Oils ain't oils: your guide to which oil to use when

Some oils are best for deep-frying, others for flavouring, as Coles ambassador Michael Weldon explains. He shares his tips on making the most of every drop. 

collection of oils in glass bottles with herbs

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil has a stronger flavour than other oils and lower smoke point (the point at which it burns) so you need to be a little careful when using it. It works perfectly in pastas and dressings where you want the peppery and fresh flavours it gives.  

Best for: Salad dressings, lower-temperature cooking and finishing dishes with a fresh drizzle. 

Temperature: Medium/low heat.

Cooking tip: Drizzle over a finished dish to add a bright peppery flavour and give a dish some extra "wow". 

A bottle of extra version olive oil

Sunflower, peanut and vegetable oil

Due to their high smoke point and neutral fllavour these oils are perfect for frying or deep-frying. 

Best for: Deep-frying and stir-frying.

Temperature: High heat.

Cooking tip: The cleaner your oil when frying the cleaner taste you will get in your food so it's important to strain your oil if using it to fry with more than once.

 

A group photo of peanut, vegetable and sunflower oil

Sesame oil

Sesame has a lower smoke point so works much better for sauces, marinades or for drizzling over finished dishes. 

Best for: Seasoning and finishing dishes.

Temperature: Medium/low heat.

Cooking tip: Sesame oil has a strong aroma so goes perfectly on things like steamed vegetables or fish. If added when still piping hot it gives the dish an extra special nutty aroma. 

 

A bottle of sesame oil

Coconut oil

Best for: Slices and balls, also great for Southern Indian/Sri Lankan curries.

Temperature: Medium/low heat.

Cooking tip: Coconut oil has a great flavour and richness that can be used to give good texure to dishes.

 

A jar of coconut oil

Ghee

Ghee is essentially clarified butter. By removing the milk solids to form the butter the smoke point increases and makes it perfect for higher-temperature cooking. 

Best for: Indian cooking and high-temperature shallow frying.

Temperature: High heat.

Cooking tip: A lot of curries are started by frying off the aromatics and pastes in ghee. 

 

A jar of ghee

Chilli oil

Chilli oil is a best used without adding much heat because of its lower smoke point. 

Best for: Finishing dishes and adding heat to dishes.

Temperature: Low heat.

Cooking tip: Chilli oil is great for adding an extra little kick of heat dishes especially when not everyone likes its hot. Pizza, pasta and dumplings all benefit from a little drizzle of chilli oil.

 

A jar of chilli oil

Avocado oil

High in mono and polyunsaturated fats which are great for heart health. This is one of the healthier oils.

Best for: Salad dressings, lower-temperature cooking and finishing dishes with a fresh drizzle. Very similar uses to olive oil.

Temperature: Low heat.

Cooking tip: Avocado oil has a unique almost nutty taste and is great in salad. Definitely worth experimenting with in place of olive oil.

 

A bottle of Avocado oil