Guide to Cooking Oils

types of cooking oils
Tip: keep multiple cooking oils in stock

Take a look in your pantry. How many types of cooking oil do you have in stock? If you cook often, you most likely have some olive oil and a neutral oil on hand at all times. If you’re an avid cook, you may have an entire shelf full of different cooking oils for salads, sautés, and frying. Treating yourself to a new oil can be a great way to get inspired to try new recipes. Here are a few types of cooking oil that the Blue Apron team loves to keep on hand.

When choosing a cooking oil, one of the most important aspects to consider is the smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil will begin to burn. If an oil is heated past its smoke point it can impart an unpleasant flavor into food and fill your entire kitchen with smelly smoke. If you’re working with a high-heat cooking method, like frying, you’ll need to pick an oil with a high smoke point. 

Common Types of Cooking Oils

Olive oil 

If you’re out of olive oil, go to the store (or order some) right now.  Olive oil is an essential cooking staple. It’s the start of excellent sauces and sautees, and the backbone of many classic vinaigrettes. 

We love olive oil because it’s versatile, delicious, and heart-healthy, but there’s a reason it isn’t the only oil in our pantry: it has a low smoke point. This means that olive oil isn’t suited for high-heat cooking applications. If you’re searing or deep frying, choose an oil with a higher heat tolerance. 

Sesame oil 

Most grocery stores will carry both toasted and untoasted sesame oil. The toasted variety has a delicious nutty flavor that is the perfect complement to many stir-frys and other Asian-inspired dishes. Untoasted sesame oil has a neutral flavor, and a high smoke point (around 410˚F). This makes it well-suited to basic sautés, roasts, and braises.  

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is the only type of cooking oil on this list that is solid at room temperature. Because of this, it’s not a good fit for salad dressings or general drizzling. Coconut oil has a subtle sweetness and buttery texture that can make it a lovely addition to baked goods. 

Peanut oil 

Peanut oil’s high smoke point (450˚F) makes it a great choice for frying. However, frying can tend to send some oil into the air and onto the counters, so it’s best to avoid this oil if you’ll be hosting anyone with a peanut allergy, even if they won’t be eating the food in question. 

Grapeseed oil 

Grapeseed oil is inexpensive and lightly flavored. This neutral oil has a smoke point of 420˚F. Its neutral flavor can make it a good base for salad dressings, especially when other, more flavorful ingredients are in the mix. 

Whether you’re baking a cake or frying chicken, the right oil can make your food more delicious. Keep several oils with a range of smoke points on hand, and you’ll be ready to cook anything at a moment’s notice.