy the generic store brand of it. I too do not like canola oil because of the fishiness and if a recipe specifies canola, I use vegetable.

        8 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          I figured "vegetable oil" could mean any of many different vegetables.
          Now I see, on their sites, that Crisco and Wesson use soybeans for their "vegetable oil", but offer other oils too, including canola.

          1. re: juliejulez

            While some people detect a fishiness in canola, most of us don't. If a bottle is labeled 'vegetable oil' it most likely is an unspecified mix of soybean and cottonseed oil. Refined (i.e. flavorless) corn, peanut, safflower, etc will all work. Typically those are more expensive than the 'generic' mix.

            1. re: paulj

              should we do a chowhound survey?

              and paul, i refer you to your own reference that would account for a heightened sense of "fishiness" or "off flavor" from rapeseed (canola) oil:

              1. re: alkapal

                Wouldn't such a survey be subject to selection bias? Those who dislike canola, whether due to taste or something they have read (GMOs etc), are much more likely speak up.

                1. re: paulj

                  i'm asking purely about the aesthetics, not the politicization/science aspect.

                  but…what about your citation to that british reference work?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I forgot about that reference. Can't pull up Britaniafoods. But the Wiki article for alpha-Linolenic acid (omega3). Rapeseed is 10%, soybean 8%. Why no complaints about fishy taste in soybean oil?

                      I wonder if storage and usage patterns have anything to do with this. I use enough vegetable oil (usually canola) that it is well within the BBD. Someone who rarely uses oil might have an old bottle in the back of the pantry that has developed this off taste.

                      In any case, for the OPs question, any flavorless oil that you use for cooking or salads will be fine for cake.

              2. re: juliejulez

                I agree with BangorDin - vegetable oil is a catchall term for any vegetable oil or combination thereof.

              3. I keep walnut oil in the fridge to use any time veg oil is called for. If I'm frying, I use peanut oil.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mcf

                  Wow, walnut oil has so much flavor, I never use it except when I really want that taste. Interesting.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Not Spectrum, I get no flavor from it. In fact, I can add it to my uber finicky cat's food without her noticing, unlike some others.

                2. The neutral oils I most often use, for both cooking and baking, are grapeseed and sunflower.

                  1. My favorite chocolate cake recipe specifies peanut oil. Sunflower is my second choice. (And yuck = canola)