These Are the Best Cooking Oils (And What to Use Them For)

Choosing the right oil to cook with can be more difficult than you might expect. This is especially true nowadays, considering it feels like there are endless options to choose from. While more options can be a good thing, in this case, it tends to feel a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, the next time you try choosing the right type of oil won’t be so tricky. Here are the best types of cooking oils, as well as what you should use them for.

Extra virgin olive oil

Use for: Sautéing, frying, or roasting under 375 degrees Fahrenheit

olives next to olive oil on a table

Olives and olive oil | iStock.com

According to Self, extra virgin olive oil is obsession-worthy. It’s loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, so it does more than just fill your dish with flavor. The only time you might not want to choose extra virgin olive oil is when frying or roasting over 375 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a smoke point of 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, so only reach for the bottle if you’re cooking at lower temperatures or are simply using it as a drizzle.

Peanut oil

Use for: Sautéing or frying

If you’re making a meal that could benefit from some peanut flavoring, this is the oil for you. From stir-fry dishes to peanut butter cookies, peanut oil will get the job done and enhance the taste of your food. It has a high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit and is low in saturated fat, so if your dish could use some extra peanut flavor, this is a great choice.

Canola oil

Use for: Roasting, baking, or frying

Canola oil has a reputation for being unhealthy — but that’s not necessarily the case. The problem is, most people associate this type of oil with deep fried foods. While its high smoke point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit is certainly great for frying, it can be used for roasting or baking, too. It’s low in saturated fats and has a neutral flavor, so it’s one of the most useful oils to have around.

Coconut oil

Use for: Baking

Coconut oil

Coconut oil | iStock.com

On the complete opposite spectrum from canola oil, coconut oil has a reputation of being wildly good for you. While that’s definitely true for external use on your skin or hair, consuming too much coconut oil is a different story. According to Self, “By some measures, it’s about as healthy as butter.”

Walter C. Millet, M.D., explained in a Harvard health letter that coconut oil’s high levels of saturated fat raise both your good and bad cholesterol. If you’re roasting, frying, or sautéing, you might want to go for a different type of oil. However, baking is a great time to opt for coconut oil, as it serves as a vegan butter alternative.

Safflower oil

Use for: Sautéing or frying

If you’re planning to sautée or fry at a super high temperature, you should definitely consider safflower oil. It has an extremely high smoke point of 510 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can go ahead and crank up the heat. It’s also low in saturated fats, filled with omega-9 fatty acids, and has a neutral flavor, so it will be great with any dish you have in mind.

Avocado oil

Use for: Frying

You really get the best aspects of every oil when it comes to avocado oil. It’s no surprise that Lisa Sasson, clinical associate professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt, calls it “the new kid on the block.” It’s not so heavy in saturated fat like coconut oil is, it’s filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and it even has a neutral flavor without chemical processing. Plus, it has a high smoke point of 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its only downside? Avocado oil will cost you. If you’re willing to splurge on this near-perfect oil, it will definitely be worth your money.