The 7 Best Cooking Oils of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Boost the nutrition of your cooking with the right oil

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Our Top Picks
"It's non-GMO Project verified, Certified Paleo, Whole30-Approved, and gluten free."
"This brand uses an expeller press to extract oil from the peanut plant, which keeps oils free of harsh chemicals."
"A high heat cooking oil, it can withstand temperatures above 450 degrees."
"It is the highest standard of olive oil with a maximum acidity level of 1 percent."
"This is an oil perfect for vinaigrettes, marinades, and finishing dishes like soups or roasted vegetables."
"This oil is USDA organic, non-GMO verified, gluten-free, and kosher."
"This is best used as a medium-heat cooking or baking oil."

Cooking oils are not created equal, and in today’s world, there are many different oils and thousands of brands to choose from. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced home chef, it is important to have a few different oils in your kitchen.

When shopping for a new oil you will first want to consider smoke point. The smoke point of an oil is exactly what it sounds like, it is the temperature at which an oil will begin to smoke and start to break down. As oil starts to break down, it becomes more oxidized which can influence the taste and nutritive value of the oil.

In general, refined oils are better for higher hearts and unrefined oils are best for low-medium heats. In addition to smoke point, it is important to consider the nutritional value of an oil and how often you will be using it.

From the more familiar olive oil to the lesser-known flaxseed oil, here are our top picks for cooking oils:

Best Overall: Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil

You do not have to be an avocado fan in order to fall in love with avocado oil. Avocado oil takes our pick for the best overall cooking oil because of its versatility and mild taste. It's known as a good oil for high heat cooking because its smoke point is above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Avocado oil is also an excellent oil for salad dressings and marinades, thanks to its mild flavor.

Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil is cold-pressed and is refined using centrifuge extraction and processing without heat. Non-GMO Project verified, Certified Paleo, Whole30-Approved, and gluten-free, this brand of oil is also filled with a whopping 10 grams of monounsaturated fats per serving.

Best Budget: Spectrum Unrefined Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from the seeds of the peanut plant. Refined peanut oil has a high smoke point (460 degrees Fahrenheit), whereas unrefined peanut oil has a lower smoke point (390 degrees F). Spectrum’s Unrefined Peanut Oil is an excellent choice among peanut oils because it is higher in nutrients and taste than its refined counterparts.

While refined and unrefined peanut oils are excellent lower price oils that can be used for various cooking methods, if you're looking for an oil to fry with, it is best to use refined peanut oil. Spectrum's Unrefined product is perfect for lower heat cooking or finishing dishes with a hint of delicious, nutty flavor.

Unlike other budget-friendly vegetable oils (soybean, cotton, or sunflower seed), peanut oil has a higher amount of monounsaturated fatty acids. In addition, it is low in saturated fat. Spectrum uses an expeller press to extract oil from the peanut plant, which keeps the oil free of harsh chemicals.

Best for High Heat: Napa Valley Naturals Organic Safflower Oil

If you enjoy grilling, frying, and broiling at high temperatures, you are going to want an oil that can take the heat. Safflower Oil is a high heat cooking oil that can withstand temperatures above 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Safflower oil is naturally high in omega-6 fatty acids and is often modified to be high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which is where the term “high-oleic” comes from. Omega 6 fatty acids are commonly found in vegetable oils and these naturally-occurring fats tend to be more abundant in American diets compared to omega 3 fatty acids.

Napa Valley Naturals uses organic safflowers to produce their safflower oil. Poured and packaged into eye-catching wine bottles, this oil is both a practical and attractive addition to your kitchen pantry.

Best Olive Oil: Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The olive oil section of the grocery stores can be incredibly overwhelming. Between different origins of olives, labels of certification, and labels like “extra virgin” and “cold-pressed,” it can be challenging to feel confident in your purchase. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil is our top pick for the best olive oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest standard of olive oil with a maximum acidity level of 1 percent. Colavita’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Certified OU kosher and North American Olive Oil Association Certified (NAOOA). The NAOOA conducts the nation's largest and most complete olive oil testing and certification program, ensuring purity and quality.

