These days, the selection of cooking oils at a typical supermarket can rival the selection of products in the paint aisle at the hardware store — the endless amount of options can be overwhelming.
Refined, unrefined, extra-virgin, extra-light, and, our favorite, expeller-pressed (Ooh là là… what could that be?) — the choices are mind-boggling. And what is vegetable oil, anyway? The world of cooking oils is a vast and mysterious one.
But, as usual, The Daily Meal is here to simplify your life, at least as far as cooking is concerned. That’s why we’ve put together the low-down on cooking oils. Because sometimes, all anyone is looking for is something to keep their meat from sticking to the skillet, or an unassuming base for a flavorful marinade.
And sometimes, you’re looking for something with a bit more flavor and mouthfeel. So we’ve gathered together the vitals on just about every cooking oil you’re likely to encounter in the store, including a brief explanation on their popular uses and nutrition facts. And, just for fun, we also pulled some information on (estimated) smoke points of each oil from Cooking for Engineers. That reminds us — some definitions are definitely needed, and for that, you’ll want to read on to the slideshow.
Who knew that cooking oils could be so exciting?
Definition: Smoke Point
The smoke point is the temperature at which a cooking oil starts to break down; once an oil reaches its smoke point, it takes on an acrid flavor and smell. If your oil starts to smoke, take it off the heat and start over with fresh oil.
Definition: Saturated Fat
Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and come from animal products, such as butter and lard, but some plant oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter are also significant sources of saturated fat. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic disease, specifically, coronary heart disease.” In other words, it’s the type of fat that you’ll want to stay away from.
Definition: Polyunsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated fats are a type of heart-healthy fat that are found in products such as grapeseed and walnut oils. They come in two forms: omega-3 and omega-6. They don’t hold up well to heat or light and have a fairly short shelf life, so store them in dark glass bottles and use them soon after purchasing. Unrefined oils that are made up mostly of polyunsaturated fats are generally meant for flavoring rather than cooking.
Definition: Monounsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated fats are another type of heart-healthy fat found in liquid form. Good sources of monounsaturated fat include olive, peanut, and sesame oils. Monounsaturated fats have a longer shelf life than polyunsaturated fats due to their chemical structure, but don’t last as long as saturated fats.
Refined oils generally have higher smoke points and little to no flavor, which, depending on the kind of cooking you’re doing, may just be what you’re looking for. Baking or deep-frying? You’re probably looking for a refined oil. Just know that many refined oils are produced using a chemical process.
Most refined oils are extracted from nuts, seeds, or other organic materials using a chemical process, typically involving hexane, a known carcinogen. Expeller-pressed oils, however, are extracted without the use of chemicals; instead, the oil is extracted using intense pressure to turn the raw materials into pulp. Expeller-pressed oils are not necessarily “cold-pressed,” however. Most likely due to their chemical-free process, expeller-pressed oils tend to cost more.
“Cold-pressed” doesn’t have an official definition in the United States, but in Europe, oils extracted using this method cannot exceed 122 degrees Fahrenheit during the process. Cold-pressed oils are generally considered “unrefined” and have low smoking points, and should not be used for high-heat cooking techniques such as stir-frying or sautéing. True cold-pressed oils are an important component of a raw-food diet.
Just what exactly is vegetable oil, anyway? In our survey of popular brands, it looks like it’s just a euphemism for soybean oil, but look on the back of your favorite brand of potato chips, and you’ll see there’s a different story. The line typically reads something like the following: “Vegetable Oil (contains any or all of the following: Sunflower, Corn, and/or Canola Oil).” No wonder we’ve yet to see a recipe actually call for soybean oil.
Vegetable oil is useful for just about any application calling for high heat and a neutral flavor, from marinades to stir-fries to good old sautéing and deep-frying.
One tablespoon of soybean oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2 grams are saturated, 8 grams are polyunsaturated, and 3 grams are monounsaturated.
Smoke point: 495 degrees Fahrenheit
Although canola oil is also a vegetable oil, it is marketed as a separate product, at least when it’s not used to fry up a bag of chips (see slide 8). According to Barbara Ann Kipfer’s The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference, “canola” stands for “Canadian oil, low acid.”
Canola oil is practically tasteless and odorless, so it can be used just like any other vegetable oil. It is a product of a genetically-modified version of the rapeseed plant, dubbed the canola plant, grown in northern North America (aka Canada) and known for its omega-3 content, which helps lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One tablespoon of canola oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 1 gram is saturated, 4 grams are polyunsaturated, and 8 grams are monounsaturated.
Smoke point: 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Yes, here’s another vegetable oil that’s marketed separately from its ilk once you get away from the junk-food aisle.
One tablespoon of corn oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2 grams are saturated, 8 grams are polyunsaturated, and 4 grams are monounsaturated.
With similar nutrition facts and similar flavor and uses, it’s no wonder corn and canola oil get lumped together as “vegetable oil” in processed product ingredient lists.
