The Best Cooking Oils, According to a Dietitian

The dietitian-approved Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil is incredibly versatile

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Cooking oils are a versatile ingredient that allows you to fry and bake foods, dress up a salad, and much more. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced home chef, it is important to have a few different oils in your kitchen. The best cooking oils have the right smoke point for your dish and are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Reviewed & Approved

The Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil is our top pick because of its versatility. We also like the Spectrum Unrefined Peanut Oil since it's nutritious and affordable.

Which cooking oil you choose will largely depend on what type of dish you are cooking. In general, refined oils are better for higher heats 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. We reviewed various cooking oils, considering their smoke point, nutritional value, quality of ingredients, and price.

From the more familiar olive oil to the lesser-known flaxseed oil, here are a dietitian's best picks for cooking oils.

Best Overall: Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil

Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil

Courtesy of Amazon

This avocado oil from Primal Kitchen takes our pick for the best overall cooking oil for its versatility. It's great for high heat cooking, like grilling, broiling, and baking, because its smoke point is above 400 degrees, and it's an excellent oil for salad dressings and marinades, thanks to its mild flavor.

Cold-pressed and refined using centrifuge extraction and processing without heat, this oil is filled with a whopping 10 grams of monounsaturated fats per serving. It's also Non-GMO Project verified, Whole 30 approved, and keto- and paleo-friendly. While this version comes housed in a glass bottle, you also have the option of buying a spray version.

Best Budget: Spectrum Unrefined Peanut Oil

Spectrum Unrefined Peanut Oil

Courtesy of Amazon

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

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 than 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

Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Courtesy of Amazon

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%. Colavita’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Certified OU kosher and North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) certified. The NAOOA conducts the nation's largest and most complete olive oil testing and certification program, ensuring purity and quality.

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

Courtesy of Amazon

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 certified by the 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

Barlean's Organic Oils Fresh Organic Flax Oil

Courtesy of Amazon

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.

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) is 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 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 can usually withstand higher temperatures. For baking or cooking at temperatures of 400 and below, an oil with a medium smoke point is fine. Save oils like flax and extra virgin olive oil for dressings, smoothies, and salads, or to use as a flavor enhancer. 


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you dispose of cooking oil?

    When frying or using a large amount of cooking oil at home, take steps to dispose of it safely. If you pour cooking oil down the sink, it can cause blockages and sewer back-ups. 

    To dispose of your cooking oil at home, cool it to room temperature after cooking, pour it into some kind of durable container like a drink carton or take-out container, and throw it away in your regular garbage (not compost or recycling). You can also pour the cooled oil into a bag and freeze it before throwing it out.

  • Can you reuse cooking oil?

    Yes, you can reuse cooking oil if you follow a few rules. Use an oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or peanut, so the oil doesn’t break down.

    Next, when using the oil, ensure you keep the temperature as consistent as possible throughout the whole process. A good high-heat thermometer is a useful tool for this.

    After frying, filter your oil before storing it for reuse. Pour it through a cheesecloth to take out any leftover bits of food and other impurities. Cool the oil to room temperature and store in the refrigerator.

    Don’t reuse your oil too many times. You will know it’s time to discard the oil when it looks thick and changes to a darker color.

  • How long does cooking oil last?

    An unopened bottle of cooking oil can last up to two years if stored in a cool, dark place. Once opened, oil should be used in two to three months. The best way to tell if your oil has expired is by any off appearances, colors, or odors. 

  • How do you get cooking oil out of clothes?

    An oil stain on clothes has to be one of the most dreaded laundry challenges. When possible, act quickly to give you the best chance of success. First, blot out any excess oil with a paper towel. Next, pour baking soda in a thick layer over the stain and let it sit for a few hours. Brush the baking soda out with a toothbrush, then rinse with dish soap and water.

    If you don’t have access to baking soda or the stain has set into your clothes, go straight to dish soap. Pour dish soap over the stain and work it in with your fingers.  Let it sit for a few hours and rinse with warm water. 

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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5 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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