Which Oil Is Best For High Heat Cooking Make the Best Stir-Fry by Using the Right Oil

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In This Article

  • Highest Smoke Point Oils
  • Untraditional Stir-Fry Oils
  • Healthiest Stir-Fry Oils
  • Oils to Avoid

Stir-frying is one of the most commonly used techniques in Chinese cooking as well as many other cuisines. The key to making a really good stir-fry is using a very high cooking temperature so the food will cook quickly. Since stir-frying involves high heat, it’s important to choose an oil that has a high smoke point. If you don’t, the oil will burn and the whole dish will be ruined. 

Oil that is heated to its smoke point or higher will actually begin smoking and will start to impart a bitter taste to the food. The oil is breaking down at a molecular level so it can produce carcinogens, which are bad for you.

Illustration of The Best Oils for Stir Fry

Ashley Nicole DeLeon. © The Spruce, 2018

Highest Smoke Point Oils

Chinese cooks normally use soybean oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil, all of which have a high smoke point. Peanut oil usually has a pleasant nutty flavor and is suitable not only for stir-frying but also for deep-frying. Canola oil, which has a high smoke point but a neutral flavor, is also a good choice. Other types of oil you can use are corn, soybean, and refined coconut oil.

Use an oil that has a smoking point at or above 400 F, including:

  • Canola oil: 400 F/204 C
  • Coconut oil (refined): 450F/232 C
  • Corn oil: 450 F/232 C
  • Grapeseed oil: 420 F/215 C
  • Olive oil (light/refined): 465 F/240 C
  • Peanut oil: 450 F/232 C
  • Rice bran oil: 490 F/254 C
  • Safflower oil: 440–510 F/227–265 C
  • Soybean oil: 450 F/232 C
  • Sunflower oil: 440 F/226 C
  • Vegetable oil: 400–450 F/ 204–232 C

Untraditional Stir-Fry Oils

Although you may not consider it, you can also use light or refined olive oil to cook a stir-fry. Don’t confuse this with extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point with a strong flavor, making it completely unsuitable for stir-frying.

Grapeseed oil is becoming more popular; it is made from the seeds of grapes after the wine has been pressed. It has a clean flavor and a high smoke point (420 F/215 C), as well as similar health benefits to olive oil but with a more neutral flavor.

Healthiest Stir-Fry Oils

Both canola oil and olive oil are low in unhealthy saturated fats and high in healthy monounsaturated fats. Scientists believe monounsaturated fats help to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease or strokes. At the same time, they increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL) that removes cholesterol buildup from the arteries.

Grapeseed oil is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat, which scientists believe can also help raise HDL levels. Grapeseed oil is also a good source of linoleic acid. That is a type of essential fatty acid which, like the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, can’t be manufactured by our bodies and must be obtained from food.

Oils to Avoid for Stir-Fry

Besides extra-virgin olive oil, there are other oils to avoid due to their low smoke points. Sesame oil has a very low smoke point, for instance. Although there are some Chinese dishes that use toasted sesame oil to fry the ingredients, such as three cup chicken, it is not recommended for high-heat cooking. Be very careful when you heat up sesame oil in a wok. Don’t overheat it, otherwise, it will burn and make your dish taste very bitter. Most of the time in Chinese cooking, sesame oil is only used for seasoning or adding to stir-fry dishes at the end of cooking. Additionally, avoid flax-seed oil and don’t use butter or shortening to stir-fry.


  • Cut up all your ingredients before heating the oil. Once the oil is hot, you’ll want to stir fry quickly at high heat.
  • If you are adding meat or poultry, cook it first and then set it aside. You’ll know it’s cooked thoroughly.
  • Add ingredients based on the amount of time they need to cook. Broccoli, for example, should go into the wok (or pan) before scallions.
  • Keep your stir-fry moving. If you allow it to sit, you’ll end up with something closer to a stew.

Video about Which Oil Is Best For High Heat Cooking

The Best Cooking Oil For High Heat (HEALTHIEST AND WORST COOKING OILS) | LiveLeanTV

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the best cooking oil for high heat, as well as the healthiest and worst cooking oils. I’ll also be comparing the health benefits of avocado oil vs olive oil vs coconut oil vs canola oil.
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Another cooking oil has emerged onto the market as the best cooking oil for high heat, due to its high smoke properties.

What is the smoke point of oils?
A cooking oil with a high smoke point means the health benefits of the oil won’t get damaged when it’s cooked using a higher temperature.

Avocado oil: the best cooking oil for high heat
One of the highest smoke points that I’ve seen for a cooking oil is from avocado oil, at 500F.

From a taste standpoint, avocado oil doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it won’t add unnecessary flavor to your meals. Plus, avocado oil is not just great for high heat cooking.

Since it comes from avocados, avocado oil is also high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocado oil also contains high levels of healthy antioxidants, including polyphenols, which can help fight inflammation.

It’s also great to add to your salad dressings, as avocado oil can help increase the absorption of the antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, from the fruits and vegetables.

Always add a fat source, like avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil, to your salad dressings and salsas.

Based on the high smoke point, the heart healthy monounsaturated fats, and the antioxidants, avocado oil is the best cooking oil for high heat.

Is extra virgin olive oil healthy?
Extra virgin olive oil is also a great source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats. But due to its lower smoke point of approximately 320F, use extra virgin olive oil primarily in salad dressings, dips, and sauces.

Essentially anything that requires oil without heat, extra virgin olive oil is your best oil.

Coconut oil healthy benefits
Since coconut oil has a smoke point of 350F, so it’s decent for mid-temperature cooking. This is why I primarily use coconut oil in my coconut oil coffee, sometimes in baking or as a spread, and just eating a spoonful for a quick shot of healthy fat.

When it comes to the taste, chose refined if you don’t like the taste of coconut oil, and unrefined if you do like the taste.

The saturated fats are in the form of medium chained triglycerides (MCT). The great thing about MCT fat is they are burned for energy, rather than being stored as body fat.

The truth about canola oil
Canola oil is not as healthy as you think. Sure, canola oil is comprised of 65% healthy monounsaturated fat. However the remaining 35% is comprised of polyunsaturated fat.

This is a problem because most canola oil is refined, bleached, and extracted using high heat, pressure, and chemical solvents. Contrast that with extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, which is cold pressed. This means the processing doesn’t use heat and chemical solvents to extract the oil.

Polyunsaturated fat in vegetable oils like canola oil, corn oil, and soybean oil, becomes very unstable and oxidizes during this high heat extracting process.

As mentioned, this oxidization causes an increase in free radical production and inflammation in the body.

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