Smoke point: 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Here is one of the most confusing products on the shelf in the cooking oils aisle at the supermarket: olive oil. It’s the base for many Spanish, Italian, Greek, and French dishes; without it, everything from arrabbiata to vinaigrette just wouldn’t taste the same.
One tablespoon of olive oil typically contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2 grams are saturated, 2 grams are polyunsaturated, and 10 grams are monounsaturated.
Popular in Asian cooking, unrefined or toasted sesame oil isn’t really used for cooking, per se, but more as a flavoring agent. Use it sparingly to give stir-fries, marinades, dressings, and curries a pronounced, rich, nutty flavor.
Refined sesame oil can be used for high-temperature cooking.
One tablespoon of sesame oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2 grams are saturated, 4 grams are polyunsaturated, and 8 grams are monounsaturated.
Smoke point, refined: 410 degrees Fahrenheit
Peanut oil’s fat is mostly monounsaturated, making it a heart-friendly option for those watching their diet. It holds up well to high temperatures and is great for deep-frying and sautéing.
One tablespoon of peanut oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2.5 grams are saturated, 5 grams are polyunsaturated, and 6 grams are monounsaturated.
Smoke point: 440 degrees Fahrenheit
Grapeseed oil is obtained from the seeds leftover from winemaking. It doesn’t taste like much of anything and can be used instead of canola oil or olive oil as a light base for dressings. Its high smoke point means it is also ideal for baking, sautéing, and stir-frying.
One tablespoon of grapeseed oil contains 120 calories, 0 milligrams cholesterol, and 14 grams fat, of which 2 grams are saturated, 1.5 grams are polyunsaturated, and 10 grams are monounsaturated.
Smoke point: 420 degrees Fahrenheit
120 Calories per Tablespoon
You may have noticed by now that every oil featured here has 120 calories per tablespoon. Coincidence? Not really. That’s because the densities of many of the cooking oils featured here are fairly similar, which results in the same number of calories per tablespoon.
What to do with those large stains on your carpet? Try this handy carpet stain removal trick from One Good Thing.
Fill an empty spray bottle with 1 part ammonia & 1 part HOT water, spray it LIBERALLY on the stain, lay the clean white towel on top of it and start ironing away! Within literally SECONDS…this is what the WHITE towel will look like.
Try it and let me know how it works for you!
If you love Chicken Salad, then here is an elegant approach to the recipe. This is the NEIMAN MARCUS CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE developed in the 1950’s by famed Texas Chef, Helen Corbitt. (Hint: Whipping Cream makes this special.) Serve on a Croissant roll or bed of lettuce. YUM…
Thanks also to Oh So Shabby by Debbie Reynolds for making me aware of this awesome recipe.
NEIMAN MARCUS CHICKEN SALAD
MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS
1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, cut into ½″ cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup halved purple seedless grapes (some use green)
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ cup whipped cream (stiff)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine chicken, mayonnaise, celery, grapes, almonds, parsley, and salt in a bowl. Add whipped cream and pepper; fold to combine.
**adapted from Saveur.com
ABOUT HELEN CORBITT… (written by PATTY VINEYARD MACDONALD)
“Stanley Marcus declared Helen Corbitt ‘the Balenciaga of Food.’ Earl Wilson described her simply as ‘the best cook in Texas.’ Lyndon B. Johnson loved her stroganoff and wished she would accompany him—and Lady Bird—to the White House to run the dining room.
“Helen Corbitt is to American cuisine what Julia Child is to French. Corbitt’s genius was in presentations of new and unusual flavor combinations, colors, and even serving temperatures. She insisted on the finest, freshest ingredients, served with impeccable style. As Director of Food Services for Neiman Marcus, she traveled widely, bringing recipes back to tantalize Texans’ tastebuds.”
Can’t wait to buy this cookbook…
Cheesy Cornbread Casserole from Kraft
What You Need1lb. lean ground beef1onion, chopped1jalapeño pepper, seeded, finely chopped1can (15 oz.) enchilada sauce1can (15 oz.) black beans, drained1tsp. garlic powder1tsp. ground cumin1pkg. (8.5 oz.) corn muffin mix1pkg. KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Four Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA, divided
HEAT oven to 350ºF.
BROWN meat with onions and peppers in large skillet. Stir in next 4 ingredients; cook and stir 3 min. or until heated through. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking dish.
PREPARE muffin batter as directed on package; stir in cheese. (or can put cheese under cornbread layer) Spread over meat mixture.
BAKE 20 min. or until toothpick inserted in center of cornbread topping comes out clean. Cool slightly.
Kraft Kitchens TipsServing SuggestionServe with your favorite steamed vegetable to round out the meal.Make AheadPrepare meat mixture. Refrigerate 3 to 4 days, or freeze up to 1 month. When ready to use, spoon into baking dish. (Thaw first, if frozen.) Top with muffin batter and continue as directed.Special ExtraBump up the flavor by stirring chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or chopped fresh chives into muffin batter before using as directed.
