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Why Oil Smoking Points Matter

By Kathleen Brennan Published

Want to know which oil to use for a cooking application? Check out its smoking point.

The smoking point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and break down. Because food cooked in oil that has reached its smoking point can acquire a burnt, bitter flavor, it’s important to know if an oil’s smoking point is appropriate for your intended cooking method. (If you’re not heating the oil for a recipe, its smoking point is irrelevant.) Smoking points can range from a low of about 325 degrees to a high of about 520 degrees. The exact smoking point of an oil is determined by the volume of free fatty acids it contains; the more free fatty acids, the lower the smoking point. Generally speaking, vegetable oils have fewer free fatty acids than animal fats, and refined vegetable oils have fewer free fatty acids than unrefined ones. Oils with a smoking point of 400 degrees or higher are more versatile for a range of applications and can be used for high-heat cooking methods such as searing, stir-frying, and deep frying. 

Although the exact smoking point for each type of oil can vary due to fluctuations in composition, volume, and the environment, among other things, the following numbers are good guidelines.

All About Oils

Here’s everything you need to know about selecting and using cooking oils.

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JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.