We hear a lot about smoke points and how it’s bad to overheat oils, but we don’t often hear much about which oils can handle the heat and which cannot. Today we will look at the top-performing oils when it comes to keeping your kitchen fire and smoke-free when cooking at high heat!
The oils with the highest smoke points are:
- Avocado oil – up to 520 degrees
- Apricot kernel oil – up to 480 degrees
- Ghee (clarified butter) – up to 480 degrees
- Safflower oil – 475-500 degrees
- Pecan oil – up to 470 degrees
- Olive pomace oil – up to 460 degrees
- Soybean oil – 450-475 degrees
- Corn oil – up to 450 degrees
- Palm oil/Red palm oil – up to 450 degrees
- Rice bran oil – up to 450 degrees
- Peanut oil – 440-450 degrees
- Palm kernel oil – 430-450 degrees
Why Are Smoke Points Important?
Understanding smoke points is crucial as it prevents oil from reaching something called a flashpoint; the point the oil may ignite on the stove and cause a fire. A smoke point determines the speed at which oil breaks down into free fatty acids. Cooking with oil that surpasses its smoke point affects food flavor and releases health-damaging free radicals.
Using oils whose smoke points are too low for what you’re doing can result in your oils oxidizing and making your food taste funky, producing a substance called acrolein. This chemical gives burnt foods their acrid flavor and aroma.
Any oil with a low smoke point should only be used for raw or low-heat cooking to retain flavor and nutrients so it doesn’t oxidize.
Types Of Cooking And Their Temperatures
Ideally, fats and oils with a very low smoke point should be avoided for heating and instead, be added to smoothies and salads. On the other hand, oils with high smoke points are suitable for high-heat cooking methods. As for oils in-between, they can be used for moderate-temperature cooking, like slow roasting and pan frying. This way, you can maximize both the flavors and nutrition in your dishes.
- Stir-frying – Above 450 degrees Fahrenheit
- Broiling – 400-550 degrees Fahrenheit
- Roasting – Above 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Searing – 375-450 degrees Fahrenheit
- Deep frying – 360-375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Quick pan-frying – 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Shallow frying – 320-375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Sauteing – 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Baking – Below 375 degrees Fahrenheit
- Grilling – 250-400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Raw (dressings, marinades, sauces) Under 104 degrees Fahrenheit
High-heat cooking could be any method that is 400 degrees plus, such as seating, stir-frying or broiling.
The Best Choice For A High Smoke Point Oil
Avocado oil works well as a healthy option for some high-heat cooking, but if you are looking for a refined, neutral oil, then peanut oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil are some of the more popular ones.
Avocado oil may vary in its smoke point range depending on if it is refined or unrefined. Usually, the refined varieties of any oil have higher smoke points than their non-refined counterparts. However, one of the downsides to avocado oil is that it is costly. It can get pricey if you need to use a lot of it for something like deep or even shallow frying!
Cheaper and more accessible options are any of the refined oils. Soybean oil is the most widely used in commercial kitchens in the USA, and peanut oil is very commonly used in Asia. The downside is that while they are easy on the bank balance, they are not so easy on the body, and they can be inflammatory when consumed in large amounts.
It depends. If you need to do some high-heat cooking, then yes. This is because the higher the smoke point, the more heat an oil can handle before it breaks down and potentially creates harmful byproducts. For flavor and nutrition, no. Oils with a high smoke point tend to have less taste and are often lower in nutritional compounds.
Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to break down and smoke while boiling point is the temperature at which it begins to boil. Smoke point temperatures are generally lower than boiling points.
Avocado oil is one of the healthiest oils with a high smoke point.
For seasoning, you will want a low smoke point oil. Low smoke point oils have more flavor and are often higher in nutritional compounds than high smoke point oils.
Depends on what kind. Extra virgin olive oil does not have a high smoke point and is best for raw, low and moderate heat cooking only. Olive pomace oil is a highly refined olive oil with a high smoke point but contains almost none of the health benefits of EVOO.
Producing an oil with a high smoke point requires refining the oil through a chemical or mechanical process. This process removes compounds that can give flavor and nutrition but will increase the oil’s heat tolerance.
High-smoke point oils are not necessarily healthier than low-smoke point oils. High smoke point oils usually have less flavor and nutrition overall, plus heating most oils will degrade some of their nutrition regardless of their smoke point. For maximum health benefits of any oil, they are best consumed raw or on low heat.