What’s better than deep-fried Drop Doughnuts, generously dusted in confectioners’ sugar or rolled in crunchy cinnamon sugar? Not much, in my opinion. But frying at home can require a lot of oil, and the last thing you want is to purchase the wrong kind and ruin those tasty Zeppoles with off-flavors or by burning them.
We’re here to help. Whether you need tips on smoking points and price points or are looking to expand your oil horizons beyond canola, we have the oil for you.
Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter
Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!
Tips for Selecting a Frying Oil
The oil you use has a huge impact on the texture and flavor of your fried food. And with so many oils to choose from, how do you decide which is best to fry with? There are three things you should consider:
- SMOKING POINT. When it comes to frying, the higher the smoking point, the better. The smoking point refers to the point at which the oil starts to break down. Frying typically occurs between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit, so oils with a smoking point within that range (such as olive oil) are not recommended for deep frying.
- FLAVOR. You don’t want to add an unpleasant aftertaste to your fried foods. Canola oil, for example, can impart fishy aftertastes in excess of 400 degrees Fahrenheit and is not recommended for deep frying.
- PRICE. Oil blends tend to be less expensive than pure oils. Certain options such as rice bran oil and avocado oil produce crispy results but at a much higher cost.
The Best Oils for Frying
1. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is a great all-around choice for shallow frying and deep frying. It can be a blend of several different oils, from corn to soybean to canola, making it the cheapest option. Sunflower oil is often added to oil blends; with the most shelf-stable properties (low levels of polyunsaturated fats help it resist oxidation), it helps keep the oil fresher for longer. Though the smoking point is variable, it’s high enough for your frying needs.
Smoking point: 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the blend
2. Peanut Oil
Slightly more expensive than vegetable oil, peanut oil is great at high heat. The slightly nutty flavor is barely noticeable. (Note that it’s not suitable for those with peanut or tree nut allergies.)
Smoking point: about 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Rösle Wire SkimmerA bad skimmer can turn even the most patient cook into a basket case.
3. Corn Oil
Corn oil is fairly inexpensive and widely available. It has almost no flavor, and with such a high smoking point, it is ideal for any type of frying.
Smoking point: 450 degrees Fahrenheit
4. Refined Avocado Oil
Refined avocado oil is one of the most expensive oils on the list, but it also has the highest smoking point. It has a slightly nutty taste that may be imparted to fried foods, but refined avocado oil is incredibly stable.
Refined avocado oil is not to be confused with the extra-virgin stuff (which is only for drizzling/finishing, much like extra-virgin olive oil), which has a smoking point of about 350 degrees. Refined oils, processed for shelf stability to raise their smoking point, are better for frying. Look for naturally refined oils, as the mechanical process can involve chemicals with unpleasant aftertastes.
Smoking point: 520 degrees Fahrenheit
100 TechniquesMaster a lifetime of cooking skills, from basic to bucket list.
5. Rice Bran Oil
Though the most expensive on the list, rice bran oil is at the top of our list for deep frying. Its mild flavor at high temperatures makes it a great alternative to canola oil (though it’s twice the price).
Smoking Point: 450 to 490 degrees Fahrenheit