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Canola Oil in The Professional Chef's Kitchen

Canola Oil Takes the Heat

It's the go-anywhere, do-anything oil. Canola oil excels at just about everything a chef asks it to do. And because its flavor is so clean and mild, it easily crosses borders. You can prepare Mexican food with it or Thai, Indian, Chinese, Tunisian or Brazilian foods because it doesn't have a strong ethnic identity. If you can have only one oil in your kitchen, make it canola.

Here's why:

  • High heat tolerance. Canola is an exceptionally stable oil that doesn't smoke or break down at high heat, so it's ideal for searing, sautéing and deep-frying. Its smoke point — the temperature at which it begins to smoke and lose frying quality — is 468° F (242° C). That's well above the smoke point for olive oil and above ideal deep-frying temperatures (365°-375° F or 185°-190° C). An oil's smoke point drops after every frying. That's why it's wise to choose a frying oil-such as canola-with a super-high smoke point so you can use it repeatedly with minimal quality loss. No smoke, no smell. That's just good economics.

    If you deep-fry a lot in a commercial kitchen, take a look at high-stability/high-oleic canola oil, pressed from specialty canola varieties. Its high-oleic acid content makes it resistant to oxidation and to breaking down under heat. Its smoke point (475°F/246°C) surpasses even that of standard canola oil. So you get even longer fry life and cost savings. High-oleic canola oil also extends the shelf life of food products made with it.

    In 2006, Texas A&M University did a French fry test with 10 trans fat-free oils (three of them were high-oleic canola oils). Researchers fried 300 batches of French fries in each oil (who ate all those fries?) and reported that all the oils performed as well or better than partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which contains trans fat. None of the trans fat-free oils even came close to the end of its fry life after 300 uses. And tasters preferred the fries prepared in trans-free oil over those fried in partially hydrogenated oil.


  • Fluidity. Canola oil remains fluid in the refrigerator, so vinaigrettes, marinades and salad dressings can be used straight from the fridge. No need to wait for them to warm so you can pour them. That's because of the high unsaturated fat content of canola oil.


  • Neutral flavor. In many dishes, you want the oil to have just a background presence, not a dominant flavor. Canola oil stays in the background, so it works in global kitchens where cooks may make pad Thai for lunch and skirt steak fajitas for dinner.

    Culinary Oil Smoke Point
(°F)

(°C)

Sunflower High-oleic 478 248
Canola High-oleic 475 246
Peanut 471 244
Canola 468 242
Safflower High-oleic 468 242
Sunflower 464 240
Corn 453 234
Soybean 453 234
Safflower 446 230
Grapeseed 435 224
Olive Processed 428 220
Extra Virgin Olive 331 166

Optimal deep frying temperature:
365-375°F (185-190°C)
Source: CanolaInfo.org

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