Safflower oil – it sounds kind of like sunflower oil, but it’s not the same thing… So what is it?
Well, safflower oil is a commercially cultivated vegetable oil derived from the seeds of the safflower plant, a thistle-like plant with vibrant yellow or orange flowers.
But there’s more to it than that. Let’s uncover how safflower oil is made, its nutritional benefits, how to use it like a pro, and more!
What is safflower oil?
Safflower oil is a popular cooking oil that is derived from the seeds of the safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius) – a member of the sunflower family.
While it may bear a resemblance in name to sunflower oil, safflower oil comes from a different plant altogether.
Safflower oil has been used for centuries for various purposes, including culinary, medicinal, and even cosmetic applications.
It is known for its mild flavor, versatility in cooking, and numerous potential health benefits.
How is safflower oil made?
Safflower oil is typically made by pressing the seeds of the safflower plant, extracting the oil through a mechanical process.
The seeds are first cleaned and dried, then subjected to high-pressure pressing, which squeezes out the oil.
The resulting oil is then filtered to remove any impurities and stored in containers.
In some cases, safflower oil can also be extracted using chemical solvents, but the cold-pressed method is preferred as it helps retain more of the oil’s natural properties and flavors.
Types of safflower oil
There are two main types of safflower oil: high-oleic and high-linoleic.
High-oleic safflower oil contains a higher percentage of monounsaturated fats, which make it more stable and suitable for high-heat cooking.
High-linoleic safflower oil has a higher concentration of polyunsaturated fats, making it ideal for dressings and low-heat cooking.
Benefits of safflower oil
Safflower oil offers several potential benefits.
Firstly, it is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly linoleic acid, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Safflower oil also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports immune function and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
It also has one of the highest smoke points, typically around 510°F, coming in second best after avocado oil. This makes safflower oil a great option for all your high-heat cooking needs.
Safflower oil nutrition facts
|Serving size||1 tbsp (15mL)|
|Total Fat||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to cook and bake with safflower oil
As I mentioned, safflower oil is a versatile cooking oil with a high smoke point, making it perfect for sautéing, stir-frying, and even deep-frying.
Its mild flavor won’t overpower your dishes, allowing the other ingredients to shine. So, grab your skillet, heat up a splash of safflower oil, and get ready to make some tasty stir-fries or crispy French Fries!
When baking with safflower oil, simply replace the butter or oil called for in the recipe with an equal amount of safflower oil. In my experience, it works wonders in cakes, muffins, and quick breads, giving them a moist and tender texture.
Ways to use safflower oil
Here’s a list of the common ways safflower oil is used:
- French fries
- Stir-fries and Asian-inspired dishes
- Roasted vegetables
- Homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes
- Sauteed seafood or poultry
- Baked goods like cakes, muffins, and quick breads
- Homemade mayonnaise or aioli
- Pancakes and waffles
- Grilled or pan-seared meats
- Sautéed greens or vegetables
- Marinating meats or vegetables before grilling or roasting
These are just a few examples, but feel free to get creative and explore how safflower oil can be incorporated into your favorite recipes!
How to store safflower oil
To ensure the freshness and quality of safflower oil, it is best to store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The pantry or cupboard is an ideal spot.
Once opened, safflower oil can stay good for up to 1-2 years depending on how it’s stored, while unopened bottles can last for up to 2 years.
What are the best substitutes for safflower oil?
If you don’t have any safflower oil on hand, there are plenty of other options you can use.
One of my top choices is sunflower oil, which serves as an excellent all-around replacement due to its similar composition and versatility in various cooking and baking applications, including high-heat cooking.
For raw uses like salad dressings or drizzling over finished dishes, extra virgin olive oil can be a great substitute, offering a distinctive flavor profile. If sautéing or using moderate-heat cooking methods, virgin olive oil is a suitable replacement as well.
Safflower oil is considered a healthy option due to its high content of unsaturated fats, which can benefit heart health and overall well-being when consumed in moderation.
No, safflower oil and sunflower oil are related but derived from different plants. They have similar properties but distinct flavors.
Safflower oil is relatively high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, when consumed in excessive amounts compared to omega-3 fatty acids, can contribute to inflammation. It is important to maintain a balanced intake of these fatty acids.
No, safflower oil and canola oil are different. Canola oil is derived from the seeds of the canola plant and has a milder flavor compared to safflower oil.