The Best Oils for High Heat Cooking

Two well-done steaks in a pan with garlic and sage
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High-heat cooking, the type that allows you to get that nice sear on your meats, requires high-heat oil. This means that the oil has a high smoke point, which is the point at which oil starts to smoke and essentially burn. Burnt oil is not only unhealthy, but also imparts undesirable flavors on your food.

In this guide, we break down the different types of cooking oils and the pros and cons of each, so you can determine which will work best for each type of dish. We will also talk about the best ways to apply cooking oils to your food, as well as which oils work best with different types of foods and pans. Read on to become a cooking oil expert and check out our Cooking Oil Chart below!

1. Some oils can't take the heat: Why are some oils better for high heat cooking than others?

Oils are produced by the process of extraction and pressing, and are predominantly made of fats. Oil can be extracted from many types of foods, including seeds and nuts like sunflowers, almonds, walnuts, and fruits and vegetables like olives, avocados, and coconuts. Now it's time to get scientific: each type of oil has a unique chemical composition that determines its properties and thus uses in cooking. One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your cooking oil is its smoke point.

Some oils are better suited for salads due to their flavor and low smoke point, while others are equipped to help you achieve a high-heat sear on your favorite type of meat because it can stand up to the high cooking temperatures that are needed to create the chemical reaction called the Maillard Reaction that creates what you know of as the perfect sear. Learn more about the Maillard Reaction and searing foods in our post here.

2. Factors to consider when choosing a cooking oil

Another thing to consider with cooking oils is whether they are neutral or flavored. For instance, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter all have strong flavors that can add to the taste of your dish if that flavor is desired for the type of dish you're making. Our pre-seasoned meats have all the flavor you need, so you may want to use a more neutral oil like Grapeseed, Canola, or refined Avocado oil, all with high enough smoke points to get the job done.

You may also want to compare prices on different oils. Just because an oil is expensive doesn't mean it works the best! Consult our chart for the right oils to look for and choose one that meets your needs and your budget. Oils like Canola are very popular in restaurants because of their balance of cost and effectiveness. And save that expensive olive oil for making a delicious salad dressing or for finishing a nicely seared piece of fish.

3. Cooking tips when using high-heat cooking oils

The first step is to pre-heat your pan properly Heating your oil too quickly or for too long can cause it to burn which not only tastes bad, but also can be unhealthy if eaten.

For easy application directly onto a piece of food, we recommend using an oil sprayer (the oil sprays that already come with a built-in sprayer work best but a refillable version works as well). 

Want more tips? Skip down to section #6 for links to our other related articles on cooking with high-heat oils and become a cooking master!

4. Check out our Cooking Oil Chart 

The smoke point can range from relatively low (325° F) to very high (520° F). Check out our Smoke Point chart and choose an oil from the green section to make sure it's ready for the job!

Oil Smoke Point ºF Smoke Point °C
Refined Avocado Oil 520ºF 270°C
Safflower Oil 510ºF 265ºC
Rice Bran Oil 490ºF 254ºC
Refined or Light Olive Oil 465ºF 240ºC
Soybean Oil 450ºF 232ºC
Peanut Oil 450ºF 232ºC
Ghee or Clarified Butter 450ºF 232ºC
Corn Oil 450ºF 232ºC
Refined Coconut Oil 450ºF 232ºC
Sunflower Oil 440ºF 227ºC
Refined Sesame Oil 410ºF 210ºC
Vegetable Oil 400-450ºF 204-232ºC
Beef Tallow 400ºF 204ºC
Canola Oil 400ºF 204ºC
Grapeseed Oil 390ºF 199ºC
Unrefined or Virgin Avocado Oil 375ºF 190ºC
Pork Fat or Lard 370ºF 188ºC
Chicken Fat or Schmaltz 375ºF 190ºC
Duck Fat 375ºF 190ºC
Vegetable Shortening 360ºF 182ºC
Unrefined Sesame Oil 350ºF 177ºC
Extra Virgin or Unrefined Coconut Oil 350ºF 177ºC
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 325-375ºF 163-190ºC
Butter 302ºF 150ºC


5. Pair the proper oil with the proper food

You can't go wrong with a neutral, high quality high-heat cooking oil like Avocado or Grapeseed or even a less expensive option like Canola. 

But you can also use these oils to add flavor to your food!

For example, use coconut oil or ghee to sear the Cilantro Lime Chicken Breasts included in our Chef Geoffrey Zakarian box and impart some delicious coconut or buttery flavor into your chicken!

Cilantro Lime Chicken Breast

Like to grill? Make sure to use an oil from top of our chart since grills can get very hot. An Avocado oil spray is the perfect choice for our Grill-Ready Tailgate Box, which includes juicy Bacon Cheddar Burgers and saucy Pre-Marinated Wings.

Tailgate Meats for Grilling

Click here to build your own box of delicious pre-seasoned and pre-marinated meats to test out your high-heat oil cooking skills.

6. Practice makes perfect (and delicious) food!

Want more tips on cooking the perfect steak? Check out these articles on our blog for the best tips!:

Want to get a proper, delicious sear on your foods using your high-heat cooking oils? Learn more about the Maillard Reaction and searing foods in our post here.

Did you know steaks keep cooking after you take them out of the pan? Learn more about Carry Over Cooking

Want to learn how to cook meat perfectly? See our guide on Understanding Cooking Temperatures For Each Type of Meat

Did you know that HOW you cut your steak affects its tenderness? Learn how to Cut Your Steaks Against The Grain

The best way to practice is with a big box of delicious pre-seasoned meats! You can Build Your Own Box of amazing meats right now, and lock in FREE STEAKS FOR LIFE with a subscription. Click to Shop Now!