The Best Substitutes for Vegetable Oil

Find the best swap for high-heat cooking, baking, dressings and more.

August 03, 2020
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Photo by: Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images

Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images

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By Regan Burns Cafiso for Food Network Kitchen

When your recipe calls for vegetable oil and you discover you're out, you may find yourself peering into the pantry looking for a replacement. But guessing at kitchen swaps can be a slippery slope! Luckily, there are many common ingredients that make a great substitute. It all depends on what you're making.

Best Vegetable Oil Substitute for High-Heat Cooking

As a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, vegetable oil is perfect for high-heat cooking techniques like frying, stir-frying and searing, which require temperatures of around 375 degrees F. Depending upon the brand, vegetable oil can withstand heat up to around 450 degrees F. Any higher and it starts to break down and visibly smoke, imparting unappealing flavors.

If you don't have any vegetable oil on hand, you can substitute another neutral high-heat oil. Canola, safflower, peanut or grapeseed oils are all great choices. Refined versions can reach even higher temperatures than unrefined ones. (Check the label if you're unsure about what you have.) If you just need a little oil to sweat onions or other vegetables, you can use olive oil, which has a lower smoke point (around 350 degrees F) but is fine in smaller amounts. Don't try to deep-fry with extra-virgin olive oil, however, it will smoke and burn before reaching temperature, wasting the expensive oil.

Best Vegetable Oil Substitute for Baked Goods

Vegetable oil adds moisture, richness and tenderness to baked goods like quick breads and cakes. You can swap the vegetable oil for an equal measure of safflower or canola oil with zero difference in flavor. But baked items don't require fats with a high smoke point, so feel free to try a more flavorful oil like olive or coconut. They will alter the taste of your dish slightly, but this could be a selling point if you enjoy them. (Have you ever tried olive-oil brownies or coconut-oil chocolate chip cookies?) Melted butter also works as a 1:1 swap for vegetable oil in baked goods — try browning the butter for even more flavor!

If you are cutting calories or fat from your diet, here's another great sub for vegetable oil: In baked goods, replace up to half of the vegetable oil with plain unsweetened applesauce. The applesauce adds moisture without any fat for a significant reduction in calories.

Best Vegetable Oil Substitute for Dressings, Vinaigrettes and Mayonnaise

Vegetable oil is great in homemade dressings and mayonnaise because of its mild flavor. These recipes usually don't require any heat, so feel free to substitute nearly any other type of oil. Use a blend of neutral oil like canola or safflower along with your pricier and more flavorful oils like extra-virgin olive oil, pistachio, walnut or sesame to balance their assertiveness and make them last longer.

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