The best (and Healthiest) oils for deep frying
It’s difficult to beat the rich flavor of deep fried food. With today’s shift to more healthful eating habits, you can still serve perfectly fried foods by selecting healthy oils for deep frying your best specialties.
Deep frying is one of the best ways to quickly deliver consistently delicious results. Despite the health food rage, people continue to treat themselves to occasional fried foods. They anticipate the flaky, tender, crunchiness on the outside and the moist and juicy inside.. The combination is irresistible! Indeed, some even enjoy the satisfaction of enjoying shared plates of fried treats.
By cooking with healthier frying oils, you can assure your guests that they will receive the flavor that they expect with the health benefits that come from these healthier deep frying oils.
The science behind deep frying
Deep frying is when you immerse your food (usually breaded or battered) into oil that’s heated to between 350-375 degrees.
At this temperature, the surface of the food cooks almost immediately. This both locks in the moisture and locks out the oil. As outside locks out the oils, the moisture inside the food begins the cooking process by steaming it from the inside.
The seal on the outside keeps all that moisture locked in. This is how you get that crispy outside but moist inside result that we all love.
If you’re cooking in an electric deep fryer, it will have a thermostat. However, if you are cooking in a deep pot on top of your range you must have a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
If the oil is too low, the food will be greasy. But if the oil is too hot, it will have a burnt taste and can even exceed its smoke point and catch fire if you don’t back down the heat once you reach the smoke point..
Below is a link to a video that offers some hints for safety when you’re deep frying in a pan instead of an electric fryer. While this video speaks to range-top deep frying, the safety hints are also relevant for an electric deep fryer.
Check out our best deep fryers
Having a full understanding of the science behind deep frying will help you perfect your technique and make adjustments until you achieve the perfect outcome.
Know the healthiest oils for deep frying
There are many frying oils on the market, all of which claim to be the best for healthy deep frying. Knowing your frying oils will help you make an informed decision. Ultimately, you can select the best oil for you. In fact, you may decide to keep more than one frying oil in your pantry for different types of food.
Deep frying with Peanut oil
Peanut oil is a favorite for professional chefs because doesn’t take on the taste of other foods cooked in it. This means that the food you’re cooking will taste pure, with no residual flavors from the food that was previously cooked in the oil.
The flavor of peanut oil itself has a pleasant, slightly nutty flavor. It is a light, golden color.
Peanut oil has a high smoke point of 450*f or 232*c. This means you can run your deep fryer at a high temperature that quickly locks in flavor and fries food quickly.
The health benefits of peanut oil.
Peanut oil has proven heart-healthy benefits.
It is high in healthy mono-saturated fat and Vitamin E. This is a cholesterol-free frying oil. Because of these properties, it’s considered a healthy deep-frying oil.
Peanut Oil Hint: Read the bottle carefully. For deep frying select a product that indicates 100% Peanut Oil or Pure Peanut Oil. There are also blended varieties but you won’t get the same results due to a lowered smoke point.
Deep frying with safflower oil
Safflower oil is often recommended as one of the healthiest frying oils. It is extracted from the seeds of the safflower, a plant with no other agricultural use other than the seeds.
Safflower oil is clear in color and has no flavor making it a true neutral flavor. Like peanut oil, it has a high smoke point of 450* f or 232* c.
The health benefits of safflower oil
Safflower oil is high in Omega-6 fatty acids. This means that it helps to reduce Type-2 Diabetes.
Omega-6 fatty acid assists the body in burning fat, meaning that it helps to reduce obesity. As a result of weight loss, it helps control the diabetic effect.
There’s a small controversy around safflower oil. While Omega-6 is often considered a “bad cholesterol,” consuming a healthy amount of it to promote weight loss, and this is the optimal way to deliver it to your body.
So while it can help you decrease fat and control diabetes, you may want to avoid this in you are on a reduced-cholesterol diet.
The consensus of the medical community, as always, is that portion control and common sense should prevail.
Only you can decide if safflower health can benefit you.
Safflower pro tip:
If you take blood-thinning medications, avoid this oil.
It is known as a natural blood thinner. Check with your medical doctor if you are unsure about consuming this oil.
