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The quick answer to this question is yes; you can fry with vegetable oil. In fact, you should use vegetable oil when you are frying at home. But vegetable oil is a very broad term that includes any kind of plant-based oil. In the most general sense, vegetable oils are derived from plants, whether their seeds, fruits, grains, or nuts. Having said that, when you see a bottle of oil on the store shelf that’s labeled vegetable oil, it is typically soybean oil.

Frying at home is a great cooking technique to prepare delicious meals that no one can overlook. There is something irresistible about golden brown and crispy bites, whether a potato fry or fried chicken. With so many different types of oil available, choosing the best oil to fry can be a bit overwhelming. But no need to despair because we have prepared the ultimate oil frying guide, be it for pan-frying or deep-frying.

Which Cooking Oil Is Best for Frying?

Even though frying is one of the oldest techniques, there are so many different ways you can do it. So what is the difference between pan frying, shallow frying, or deep frying? Naturally, depending on the frying technique you choose, the amount of time your ingredients spend in the pan, the amount of oil you need, and the optimum temperature differ. Hence, the type of oil that’s best for the job also depends on how you want to fry your ingredients.  After reading this guide, you will discover the tricks of these techniques to master your frying game. 

Sautéing

So frying is essentially cooking in hot oil, and yes, sautéing is also frying. It is one of the most basic cooking methods in the book and is used to prepare the main ingredient for many dishes. To make the best out of sautéing and get the brown and savory delicious base, the most important thing you need is a hot pan. The second thing you need to do is only cook for a short time (because of the, well, hot pan) and keep the ingredients moving. You don’t have to throw the ingredients in the air like a crazed pro; a wooden spoon is quite enough to move things around in the pan and get your ingredients browned and packed with savory flavor. Like we just said, sautéing is a great way to prepare a base for meals such as stews or soups, but it’s also a great way to cook your veggies, fish, and meat. 

What Kind of Oil Is Best for Sautéing?

Extra virgin olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or sesame oil are all types of oils you can use when sautéing. Because we don’t keep the ingredients in the oil for too long, you can use an oil with a lower smoke point. And because we don’t dip them in the oil like we do when deep-frying, you can choose a more flavorful oil when sautéing.

Shallow Frying

Shallow frying is one of the most common methods to prepare small cuts of veggies, fish, meat, steak, chicken, or burger patties. But even though it is one of the most common methods, it requires some skill to prevent the fried food from going soggy or burning your oil. The trick is to use a little oil on a hot pan and turn your ingredients at the right time. This way, your food will get brown and crispy on the outside while staying juicy on the inside. To make the most out of shallow frying, keep a close eye on the ingredients after tossing them on the hot pan and flip them when you see moisture coming out. When adequately cooked, take the ingredients out, and place them on a paper towel to remove the excess oil.

What Kind of Oil Is Best for Shallow Frying?

Like you do when you sauté your veggies or meat, shallow frying prevents ingredients from absorbing too much oil while still reaching high temperatures. Oils with high smoking points are the best as they don’t burn at the ideal temperatures to shallow fry delicious veggies or meat. The best suitable ones for the job are canola oil, rice bran oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil.

Deep Frying

Even though deep frying is associated chiefly with large-scale kitchens like restaurants, a large pan filled with oil over the stove can yield similar results at home. By completely submerging the ingredients in the hot oil, you can deep make chips, fried chicken, fried shrimps, samosas, croquettes, and many other delicious meals. You can have evenly cooked outcomes very fast because you don’t even keep the ingredients in the oil for too long when deep-frying! The trick is to throw the ingredients in the hot oil and take them out once they turn golden brown so that the fries get crispy on the outside while keeping their moisture on the inside.

Keeping everything at the optimum temperature affects the results immensely when preparing deep-fried meals. For that reason, if you want to step up your fries game, you might want to invest in a cooking thermometer, but you can also check the heat by dipping a wooden spoon in the hot oil – you should see tiny bubbles and hear drizzling when you do so at around 170 C° degrees. 

What Kind of Oil Is Best for Deep Frying?

If you don’t use the right kind of oil when deep frying, you might burn your ingredients and smoke out your kitchen. The optimum temperature for deep frying is 350 to 375 °F (175 to 190 °C). This is essential for caramelizing carbohydrates such as sugars and starches that produce crispy, golden-brown results. Unlike sautéing or shallow frying, you need an oil with a high smoke point; around 400 F° is the best. Oils that fit into this category are canola oil, refined sunflower oil, safflower oil, and avocado oil, which you can use safely for your deep-fried veggies or meats.

Stir-Frying

Stir-frying is an effortless and fast way to prepare savory and healthy meals. You throw a bunch of chopped ingredients into a hot wok with scalding oil. Using a wok is a great way to stir fry your ingredients and a fun way to do so by continuously stirring or tossing them around in the pan. The difference between stir-frying and sautéing or shallow frying is that you don’t wait to seal the ingredients before starting to stir them, and for that reason, the process requires very little oil. 

What Kind of Oil Is Best for Stir-Frying?

Even though you get the pan very hot when stir-frying, you usually don’t reach to temperatures you cook while deep frying. For that reason, oils with a smoking point around 230 F° are great for this job, such as peanut oil, which adds a pleasant nutty flavor. Alternatively, you can use soybean oil or canola oil.

Triple Frying

If you ever triple cook your french fries, you should know that there is no turning back. It is the best technique to make crispy, golden brown chips. But you should know that triple cooking doesn’t necessarily mean frying your chips three times. You steam the potatoes once for the best results and then fry them twice by refrigerating them in between cooking sessions. Okay, there are still three steps, and it sounds like a time-consuming task, not to mention the clean-up afterward. But trust us, the result is worth the trouble. 

What Kind of Oil Is Best for Triple-Frying?

The technique is made initially famous by Heston Blumenthal, who recommends peanut or grapeseed oil for the best results. However, you can also use the oils you use when deep-frying: canola oil, refined sunflower oil, safflower oil, or even avocado oil, as it’s basically the same process with repeated steps.

Is Vegetable Oil Healthy to Fry With?

Even though frying is not considered among the healthiest ways to prepare your veggies, the real risk factors arise when you heat the oil past its smoking point. In that case, the oil produces free radicals and toxic fumes that are significant risks to your health. When the oil is heated past its smoke point, you will start to see vapors escaping from the pan, which indicates the oil has begun to break down, not to mention the burnt oil smell. To avoid these kinds of health hazards, you need to be mindful of the burning points of the oils you use in your kitchen.

Stay below your smoke point, and Bon Appetit!

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