10 servingsOne Comment I Liked:“We absolutely loved this meal. If you’re planning to serve this to a family of four, then I say double up the ingredients. But this was just fine for my family of 3. I used a 2qt casserole dish, used a can of green chilies instead of jalapeños, didn’t use the whole can of black beans, and seasoned my meat with Lawry’s & black pepper along with the cumin and garlic. I used Marie Calendar Honey Butter cornbread mix (but didn’t use all of the batter) which provided a nice contrast to the spicy meat mixture, and I added chives to my cornbread mix. Making this again real soon…”Note: Some said it came out a little soupy but got thicker as it stood. It’s suppose to be chili!
Another tailgate dessert at a September game was PUMPKIN MUFFINS. These are so moist and will stay that way for about a week, even if frozen and defrosted.
Easy Pumpkin Muffins
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.
Don’t you just love Pinterest? Looking around today, I found this chicken recipe that sounds easy and delicious. It’s CHICKEN CRESCENT ROLL CASSEROLE from Kristen at tastebook.com. (hint: the creamy chicken mixture is stuffed inside the roll)
Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole
- 30 minutes
- cook time:
- 30 minutes
- total time:
- 1 hour
- 2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
- 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or swiss cheese (or any cheese of choice)
- 1/2 cup 18% table cream (or use whipping cream)
- 4 ounces cream cheese (very soft)
- 4 tablespoons butter (very soft but not melted)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/3 cup onion, finely chopped (can use green onions)
- 2 large cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped (or use about 2 cups, can use cooked turkey)
- 1/2-3/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (or use 1/2 teaspoon white salt or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise or whipping cream
- 1-2 cup grated cheddar cheese (for topping)
Set oven to 350°F.
Butter a casserole dish (any size to hold crescent rolls).
In a saucepan, mix half and half cream, 3/4 cup grated cheese (can use more cheese if desired) and undiluted chicken soup (can season with black pepper if desired).
Heat just until the cheese melts (do not boil).
For the filling — (make certain that the cream cheese and butter are very soft) in a bowl, mix the soft cream cheese with butter until very smooth, then add in garlic powder (if using).
Add in the chopped chicken, onion and cheddar cheese; mix well until combined.
Add in 2 tablespoons whipping cream or mayonnaise; mix to combine (add in a little more if the mixture seems too dry).
. Season with seasoned salt or white and black pepper to taste.
. Unroll the crescent rolls.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon chicken mixture (or a little more) on top of each crescent triangle, then roll up starting at the thicker end.
Drizzle a small amount of soup mixture on the bottom of the dish.
. Then place the crescent rolls seam-side down on top of the creamed mixture in the casserole.
Drizzle the remaining sauce on top (you don’t have to use the full amount of cream sauce, just use as much as desired) and sprinkle with 1 cup (or more) grated cheese, or amount desired.
Bake for about 30 minutes.
A friend brought these tasty KEY LIME PIE BARS to a recent Titans tailgate in Nashville. I immediately returned and searched for the recipe and found this one from melskitchencafe.com. They are sweet and light and oh-so-delicious! (hint: the crust is made from animal crackers!)
Key Lime Bars
*Makes 16 bars
5 ounces animal crackers (about 2 1/2 cups animal crackers)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 tbsp grated fresh lime zest (from about 2 limes)
1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3-4 regular limes or 20 Key limes)
3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, adjusting an oven rack to the middle position. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, letting two opposing edges hang over at least an inch or so. Grease the foil with cooking spray.
For the crust, process the animal crackers, sugar and salt together to fine crumbs in a blender or food processor. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate (or stir together in a bowl with a fork). Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into an even layer. Bake the crust until fragrant and golden, about 15-18 minutes.
For the filling, while crust bakes, in a medium bowl, stir the cream cheese, lime zest and salt together until combined. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk until smooth (you can use a handheld electric mixer, if you want). Whisk in the egg yolk and lime juice until combined.
Pour the filling evenly over the crust. Bake the bars until the filling is set and the edges just slightly begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, 15-17 minutes.
Let the bars cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Then cover the pan with foil and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil overhang and cut into squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.
Recipe Source: from The Cook’s Country Cookbook
This is a great dish for taking to people who have had surgery, had a baby, etc. This CHICKEN VEGETABLE ONE PAN OVEN MEAL will be an easy “go to” for many occasions or for a quick supper.
4-6 raw chicken breasts, new potatoes, green beans (fresh or canned-really any green veggie would work. Broccoli is good, too). Arrange in 9×13 dish. Sprinkle with a packet of Italian dressing mix and then top with a melted stick of butter. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
How can you go wrong with this CHEESECAKE DIP topped with cherry pie filling via shellythemomager ! Only five ingredients and about 7 minutes to make!
1 block cream cheese
1 tub marshmallow cream
2 tubs cool whip
2 cans cherry pie filling