If you are a stir-fry lover and love easy cooking recipes, then you might be wondering which oil you should use to achieve the best results. In the past years, most people thought all cooking oils were the same since most recipes mention vegetable oil but do not specify the best oils for the dish. Asian cooking will always note that using the right oil for stir-fried foods matters, and using an oil with a relatively low smoke point be a health hazard and will affect the dish's taste. So, which are the best oils for stir fry dishes? Let's start by understanding what stir-frying is.
What is Stir-Frying?
Stir-frying is among the popular techniques in Chinese cooking where the key to a good stir fry dish is to use a very high cooking temperature so the food will stir-fry quickly. Since it involves high heat, you need to choose an oil with a high smoking point because if you don't, the oil will burn and ruin your whole dish.
The best oils for a stir fry are the oils with a higher smoke point, and they tend to be thinner oils such as canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soy oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil or coconut oils. Below we have rounded up the best oils for stir fry with their pros and cons that you should give a try.
What is the best oil for stir fry?
1. Viva Naturals Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Naturally Nourishing Coconut Oil for Hair - With its unique combination of natural fats,...
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- Perfect Coconut Oil for Cooking and Baking - An unrefined coconut oil with a naturally...
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- USDA-Certified Organic & Non-GMO Project Verified - Using some of the world’s...
Viva Naturals is one of the top premium coconut oil brands. Even though it's more expensive than your basic vegetable oil, you are guaranteed to be paying for quality. The coconut oil has a high smoke point making it a great fit for stir-frying dishes at medium temperatures.
Whether you are frying, baking or sauteing, Viva extra virgin coconut oil has a light coconut oil flavor that is a great addition to your recipe. In addition, coconut oil is versatile and can be used for other uses such as a body moisturizer, a coconut oil hair mask or a detangler.
2. BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil
- GREAT FOR COOKING: Our naturally refined avocado oil is the perfect all-purpose cooking...
- HIGH SMOKE POINT: With a smoke point of 500°F, this pure cooking oil is useful for just...
- LIGHT FLAVOR ENHANCER: This useful cooking oil has a subtle and smooth flavor compared to...
- NATURALLY REFINED: Non-GMO and gluten-free, this oil contains no additives. It delivers a...
- MULTIPURPOSE OIL: BetterBody Foods avocado oil can be used for frying, sauteing, baking,...
BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil is among the best oil for stir fry with high smoke points, and since it has the highest smoke point, it is ideal for high heat frying in your wok cooking. In addition, the avocado oil has a subtle flavor that won't affect your delicate seasoning and can be used for any cooking type or food preparation. The stir-fry oil can also be used for sauteing, deep-frying, baking and a lot more.
However, the oil's smoke point is extremely high because it's been refined, and even though it's among the best features, a lot of color, nutrition and flavor have been processed out of the avocado oil. So even though the high smoke point is a positive feature and because it's a neutral oil, the lack of substance doesn't attract everyone.
3. Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil
- GRAPESEED OIL: Pompeian imports 100% of its Grapeseed Oil from France.
- LIGHT AND SUBTLE FLAVOR: Pompeian’s 100% Grapeseed Oil is a light, all-natural cooking...
- PERFECT FOR HIGH HEAT – With a smoke point of up to 510 degrees, our Grapeseed Oil is...
- FARMER CRAFTED: Quality from The Olive Oil People Since 1906.
- COMMITTED TO QUALITY: Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil is Naturally Gluten Free and...
Grapeseed oil has been a popular oil to use over the years, and it's becoming more popular by the day for cooking at high heat thanks to the high smoke point. The grapeseed oil is made from grape seeds after the wine is pressed and has a clean flavor and a high smoke point of 420 F/215 C.
Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil won't alter or compromise your stir-fry dish taste or flavor, and it can also be used in wok cooking. In addition, this grapeseed oil has similar health benefits to olive oil but with a more neutral flavor.
4. 365 by Whole Foods Market Canola Oil
- Traditional and Simple: La Tourangelle Organic Canola Oil is a high quality addition to...
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- Flavors of the World: From Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sustainably produced...
Canola oil is a kitchen staple and among the healthiest oils, and it's used for different types of cooking. This includes stir-frying. Canola oil has a high smoking point that ranges between 400 to 450F, and it has a neutral flavor that makes it excellent for deep frying, baking and other cooking methods.
365 by Whole Foods Canola Oil is widely available and quite affordable. Since it is super versatile for different types of cooking, it can be your main cooking vegetable oil. However, 365 by Whole Foods Market Canola Oil comes with a hard-to-remove lid, but you can solve this problem by twisting up the grip handle by force.
5. Spectrum Naturals Hi Heat Organic Peanut Oil
- A great choice for hi-heat sautes
- USDA organic, non GMO, certified kosher by the OU
- Refined hi oleic peanut oil for high heat.
