When it comes to traditional Asian cuisines, stir-fries top the charts. While it is not native to the UK, this cooking technique has been adopted across Europe and the rest of the world. If you love stir-fry, you have probably found yourself what stir-fry oil works better than others. Not all oil works best or gives you the best results for stir-fry recipes. You will not only need to think about the flavour of the oil but also the smoke point when choosing to stir fry oil. A high temperature is required to make a good stir-fry. With that said, the best stir-fry oil will have a high smoke point. If you don’t choose the right oil, it will affect the meal’s taste, texture and flavour. The right oil will have a neutral flavour or complement any dishes you wish you cook. Here we will discuss what the best oil for stir fry is!
Best Oils For Stir Fry
Asians usually use peanut, soybean, and vegetable oil for stir-fried dishes due to their high smoking point. The nutty flavour of peanut oil makes it suitable oil for stir-frying. Canola oil is also a good choice when you cook in the wok. Unlike peanut oil, it has a neutral flavour but has a high smoke point. Some other best oils for stir fry include refined coconut, corn and soybean oil. You can also use oil for stir fry that has a high smoking point, such as grapeseed, rice bran, sesame, sunflower, and safflower oil.
General rules for Stir Frying
- Choosing the right oil that has a high smoking point is the number one rule you need to remember. Refined oils can stand high cooking temperatures more than other oils. Bear in mind not to use cold-pressed oils like extra virgin olive oil. Save it for salads.
- The smoke point of any oil may vary due to its impurities and quality. The smoke point level of stir fry oil is determined by how long you should heat it.
- When the oil is heated to its smoke point, it will break down at the molecular level and becomes rancid. It develops a bad odour and imparts a bad taste to your food. It is bad for your health and can cause cancer and obesity.
- Keep the oil in a dark and cool place instead of keeping it close to the stovetop or any other heating source. It will prolong its shelf life.
Best Oils for Stir Frying
Since stir-fry recipes call for oil that has high smoke points, so we have compiled a list of high-temperature cooking oils.
1- Sesame oil
Sesame oil is popular cooking oil that can withstand temperatures up to 410 degrees. Its high smoke point makes it a good choice for stir-fries. Used in Asian (especially Chinese and Japanese), Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, this oil has no scent or flavour and scent. When you stir fry with sesame oil, it will not overpower the flavour of other foods. It works best as an alternative to vegetable oil. The toasted sesame oil has a big nutty flavour, and the addition of its one splash at the end of the recipe can make your stir-fry meals more delicious.
Coconut has a naturally high smoke point, making it suitable oil for stir-frying at a medium temp. Refined coconut oil has a neutral flavour and smoke point of 400F, while unrefined coconut oil has a coconutty flavour with a lower smoke point of 350F. As refined coconut oil is neutral, it will not overpower your stir-fry recipes. This tropical oil has many advantages when you use it in the wok, including less change in colour at high temperatures and a broken structure that makes your stir-fried food evenly cooked from the inside and crispy from the outside.
3- Canola oil:
Made from the rapeseed plant, canola oil is easy to find and a common oil that is similar to vegetable oil in colour, usage qualities, smoke point and flavour. You can use it in a neutral-tasting stir-fry recipe. Refined canola oil has a higher smoke point of 400F, which makes it good for stir-fries. It is known as the best substitute for vegetable oil in stir-frying; it provides low trans-fat, less saturated fat (less than 10%) and cholesterol content. It is a rich source of unsaturated fats, which are good for health.
4- Peanut oil:
Pressed from raw or lightly roasted peanuts, peanut oil is a commonly used oil for stir fry in Asian cuisines. Go with a roasted variety of peanut oil if you consider it for your stir-fry recipes. Unrefined Peanut oil has a nutty flavour with a smoking point of 350F. Its refined variety has a subtle flavour with a smoke point of 450F or 232C that goes well in any dish and enhances the flavour of Asian stir-fries dishes, especially Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese stir-fries. The roasted peanut oil may not be as versatile in the kitchen as other oils, but having it in your pantry to up your stir-fry game is worth it.
5- Safflower oil
Safflower oil is the right choice for cooking in a wok that requires high temperature. It comes with much higher smoke point of 510 F; this oil is made from the seeds of the safflower plant. It is an upgraded version of canola oil and has a similar flavour and look but with a higher smoking point. If you are looking for an oil to cook over an outdoor wok burner, it can be a good choice with such a high smoke point. It can outperform canola oil, so it is a little pricier. Unlike canola oil, it is not easier to find.
Grapeseed oil is great stir-fry oil, thanks to its smoke point of 420 F. You can substitute olive oil with it when cooking in a stir-fry wok. As it has a medium-high smoke point, it will not overpower the taste of other ingredients in your recipes in wok cooking. Grapeseed oil plays well with other tastes and lets other ingredients shine through. The added benefit of this oil is that it has a naturally neutral flavour so that it won’t compromise the flavour of your stir-fry recipes.
7-Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil is extracted from the outer layer of brown rice grains. It is not household cooking, but it is used in restaurants. You can consider it the best oil for stir-fry cooking. It comes with a much higher smoke point and can withstand temperatures up to 490 F. Its neutral flavour and ability to handle high temperatures make it perfectly suited for high-temperature cooking like stir-frying. You can find it at your local restaurant supply store at a reasonable price.
Which Oil Is better for stir-fry-Olive Oil Or Canola Oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is a commonly used type of olive oil that is not exposed to heat treatment or a chemical. It is usually used in Italian food and other Mediterranean cuisines. Olive oil is healthiest than canola oil but has a low smoke point, making it unsuitable for stir-fry cooking. On the other hand, canola oil can handle high temperatures, so it is a better choice when you want to cook on high-temperature.
What oil do Chinese takeaways use?
Chinese stir-fry recipes call for oil that comes with a much higher smoke point and won’t burn at high temperatures. Chinese restaurants use different oils for wok cooking, such as peanut oil, corn oil, Rapeseed oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, and blend oil, a mixture of different vegetable oils like sunflower seed oil and flaxseed oil. But this oil is suitable for low-to-medium heat cooking. Lard is also commonly used in Chinese restaurants. Olive oil is not used in Chinese wok cooking due to its low smoke point.
What Makes Good Oil for Stir-Frying?
If you are looking for the best oil for stir-frying, you must look into some factors before purchasing stir-fry cooking oil. Some factors make suitable cooking oil suitable for the traditional cooking technique of stir-frying.
High smoke point:
Stir-fry is a common cooking method which is by the Chinese and involves whipping up meals at high temperatures. The ingredients will cook more quickly when you cook your stir-fried meals at high temperatures. That’s why stir-fry dishes are usually served fast and hot. When you choose oil with a high smoke point, it can withstand high temperatures without burning food and producing smoke. This way, the quality and flavours of your food will not be compromised, even stir frying at high temperatures.
Chinese use neutral-tasting oils to make stir-fried meals. When you use neutral flavouring oil like soybean, corn, peanut and canola oil will not impact the taste of the ingredients.
What is the healthiest oil for stir-frying?
Most of the oils listed over have high smoking points but are healthy. However, the best option is canola oil which is commonly used due to its neutral flavour. Some other good options include peanut oil, rice bran oil, sesame oil and grapeseed oil.
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!