As you stroll down your local grocery aisle, you may notice that there seems to be an overwhelming selection of cooking oils to choose from. To help you determine which type of oil is worthy of a place in your pantry, we have created a guide listing how each type of oil can be used.
Olive oil has gained popularity for its rich flavor and immense health benefits. You should use olive oil if you plan on lightly sautéing a dish or poaching at a low heat. If you cook olive oil at too high of a temperature, the oil will spoil and develop an unpleasant taste. Olive oil is also a wonderful addition to salad dressings or emulsions.
The most common type of sunflower oil is light and refined. It is generally neutral in flavor and works well when cooking with high temperatures. If you are seeking all-purpose oil that is good for frying, roasting, searing, or usable in baked goods, sunflower oil is a great choice. However, because sunflower oil is more refined than olive oil, it lacks some of the healthy nutrients found in olive oil.
Coconut oil’s popularity is on the rise these days. This oil is firm at room temperature and turns to liquid when melted. It is a very versatile oil and it has a subtle nutty flavor that can really enhance your dishes.
Butter is a good choice is you are looking to increase a food’s flavor — whether you are making a pasta sauce or glazing vegetables, butter makes everything taste better. Its creamy texture at room temperature also makes it the ideal fat for baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and frosting. Butter does, however, contain a lot of milk fat, which makes it easy to burn on high heat, so be wary and make sure you slowly brown your butter, otherwise you will be left with a burnt tasting meal.
Lard has a full, rich flavor and is most famous for making flaky pie crusts. Lard is made from pork fat, so it may not be the best choice if you tend to be more health conscious. But if you do not mind temporarily forgoing your health, it is great for high-heat cooking such as stir-frying and deep-frying.
Peanut oil has a neutral flavor and a very high smoke point, which makes it the best option if you are stir frying or deep frying. Since this oil is usually refined, most of the peanut allergens are removed, making it safe for most people with peanut allergies.