A lot of people, like myself, don't always know which oils or fats are the best to cook with. It is important to know the characteristics of certain cooking oils because some have low-smoke-points and others have high-smoke-points. This is important for you and the safety of your kitchen!

I am currently reading The Body Book, by Cameron Diaz, and am learning a lot about different proteins, calories, fats, etc. If you want to eat healthier, you need to know the different characteristics and pros and cons to cooking. Since I love to cook, these tips are really helping me become a better chef in my kitchen.

I think it is important to know which oils work best with which foods, and you certainly don't want your kitchen to go up in flames if you use the wrong oil to fry some chicken. The smoke points refer to the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. Choosing wisely is key!

Low-Smoke-Point Oils: best used in salad dressings, marinades, and dips.

  • Walnut oil: heart-healthy, full-flavored and delicious drizzled over vegetables or used to dress your salads.
  • Flaxseed oil:  also ideal for salad dressing or even mixed into smoothies; great source of omega-3s.
  • EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil): Very flavorful, full-bodied, and great as a finishing oil or dip. 

Medium-Smoke-Point Oils: best used for stir-frying, sauteing, and oven baking.

  •  Olive oil: this is what you want to use to cook protein and/or vegetables.
  • Canola oil: good source of mono-saturated fats; works well for baking and coating the backyard grill.
  • Coconut oil: gives food a light, coconut flavor.
  • Sesame oil: perfect for Asian-style dishes; adds a yummy, nutty flavor.
  • Grape-seed oil: has an earthy flavor because it is extracted from grape seeds during the wine making process; great for sauteing.

High-Smoke-Point Oils: perfect for searing, browning, and pan-frying.

  • Sunflower oil: full of Vitamins A, D, E; perfect for frying foods such as chicken and homemade potato chips.
  • Safflower oil: high in Vitamin E; mild flavor; used from curries to baking.
  • Peanut oil: great source when frying high temperatures; used for frying; great for frying turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Hope this helps next time you are curious which oil you can sear that delicious piece of steak with or which oil is best for drizzling over your homemade humus.