The Best Oils For Baking

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
18 PHOTOS
The Best Oils For Baking
See Gallery
The Best Oils For Baking

Which oil is best for baking? We take a look at canola oil, olive oil, corn oil and other popular plant-based oils to find out.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Since the amount of vegetable oil used in baking recipes is relatively small, any kind of oil will produce similar texture. However, there are two important factors to consider: smoke point and taste.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Heating oil past its smoke point will decompose it, which reduces its flavor and nutrients and generates cancer-causing compounds called oxygen radicals. Smoke points range widely among oils, but in general the more oil is refined the higher its smoke point.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Oils can range in flavor from sweet and nutty coconut oil to buttery corn oil to grassy and zesty olive oil. Refined oils tend to taste more neutral than their unrefined counterparts. Sometimes, a strong flavor is desirable for certain recipes like olive oil cakes, but usually a lighter flavor is preferred.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Health benefits are important to think about. Oils should be high in healthy monounsaturated fats. Oils can also be a great source of polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent disease, and omega-6 fatty acids, which lower bad LDL cholesterol and protect the heart.

Image Credit: Getty Images

In addition, cost may make some oils more accessible than others. Vegetable oil, canola oil and corn oil are inexpensive staples, while obscure oils like avocado oil and coconut oil can be pricey.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Some consumers are also wary of refined oils that undergo processing with chemical solvents like toxic hexane. Alternatively, oils can be extracted from seeds mechanically using extreme pressure with an expeller, or screw press. If this is done in cold temperature, the product is described as cold-pressed.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Canola oil, which is always refined, has a neutral flavor, light texture and a smoke point of about 425ºF, making it a reliable option for baking. Canola oil is very high in healthy monounsaturated fats.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Canola's unhealthy reputation stems from the fear of the high levels of erucic acid in conventional rapeseed plants in the 1970's. While no study has demonstrated detrimental health effects on humans, hybrid rapeseed plants with low erucic acid levels were developed in response. Some choose to avoid canola oil because of chemical processing and and genetically modified seeds. Choose organic, expeller-pressed canola oil instead.

In comparison to other oils, canola is also one of the most affordable.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Baking with olive oil is healthy due to its high level of monounsaturated fats, but olive oil can overpower the taste of your baked goods. It's best to avoid baking with extra-virgin olive oil, made using a natural method of extraction for the purest oil, because of its strong flavor and low smoke point. Save it for drizzling over salads!

Image Credit: Getty Images

If you choose to bake with olive oil, choose light olive oil. It undergoes a fine filtration process that gives it a lighter flavor and higher smoke point. Note that processing olive oils significantly diminishes their antioxidant value. Also, in comparison to other oils, olive oil is expensive.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Corn oil, extracted from an oil-rich inner portion of the kernel called the germ, is usually refined into a flavorless oil with a smoke point of 450ºF, which is great for baking but really shines for high-heat cooking like deep-frying. Unrefined corn oil, which tastes buttery, has a low smoke point of 320ºF, better suited for dips and salads.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Most corn oil is extracted by expeller and after treated with chemical solvents, and the majority is made from genetically modified corn. Choose organic and 100% expeller-pressed oils if possible. As for health benefits, corn oil has high levels of polyunsaturated fats, great for lowering blood cholesterol levels, but lower levels of monounsaturated fats than canola oil.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Other types of oils like peanut oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil can be used interchangeably in baking recipes for similar results. There may be slight differences in texture and flavor, but these oils have high smoke points which is an important factor for baking.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Lately, coconut oil and other coconut-based products have been getting a lot of attention. Coconut oil works as a great substitute for oil and butter in baking recipes since it tolerates high temperatures. It's also a great dairy-free option and is popular with special diets like the Paleo diet.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Coconut oil has a very high level of saturated fat, in particular lauric acid which early studies suggest may not be harmful to one's health. However, when compared to other oils, coconut oil does not offer any edge in health benefits. It is also very expensive.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Vegetable shortening, made from vegetable oil that is hydrogenated into a semi-solid state, can produce flaky pastries and pie crusts. However, it is high in unhealthy trans fat which can raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and lead to health problems.

Image Credit: Getty Images

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

When you're baking cakes and brownies and the recipe directions tell you to add oil, which one do you reach for? Vegetable oil, canola oil and corn oil are among the most common and affordable oils available at the supermarket, but are they healthy? And we've heard that olive oil offers many health benefits, but is it good for baking? We take a look at popular plant-based oils to find out.

Check out the slideshow above to discover the best oils for baking.

Looking for a sweet last-minute gift? We love these French Classic Macaroons.

Want to know more about whole grains? Get the 411 from GMC Trade Secrets!

Read Full Story

Sign up for Best Bites by AOL and receive delicious recipes delivered to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

People are Reading

Search Recipes