Should You Cook with Avocado Oil?

On paper, this healthy fat seems a lot like olive oil. But can you really use it as a substitute?

Some cooks have started bypassing olive oil and reaching for avocado oil instead. The fact that it's rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, with a nutritional profile similar to that of olive oil, is likely part of the attraction, but we wanted to know how it performed in recipes.

Food-grade avocado oil comes in two forms: cold-pressed extra-virgin or refined. Tasted plain, the extra-virgin avocado oil had a pleasant buttery, grassy flavor similar to that of the fresh fruit. Those understated flavors were a bit hard to detect when we subbed it for extra-virgin olive oil in vinaigrette. Instead, we'd recommend using it as a finishing oil for drizzling over mild-tasting foods such as fish.

As for the refined avocado oil, its neutral taste made it a seamless swap for vegetable oil in chiffon cake and for frying doughnuts. Its smoke point can also go as high as 500 degrees—higher than any other cooking oil—which makes it a good choice for searing or sautéing.

In sum: Use extra-virgin avocado oil as you would a premium extra-virgin olive oil and reserve it for drizzling. The refined stuff will work well in any application that calls for a neutral-tasting oil (but note that it will cost a lot more—the refined avocado oil we tasted from Wellesley Farms costs $0.32 per ounce, compared with $0.12 per ounce for our favorite vegetable oil from Crisco).

EXTRA-VIRGIN AVOCADO OIL Reserve for drizzling.

REFINED AVOCADO OIL Use in cooking—if you don't mind the expense.

Recommended Reading

This is a members' feature.