Whenever I used to fry anything, I always used olive oil. It doesn’t matter what it was or what temperature I was cooking at – for some reason, it was always olive oil!
As I learned more about cooking and realised that actually, olive oil is actually not suited to cooking at high temperatures, I started to look at alternatives.
It wasn’t long before I discovered peanut oil, sold on its ability to withstand the heat and the health benefits it provides.
All was well in my kitchen until one day when I was going to be cooking for a friend who had a pretty serious nut allergy.
I needed to find something different and, already wary of using olive oil, had heard that vegetable oil was a good replacement. I went and bought a bottle, using it in my cooking that night.
The results…weren’t good. This oil was cheap, all purpose stuff and it really felt like it. Whilst the meal wasn’t ruined, it certainly wasn’t as good as I knew it could be.
That experience led me to spend time looking for the best substitute for peanut oil – one that could tolerate high temperatures without giving off smoke, one that wouldn’t negatively impact the taste of my food.
Read on as I share with you the results of my search for the best peanut oil substitute.
What is Peanut Oil?
As the name suggests, peanut oil is a type of vegetable oil that is made from the seeds of the peanut plant.
As a cooking oil it has a high smoke point of around 450°F. This makes it ideal for cooking methods that involve high temperatures such as pan-frying, roasting, searing and sautéing. It’s also great for drizzling over salads as part of a salad dressing.
One significant advantage of cooking with peanut oil is that it is tasteless, odorless and doesn’t absorb flavors from the food cooked in it. This means that your foods retain their flavor even if you cook different types of food in the same batch of peanut oil.
Aside from its versatility in the kitchen, peanut oil appeals to many people because it offers a variety of health benefits.
Despite possessing some undeniably good qualities, peanut oil is not without its downsides. It is very high in omega-6 whilst at the same time being low in omega-3. Diets that are high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 are linked to health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Another major disadvantage of peanut oil is the potential to trigger extremely harmful peanut allergies. Whilst it is ok to use if you know for sure that nobody you’re cooking for has a nut allergy, you should steer clear of using it if you can’t be certain that every member of your dining party is allergy-free.
Can you Substitute Vegetable Oil for Peanut Oil?
The good news is that there is a wide variety of alternatives to peanut oil available on the market. With any recipe that calls for peanut oil, you can swap in one of these replacement vegetable oils instead.
As mentioned previously, I advise that you avoid using generic ‘vegetable oil’ as a substitute. This is because it is usually a blend of different oils such as palm, corn or canola. It’s typically quite cheap and rarely of good quality.
Instead, I’ve put together this list of our favorite substitute oils based on my own research and experimentation. Whether you don’t have any peanut oil to hand, are cooking for somebody with an allergy or simply want to experiment, there’s a wide variety of substitutes for peanut oil for you to try.
IMPORTANT! Like peanuts, the ingredients used in the production of some of these vegetable oils can trigger potentially life-threatening allergies. Before using any oil it is vital that you ensure that nobody you’re cooking for is allergic to the core ingredients.
8 Best Peanut Oil Substitutes
Sunflower oil is extracted from pressed sunflower seeds. It’s low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats whilst also being a source of vitamin E.
Like peanut oil, sunflower oil has a high smoke point of around 450°F. This makes it a great option to use when cooking at high temperatures.
A key advantage that sunflower oil offers over many others is that it has a long shelf life when stored properly. When kept in a cool, dry place and away from sunlight it can last up to a year without turning rancid.
Canola oil is one of the best peanut oil substitutes to use when baking. This is because it does not have a strong flavor, so there is little risk of the oil overpowering the taste of your food.
As well as possessing a very high level of healthy unsaturated fats, including important omega-3s, canola oil also has less saturated fat than any other oil that is commonly used in cooking. Whilst concerns have previously been raised about the levels of erucic acid in canola oil, it is recognized as safe by the FDA and the amount of erucic acid contained is well below harmful levels.
Canola oil has a moderately high smoke point of 400°F so is suitable for most applications in the kitchen. It is also a great base for homemade salad dressing.
Ah, the humble avocado. Its explosion in popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, and its oil just happens to be a great substitution for peanut oil.
Avocado oil is unusual in that it is one of the few vegetable oils that isn’t made by pressing seeds. Instead, it is formed by pressing the fleshy pulp inside the fruit.
