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What are the Best Oils to Use in Cast Iron Pans?

by Robin Hood | Last Updated:  April 17, 2021
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What are the Best Oils to Use in Cast Iron Pans?

When you’re cooking with a cast iron pan, you want to make sure that you are using the right oil. This will enhance the flavor of your food. So, what are the best oils to use in cast iron pans?

There are plenty of oils that you can use with a cast iron pan. As a general rule these are the most popular oils;

  1. Olive Oil
  2. Canola Oil
  3. Avocado Oil
  4. Refined Coconut Oil
  5. Grapeseed Oil
  6. Peanut Oil

While there is no perfect oil, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at some of these choices, so you can find the right one for your style of cooking.

What Should You Look For When Choosing Cooking Oil?

There are dozens of types of cooking oil for you to choose from. There are a few factors to consider before deciding which one will be best for you.

The Flavor

First, you’ll need to think about the type of food you are cooking. For example, peanut oil will have a different flavor than coconut oil. You’ll want to think about how well the flavors will blend.

The key to getting the right mix of flavors will require some experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try different types of oils with your recipes.

Smoking Point

Secondly, you’ll need to consider the smoking point. This is how hot the oil can get before it begins to smoke. Above this temperature, the oil will begin to burn. This can affect the flavor of the meal.

When the oil goes past its smoking point, it has the potential to start breaking down. This can be detrimental to your health. When this happens, the oil may begin to release carcinogens.

There are a few ways you can find the smoking point of the oil. For example, you might want to look online. Usually, a quick search will give you a good ballpark figure. If that doesn’t work, put some oil in the pan and heat it slowly. You’ll need to wait for the oil to start smoking. Check the temperature. This is the smoking point.

How Healthy it is

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you are using oils that are made from organic ingredients, rather than GMO materials. This has several health benefits. For example, fewer pesticides were used to raise these crops. This is better for the environment and will improve your health. Now that we know what to look for when choosing an oil, let’s look at some of the options that you can explore.

Olive Oil

Let’s begin by discussing one of the most popular types of oil. This has a long history and has been produced for thousands of years. As the name would suggest, it primarily consists of olives. The oil is squeezed out of the fruit, which forms a slurry. From there it gets refined, to make the smooth oil we are familiar with.

There are dozens of health benefits that can come from olive oil. For example, there are no chemicals used in the manufacturing process. It’s also low in Omega-6. This is a fatty acid, which can cause inflammation. But olive oil does contain plenty of anti-oxidants. This can help improve your heart health. Olive oil can also be a good way to protect yourself from strokes and type-2 diabetes. There is even the potential that it can protect you from some types of cancer.

Olive oil will be suited for most types of foods. The smoke point will depend on the type of olive oil you are using. Extra-virgin will have a smoke point of 374 degrees Fahrenheit. However, regular olive oil will be between 405 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Canola Oil

If you don’t want an oil that has a distinct flavor, you might want to try using Canola oil. This is made from the rapeseed.

This type of oil has some of the lowest levels of saturated fat. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be healthy. For example, it is very refined and is mostly made from GMO crops. There is also some evidence that regularly using canola oil can negatively impact your memory.

However, one of the biggest issues with using Canola oil in a cast iron pan is the low smoke point. The smoke point is around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, it won’t be suitable for dishes like stir fry.

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Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is one of the most popular types of oil. It has a great flavor. It’s made from the pulp of the avocado.

Like olive oil, avocado can be a great option if you are focused on improving your health. For example, it will be able to help you improve your cholesterol levels. This can be a good way to improve your heart health. It might also be able to help you improve your eyesight and prevent gum disease.

Avocado oil excels in the kitchen. As we mentioned, it can be a good way of providing more flavor to the food. It also has a high smoke point, around 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it the ideal choice for using with a cast iron pot, as you can get it nice and hot. Because of the high smoke point, almost anything can be cooked with avocado oil.

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Coconut Oil (Refined)

Coconut oil, though delicious, can often make people confused. There are a few different types of coconut oil on the market. At first glance, it can be hard to tell what separates each option.

It’s best to look for virgin coconut oil. This is much healthier than the alternative which is processed coconut oil. Processed coconut oil has been treated with solvents and high temperatures. This can destroy some of the good fats. Third, you might opt to use cold-pressed coconut oil. This is made from the flakes of coconut skin.

Cold-pressed coconut oil tends to be the best for cooking. But it will be the most difficult to find. You might need to make it yourself. The next best option is refined virgin coconut oil. The worst choice is processed coconut oil.

There are a few reasons why you might want to start using coconut oil when you are cooking. For example, it is one of the healthiest options. It has antioxidant properties. This might be able to improve your heart health. There is also some evidence that coconut oil has certain health benefits, helping protect you from viruses and bacteria.

For many cooks, though, the biggest appeal to using coconut oil is the high smoke point. It won’t start burning until it reaches 450 degrees. This makes it suitable for most meals. The flavor will complement a lot of foods. It can pair with anything from eggs to desserts like popcorn and baked cakes.

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Grapeseed Oil

Though it’s more of the obscure types of oils on this list, grapeseed is starting to grow more popular with home cooks. Grapeseed oil, as you might have guessed, is by pressing grape seeds. Solvents are then used to turn it into an oil.

Like many of the other oils on this list, grapeseed is a very healthy option. It contains double the amount of Vitamin E that can be found in olive oil. But it does have a high amount of Omega-6. This is an unhealthy fat, which has the potential to raise blood pressure. Because of this, it’s best to consume this oil in moderation.

Though it’s made from grapes, this oil has a neutral taste. This makes it a good alternative to canola oil. Another benefit is the high smoke point. You can cook it at 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Peanut Oil

Finally, peanut oil is a good choice for those using cast iron pans. Let’s start by talking about its distinctive taste. The nutty taste of this oil makes it a good choice for a range of recipes. It’s especially popular when making a stir fry.

The other big benefit of using peanut oil is the high smoking point. You can heat it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit without burning it.

The only potential downside of using peanut oil is the high amount of Omega-6. These are the fatty acids that have the potential to impact your health. On a positive note, it is a good source of Vitamin E. Because of this, it’s best to use it in moderation.

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What Oil Should You Use to Season a Cast Iron Pan?

Once you’ve seasoned your pan, you’ll be able to use whatever type of oil you want. But during the seasoning process, you’ll need to be a lot more selective. For example, you won’t be able to use olive oil or butter. This is because of their low smoking point. Whenever you heat the pan past this temperature, the seasoning will start to break down.

You’ll need to use vegetable oil. According to the experts, any vegetable oil will be suitable. Though, it’s best to use grapeseed oil. There are two reasons for this. First, it has a high smoking point. Secondly, it has low-fat content. Because of this, you will be able to get a smooth patina, which will last for a long time.

If you want a second option, you can use flaxseed oil. Though it has a low smoke point, it will dry out naturally. Though many people complain about its unpleasant odor. Another problem is its high price point and the lack of availability. To find it, you’ll need to look in specialty stores.

Final Thoughts

One of the joys of using a cast iron pan is its versatility. This is demonstrated by the wide variety of oils you can cook with. We’ve looked at several more popular options, though most cooking oils will be suitable for use with a cast iron pan. There is no one perfect variety of cooking oil. You’ll need to decide what one you are going to use based on its flavor and its smoking point. Hopefully, this quick overview will make it easy for you to find the best type of oil for your kitchen.