At this point, we’ve all come to realize that fat is actually NOT the enemy. But trying to shop for the right one? That’s a different story. Here’s a look at five different cooking oils and their distinct personalities!
Distinctly coconut-y, coconut oil can be used just as you’d use butter, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee! Basically the all-purpose substitute, it has a low melting point so can be stored as either a liquid or solid (just be sure to store it in a cool spot, just like all other cooking oils). Packed full of the benefits of coconut, it comes in two types: refined and unrefined. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point than unrefined and has less of a coconut-y taste.
The holy grail of fats (in my humble opinion). Also known as clarified butter, it’s an easy make-at-home option if you don’t want to search the stores. Once butter is melted down, the white solids float to the top. Skim those off and you are left with ghee- nearly lactose free, but still has all the buttery, delicious taste that you want. Use it as you would butter in baking and cooking.
A newer player in the cooking oil arena, avocado oil has almost no flavor and can tolerate extremely high heat (has a high smoke point) when cooking. This means that the beneficial nutrients and vitamins in avocado oil can withstand higher heat without being damaged. Use it as you would your normal vegetable or olive oils in cooking (especially when sautéing or frying).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Our dear friend, Olive. A classic cooking oil, extra virgin olive oil can be used almost any way. It’s important to buy high quality EVOO when you want to use it over heat because of varying smoke points (see above for more info on smoke points). To be safe, we suggest buying unrefined and stick to using olive oil for low-heat cooking and uncooked as part of dressing.
The mother of ghee, butter holds one of the least favorable reputations among the fat community, but we beg to differ. High quality butter can be an easy way to add tons of flavor if you aren’t worried about the effects of lactose intolerance. If your belly can handle it, use it as you would ghee!
Vocab Lesson: Unrefined vs. Refined
Unrefined means that it has not been treated to remove impurities. Refined means that it has (and has a milder1 flavor). Now ya know!
Name Price Smoke Point Grams of fat per TBSP
Ghee $4.79/8oz (Trader Joe’s) 485°F 13g
Butter $4.96/lb (Walmart) 350°F 11g
Extra Virgin Olive Oil $7.99/Liter (Trader Joe’s) 320°F 14g
Coconut Oil $6.64/14oz (Walmart)
Refined: 450°F 14g
Avocado Oil $13.19/16.9oz (Walmart) 520°F 14g