Cooking oils are used in a variety of different cooking techniques including frying, sautéing, roasting and baking.
Frying something in oil means that you will get a better heat transfer than frying without, as a layer of oil conducts heat.
Cooking oil also adds flavour and texture to a meal, as well as keeping the food from sticking to the pan.
Not just used for cooking, oils can also be used for salad dressings, soups, marinades and dipping sauces.
Which cooking oil should I use?
There are so many different cooking oils available that it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to picking one to use.
Some oils are best for certain methods of cooking, some are best for certain types of cuisine and then there are also some healthier alternatives.
Each of these cooking oils also has different health and nutritional benefits and so your choice should also take this into account. As well as the dish that you are planning to make and the method of cooking you are going to use.
The cooking oils that we use are usually made with natural ingredients from fruits, seeds and nuts.
Oils which are made from seeds
Sesame oil: Derived from whole sesame seeds, sesame oil and toasted sesame oil can be used in cooking and as a dressing on salads. It has a distinctive nutty taste which makes it great for use with stir fries. It is also perfect for both deep and shallow frying.
Flaxseed oil: Flaxseed oil is a great source of nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. You cannot cook with flaxseed oil but you can use it in salad dressing, sauces or dips, in place of vegetable oil. Because of its health benefits, you can also add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to smoothies or shakes. Or you can even just take a spoonful on its own.
Grapeseed oil: This oil has a light flavour and texture, making it extremely versatile. It is a really good choice of oil for use in frying and when making your own homemade mayonnaise and makes a good substitute for olive oil.
Oils which are made from fruits
Coconut oil is a healthy alternative to other oils to use when cooking and it is multi-talented!
Not only can you use coconut oil for cooking and baking, you can also use it as a moisturiser, hair mask, lip balm!
As with all oils, you should use coconut oil in moderation in your cooking.
Organic coconut oil is perfect for cooking with very high temperatures and has been used in South East Asian cuisine as a staple ingredient for many years.
It also adds flavour to dishes, making it perfect for stir fries and curries. Extra virgin coconut oil or pure coconut oil is 100% raw pressed coconut oil and because of its purity, there is virtually no smoke when it is used in cooking.
Made from every brunch-goer’s favourite fruit, Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is versatile and full of nutrients, including monounsaturated fatty acids.
Avocado oil has a subtle buttery taste and is great for drizzling on salads, as a dipping sauce and in cooking, as a straight swap for olive oil.
Hellenic Extra Virgin Olive Oil has an intense aroma and a sweet taste.
It is perfect for dipping bread into and drizzling over salads – great for a Mediterranean evening! It has a low smoking point compared to other oils and is therefore better used in cold dishes.
Oils which are made from nuts
Organic walnut oil: Not only does this walnut oil have a great nutty flavour with a hint of praline, it also contains omega-3.
Although walnut oil cannot be used for cooking, it is great as an ingredient in a range of seasonings and sauces.
What are infused oils?
Infused oils consist of a main carrier oil (for example olive oil) which is infused with herbs.
You can use infused oils instead of adding more herbs and spices and they are great for adding flavour to meats, fish and vegetables, without the need for multiple herbs and spices.
Infused oils also make for a tasty salad dressing or dipping sauce.
We have a quality range of cooking oils at Holland & Barrett that offer a healthier alternative than normal cooking oils. Whether it is coconut oil or sesame oil, most of our cooking oils are suitable for vegans and come in a variety of brands and sizes.