Breaking it Down | Defining Different Types of Cooking Oils

So you’ve read recipe after recipe and each calls for a different type of oil. Your cupboard is starting to look like a mini mart and you’re at your wits end. You’re asking yourself, “What are all these oils and what do I need them for?” We’re here to help!

Below, we’ve created a mini-guide of the most popular oils and their uses. Keep reading to finally put some purpose to those bottles taking up space in your kitchen.

Breaking it Down | Defining Different Types of Cooking Oils

Common Cooking Oils

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the most widely used cooking oils. It’s made by crushing olives into a paste, then extracting the excess water. It is typically treated to soften the flavor to create a light oil perfect for cooking meats, dressing salad, and sautéing vegetables.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What makes olive oil “extra virgin”? Rather than treating it to remove the robust flavors from the olives, this oil is left pure after crushed. It often carries buttery or grassy notes, depending on where the olive came from. While this oil is great for cooking, it’s best used for creating flavorful vinaigrettes and dipping sauces.

Vegetable Oil

Looking to fry or sauté some veggies? Vegetable oil is the best choice. It has virtually no taste or smell and is best used at extremely high temperatures. For a crispy coating on your favorite foods, set a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan at 400ºF and you’re good to go.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is very similar to vegetable oil. It is pressed from the rapeseed plant and has very little taste and smell. Best used at high heat, this oil is great for cooking, but not the best to create vinaigrettes or dressings.

Specialty Oils

Chili OIl

What is chili oil? Chili oil is simply made by mixing red chili flakes and olive or vegetable oil. This oil is commonly used as a dipping sauce or as a topping for many Asian dishes. Letting it marinate for hours before using it gives you the most pungent flavor, creating the perfect kick for any meal.

Try it in: Ahi Poke and Asian Pear with Avocado and Cucumber Slaw

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is becoming increasingly popular in many dishes. This oil is classified as a type of vegetable oil and is created from crushing sesame seeds. It is commonly roasted, which gives it a smoky, nutty flavor that packs even more flavor to traditional Asian dishes.

Try it in: Soba Noodles with Tofu and Carrots

Truffle Oil

Truffle oil is one of the most extravagant, modern oils out there. Truffles are a type of fungus, similar to a mushroom. They are hard to cultivate and even harder to find, which makes them a bit more expensive. Truffle oil is made using pieces of truffle to create a rich, luxurious flavor. This oil is commonly used as serving for dishes, such as lobster, soups, steaks, risotto, and vegetables.

Try it in: Jumbo Scallops with Wild Mushroom Risotto

Coconut Oil

Coconut it all the rage right now. It’s seen in nearly every dish, beauty routine, and skin care blog out there. This miracle oil is different from any other out there, as it transforms into a solid when cool. It has a grainy, butter like texture when solid, and when hot has the consistency of a typical cooking oil. It is packed with beneficial nutrients and minerals, adding health benefits to nearly any dish. Its strong scent and taste works great in creamy soups, desserts, and even on a plain piece of toast!

Try it in: Butternut Squash Soup