Close this search box.

What kind of cooking oils should I be using?

Freebie Optin FitLiving Eats by Carly Paige

One of the most common cooking questions people ask is “what kind of cooking oils should I use?” If you go down the grocery store aisles, you’ll find the better part of one side completely overtaken by cooking oils. So how do you know which one is the best? 

Growing up, my mom cooked with olive oil for everything. Well, that and vegetable oil for baking. Occasionally the crisco would be brought out if she thought a recipe couldn’t do without it. Ay yi yi. 

When it comes to choosing the right cooking oils, there are two things to keep in mind: smoke point and nutritional value.

Understanding the Smoke Point in Cooking Oils

When cooking with oil, it’s important to be aware of its smoke point to preserve quality and taste. The flavors and composition of the oil can break down if heated above its given smoke point. And this cause the food to have a bitter aftertaste, as if the oil had gone rancid.

Some of the most common cooking oils and their smoke point include:

  • Avocado oil: 500 degrees, neutral in flavor and a fantastic option for roasting grilling and/or broiling
  • Sesame oil: 410 degrees, best used for stir fry and Asian dishes due to its toasty flavor
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (cold-pressed): 325 degrees, best used for light sautéing and salad dressings
  • Virgin, unrefined coconut oil: 350 degrees, great for baking
  • Flaxseed, hemp and walnut oil: these oils are very delicate and should not be heated at all. They are considered a finishing oil and can be used to dress vegetables, salads or even added to smoothies for their incredible nutritional value add.

Do you know the Health Benefits of the various cooking oils?

When buying cooking oils, focus on quality. Many low-quality (cheap) vegetable oils are highly processed which can lead to a disproportion of fatty acids, contributing to inflammation, cell damage and heart disease.

Coconut oil has been a controversial kitchen staple due to its high proportion of saturated fats. Unlike many processed foods and animal fats, however, coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have been linked to heart health benefits.

Aside from coconut oil, other cooking oils that promote cardiovascular health (meaning they contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) include: olive oil, flaxseed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, almond oil, walnut oil and hemp oil.

Beware of Cooking Sprays

This is one of my favorite tests I put students of my monthly cooking classes through. I present everyone with a few cooking spray options, asking them which ones they would put in their shopping cart.

The point of this exercise is to look past the marketing messaging on the front of the cooking spray and pay attention to the ingredients listed. There should only be one ingredient – the type of oil being used.

What you might not realize is that the cooking spray bottles that look like a spray paint can (aluminum packaging with a small rectangular tip) contain additives that are questionable to your health. These ingredients often include: soy lecithin, natural flavors and propellant (which is flammable).

Which oils do I use when cooking? 

I always recommend keeping just a few oils on hand at a time. The ones that I use the most are: 

Avocado oil (mostly for roasting or high-heat searing)

FitLiving-Eats-by-Carly-Paige_sheet pan roasted veggies_recipe-1

Extra-virgin olive oil (for sauteing vegetables, soups and homemade dressings) 

protein pasta salad featured Recipe FitLiving Eats by Carly Paige

Pure sesame oil (for stir fry, peanut sauces and Asian flavor)

Coconut oil (for baking and raw desserts) 

No-bake pumpkin cheesecake bites - which cooking oils should I use

Truffle-infused extra-virgin olive oil (for when I want to feel a little fancy) 

So, next time you’re at the store, make sure to keep some of these tips in mind as you consider your options for cooking oils. I know it can feel overwhelming with all of the healthy options and marketing out there, but that’s why I like to break things down into simple swaps for everyday items you may be using.

-Carly Paige

Post Tags

The Cookbook You'll Actually Use

Simply Swapped Everyday

Simply Swapped Everyday is your guide to elevating the everyday through mindful methods, ingredient swaps and over 75 plant-powered recipes. Cooking healthy foods at home has never been easier or more delicious!

You might also like


3 Responses

  1. The concept of losing when the ball lands in your basket in basket random adds an interesting element of risk and reward. It’s a unique twist that helps keep the stakes high throughout the match.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi! I’m Carly Paige, a culinary nutrition expert and chef who believes that healthy doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring or restrictive. I’m here to show you how through my Simply Swapped Method so that you can feel more energized and confident from within. You’ll find tips for focusing on nutrition in the kitchen, along with plant-powered, gluten-free recipes that proves healthy can be delicious.

You're In!

Download your copy of the Meal Planner Starter Kit below. You will also be receiving the link in the welcome email that was just sent to your inbox. Happy cooking!