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24 Different Types of Cooking Oils

Cooking oils are derived from both plants and animals. Get to know its many different kinds and uses so you'll be able to choose the right oil for every cooking method and cuisine.

Different types of cooking oil in various shaped bottles.

  • Cooking oils or fats are made from either plant or animal sources.
  • The healthiest cooking oils are unrefined, cold-pressed plant-based oils.
  • The cooking oil you choose will depend on the flavor you want to create and the cooking technique you are using.

Whatever recipe you’re making, a first step is often heating some cooking oil and frying onions or spices. Different cuisines use various kinds of oils, depending on their flavor profiles and staple foods. Various cooking methods also require specific types of oils. How do you know which to use? What are the different kinds of cooking oils available?

What Is Cooking Oil?

Cooking oil being poured on a hot pan.

Cooking oil is fat used for food preparation, whether for cooking, finishing a dish, or using as a condiment or sauce.

The different types of cooking oils:

  • May come from plants or animals
  • Are liquid or solid at room temperature
  • Can be flavored with additions, like chili, herbs, or truffles
  • May have a low or high smoke point, meaning the point at which the oil begins to smoke and thus break down and cease to be suitable for eating
  • May be refined, having undergone processes like bleaching, deodorizing, hydrogenating, or heating. Other oils are unrefined and cold-pressed, with the minimum of physical or chemical interference.

Plant-based Cooking Oils

There is an enormous variety of cooking oils derived from plants’ seeds, nuts, or fruit. Here’s a look at types of plant-based cooking oils from A to Z.

Avocado Oil

A jar of avocado oil with slices of avocado fruit on the side.

  • Ingredients: the avocado pear fruit
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 2g saturated fat; 2g polyunsaturated fat; 10g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 520-570°F (271-299ºC) for refined oil; 480⁰F for unrefined oil
  • Storage: Best kept refrigerated

Avocado oil comes from the luscious fruit of the avocado pear, not its pit, which accounts for its gorgeous, buttery flavor.

Like the fruit itself, avocado oil is high in healthy fats, making its anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for the heart and eyes.

Uses Of Avocado Oil

With the highest smoke point of all plant oils, avocado oil is an excellent choice for all cooking methods, including searing, sautéing, stir-frying, pan-frying, baking, roasting, and grilling or broiling.

However, its delightful texture makes avocado oil a winner for dressings and toppings as well, including mayonnaise.

Because avocado oil has a mild, unobtrusive flavor, it lets the taste of the food shine through.

Canola Oil

Canola oil with a ball of yarn and flowers on either side.

  • Ingredients: Rapeseed
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 4g polyunsaturated fat; 9g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 400-450ºF (204-230°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Canola oil is the name given to oil derived and processed from the rapeseed plant, developed by Canadian researchers in the 1970s at the University of Manitoba. The term is a combination of “Canada” and “oil,” hence canola.

This vegetable oil is now a kitchen staple and has high levels of healthy fats that fight cancer, arthritis, asthma, and weight gain.

Because canola oil has such a mild flavor, it is a popular base oil for flavored or infused oils, such as herbs, garlic, or chili oil.

Uses Of Canola Oil

With its medium to high smoke point, canola oil is multiuse, which accounts for its popularity. You can use it for searing, stir-frying, sautéing, grilling, pan-frying, deep-frying, roasting, and even baking.

Canola oil is highly refined and has a neutral flavor that won’t overpower a dish, making it suitable for all kinds of cuisines.

Its reasonable price and availability make canola oil an everyday favorite.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil in bowl and jar over wood plank table.

  • Ingredients: Coconut
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 11g saturated fat; 2g polyunsaturated fat; 8g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 350-385°F (175-196°C) for unrefined oil; 450ºF (232ºC) for refined oil
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Beloved of those following a keto diet, coconut oil’s purported health benefits are a little controversial. However, fans of this tropical oil love its metabolism-boosting, appetite-suppressing properties, and its benefits for skin and hair health.

Uses Of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is unusual because, like butter, it is pretty solid when cold and even at room temperature. It also shares butter’s creamy richness and so is a good alternative for butter in baked goods – you can substitute equal parts coconut oil for butter.

The unrefined or “virgin” variety of coconut oil has a relatively low smoke point, so it is best to cook over low heats, such as when sautéing, roasting, or pan-frying. It’s also an excellent choice for making the keto favorite, bulletproof coffee.

