The oil used for deep frying can drastically affect the texture and taste of the food you prepare. The right oil will make it easy to achieve the deliciously crispy texture and golden color of fried food. However, the texture of food is only one aspect. You should also consider the health aspects of the oil you choose. Some oils are unsuitable for deep frying as they are unstable at high temperatures. So, what oil is best for deep fryers?
Oils used for deep frying should have high smoking points, be stable at high temperatures, have neutral flavors, and be reasonably priced. Based on these criteria, canola oil, peanut oil, and coconut oil are the best choices. The next best options are vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil.
Now, let’s talk about these best deep fryer oils in greater detail.
Factors To Consider When Choosing An Oil For Deep Frying
No oil is perfect for deep frying. Each one has its pros and cons. So, you should choose the oil based on your priorities. Let us look at the various factors to consider and their relevance so that you can make an informed decision.
Smoking Point Of Deep Fryer Oils
The single most important aspect to consider when choosing an oil for deep frying is how stable it is at high temperatures. Deep fryers heat oil to 350°F or more. As the temperature increases, the tendency of an oil to disintegrate also increases.
The smoking point of an oil is the temperature at which it becomes unstable. Once it reaches this temperature, the oil breaks down. It releases toxic ingredients and produces smoke. In short, the oil is no longer safe for cooking. Food that is cooked in such oil is unhealthy for consumption.
So, you should consider the smoking point of the oil before using it in a deep fryer. Choose an oil with a smoking point that is higher than the temperature that the deep fryer will reach.
Cooking Temperature Of Deep Fryer Oils
Deep fryers operate at higher temperatures than pan-fryers. They need more oil as well. However, the exact temperature will depend on the recipe and the ingredient that is used.
Most foods cook at temperatures of 350°F to 375°F in the deep fryer. Some foods may need even higher temperatures to crisp up. So, if your recipe calls for a slightly lower temperature, you can choose oils with slightly lower smoking points.
Nonetheless, the safest option is an oil that is stable at high temperatures. Cooking oils with smoking points of at least 400°F will be ideal.
Taste Of Deep Fryer Oils
The taste of the oil is significant because of how deep-frying works. During the process, the food is submerged in the oil. It is in contact with the oil for the entire duration. So, the oil will most likely impart its flavor to the food.
Choose neutral-tasting oils if you do not want the oil to flavor the food. Some oils, like coconut oil, have robust flavors. When you deep fry food in coconut oil, it will impart its distinctive nutty flavor to the food. This may interact with the flavors of the ingredients and alter the taste of the dish. To avoid it, choose oils like canola oil and sunflower oil as they do not have strong or overpowering flavors.
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Cost Of Deep Fryer Oils
Deep fryers need two cups or more of oil at a time. So, if you use this appliance frequently, the cost of the oil is a concerning factor. Most oils with a higher smoking point are expensive. However, the benefit of using these oils is that they can be reused more than once.
The frequency with which you should change the oil will depend on how often you use the deep fryer and the quality of the oil. As a rule, change the oil when it turns color or smells odd. These signs indicate that the quality of the oil has deteriorated, and it is no longer healthy.
Health Factors Of Deep Fryer Oils
Another important factor to consider when choosing deep fryer oils is how healthy it is. Start by checking the smoking point as a healthy oil at room temperature may cease to be safe at high temperatures.
Apart from the smoking point, you should also pay attention to the amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the oil. Healthy oils will have less polyunsaturated fatty acids and more monounsaturated fatty acids. Canola oil fits this requirement.
Coconut oil is recommended for deep fryers due to the high smoking point. However, it has high levels of saturated fatty acids, which makes the health aspects of this oil debatable.
Which Oils Are Best For Deep Frying, And Why?
There are a few oils that satisfy most of the above selection criteria. However, the final choice relates to your personal preferences. Here are the top choices and why they are considered suitable.
Canola oil is made from crushed canola seeds. It is affordable and easily available.
Canola oil has a high smoking point of 468°F. An additional benefit is that it is a neutral-tasting oil. Canola oil also has low saturated fat levels. There are minimum health risks associated with this oil. Overall, canola oil is a good choice for deep fryers.
The only disadvantage of canola oil is that it does not have a long shelf life. The oil turns rancid quickly, and the quality deteriorates rapidly when it is left outside.
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Virgin coconut oil is not suitable for deep frying as it has a low smoking point. However, refined coconut oil has a smoking point between 400°F 450°F. It is highly stable at high temperatures and suitable for deep frying.
However, coconut oil has a distinctive taste. It imparts a nutty flavor when you use it for deep frying. This flavor may mask or overwhelm the other natural flavors in the food. So, it may not be the right choice for certain recipes. Coconut oil is also generally more expensive than other oils.
Coconut oil contains saturated fats. However, experts claim that these saturated fats are different from most oils and suggest that it is good for your cholesterol levels and heart. Nevertheless, it is a controversial topic. Play it safe by using it in moderation.
Peanut oil is made from peanut seeds. It has a neutral flavor and a high smoking point.
Peanut oil remains stable throughout the cooking process. However, this oil has a distinct flavor. It can transfer this flavor to the food. However, you should be able to find mildly flavored peanut oil.
The flip side of choosing peanut oil for deep fryers is that it is not the healthiest choice. Although the nutritional content is good, peanut oil has a high saturated fat content.
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Vegetable Oil And Sunflower Oil
Although vegetable oil and sunflower oil are not the best oils for deep fryers, these work for a range of recipes. These oils are ideally suited for shallow frying. Nonetheless, they have a high smoking point, although not as high as that of coconut or canola oil.
Vegetable oil and sunflower oil have no flavor. Hence, they are a good medium of cooking for most recipes. These oils will make the main ingredients shine and not overpower the taste in any way.