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4 different kitchen oils and what I use them for

I don’t fancy myself an oil person (if there’s such thing as an oil person), but I have at least graduated from one-oil-for-everything to a collection of different oils each with a designated purpose.

Here’s what I’ve got in my cabinet and why…

Coconut Oil

This is the Mother Oil in my house and I use it frequently but sparingly.

Because it’s extremely high in saturated fat, there is some debate about coconut oil’s heart healthiness. But unlike other solid at room temperature saturated fats (like butter and lard), coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that some studies suggest are easier to metabolize and ultimately healthier to consume than short- or long-chain triglycerides.

Because I eat a mostly vegan diet that’s otherwise very low in saturated fat as it is, I don’t worry about moderate coconut oil consumption.

What I use it for:

  • Sautéing and roasting vegetables — Like olive oil, coconut oil has a distinct taste so I use it on purpose when I want the food to take on the flavor. I love it for roasting carrots.
  • Pan-frying chickpeas — I do this all the time, like probably 3 nights a week.
  • Making chocolate — Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, you can melt it down, mix it with cocoa powder and then cool it to make various chocolate creations. I use this method for almond butter cups.
  • Coffee — I add a teaspoon with my creamer and then froth it up in the blender every morning.
  •  Lotion — Beyond the kitchen, I also have a separate industrial-sized tub of coconut oil in my bathroom that I use as face and body lotion.

Olive Oil

I am on a major olive oil kick right now. It used to be the only oil in my house and I used it for cooking absolutely everything but now I save it for adding flavor to raw produce or food that’s already been cooked.

What I use it for:

  • Salad dressing — I like to mix up olive oil with herbs and lemon juice as a quick salad dressing.
  • Dipping bread — I eat a 1-2 pieces of toast doused in olive oil and salt every morning. It’s fine.
  • Drizzling over, uh, everything — Help me.

Avocado Oil

This is a relatively new one for me.

I like to roast vegetables on aggressively high heat (425 degrees) so I needed something with a high enough smoke point to handle that kind of unforgiving environment.

Coconut oil smokes around 350 degrees and olive oil can get up to around 400 degrees. Avocado oil, on the other hand, has a smoke point of 520 degrees, the highest of any oil in existence, I do believe.

Why do smoke points matter? Aside from trying to avoid smoking out your house, avoiding an oil’s smoke point is important because that’s where it starts to break down and release harmful, potentially carcinogenic compounds.

What I use it for:

  • Roasting at aggressively high heats — Looking at you, crispy brussels sprouts.
  • Searing or sautéing at high heats — You’d be ok to sauté with coconut oil or olive oil if you keep the burner around medium heat, but sometimes I like to crank it up to get a nice char and that’s where avocado oil is preferred.

Coconut Oil Spray

Last but not least, I have my coconut oil spray, which I use when my other oils are just too heavy for what I’m trying to do.

This is the secret to my perfect golden-brown baked and sautéed tofu and crispy-not-soggy roasted potatoes.

I like this particular spray [affiliate link] because it’s just coconut oil — no fillers, additives or propellants.

What I use it for:

  • Sautéing tofu — Works like a charm.
  • Roasting potatoes — Liquid oils always make my potatoes soggy.
  • Greasing cookie sheets and waffle irons — Duh.

2 Comments

  1. This is super helpful. My sister gifted me avocado oil as part of a cool kitchen Christmas gift and I didn’t know what to do with it at first, haha!

    • Katie Katie

      Glad it helped!

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