One question that I get asked a lot is “What are the best oils to use for sautéing?” Invariably, people ask me about canola oil and olive oil, and while you can use olive oil at, say, 300-degree temperature for sautéing, it’s really easy to go over the edge and ruin your oil.
What happens is, that when an oil starts to smoke it becomes a trans fat. Trans fats are like hydrogenated oils which are not good for you and add inflammation to your body. So when you’re smoking an oil, instead of just pulling it off of the heat and letting it unsmoke, you need to toss it and start over because you have created a very dangerous chemical. That’s exactly what it is at that point. It’s no longer a good working oil. You need to get rid of it and start over.
But there are better oils than olive oil for cooking with and one of the best ones is coconut oil. Coconut oil has a 350-375 degree cooking temperature. That’s about medium to high heat on your stovetop. Everything can cook on medium to high heat and the coconut oil does not burn until you really crank it up. But coconut oil is not the best one for cooking at higher temperatures.
Believe it or not, ghee is the best. You can get up to a 450 degrees smoke point on this one. Now, the difference between ghee and butter, of course, is that ghee is just a butter oil. All the milk solids, the casein, and lactose and everything, they’re all gone and so you’re just left with the oil and that’s why it’s basically a rendered fat. It’s an animal fat so it works really well. The other one, believe it or not, the best one is avocado oil. 520 degrees is the smoke point for avocado oil. It’s expensive and my suggestion is that you go easy with it. I do not recommend ever deep frying anything but a little oil for some sauté, absolutely. That’s what makes food taste delicious. So I hope this helps you, that you’ve got your smoke points down and you know how to safely cook with good oil.