What’s the best oil to cook with?

Recently, I was asked: what’s the best oil to cook with?

Great question.

One would think any oil suffices for cooking. That’s SO not the case.

Non-processed and organic saturated fats (the kind that are solid or semi-solid at room temperature) are typically the best for cooking at high temperatures, as they will not go rancid nor oxidize.

Huh?

You see when an oil goes rancid or oxidizes, it produces free radicals. Free radicals are the ANTI anti-oxidant. Where anti-oxidants help prevent signs of aging like wrinkles and heart disease. Free radicals–the ANTI anti-oxidants– actually cause premature aging and diseases. Not so good.

So, when cooking at high temps or with a high flame you should use a good, hearty saturated oil or fat that will remain stable when being heated and not produce any free radicals. Such fats are butter (yes butter–good organic butter, preferably from grass-fed cows, is actually healthy for you), coconut oil, sesame oil or ghee. (Read more about fats, oils and the myths about cholesterol here ; it’s a long and somewhat boring article, but it’s definitely educational.)

When using a low flame, or baking– monounsaturated cold- pressed, organic, extra virgin olive oil is a good choice. Olive oil will go rancid and create free radicals at high temperatures (or with a high flame). A good general rule of thumb: if you’re cooking with MORE than a medium flame on the stove-top: DON’T use olive oil. Use organic coconut or sesame oil, butter or ghee instead.

I’ve made this little, easy cheat sheet for you to look at so you can know what to cook with when.

• Eggs: when pan-frying eggs, use organic butter, ghee or coconut oil to cook. *DO NOT use olive oil to cook eggs.
• Chicken: grill, bake or cook on the stove-top. Use organic butter, ghee, coconut oil or olive oil (when baking or using a low flame on the stove-top) to cook.
• Fish: broil, steam or grill. Use organic butter,ghee, olive or coconut oil to cook.
• Meat: pan-sear, grill or broil. Use organic butter, ghee or coconut oil to cook. *DO NOT use olive oil to cook meat.

Heres another tidbit for your cheat sheet… when buying oils, its important that you only purchase oils that have these three terms on the label: cold-pressed, organic and extra virgin. This ensures that the process at which the oil was made for you did not use harsh chemicals (like hexane) nor high heat (which robs the oils of their naturally occuring nutrients).

Did you notice that canola oil wasn’t mentioned at all? That’s because canola oil is so refined and chemically processed that it really isn’t that healthy for us– and, why use it when we have other options to choose from. I personally wouldn’t recommend cooking with it, ever. For more information, read this article.

This should go without saying, but avoid at all costs cooking with any of the following commercial vegetable oils: cotton seed oil, soy oil, corn oil, canola oil, hemp oil and grapeseed oil; all margarines, spreads and partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings. They’re over processed, offer us zilch for nutrition and are just gross.

Happy cooking!

About Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc

Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, is a renowned women’s health & wellness expert and the best- selling author of the books Chill Out & Get Healthy, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant, and Body Belief. A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in New York, she holds a Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Rutgers University. Aimee is also the founder of the Aimee Raupp Beauty line of hand-crafted, organic skincare products. This article was reviewed AimeeRaupp.com's editorial team and is in compliance with our editorial policy.

6 thoughts on “What’s the best oil to cook with?

  1. I have been trying to make healthier choices and this is an excellent post.

    If you wanted to make homemade mayo for egg salad for instance, what oil would you use? Olive oil does not taste right in this case.

  2. I found this post after trying to find out what oil is best to cook with. The gist of this post seems to be not to use oil to cook with (except coconut oil), due to lower smoking points.
    However, using butter instead of oil seems to fly in the face of most conventional wisdom which says that the higher saturated fat content of butter is not as healthy as oil.
    All of this is leaving me a little confused. I've been cooking almost exclusively with olive oil for the last few years, which I'm perfectly happy with. Recently, I purchased some organic unsalted butter, which I'm also happy with. But for the sake of what's considered healthiest, I'm trying to figure out scientifically, whether butter or oil is the healthier choice for cooking.
    (And I should note that most of my oil use in cooking is used directly in the pan for flavoring and non-stick).
    Thanks

  3. Does the coconut oil or glee come in the non stick spray?
    Guess, I would be safe just buying the coconut or glee one because it is safe for cooking everything.
    Do you recommend buying it at Trader Joes or Whole Foods?

  4. Okay, but what about cooking with "Pure" olive oil (2nd pressing). I was told that this had a higher specific heat and was better for cooking than "extra virgin." The key is the greener the oil, the lower the specific heat (hence the less you should cook with it). Since it's difficult to measure heat, it's a good idea to not cook with extra virgin at all. The one wrinkle to the "pure" rule is that you don't know if it was really extracted via a second pressing or via chemicals so it's good idea to buy from a good company. I'd love your comments.

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