Deep frying with Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil has been part of the Asian diet for centuries.
In fact, the healthy Asian people choose this frying oil more than any other oil.
Rice bran oil has a light, gold color. It has a mild flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the food you are frying.
It joins our previous two oils with a high smoke point of 450* f or 232* c.
This high temperature allows quick and consistent cooking.
The health benefits of rice bran oil
A surprising benefit of rice bran oil is that it alleviates hot flashes in menopausal women.
This is because of the presence of the antioxidant gamma-oryzano. This antioxidant helps to rebalance hormones and disrupt hot flash episodes.
Rice bran oil pro tip:
Beyond deep frying, choose rice bran oil when you’re cooking Indian or Asian food to lend it an authentic flavor.
Deep frying with Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is a favorite for those who cook with a preference for choosing sustainable products.
This is because sunflower oil is an extremely quick-growing plant that harvests quickly.
Sunflowers are easily grown and readily available. It’s considered a healthier frying oil than most
The finished oil is light golden in color and it has a neutral to mild taste which leaves your food with a clean, pure taste. It shares the same smoke point of our previous oils.
The health benefits of sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is an option for people who follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
The combination of fatty acids and Vitamin E contained in this oil fight inflammation in the body.
Those who suffer from asthma, Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis often look for supplements that add sunflower oil to their diets to help alleviate their symptoms.
Sunflower oil pro tip:
Watch your labels when purchasing sunflower oil. Choose one that is indicated “High Oleic.” Some refineries cut the quality by offering a less expensive “blend” which is not as pure in quality.
Deep frying with Avocado oil
Avocado oil is a newer on the market and therefore lesser-known frying oil than the other oils.
However, it is another healthier frying oil choice to consider. It is extracted from the actual rich avocado fruit, so it’s no wonder that it’s considered a healthy oil for deep frying
Avocado has a scorching hot smoke point of 520* f and 270*c.
Moisture is locked into the food you are deep frying almost as fast as it hits the pan.
This oil is a medium gold color. It has a slightly nutty flavor that is mild and buttery yet light.
Health benefits of Avocado Oil
Like the raw avocado, avocado oil is heart-healthy.
It’s packed with essential fatty acids and oleic acids.
It fights high triglycerides and high cholesterol. In addition, it’s cholesterol-free.
Avocado oil protip:
Please read your label carefully. There are two grades of avocado oil. One is the food grade that you will use to produce your deep-fried foods. There is a lower-grade avocado oil which is indicated for cosmetic purposes…
while this will make your hair shiny and your skin glow, you don’t want to cook with it!
The pros and cons of using these healthy deep frying oils
Here’s a quick round-up of the pros and cons of each of these oils. Please note, I’m not including the high smoke point, as all of these are about equally matched in that regard.
- Pleasant, slightly nutty flavor
- Relatively Inexpensive
- Can be used as an all-purpose oil
- Slightly nutty flavor
- Can brown quickly
Rice Bran oil
- Can also be used to make authentic Asian cuisine
- Mild, pleasant taste
- Relatively inexpensive
- High in Omega-6 fatty acids
- Cannot be organically extracted: a combination of extraction chemicals and heat are used.
- Mild taste
- Pulls double duty as the base for flavorful salad dressings
- A vegan alternative to butter
- Browns quickly
- Sunflower Oil is pure fat
- Cooks slightly quicker than these other oils
- Fruit-based oil offers more concentrated health benefits
- Buttery, nutty taste
- More expensive than the other oils
- Buttery, nutty taste
To sum it all up
Each one of us has to make a judgment on which is the healthiest frying oil for their family. We each have our own health struggles, genetic predispositions to ailments, and even food allergies.
For me, I have a definite opinion and strong preference for one of these deep-frying oils.
My personal deep frying oil of choice is peanut oil. I have a secret family recipe for fried chicken. This is the oil that makes my fried chicken so perfectly browned on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. When friends ask for my secret recipe, they are always floored to find that the secret is peanut oil.
About the author
Understanding the science behind cooking helps me to understand what are the best tools for a particular job.
I like to help people better understand exactly what it is that they need when it comes to buying for the kitchen.
Making the right choice is a lot easier when you know what you need to get.