Deep frying is not the healthiest method of cooking, but learning to deep fry at home is a great way to fix an occasional treat for your family.
To deep fry properly, you need a deep pot with a heavy bottom, or a deep fryer, and an oil with a high smoke point. But what is the best oil for deep frying?
Types Of Cooking Oils
Corn Oil – Best Oil For Frying French Fries
Corn oil is available both in a refined and unrefined state. Is corn oil good for deep frying?
- Refined corn oil can be used at high heats.
- Unrefined corn oil has a smoke point similar to extra virgin olive oil. It is not a good choice for deep frying because it will burn when exposed to high heat for an extended period.
Refined corn oil will be labeled as such. This is an ideal oil for deep frying because it has a light flavor and won’t impact the taste or smell of your fried foods.
This is an excellent choice for French fries. However, if you are frying other things like fish before the fries, they may take on a fishy taste.
Be aware that this oil has a relatively short shelf life and cannot tolerate light. Refined corn oil should be refrigerated and kept airtight.
Canola Oil – Best Oil For Frying Chicken
Refined canola oil, a favorite oil with home fryers, has a higher smoke point than lard but a lower heat tolerance than refined corn oil.
It should be noted that 80% of the canola oil in the United States is made from GMO rapeseed plants; however, it is possible to purchase non-GMO canola oil from some health food stores and bulk suppliers.
When deep frying with canola oil, be aware that this oil can’t be stored; it’s a once and done product.
While canola oil can’t take as much heat as peanut oil, it may be the best oil for frying chicken because you need to leave the food in the oil for a while to get it to crisp. Chicken should always be well done!
Olive Oil – Not Ideal For Deep Frying
Olive oil comes in several grades, depending on the amount of fruit solids left in the oil.
The higher the purity of your olive oil, the higher the density of solids and the lower the smoke point.
If you like olive oil, there’s nothing sadder than the taste and smell of burned oil.
SEE ALSO: Does Olive Oil Go Bad?
Extra virgin olive oil is excellent for salad dressings, bread dipping, and other applications, but is not a great oil for cooking and should never be used for deep frying.
Virgin olive oil has a higher smoke point than canola oil and is easy to cook with, but may not be the best flavor choice for deep frying.
If you want to deep fry and have only virgin olive oil in the house, be aware that your food may require more intense seasoning than usual to match the flavor imparted by the olive oil.
Coconut Oil – Healthiest Oil For Deep Frying
Coconut oil is the healthiest oil for deep frying. On the plus side, deep frying with coconut oil gives you a very consistent heat source with a high saturated fat content.
Coconut oil can produce a coconut odor or taste in the foods you’re frying, so it may not be the best oil for deep frying French fries.
This oil is inherently antibacterial and, because it is solid at room temperature, you might be able to re-use it.
It may be best to start with a small container of oil and a small batch of whatever you’re frying to make sure the coconut flavor and odor don’t overpower the food.
SEE ALSO: Can Coconut Oil Go Bad?
Peanut Oil – High Smoke Point
Peanut oil is an ideal oil for deep frying because of the neutral flavor and extremely high smoke point.
In fact, peanut oil is considered the best oil for doughnuts.
The high smoke point of peanut oil quickly and effectively seals whatever it is you’re frying, so the air and steam inside the food can cook it from the inside while the oil seals it on the outside.
Peanut oil is generally easy to buy in bulk and is very popular in home turkey fryers. If you find a great deal on it and purchase a large container, store the remaining oil in a cool, dark place and be sure to keep it in an airtight vessel.
You can re-use peanut oil, but be aware that once it’s been used, it will tend to oxidize quickly and may turn rancid before you can use it again. Store unused peanut oil as described above.
Rice Bran Oil – Hard To Find For Home Use
Rice Bran Oil has a very light flavor footprint and a high smoke point, making it an ideal oil to have in the cupboard for applications from salad dressings to tempura.
Rice bran oil is also quite rich in monounsaturated fats and is entirely free of trans-fats.