Unrefined coconut oil has a coconutty flavor, so use it if you don’t mind the sweet nuttiness shining through.

However, refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point and more neutral flavor, so it can be used more widely, including sauteing, pan-frying, baking, and roasting.

Because coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, you can’t use it for dressings and marinades.

Corn Oil

Woman hands poring corn oil in a glass bowl.

  • Ingredients: Corn (maize)
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 5g polyunsaturated fat; 8g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 410-450°F (210-230°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Corn oil is widely used and appreciated for its affordability and multipurpose uses. However, it has its critics, especially as the oil is highly processed and can cause inflammation.

Uses Of Corn Oil

Because corn oil has a high smoke point, it’s a popular choice for everyday home cooking. You can use this light, mild oil for just about anything: frying, searing, sautéing, pan-frying, roasting, grilling, and deep-frying. Corn oil adds a creaminess to baked goods as well.

Flaxseed Oil

Flax seeds and oil in jars with flowers on the background.

  • Ingredients: Flaxseed or linseed
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 2.5g polyunsaturated fat; 9g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 225°F (107ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Many cooks regard flaxseed or linseed oil as a health supplement rather than a cooking oil – it has a strong, bitter, nutty flavor that some people find unpleasant.

However, flaxseed oil is perfect for the digestive system, easing constipation, and has many benefits for heart health, including reducing cholesterol.

Uses Of Flaxseed Oil

Because of its low smoke point, flaxseed oil is not suitable for cooking – although you can use it effectively to season cast iron pans.

A spoon of flaxseed oil in the morning can keep you regular, so it’s a sensible addition to your smoothies. Flaxseed oil is also tasty used in dressings and dips where you want a nutty, punchy flavor. Be frugal with this oil, as it can easily overpower the rest of a dish.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil with seeds and fruits on the side.

  • Ingredients: Grape seeds
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 2g polyunsaturated fat; 9g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 390-420°F (195°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Grapeseed oil, a by-product of the wine-making industry, is probably better known as an ingredient in beauty products and benefits your insides. Best purchased from a health store in the food produce section (buy food-grade oil), grapeseed oil has many benefits for your skin and hair since it is high in vitamins A and C.

However, use grapeseed oil with caution as overconsumption can cause inflammation and weight gain.

Uses Of Grapeseed Oil

Fans of grapeseed oil enjoy the mild, greenish oil, which has olive oil’s health benefits and richness at a more affordable price.

Another advantage is that grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil, so you can use it for a wider diversity of cooking methods. Apart from frying, searing, sautéing, pan-frying, roasting, and grilling, grapeseed oil is also a good component of salad dressings and marinades.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil being poured in a glass bowl with serving spoon.

  • Ingredients: Hemp seed
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 1.9g polyunsaturated fat; 11g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 330°F (166ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Hemp seed oil or hemp oil is famed for its many healing properties, from reducing cholesterol to soothing skin outbreaks. This dark green oil is a component of several medicinal compounds, but food-grade hemp oil is very nourishing.

Uses Of Hemp Seed Oil

Like flaxseed oil, hemp oil has a strong flavor, grassy, nutty, and savory. It is best not to heat hemp oil as it will lose its nutrients at high temperatures. Instead, use it in vinaigrettes, dressings, and dips, like hummus, or sparingly as a finishing oil. For a weight-loss boost, add hemp seed oil to your smoothies.

Margarine

Slices of margarine in a hot frying pan.

  • Ingredients: Hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Fat content (per tablespoon; varies by brand): 5g saturated fat; 3g polyunsaturated fat; 3g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 410-430°F (210-221°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Created initially as a heart-healthy spreadable alternative to butter, margarine has come under fire for its high levels of unhealthy trans fats. To be labeled margarine rather than simply a non-dairy spread, this oil must contain at least 80% fat. Like butter, margarine is relatively solid at room temperature.

Uses Of Margarine

Margarine is best used as a spread for sandwiches and toast, although it can also replace butter in baked goods – substitute equal amounts of margarine for butter.

Margarine is handy for cooking as it has a relatively high smoke point, so use it for sautéing, frying, and roasting.

Olive Oil

Olive oil and seeds in glass bowls and bottled container.