Good to Know


It's important to note that olive oil is not a high heat oil. This product is best used for finishing dishes, making dressings, or cooking over low-medium heat.

Best Organic: Pompeian USDA Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pompeian USDA Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is perfect for vinaigrettes, marinades, and finishing dishes like soups or roasted vegetables. A blend of olives from Tunisia, Spain, and Morocco is used to produce this delicious, savory oil. In addition to being USDA Organic, Pompeian Olive Oil is also North American Olive Oil Association Certified (NAOOA).

When purchasing olive oil, the bottle must be dark to protect the oil from light, which can lead to rancidity. For this reason, Pompeian’s Olive Oil is packaged in a thick, dark green plastic bottle that is BPA-free.

Olive oil does have an expiration date, but shoppers can extend the life of olive oil by storing it in the refrigerator. The oil will become cloudy and solidify in the refrigerator, but this will not significantly affect the quality or flavor. When the oil is warmed to room temperature, it will return to a liquid state, and its color will be restored.

Best Heart Healthy: Barlean's Organic Oils Fresh Organic Flax Oil

Many vegetable oils tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are celebrated for their heart health benefits. Though there are many forms, the three most popular are ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is an essential fatty acid meaning our bodies cannot make it so we must get it from food.

Flaxseed contains the highest amount of ALA, which has been shown to have a positive impact on cardiovascular disease. Barlean’s Fresh Flax Oil is an excellent, omega-3 rich product that is USDA organic, non-GMO verified, gluten-free, and kosher.

Customers can enjoy flaxseed oil directly from a spoon or mixed into oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies. Barlean’s Flax Oil comes fresh, cold-pressed, and protected from air and light in a dark bottle. It is best to store this product in the refrigerator.

Good to Know

It is important to note that flaxseed oil is not a cooking oil, as it has a low smoke point. It's best to use it as a "finishing oil" that contributes to taste and health benefits.

Best Coconut Oil: Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil

Nutiva Coconut Oil

Nutiva’s Organic virgin coconut oil is best used as a medium-heat cooking or baking oil. Using an all-natural cold press extraction process, this oil maintains all of the rich nutrient properties of coconut without dangerous and harmful chemicals, hexane, or heat.

When it comes to the risk versus the benefits of coconut oil, the jury is still out. Though coconut oil may help stabilize blood sugar, protect brain health, and manage weight, it is still high in saturated fatty acids that should be moderated to protect heart health.

Nutrition aside, you can feel good using Nutiva’s products as they are a certified B corporation and one percent of their sales goes towards regenerative agriculture.

Final Verdict

Primal Kitchen's Avocado Oil (view at Thrive Market) takes our pick for the best overall cooking oil because of its versatility and mild taste. Known as a good oil for high heat cooking (meaning its smoke point is above 400 degrees Fahrenheit), avocado oil is also an excellent oil for salad dressings and marinades, thanks to its delicious, mild flavor.


What to Look for in Cooking Oil

Smoke Point:

Oils with a smoke point of 400 degrees or higher are best used for grilling, frying, broiling, or cooking at high heat. Vegetable oils like peanut and safflower are examples of high heat oils. In addition, refined oils will usually withstand higher temperatures. For baking or cooking at temperatures of 400 and below, an oil with a medium smoke point will be fine. For some oils like flax and extra virgin olive oil, we recommend saving those for dressings, smoothies, salads, or to use as a flavor enhancer. 

Nutrition:

For overall health, the best oils are those high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are known to be heart-protective and reduce systemic inflammation in the body. Keep saturated fats to a minimum and avoid trans fats.

What Experts Say

"When you're cooking, it's important to consider what oil is appropriate for the specific dish. Olive and avocado oils are two pantry staples that I use frequently for their health benefits. Avocado is best for the higher heat, while olive oil is my go-to for lower heat cooking and salad dressings."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit

The products listed in this roundup are items that Sydney Greene, as a registered dietitian and avid home cook, has in her own kitchen as well as items that she would recommend to her clients, friends, and family. Each oil has been vetted for quality. She has also read through reviews and product comparisons to choose items that stood out for price and likeability. 

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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