Because it is made from the inside of the fruit, rather than the seed, avocado oil offers a variety of different health benefits. It is rich in oleic acid, a fatty acid which has been shown to be good for heart health. Avocado is also a source of lutein, an antioxidant which is important for eye health. Unlike peanut oil, avocado oil is also relatively low in omega-6 so is a more healthy oil for everyday use.
Whilst it doesn’t taste like avocado (a good or bad thing, depending on your preference!), the oil has a mild nutty and buttery flavor. It’s very mild but adds a pleasing note to any food you cook with it.
Avocado oil possesses a very high smoke point of around 520°F so is ideally suited for all cooking uses including deep frying.
Though it can be very expensive, walnut oil is a great healthy alternative to peanut oil.
Because the oil is made by pressing whole walnuts, walnut oil comes with many of the nutrients and health benefits of the whole nut. It is a great source of vitamins C, E, B1, B2 and B3. Additionally, walnut oil contains niacin which promotes good brain health.
Walnut oil is not recommended for cooking at high temperatures as it tends to become bitter when exposed to high heat. Instead, it is best suited for use with food that has already been cooked. For example, it makes a great drizzle over salads and can be used to make some delicious sauces.
A by-product of the wine making process, grapeseed oil is extracted from leftover grape seeds. As each seed only yields a tiny amount of oil, it takes an incredible one ton of grapes to produce just 3 liters of grapeseed oil! Because of this, grapeseed oil can be one of the most expensive peanut oil alternatives on our list.
Grapeseed oil is almost completely flavorless and as a result is a great option for baking.
Though it has a high smoke point, grapeseed oil should be avoided if you’re deep frying because of the expense and amount of oil that deep frying requires. Instead, I recommend using it for applications that require a smaller amount of quality oil such as searing and sautéing.
This oil extracted from the seeds of the soybean plant is a great peanut oil alternative if you’re after a more healthy replacement.
Soybean oil is a great source of healthy fats including polyunsaturated fats and fatty acids including omega 3 fatty oleic acid and stearic acid.
Because it has a similar smoke point to peanut oil, around 450°F, soybean oil is well suited for many of the same applications. Unlike peanut oil though it is flavorless, meaning it might not be the best replacement if you’re looking for an oil that adds flavor to your food.
It’s important to note that people who have an allergy to peanuts are highly likely to also be allergic to soy. As a result, this isn’t a good substitute for peanut oil if anyone you’re cooking for has a nut allergy.
Inexpensive, versatile and easy to use, corn oil is one of the best commonly used cooking oils available and can serve as a good substitute for peanut oil.
Corn oil is easily digestible and has a slightly nutty flavor which has led to it being widely used as a key ingredient in a wide variety of food.
The smoke point of corn oil depends on the variety that you use. Refined corn oil has a smoke point that is directly comparable to peanut oil: 450°F. On the other hand, the unrefined version has a much lower smoke point of 320°F. The oil you choose should be determined by your need. Whilst refined corn oil has a higher smoke point, the process of refining removes the oil’s taste and aroma. If you want to retain the nutty flavor and aren’t frying your food, unrefined corn oil is your best bet.
Corn oil contains huge amounts of omega-6 – at a ratio of 46:1 to omega 3. As a result, you should only use corn oil in moderation rather than with every meal.
Made by crushing the seeds of the Safflower, safflower oil is a peanut oil substitute with a high smoke point of 510°F. In terms of heat tolerance safflower oil is second on this list only to avocado oil, and is ideal for deep frying, roasting, searing and sautéing.
A key advantage that safflower oil has over peanut oil is that it is tasteless. This means that it does not impact the flavor of your food when cooking – ideal if you’re not a fan of the nutty flavor imparted by peanut oil or some of the other alternatives in this list.
Because it doesn’t have a flavor of its own, safflower oil is well suited for baking.
Safflower oil should be stored in a cool, dark environment else it can quickly spoil.
What is the Best Peanut Oil Replacement?
If I had to plump for my favorite from this list, I’d choose to use avocado oil. Its high smoke point, array of health benefits and slightly nutty taste make it not only a worthy replacement for peanut oil, but also a challenger for my favorite oil to use when cooking.
However I appreciate that avocado oil isn’t the cheapest and the high price tag can be off putting to some. If avocado oil isn’t for you, I recommend you check out canola oil. It’s inexpensive and is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a healthier oil to cook with.
The right choice for you very much depends on what you’ll be preparing. If you’re going to be deep frying food, opt for an oil with a high smoke point. If you’re after something more delicate, grapeseed oil could be the one for you.