Common Types of Cooking Oil To Use in the Kitchen

Learn about these common cooking oils and when to use them in your recipes.

Cooking oil is a type of edible oil used in cooking. Cooking oils are often liquid at room temperature and derive from plant sources. Cooking oils are essential for food preparation because they add flavor to dishes and help transfer heat to food.

Assortment of vegetable oils in bottles

There are many different types of cooking oil available on the market, each with its unique taste and smoke point. Cooking oils work for baking, frying, grilling, sauteing, broiling, roasting, and raw preparations.

The most used cooking oil is vegetable oil. Vegetable oils have plant sources such as olive, canola, corn, sunflower, and soybean.

These oils contain different fats, such as monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats.

Types of Oil

There are many options when it comes to cooking oil. It can be confusing to know which one to use for your recipes with so many choices. 

Here is a guide to the most common types of cooking oil:

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a type of vegetable oil extracted from olives.

It is a popular cooking oil in many parts of the world and has a distinct, fruity flavor. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and has a low smoke point, making it unsuitable for high-heat cooking.

Olive oil has several health benefits, including reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. There are different types of olive oil for different occasions.

It can be used in dressings, marinades, or drizzled over cooked dishes for added flavor.

I like olive oil because of its rich, smooth flavor that tastes great in dishes. I recommend using olive oil for dressings, marinades, and drizzling overcooked foods.

However, it is not ideal for high-heat cooking because it has a low smoke point. For recipes that require high heat, such as frying or grilling, it is better to employ something with a higher smoke point, like sunflower oil.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a popular oil commonly used in the kitchen. It has a mild, neutral flavor and a high smoke point, ideal for most applications.

Vegetable oil tends to be composed chiefly of unsaturated fats, healthier than saturated fats. 

While many people prefer vegetable oil for its health benefits and versatility, others feel it lacks flavor.

I like vegetable oil because it is inexpensive and versatile. It won’t overpower any flavors and can stand up to frying and intense sauteing.

Canola Oil

Canola Oil has a light, neutral taste, perfect for cooking with delicate flavors.

Its high smoke point also makes it a good choice for stir-frying and other high-heat cooking methods.

The flavorless quality of canola oil also makes it a good choice for baking, as it won’t alter the taste of your recipes.

Canola oil contains large amounts of monounsaturated fats.

I am a fan of canola oil because I know what’s in it. Vegetable oil is often a blend of various oils, and quality can vary. Canola oil contains only the pressings of the rapeseed plant.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil comes from coconut meat. It has a high saturated fat content and remains solid at room temperature.

It does not work for raw preparations like dressings or dipping oil. Coconut oil is most often used for cooking and baking but can also work for skin and hair care.

I use coconut oil for its unique flavor and texture in baked goods.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a light, nutty-flavored oil often used for baking or frying.

Its smoke point is high and it is rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, making it a healthy choice for your cooking needs.

Sunflower oil has been a part of cooking since prehistoric times. The oil comes from the seeds of the sunflower plant, domesticated first in North America.

Sunflower oil is a common cooking ingredient, although less popular than other oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil. The oil is also relatively inexpensive and widely available.

I like sunflower oil because it has a mild flavor that doesn’t interfere with my food taste.

Its high smoke point makes it a terrific choice for frying, and its nutty aroma lends itself well to baking.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil comes from the flesh of ripe avocados. It has a mild taste and high smoke point, making it ideal for frying and sautéing.

Its high monounsaturated fat content also makes it heart-healthy, while the antioxidants present may help to protect against some chronic diseases.

Avocado oil adds a rich, buttery flavor to dishes with availability at most grocery stores or online.

I like avocado oil because it is one of the healthiest cooking oils, and it works well in sweet and savory dishes.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is most often utilized for frying and has a high smoke point of 446°F/230°C.

Peanut oil is also known for being neutral in flavor so that it won’t impact the taste of your food.

Peanut oil works well in frying, stir-frying, salad dressings, and marinades.

It is also a popular choice for deep-frying chicken and other meats, as it has a higher smoke point than most oils and does not impart any intense flavors.

I like peanut oil because it is a healthier alternative to many other cooking oils. It has no trans fats and contains vitamin E, magnesium, and folate.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is derived from sesame seeds and has a nutty flavor. It’s perfect for stir-frying, sautéing, or marinades.

Sesame oil’s smoke point is relatively high, making it ideal in high-heat cooking without the risk of burning.

Sesame oil has an intense flavor, so try not to overuse it. It’s often used as a finishing oil, meaning it’s added to a dish at the end of cooking to enhance the flavor.

I like sesame oil because it’s so versatile – it goes well with a wide range of flavors, from spicy to sweet.

If you’re searching for an oil that will add depth to your dishes, sesame oil is a perfect choice.

Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from pure, cold-pressed olives, and it’s the highest-quality olive oil.

It has a fruity taste and a strong, pungent aroma. It’s also the most expensive.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point, so it’s best for low-heat cooking or finishing oil. It is useful in salad dressings, dips, and marinades.

I like extra-virgin olive oil because of its intense flavor. I use it in recipes where I need the unadulterated olive oil taste to come through.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is a popular cooking oil high in vitamins and monounsaturated fats, making it a healthy choice for your recipes.

It has a light taste and a relatively high smoke point, making it ideal for sautéing or stir-frying.

Its neutral flavor makes it a good option for baked goods, but be sure to choose a pure, cold-pressed variety to get the most health benefits from this versatile oil.

I use grapeseed oil because it works well in dressings while being a fraction of the cost of extra virgin olive oil.

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is a type of oil extracted from flaxseeds. This oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has a nutty flavor.

It has a low smoke point, so it doesn’t work well for cooking. Instead, use it in salad dressings or as a finishing oil.

Flaxseed oil is popular for its health benefits, as it helps reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.

If you’re searching for an oil that provides these health benefits, consider using flaxseed oil in your cooking.

Corn Oil

Corn oil is among the most used types of cooking oil, and it is an excellent choice for sautéing, frying, or roasting.

Corn oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats, making it an ideal alternative to cook with when looking for foods low in saturated fat.

Additionally, corn oil is quite versatile and works well in various dishes.

I like corn oil because it is a healthy cooking oil choice and works well in most recipes.

It is a terrific option if you are looking for inexpensive all-purpose cooking oil.

Hemp Seed Oil

Thanks to its light and nutty flavor, hemp seed oil is excellent cooking oil. It has a high smoke point, ideal for searing or frying recipes.

This oil is also rich in nutrients and antioxidants, making it an excellent choice for those following a plant-based or vegan diet.

I like hemp seed oil because it is a versatile, healthy oil used in savory and sweet recipes.

Whether frying up some veggies or baking a batch of cookies, this oil adds an extra layer of flavor and richness to my dishes.

Types of Oil

  1. Olive oil
  2. Vegetable Oil
  3. Canola Oil
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Sunflower Oil
  6. Avocado oil
  7. Peanut Oil
  8. Sesame Oil
  9. Extra-virgin olive oil
  10. Grapeseed Oil
  11. Flaxseed oil
  12. Corn Oil
  13. Hemp Seed Oil

Final Thoughts

Cooking oils are a necessary staple in any kitchen. They come in different varieties with unique flavors and properties ideal for specific cooking methods or dishes. In this article, we have discussed some of the most common types of cooking oil and their benefits. 

We have also provided tips on selecting the best oil for your needs. With so many options available, there is sure to be an oil perfect for your cooking requirements. So, get out there and experiment with different oils to find the perfect one for you.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.