Home Cooking Techniques & How Tos What is the Best Oil for Deep Frying? Helpful Tips
Best Deep Frying Oils

What is the Best Oil for Deep Frying? Helpful Tips

by Helen
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What is The Best Oil for Deep Frying?

The best part of deep-fried foods is they are golden, crispy, and delicious, although many home cooks, and even experienced ones, often need to use the right cooking oil for deep-frying at home.  The result of that can be an off-tasting or even have a burnt food taste, a smoky kitchen, and, depending on what type of oil, a smoky home. An alternative to deep-fried foods is using an air fryer, which is a much healthier option.

Deep frying foods presents unique challenges, unlike other cooking techniques, like baking, making salad dressing, or sautéeing—where you can typically get away with using any cooking oil you like.

Let's look at the factors that go into choosing an appropriate oil for deep frying and what your best overall choice ought to be.

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best oil to use for deep frying

Safe Pan to Use for Deep Frying

It's best to use a heavy-duty pot or Dutch oven with high sides for deep frying to prevent oil splatters.  Cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum cookware are all good options.  Ensure the pan is large enough to accommodate the amount of food you are frying and that the oil level doesn't exceed two-thirds of the pan's depth.  A healthier alternative to deep frying is using an air fryer, where you can air fry chicken wings and more.

What is the Best Pan for Deep Frying?

When it comes to deep frying, stainless steel pans are a better option than nonstick pans. High heat can damage the pan's nonstick coating, which can harm your health. Stainless steel pans, however, can withstand high temperatures and distribute heat evenly, ensuring your food is perfectly cooked. It's important to use caution when deep frying and never leave hot oil unattended. Additionally, a  designed explicitly for frying can be safer and more efficient.

Cooking Oils Smoke Points

The main issue is selecting an oil with an acceptable smoke point. Cooking oils and fats will react differently to heat, but the hotter they get, the more they tend to break down and ultimately start to smoke.

The oil that gets smoky with high heat means that certain oils are a better choice for deep-frying than others. Is the temperature at which an oil will start smoking is called its smoke point. A high smoke point means you can heat an oil to a relatively high temperature before it smokes.

If you cook with oil heated beyond its smoke point, it will give a burnt flavor to your food. Furthermore, heating your oil far beyond its smoke point can start a fire. Here, you will find a list of cooking oils and their smoke points.

Deep Frying Temperatures

But knowing the smoke points of different oils will only help you learn the basic temperature when foods are deep fried, which occurs at 350 to 375 F

Your breaded or battered foods will become crispy and golden brown at these temperatures. The crisping and browning are due to a process known as caramelization, which causes carbohydrates like starches and sugars to turn brown when they are heated to temperatures of around 320 F. 

Thus, cooking oil which is used for deep frying has to have a smoke point of at least 375 F. Though, in reality, because smoke points do not remain constant throughout the life of the oil, you should use oils that have smoke points of at least 400 F. This rules out mostly unrefined oils, such as extra virgin olive oil – smoke point is 375 F or unrefined coconut oil – 350 F, and vegetable shortening – 360 F or lard 370 F. By the way, the smoke point for whole butter is about 250 F.

best oil to use for deep frying

Refined Oils and Light Colored Oils

Another factor is the oil's degree of refinement—the higher the degree of refinement, the higher is its smoke point. Since refining removes impurities that can make the oil smoke, the rule of thumb is to note the oil's color. The lighter the oil color, the higher the smoke point.

Finally, it's essential to note that any oil's smoke point doesn't remain consistent over time. Therefore, the longer the oil is exposed to heat, the lower its smoke point.

Also, when deep-frying food, pieces of batter or breading drop off into the oil, and the particles accelerate the oil's point of breakdown, which lowers its smoke point even more. So, generally, the fresher the oil, the higher the smoke point than the oil you've been cooking with for a while.

Choosing Healthy Cooking Oils

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Cooking Oil Costs

Lastly, there is a cost issue since, when deep-frying, you may use anywhere from two cups to two quarts of cooking oil at a time. And yes, you can reuse the cooking oil. Nonetheless, it is quite a lot of oil to buy up-front it is an expense.

Refined sunflower and safflower oils are good choices healthwise and regarding their smoke points, but they can cost $10 a quart or more. Avocado oil, with a smoke point of 570 F, is even more expensive.

Canola Oil: The Best Oil for Deep-Frying

Canola oil, on the other hand, is widely available and can be had for $2 to $3 per quart. Its high smoke point and low level of saturated fat make it a compelling choice. And because it is neutral, it won't impart any additional flavors to your food. This means that by any measure, whether it's smoke point, health, or cost, canola oil is the best cooking oil for deep-frying.  If you prefer to buy deep frying oil in bulk, which typically comes at a lower price point, you can shop at Costco or Sam's Club, but there are some online stores, too.

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