Olive oil, once a Mediterranean specialty, has become as ubiquitous as ordinary vegetable oil. The following types of olive oil are available:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Light olive oil
  • Regular olive oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Ingredients: Olives
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1.9g saturated fat; 1.5g polyunsaturated fat; 10g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 325-410°F (163-210°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard, preferably in a glass bottle

Widely famed for its health benefits, especially in the popular Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is versatile and delicious.

To be labeled “extra virgin,” olive oil must be untouched by chemicals or heat during pressing. The olives must also be going through their first pressing, hence the rich, fruity flavors and bright grassy green colors of the different olive oil varieties.

Fans choose this unrefined oil for its antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy fats, and possible links to cancer prevention.

Uses Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil  

Because it is unrefined, EVOO has a low smoke point and shouldn’t be your first choice for cooking. Instead, save this particular oil for dressings, dips, marinades, and as a finishing oil.

Light Olive Oil

Light olive oil being poured on a large wooden spoon.

  • Ingredients: Olives
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 2g saturated fat; 2g polyunsaturated fat; 10g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 425-465°F (218-241°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard, preferably in a glass bottle

This olive oil’s “light” element is its color, not its calorie composition, which is the same as EVOO. Light olive oil is more refined more than its unrefined cousin, so it has a milder flavor

Uses Of Light Olive Oil  

Light olive oil has been processed more than EVOO, so it has a higher smoke point and can cope with higher temperature cooking methods, such as sautéing, pan-frying, roasting, and grilling. Because of its milder flavor, you can use light olive oil for baked goods as well.

Regular Olive Oil

Chef hands pouring a bottle of olive oil on a salad.

  • Ingredients: A blend of light olive oil and EVOO
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 2.5g saturated fat; 1.5g polyunsaturated fat; 10g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 390-470°F (199-243ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard, preferably in a glass bottle

Regular olive oil is probably the most affordable of olive oils, being a blend of oils. Therefore, the quality is not as good as EVOO or light olive oil, but this makes it a popular choice for healthy cooking.

Uses Of Regular Olive Oil  

This olive oil falls between light oil and EVOO in terms of smoke point. It’s suitable for cooking at medium temperatures and makes for flavorful sautés and savory bakes.

Because of its fruity flavor, olive oil is always a favorite in dressing, marinades, and as a finishing oil.

Palm Oil

A bowl of palm fruits and a jar of palm oil over palm leaves.

  • Ingredients: Palm fruit
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 7g saturated fat; 1g polyunsaturated fat; 5g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 450°F (232ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Many people choose to stay away from palm oil because the demand for this oil contributes to deforestation and the destruction of animal habitats, especially the orangutan.

Palm oil is often an ingredient of confectionery, such as chocolate spreads, and is a highly refined product. Not the healthiest choice of oil, palm oil is still available and widely used.

Uses Of Palm Oil  

The significant advantages of palm oil are its lack of noticeable flavor and high smoke point, making it ideal for frying.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil surrounded by peanuts on a rustic table.

  • Ingredients: Peanut seeds
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 2.5g saturated fat; 5g polyunsaturated fat; 6g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 440-450°F (227-230°C) for refined oil; 320ºF (160ºC) for unrefined oil
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Peanut oil is popular in Asian cuisine, and you’re probably familiar with it as a component of stir fry.

As with most oils, peanut oil is available in both refined and unrefined quality. Unfortunately, much of the peanut oil you find in supermarkets is highly processed, bleached, and deodorized, making it bad for your health. In addition, refined and deflavored peanut oil is standard in the food industry for batch-frying French fries and fried chicken, hence their high calorific load.

The cold-pressed, unrefined oil is far healthier, full of heart-boosting and cholesterol-lowering fats.

Peanut oil remains dangerous to people allergic to these nuts.

Uses Of Peanut Oil  

Peanut oil has a characteristically bold taste, sweet and nutty, that flavors whatever you’re cooking. Refined peanut oil also has a very high smoke point, so it is ideal for high-temperature cooking, especially the stir-frying typical of Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Use peanut oil at home to make sautés and stir-fries and pan and deep-drying, grilling, and roasting. But try unrefined peanut oil to add a gentle peanut flavor to dressings and marinades and finish Asian dishes.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

A jar of pumpkin oil with slice of pumpkin and a bowl of pumpkin seeds on the background.

