Some recipes would not even get started without oil. Whether you are deep frying, shallow frying, stir-frying, or even sautéing, it all starts with a splash or sprinkle of oil, and one of the best oils for pan-frying has to be a vegetable oil because of its high smoke point and mild flavor that is almost undetectable in many recipes.
Vegetable oil is one of those ingredients that you hardly notice in a dish, but its absence may be easily felt, so it is always good to stock up on some whenever you get the chance. But let’s say you are making a recipe that calls for some vegetable oil, but you discover you’re all out of this oil; what other oil can replace vegetable oil in your recipe?
In this article, I will be telling you the best healthy alternatives for vegetable oil in your recipes, but before we continue, let’s look at what vegetable oil is all about.
Vegetable Oil Nutrition Facts
What is Vegetable Oil?
Like animal-based oils, vegetable oil is a mixture of triglycerides. Still, unlike animal fats, vegetable oil is a fat extracted from the seeds or fruits of certain plants like canola, sunflower, cottonseed, soybean, or corn. The extraction of this fat can be carried out in several ways.
Plant-based oils have been in existence since the Bronze Age, when it was used by people in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.
Uses of Vegetable Oil in Recipes
Vegetable oil is not usually the main ingredient in recipes, but whenever it is called for in a recipe, it is usually the first ingredient used. These oils have a very mild flavor that would go unnoticed in your recipe, so you don’t need to worry about an overpowering flavor.
Vegetable oil has a lot of culinary uses. Whenever you see it listed as an ingredient in a recipe, it is mainly to add texture to the final product, to add specific amounts of calories, or for shortening (to give pastries a crumbly texture).
Below are recipes that have vegetable oil listed as an ingredient.
- Mushroom Pork Chops with Spinach Skillet
- Asian Short Rib Nachos
- Goat’s Cheese Wonton Salad with Blueberry Dressing
- Korean Doughnuts with Salted Chocolate Sauce
- Fruit Mince Doughnuts
- Fish in Coconut Batter with Green Mango Salad
- Crisp Squid with Saffron and Green Apple Aioli
- Salt and Pepper Prawns with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
- Homestyle Fishcakes with Caper Tartare
- Fishcakes with Pea Crush
- Coconut Prawns with Mango Mayonnaise
- Onglet Steak with Salsa Verde and Parmesan Chips
- Barbecued Butterfield Lamb with Olive Oil Chips
- Pea and Haloumi Fritters
- Pasticcio Croquettes.
Substituting Vegetable Oil
As the days go by, we get to see more and more recipes that call for oil, these recipes have become increasingly popular, and one would think that the need for vegetable oil should rise with the increasing demand. But because vegetable oil contains unsaturated fats, which oxidize when heated, and many of these oils undergo a lot of processing during manufacture, these oils have been labeled “unhealthy” by various health experts.
This has prompted home chefs to look for a healthier alternative to vegetable oil (one which is low in unsaturated fats and one which does not require a lot of processing to extract oil).
Below are some examples of healthy oils that can substitute vegetable oil in your recipes.
Just like the name suggests, coconut oil is extracted from coconuts. The good thing about this oil is that it is shallow in unsaturated fat, and the fact that it remains solid at room temperature means it is saturated fat.
This oil is pretty easy to get in any grocery store, and there is a high probability that you already have one in your kitchen.
Quickly swap in coconut oil for vegetable oil in any frying recipe using a 1 to 1 ratio, as it has a smoke point of 350°F.
Ghee is similar to butter, but unlike butter, it is clarified. It contains almost 50% saturated fat, and one tablespoon of ghee (14grams) contains about 9g saturated fat, 4g monounsaturated fat, and 0.5G polyunsaturated fat making it a decently healthy alternative.
Use ghee as a direct replacement for vegetable oil in frying recipes.
Tallow is a solid fatty substance that is obtained from rendered animal fat. It was used in many fast foods for deep frying and another high heat frying until vegetable oil took the spotlight away from it in 1970.
Tallow is also a healthy fat, so feel free to replace vegetable oil with this animal fat in any frying recipe. It has a high smoke point that makes it suitable for high heat and low heat cooking.
I’m positive you have some butter at home. Why don’t you quickly switch from vegetable oil to butter? Butter would add a rich texture and flavor to your food, but keep in mind that butter has a low smoke point, and as such, it is only suitable for low heat frying.
Avocado oil is extracted from avocado pulps. It has a medium smoke point of about 271°c, which is safe for low heat frying. Although some avocado oils can withstand high temperatures without oxidizing.
The only downside to avocado oil is that it is more expensive than other oils on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use extra virgin olive oil to deep fry chicken?
If your recipe involves a deep frying cooking method, extra virgin olive oil will do fine. Extra virgin olive oil has a decent smoke point which makes it suitable enough for high temperatures.
Why are these unhealthy oils so popular?
The reason why these “unsafe” oils are still manufactured and used by many restaurants is that it is a cheaper option than most saturated fat.
What is the shelf life of vegetable oil?
Unopened Vegetable oil can last for as long as one year in your pantry, and opened vegetable oil can also last up to one year in your fridge.
Vegetable oil is pretty easy and cheap to use; no wonder many restaurants use these types of oils. But if you are more concerned with what you eat, you may want to switch to a healthier alternative for your frying recipes, and luckily there are plenty of options for you to choose from.