Deep-fried foods have always been popular and they always will be.
There are many different choices when it comes to filling your deep fryer with oil. These oils vary greatly in their nutritional value, their stability and cost. This article will guide you to make the best selection of oil for your deep frying needs.
How Deep Frying Works
The ideal temperature for deep frying foods is 350-375 degrees F. Deep frying involves submerging food in this hot oil, cooking it’s surface almost immediately. This forms a type of seal that the oil cannot permeate. The heat from the oil turns the moisture inside the food into steam which cooks the food from the inside. If the oil is not hot enough, oil will seep into the food making it soggy and greasy. If the temperature is too high, it can dry out or even burn the food and damage the oil.
The Stability of the Oil
Not all oils are created equal, some can withstand much higher temperatures than others. Ideally, we would choose oils that have a high smoke point, meaning they won’t oxidize at high temperatures, and that are high in saturated fats. Oils that are high in saturated fats are more stable when heated.
Polyunsaturated fats tend to react with oxygen when heated and form harmful compounds with exposed to high heat. Try to stick to oils that are mostly saturated fats and monounsaturated.
Good Choices for Deep Frying
Coconut oil is the best choice overall. It is very stable, deteriorating very little even after 8 hours of cooking at 365 degrees F. 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, making it resistant to the heat. Additionally, coconut oil can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses, and may even help you lose belly fat! Just make sure to look for a brand that is light in flavor and smell, as some varieties an leave a coconut aftertaste.
Animal fats are also excellent choices for deep frying. This includes lard, tallow, ghee and drippings. They are mostly made up of saturated and monounsaturated fats, making them very resistant to high heat. They also taste great and add crispness to the food they fry. Make sure to use animal fat from animals that have been naturally fed, as they are known to contain a lot more polyunsaturated fats. DO NOT use butter for deep frying unless it is clarified butter or ghee as butter contains milk solids that will burn and effect the taste of the food and the quality of the butter.
Olive oil is a very healthy fat and is a good choice for deep frying. It is very high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are highly resistant to heat. However, the flavor and fragrance of olive oil may not hold up well when heated for a long time.
Avocado oil has an extremely high smoke point of over 500 degrees F and is primarily made up of monounsaturated fats, with some saturated and polyunsaturated fats mixed in. It has a slightly nutty taste which is a good choice when deep frying.
Palm oil consists mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, making it a great choice for deep frying. The flavor is quite neutral, especially the unrefined variety know as red palm oil. The only downside is there are concerns about the sustainability of harvesting palm oil
Peanut oil has the most neutral flavor of all the popular oils used in frying. It also has a high smoke point of about 445 degrees F. However, it’s high content of polyunsaturated fats makes it vulnerable to oxidative damage at high temperatures.
Oils That Should Never Be Used for Deep Frying
These oils are extracted from seeds and need to go through very harsh industrial processing methods. They are high in polyunsaturated fats and contain toxic trans fatty acids. Not only should these oils be avoided for deep frying, they should be avoided all together.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Soybean Oil
- Corn Oil
- Canola Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Rice Bran Oil
- Grape Seed Oil
- Sunflower OIl
- Sesame Oil
- Vegetable Oil
Using these oils for deep frying will result in large amounts of oxidized fatty acids and harmful compounds.
Don’t Deep Fry Too Often, It Adds Fat and Calories to Your Food
Extra calories and fat typically come from any batter used plus the oil that absorbs to the food after cooking.
- Deep-fried chicken wing: 159 calories and 11 grams of fat
- Roasted chicken wing: 99 calories and 7 grams of fat
To minimize the extra calories and fat, be sure that the food is cooked at the right temperature of the right amount of time, and choose the right kind of oil or fat to fry them in.
It is true that with the wrong oils deep-fried food is most definitely bad for you. But with the right oils, you can enjoy the occasional deep-fried treat without the guilt.