  • Ingredients: Pumpkin seeds
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 2.5g polyunsaturated fat; 9g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 225°F (107ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

This delicious and unusual oil is a nutritional powerhouse filled with vitamins A, K, and E and healthy fats.

Uses Of Pumpkin Seed Oil  

Pumpkin seed oil is a gorgeous green color and has a sweet, nutty flavor that adds brightness to any dish.

However, this oil has a very low smoke point, so its best uses are cold in salad dressing, dips, and marinades.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil beside a sack of sesame seeds.

  • Ingredients: Sesame seeds
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1.9g saturated fat; 5.6g polyunsaturated fat; 5.3g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 350-410°F (175-210°C) for regular sesame oil
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Like peanut oil, sesame oil is another favorite ingredient in Asian cuisine. There are two varieties of oil made from sesame seeds:

  • Dark sesame oil is made from toasted or roasted sesame seeds and has a more robust umami flavor.
  • Cold-pressed sesame oil derives from regular sesame seeds with a fresher, nuttier flavor.

Both varieties of sesame oil are as good for you as olive oil, filled with nourishing fats and antioxidants. Fans swear that sesame oil lowers blood pressure and blood sugar and even improves skin tone. It is very high in vitamin K, which is known to aid bone growth and blood clotting.

Uses Of Sesame Oil  

Sesame oil has a characteristic nutty flavor that can overwhelm a dish quite easily. For this reason, the oil combines well with other intense flavors in Asian cooking – soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.

Use conventional sesame oil for stir-fries, sautés, and Asian dips. Like other cold-pressed oils, sesame oil works well as a condiment in vinaigrettes, dressings, and marinades.

Shortening

Woman hands holding a can of Crisco vegetable shortening in the supermarket.

  • Ingredients: Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (e.g., corn, cottonseed, soybean)
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 3.5g saturated fat; 6g polyunsaturated fat; 2.5g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 360°F (180°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Vegetable shortening, most often just referred to as shortening, is solid, white-colored vegetable fat. Shortening is a popular alternative to butter in baking as it has a similar consistency and high melting point.

Uses Of Shortening

With its neutral flavor and 100% fat content, shortening is a good choice for baked goods, especially cookies, pies, biscuits, and piped frosting. You can also use shortening for tortillas and savory pancakes.

Shortening’s high melting point also means you can use it for frying.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Bottles of sunflower oil adorned with sunflowers.

  • Ingredients: Sunflower seeds
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 11g saturated fat; 1g polyunsaturated fat; 1g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 440°F (230°C)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

A popular, all-purpose oil, sunflower seed oil, is a kitchen stalwart with many beneficial side effects: it’s high in vitamin E, helps avoid heart disease by lowering cholesterol, and helps fight cancer.

However, like other oils, sunflower oil loses many of these health benefits when heated to high temperatures and can cause inflammation.

Uses Of Sunflower Oil

Because sunflower oil has a very high smoke point, it is suitable for searing chicken and fish, and pan and deep-frying. However, it’s also ideal for grilling and roasting.

Sunflower oil has a neutral taste, so it is acceptable for preparing any cuisine. Although it won’t add much flavor to salad dressings, it will give an immense vitamin E boost.

Truffle Oil

Truffle oil being poured on a pasta.

  • Ingredients: Olive oil (or other oil) infused with truffles
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): Will depend on the brand
  • Smoke point: Will depend on the base oil
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Truffle oil is a flavored oil, rather than oil made from truffles, a kind of fungus similar to a mushroom. Truffle lovers describe their flavor as earthy, garlicky, woody, and complex.

Truffles are highly prized in European cuisine and are extremely expensive, used sparingly in dishes like risotto or an omelet.

Unfortunately, much of the truffle oil you can purchase is synthetic, without any truffle as an ingredient. Avoid using these oils as they are not healthy or authentically flavored in any way.

Uses Of Truffle Oil

Genuine truffle oil has a spicy, rich aroma and taste. The oil has a very low smoke point, so it is delightful as a finishing oil on pasta, potatoes (especially fries), risotto, or eggs.

Walnut Oil

Walnut oil beside a sack of walnuts.

