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Paleo Basics & Beyond

The Paleo Pantry:

Oils & Fats

Cutting Back on Processed Oils & Fats

Vegetable oil and other common cooking oils like canola, sunflower, or corn oil are generally made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are often chemically refined. Although all oils are processed to some degree, these oils are more highly processed than other oils. Cooking the paleo way is all about using minimally processed oils and fats like the ones listed below.

Restocking Your Pantry

  • Ghee

    Ghee is made from butter that has had all of the milk solids removed. It is solid at room temperature and can be stored in the pantry—it does not need to be refrigerated. It is fairly high-heat stable, which means that it can be used as a cooking medium. Although you can buy ghee at many grocery stores, it is easy to make yourself.

  • Coconut Oil

    Made by extracting oil from the meat of coconuts, coconut oil comes in “refined” and “unrefined” versions. We generally prefer to use refined coconut oil, since its coconut flavor is less pronounced. Some refined coconut oil undergoes chemical processing, so check labels carefully and look for oils that are expeller pressed. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature—we don’t recommend keeping it in the fridge, since it gets very hard. We liked Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil for our recipes. [Buy on Amazon

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil 

    Real extra-virgin olive oil is pressed without using heat or chemicals. It has a lower smoke point than ghee or coconut oil but can still be used for cooking in most cases. It also works well in raw applications like dressings. Our favorite high-end olive oil, which is best enjoyed in raw applications, is Columela. For cooking, we like California Olive Ranch Arbequina or Lucini Italia Premium Select. [Buy on Amazon | Read Our Review

Fire Up the Grill

Recipe Grilled Lamb Chops with Asparagus

Lamb shoulder chops are significantly less expensive than rib or loin chops, and their flavor is much more complex. 


  • Macadamia Nut Oil

    This nut-based oil has a light, pleasant flavor that makes it well suited for homemade mayonnaise. Macadamia oil has a high smoke point, which means you can use it for cooking, but we recommend saving this relatively pricey oil for raw applications like mayo and salad dressing. We didn't prefer one brand over another, but did require the oil be expeller pressed. [Buy on Amazon]

  • Avocado Oil

    Avocado oil is extracted from the soft flesh of avocados, not the seeds as many other oils are. We prefer the neutral flavor of refined avocado oil to unrefined, which has a strong and distinct flavor. Like macadamia oil, we recommend saving this pricey oil for raw applications, although it does have a high smoke point and can be used for cooking. We didn't prefer one brand over another, but did require the oil be expeller pressed. [Buy on Amazon

  • Toasted Sesame Oil

    This flavorful, nutty-tasting oil is made from toasted sesame seeds. We use it largely in raw applications, though it also provides flavor to some of our stir-fry recipes. Purchase sesame oil in a glass bottle and refrigerate it to extend its shelf life. We didn't prefer one brand over another, but did require the oil be expeller pressed. [Buy on Amazon]

  • Rendered Bacon Fat

    Bacon is a great way to enhance the meaty depth of a dish, and it makes a savory addition to a variety of recipes. If we’re already using bacon in a recipe, we sometimes use the bacon fat as a cooking medium or as an ingredient. If you’re serving bacon but not using the fat right away, you can reserve the rendered fat to use later. Keep rendered bacon fat in the fridge for up to one month. [Buy on Amazon | Read Our Review]

Break Out the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Recipe Garlicky Swiss Chard

Our one-pot approach is the best way to cook hearty, flavorful Swiss chard.


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Read Our Guide to Paleo Seasonings