Peanut oil or groundnut oil is among the best oils for stir-frying with a high smoking point of 450F and has a pleasant nutty flavor. However, this Spectrum Naturals peanut oil has a neutral taste making it suitable for most stir fry recipes.
This peanut oil can be used for stir-fry deep-frying and is also a perfect choice for high-temperature sautes, thanks to the neutral taste. However, peanut oil has a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids; therefore, it's not the healthiest oil to use, and you can opt for other oils like almond oil or walnut oil. A good alternative could be soy bean oil or sunflower oil.
What Oil Should you Avoid When Stir-Frying?
Stir fry cooking means fast and high-heat cooking, and this means you will need an oil that won't burn easily. In addition, you should avoid cooking oil with a low smoke point when stir-frying because when fats reach or past their smoke point, they break down quickly and start to burn. This means your oil will have a bitter off-taste and can easily ruin your stir-fry dishes.
However, low smoke point oils are more flavorful and are better in raw applications. Some of these oils not to use in a stir-fry dish include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Toasted sesame oil*
- Flaxseed oil
- Vegetable shortening
Notably, you can use light olive oil or refined olive oil for cooking your stir fry but avoid the extra virgin olive oil since it has a very low smoke point and a strong flavor, making it unsuitable for stir-frying. Also, the toasted sesame oil is more of a companion oil or works well as an essential finishing oil for many stir fry dishes or other Chinese cooking dishes but not for stir fry.
Which are the Healthiest Stir-Fry Oils?
Both olive oil and canola oil have low unhealthy saturated fats and are high in healthy monounsaturated fats. Scientists claim that monounsaturated fats usually help to lower bad cholesterol that can clog your arteries and cause heart diseases and strokes. Simultaneously, they increase the good cholesterol level that removes any cholesterol buildup from the arteries.
Grapeseed oil is super low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat, and scientists believe that this can also help raise good cholesterol. In addition, it is a good source of linoleic acid, a type of essential fatty acid such as omega 3 fatty acids got from salmon. However, our bodies cannot manufacture it and obtain it from food. Other types of unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats or trans fatty acids.
Even though olive oil is not among the best oils for stir-fry, it is a high-quality oil that contains large amounts of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It has been linked to better heart health.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing the Best Oil for Stir-Fry
Any person can decide to purchase any vegetable oil for stir-frying. Many people will walk into a store and pick any oil without checking their ingredients, among other things. The overall conclusion is that oil is oil, and there is no difference, and this is not the truth since not all cooking vegetable oils are created equally. Different oils will have a different smell, taste and overall cooking results depending on the meat you prepare.
So, what are some factors to look out for when trying to find the best oil for stir-frying?
1. Quality of Raw Ingredients
Checking the quality of the original ingredients is an important factor where many ingredients used may have low quality and therefore may make the oil unsuitable for use. In addition, checking the quality of the raw ingredients helps a user know the fat's quality. Notably, opt for organic oils more since they are better than their non-organic counterparts.
2. Taste and Color
The best oils for stir fry should contain identical characteristics to the fruit they came from for you to be willing to buy. For instance, avocado oils are green as they should be even after the extraction process.
In addition, high-quality oils should come in dark glass bottles, which will help keep the oxygen and light away. Unfortunately, this helps your oil get rancid and gives an unpleasant odor and taste.
3. Smoking Points
The smoking point is defined as the temperature at which the oils stop simmering and start smoking, where the more stable the oil, the higher the smoke point. The best oils for stir-frying should feature a high smoking point but remember, if the oil is heated past its smoke point, it will finally decompose. This means that no nutrients will be gained from it.
There are two types of vegetable oils: refined and unrefined oils.
a). Refined Oils
Refined oils are made through an intensive chemical and mechanical process, and they undergo more processes up to where they are deodorized, making them unhealthy. Therefore, these oil types are unhealthy for consumption or cooking.
b). Unrefined Oils
Unrefined oils are in the same form as in plant form, and they are extracted mechanically by crushing and pressing. However, they are left later in their virgin state, which means that no chemicals are added, and hence more flavor is preserved and higher in nutrients, making it an ideal choice. For a stir fry, choose unrefined oil.
4. The Price
Most of the time, you will get what you pay for and for most situations cooking oil costs a lot since it's hard to produce it. Therefore, if the price is a worth indicator of quality, opt for averagely priced oils since you can be sure that cheap oils in the stores are refined and therefore have lost their natural taste and flavor.
Notably, the price should be according to your budget, where you can get affordable oils that don't cost much but will still have great quality. In addition, no matter the price range you opt for, ensure the product you choose will give you value for your money.
5. Availability of the Product
Most stir-fry oils in the market will taste and smell great, but you should keep in mind that they may run out. Therefore, good oil should always be available at your convenience, either online or at your local grocery store, since you don't want to stop your cooking experience because you can no longer find the product. Also, most of these stir-frying oils have a short expiration date of less than a year, so if you run out of stock, you can easily get the product with no hustle.