  • Ingredients: Walnuts
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 1g saturated fat; 2.5g polyunsaturated fat; 9g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 225°F (107ºC)
  • Storage: Cool, dark cupboard

Walnut oil makes a luxurious addition to your pantry and adds a nutritional boost to your diet. Walnut oil is high in iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and healthy omega oils and is known to lower blood pressure.

Uses Of Walnut Oil

Avoid heating this delicious, nutty oil as it becomes bitter. Use it sparingly on salads, as a finishing oil on pasta, and in smoothies.

Animal-based Cooking Oils

In earlier times, cooking oils were all derived from animal fats, and these remain popular with chefs and home cooks today for their flavor and richness.

Butter

Sliced butter on a wooden plate.

  • Ingredients: Butterfat and water
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 7g saturated fat; 0.5g polyunsaturated fat; 3g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 300-350°F (149-175°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Butter really needs no introduction. The royalty among fats, butter is the most luscious and gorgeous of fats, adding flavor, texture, and sweet creaminess to any dish.

Eaten in large quantities, butter is not the healthiest choice, but it is the best option for baking.

Uses Of Butter

Butter doesn’t have the highest smoke point and burns easily, so it is better for sautéing, gentle pan-frying, roasting, and baking.

Butter thickens and enriches sauces and is a basic for sandwiches and toast.

Cakes, cookies, biscuits, and pies are also all the more delectable when made with butter.

Duck Fat

A jar of duck fat on a white ceramic plate.

  • Ingredients: Duck fat
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 14g
  • Smoke point: 375°F (190°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Duck fat or schmaltz is the rendered fat from the meat of a duck. It is a luxurious, thick fat with a rich, gorgeous flavor. However, it is very high in calories and cholesterol so should be used for celebratory meals, rather than every day.

Uses Of Duck Fat

The most famous recipe using duck fat is confit, where the cooked duck cooks in fat. However, duck fat also makes lovely roast potatoes, pie dough and can be used for sautéing, frying, and roasting.

Ghee

Homemade ghee in a mason jar.

  • Ingredients: Clarified butter
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 15g
  • Smoke point: 450°F (230°C)
  • Storage: Cool room temperature

Ghee is a traditional staple of Indian cooking. Traditionally made by simmering butter until the water evaporates and the milk solids brown, ghee is a rich, brown butter oil with many purposes.

This milk-free dairy fat is becoming more and more popular as a butter-alternative as lactose-intolerant people can eat it.

Composed entirely of fat, as opposed to butter which is only 80% fat, ghee is still on the high-calorie side. However, its delicious, nutty flavor and creamy consistency make it a helpful butter alternative.

Uses Of Ghee

Ghee can substitute for butter in similar quantities, with the added advantage of a higher smoke point.

Another advantage of ghee is that it remains spreadable at room temperature, which is lovely for toast.

Lard

A bowl and spoonful of lards against a rustic table.

  • Ingredients: Pork fat
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 5g saturated fat, 1g polyunsaturated fat, 5g monosaturated fat
  • Smoke point: 370°F (188°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Once a commonly used fat, lard has fallen out of fashion with the development of plant-based cooking oils. This rendered pork fat can leave baked goods with a slightly savory flavor and is even less healthy than butter.

Uses Of Lard

Lard really comes into its own when making pastry, as it produces the lightest, flakiest pastry imaginable. However, lard is also appropriate for most cooking methods, including sautéing, pan and deep-frying, baking, and roasting.

Tallow

Close-up of tallow on a wooden chopping board.

  • Ingredients: Beef or mutton fat
  • Fat content (per tablespoon): 14g
  • Smoke point: 400°F (250°C)
  • Storage: Refrigerate

Tallow is rendered beef or mutton fat, also known as dripping. This fat can be safely stored at room temperature – although it is safest to refrigerate this solid fat.

Once a commonly used cooking fat, tallow’s fortunes have revived with the rise of keto and paleo diets. Tallow derived from grass-fed animals is now widespread, as it is high in healthy triglycerides.

Long a favorite of fast-food restaurants, tallow was the fat of choice for deep frying potatoes because of its high smoke point but has since fallen out of favor.

Uses Of Tallow

Like lard, tallow makes excellent pastry and flaky biscuits.

The high smoke point of this fat also means it is perfect for all kinds of frying and roasting.

References:

Healthline: 4 Healthier Cooking Oils (and 4 to Avoid)

Jessica Gavin: 22 Types of Cooking Oils and Fats