However, it’s important to note that rice bran oil is highly industrialized and takes a lot of processing. Thus, while it’s popular in chain restaurant settings, it may be hard to find in small containers for home use.
The smoke point of rice bran oil is around 490 degrees Fahrenheit / 254 degrees Celsius. If you enjoy deep frying at home, this oil will serve as a great vehicle for fried foods and yet will add little flavor to your chicken tenders, deep fried shrimp, or fried potatoes.
Rice bran oil doesn’t stick to the food you’re cooking, so your freshly fried foods will be light on the tongue and easy to handle.
Avocado Oil – Too Greasy For Deep Frying
Avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points of all vegetable oils. This smooth and buttery oil won’t burn until 520 degrees Fahrenheit / 271 degrees Celsius.
It should be noted that avocado oil has a stronger flavor than rice bran oil.
Additionally, avocado oil is a bit slipperier than rice bran oil and will cling. If you’re deep frying something fairly hearty, such as drumsticks or other chicken products, be aware that oil may stick to the surface or make the breading a bit greasier.
This lush oil can also be used as a bread drizzle, a salad dressing, or a soup garnish.
Grape Seed Oil – For Shrimp & Fish
Grape seed oil is high both in polyunsaturated fats and in vitamin E. The flavor is very mild, and the smoke point is 420 degrees Fahrenheit / 216 degrees Celsius.
This oil is unobtrusive and can fill many niches in your cooking regimen.
If you keep olive oil for salad dressings but would never think to use it for high-temperature cooking such as deep frying, consider keeping grapeseed oil in the cupboard.
You can enjoy not only a mild salad dressing base but also an oil that will do a great job deep frying shrimp and other fish that require a light flavor.
This oil is an excellent foil for flavored vinegars and will make a delicious marinade or salad dressing.
Safflower oil is mostly monounsaturated fats and is made from safflower seeds.
This oil has a high smoke point, staying stable and excellent for frying up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit / 232 degrees Celsius.
This oil can tolerate long-term exposure to high temperatures better than oils high in polyunsaturated fats.
It’s important never to consume burned oil as it is full of free radicals and can be extremely hard on your digestive system and damage your overall health.
Safflower oil offers cardiovascular benefits by increasing the levels of good cholesterol in the diets of those who cook with it.
Beef fat or beef tallow is a great product for deep frying for those who choose to eat meat. Like lard and coconut oil, beef tallow is naturally solid at room temperature. Capturing and refining tallow can be a bit tricky.
Additionally, there are concerns that factory farm beef cattle may be medicated and those medications can build up in the fatty tissue of the animal.
However, if you can find a source for organic beef and make friends with a butcher who can get you pure beef tallow, you can be assured of high heat tolerance in your deep fryer.
Smoke Point Of Cooking Oils
The smoke point of oil is the temperature at which it stops cooking and starts to burn. There are several types of oils available on your grocery store shelf, and each of them has a slightly different smoke point.
The following chart contains general smoking point temperatures. It’s important to note that these temperatures are affected by various elements, including refinement, contamination, moisture, and age of the oil.
Type Of Oil
Refined Corn Oil
446F / 230C
428F / 220C
Refined Olive Oil
390F / 199C
Refined Coconut Oil
400F / 204C
450F / 232C
Rice Bran Oil
490F / 254C
520F / 271C
Grape Seed Oil
420F / 216C
450F / 232C
Beef Fat / Tallow
400F / 250C
Smoked oil has a dark, tarry taste and can create a great deal of smoke in your house before it ignites.
Oils high in omega-3 fatty acids are better for your heart, but poor choices for deep frying.
Oils high in omega-6 fatty acids will produce a better French fry but are harder on your circulatory system.
When possible, use oils high in omega-3 fatty acids for non-heat related applications, such as salad dressings. Save oils with a high-temperature tolerance for frying.
You may need to invest in several oils to make sure you’ve got the right cooking product for the right foods.
Always monitor oil when it’s over a heat source, don’t save unstable oil from one project to another, and be sure to dispose of used oil safely.
If you’re a little skeptical about deep frying your food, check out our guide to the best air fryers for a healthier alternative to deep frying.