Oil for cooking and dressing: All you need to know

There is a variety of cooking oils used in Indian dishes to enhance the taste or flavor. All of them are different in properties. But do you know which oil is good for which cooking method? Refined oils with high smoke point are more suitable for longer storage and cooking that require high heat like deep frying, stir-frying, sauteing, grilling as well as for baking and unrefined oils with low smoke point are best to use for low or no-heat cooking needs like dressing and marinating. 

So instead of selecting any oil randomly, read below to choose the right oil for various types of cooking.

Olive oil - Olive oil is one of the famous and versatile cooking oils. Cold-pressed olive or extra virgin olive oil has low smoke point which is best to use in low or no-heat cooking such as salad dressing, sauteing, and marinating. Similarly, light refined olive oil can be used for deep frying or high heat cooking. 

Olive oil


Canola oil - Canola oil is also known as rapeseed oil and is good for frying and baking. Its neutral taste makes it more reliable to use across variety of cooking methods. Most people think canola oil is unhealthy, but it has low saturated fat which makes it a good option for heart health. Experts suggest to avoid this oil for sauteing, salad dressing, and marinating. 

Canola oil


Sesame oil - The nutty flavor of unrefined sesame oil makes it more favorable for low to medium heat cooking such as sautéing, salad dressing, or pickling. On the other hand, refined sesame oil can be the best option for roasting, stir-frying, and deep-frying. 

Sesame oil


Mustard oil - Mustard oil has high smoke point with a strong pungent flavor which is often used for sautéing and stir-frying. It is always suggested to heat mustard oil on high flame and cool down little bit before using it in any cooking method. 

Mustard oil


Groundnut or peanut oil - Groundnut or peanut oil contains a strong aroma, still it is very popular and suitable for all types of cooking such as grilling, deep frying, sauteing, tempering, and salad dressing.

Groundnut or Peanut oil


Avocado oil - Avocado oil is good to use in salad dressing, sauteing, and stir-frying. Its neutral taste and flavor makes it more relevant for low to medium heat cooking. 

Avocado oil


Sunflower oil - Sunflower oil is quite famous and suitable for all-purpose cooking. It is often used for deep-frying, stir-frying, sauteing, grilling, roasting, and baking.

Sunflower oil


Safflower oil - Safflower oil is perfect for various cooking methods including deep frying, sauteing, stir-frying, baking, and dressing. It is available in both unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which makes it a healthy choice.

Safflower oil


Coconut oil - The presence of medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil makes it more digestible. Cold-pressed, extra virgin, and refined coconut oil is better for any type of cooking but unrefined coconut oil is best to use for external skin and hair health only. Consumption of coconut oil should be in limited amounts as it contains high saturated fat which can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Coconut oil


Palm oil - Palm oil and palm kernel oil are very controversial oil due to their saturated fat contents, as palm kernel oil contains more saturated fat than palm oil. Palm oil is much better to use in sauteing and frying in comparison to palm kernel oil. High saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and increase blood cholesterol levels which lead to heart diseases.

Palm oil


Rice bran oil - Rice bran oil has high smoke point which makes it suitable for deep frying, stir-frying, and other high-temperature cooking. It has no trans-fat and it is ideal for baking, dressing, and sauteing also.

Rice brain oil


Soybean oil - Soybean oil is high in unsaturated fat which makes it more favorable for any type of high heat cooking such as deep frying, stir-frying, sauteing, and grilling. For salad dressing, it is better to avoid this oil or use it in a very less amount. 

Soybean oil


Ghee - Ghee is one of the healthy choices for cooking and is far better than butter. It can be used in any cooking method, but make sure to work well or engage in exercise to avoid turning it into extra body fat. Pure cow ghee is also good for raw consumption.  



Point to be noted - No matter which cooking oil you use, it is always suggested to consume it in very less amounts as it can be one of the main culprits affecting your overall health, especially the heart health. Always prefer to choose an oil which is high in unsaturated fats (mono and polyunsaturated fat) and low in saturated fat. It would be a great idea to use variety of oils depending on your cooking requirements to get different essential fatty acids.