If you are trying to or want to cut down fat intake from your diet and still enjoy the delicious food, air fryers are the best to go for.
Whether you like it roasted, fried, baked or grilled, you’ll have the perfect taste with very little fat consumed.
Practically, air fryers tend to achieve the taste of stir-frying consuming the least fat needed.
So, you have plenty of choices for oils to use with air fryers. But, not every oil is best for health and not every oil is recommended for air fryers.
How to make the right choice?
The choice of oil for air fryers can be crucial and many considerations can filter your choice.
- Smoke Point: As the name suggests, the smoke point is the temperature at which the oil on cooking stops to shimmer and starts to smoke. Higher this point, better the oil for an air fryer. A smoke point above 400F is considered a high smoke point. The air fryers work at high temperatures (350F to 450F). So, only the oils that have a high smoke point can retain the taste and nutritional value of the food being cooked in an air fryer. It is essential to choose high smoke point oils for air fryers because low smoke point oils will not be able to withstand the high temperatures of the air fryer and will breakdown into free radicals that can cause oxidative damages to your body.
- Flavor: Some oils have their characteristic flavor. Hence, it depends upon the dish being planned to cook, what kind of flavor would it go best in or needs no flavor from the oil. Sesame oil, coconut oil impart savory flavor to the final dish. So, this choice is purely dependant on the dish and the chef. Some oils are good for high heat cooking, some may need to go directly in the salads and there may be some need for their intense flavor and taste that you may need to inculcate in your culinary.
- Refined oils: After the extraction, any oil can either be packed at the same time or refined and processed, filtered and heated to remove volatile components and then packed. The ones that are packed in their natural state retain their original taste, flavor, enzymes, minerals and other nutrients. These are called unrefined or raw or virgin oils. But, they have a low shelf-life and lower smoke point as compared to the refined versions of the same oils. Even the taste of refined oils is neutral.
- Health benefits with good and bad fats: Every oil contains a mixture of different kinds of fats. Some are good and are essential for health benefits. While others are bad and can add to the taste but at the cost of health. Saturated fats are the ones that solidify at room temperature while unsaturated fats remain in the liquid form at normal room temperature. There’s a type called trans-fatty acids that are bad and can elevate cholesterol levels beyond normal. Monounsaturated fatty acids are also good and the best ones are the polyunsaturated fats. They contain Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil have a high content of these acids.
- The preservative used: The high smoke point refined oils that you may go for your air fryer maybe containing preservatives to increase their shelf-life by preventing them to go rancid. Make sure the oil you pick is free of BHT, or butylated hydroxytoluene which imparts undesirable effects to health.
- GMO presence: GMO is the abbreviation for genetically modified organisms. Making the choice depending upon the extraction of oil from organic or GMO seeds does not have enough supporting shreds of evidence since the product has been generated using the technique of bioengineering. So, it can be your personal choice, but not a recommendation. Pure organic oils are free from GMOs.
By choosing the right oil for your air fryer, you can cater to all your culinary skills efficiently with health and gourmet delight both in striking balance.
Here’s our pick on the top 10 best oils for air fryers:
With the smoke point 520F, refined avocado oil is an ideal choice for any air fryer. If you care for a healthy heart, then this is your perfect pick owing to the high concentration of beta-sitosterol fatty acids and lutein.
More than 50% of avocado oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids. This makes it better than saturated fatty acids as well as it becomes less prone to oxidation. These good fats reduce the clogging of the arteries.
If you already have an air fryer or are looking forward to buying one, you are conscious about your waistline not getting increased.
Again, Avocado oil has a high concentration of another good fat classified as Oleic acids which can help you lose weight.
With smoke point 5100F, it is yet another ideal oil for your air fryer. It is also a source of monounsaturated fats, the oleic acids which are good ones and are good for health. Its taste is also neutral.
So, you won’t have to worry about the taste of your delicious cooking getting affected by the odor of the oil. Safflower oil comes in two different varieties, one is rich in linoleic acids and the other one is rich in oleic acids.
While choosing your cooking medium for an air fryer, we recommend you to buy the safflower oil with high oleic acid content. This is because these are rich in monounsaturated fats which makes them ideal for cooking at high temperatures.
Its smoke point is 490F and is, therefore, good to go with your air fryer. With neutral taste, it can go into any dish. The shelf-life of rice bran oil is also long. So, you can keep it intact even if you buy a bigger pack.
With a high level of tocopherols, this oil can take place on the shelf of your kitchen for its health benefits too. The presence of more Vitamin E as compared to other oils make it a suitable choice if you want to unveil the benefits of its antioxidant properties.
And why just Vitamin E, one of the most essential vitamins for our general well being is B.complex and rice bran oil is a rich source of Vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6. So, out of 12 B vitamins, it has 4 in it and hence, a healthy choice.
Its smoke point is 465F. Olive oil is available in a variety of grades.
While choosing your air fryer, go for the light olive oil since it has the highest smoking point as compared to other grades of olive oil. For light and crispy texture to the foods like French fries or chicken wings, the light olive oil can be your perfect pick.
Olive oil is considered as the heart-healthy oil owing to its multifaceted nutritional benefits. It is rich in monounsaturated fats and polyphenolic compounds.
The presence of these essential compounds in the cooking oil decreases the cardiovascular risks, improves lipid profile, reduces blood clots and even cancer, as suggested by some researchers.
Antioxidant properties of the oil can help fight the damaging free radicals.
The taste of extra light olive oil is completely neutral. So, the flavor of the dish will not be altered by the presence of this oil.
Its smoke point is 450F. Peanut oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids and can be considered as a good choice unless you are allergic to peanuts.
Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil can be a healthier choice over refined vegetable oils owing to the presence of phytosterols and Resveratrol. 50% of the fats in peanut oil are monounsaturated fats. It is also fortified with the goodness of Vitamin E that adds to the antioxidant properties.
The flavor is slightly nutty that adds delicacy to the dish and makes it ideal for cooking Asian cuisines.
It has a high content of Omega-3 fatty acids which are very good and also essential for a healthy cardiovascular system.
It helps in keeping the lipid profile in equilibrium. It is also known to enhance immunity. Even the tough foods can get easily digested by cooking them in flaxseed oil owing to the presence of digestive enzymes in the oil.
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are mostly achieved with sea-food. But, by using flaxseed oil as the cooking medium, you can achieve similar benefits even with vegetarian foods.
Another health benefit offered by flaxseed oil is that it increases the production of collagen, which is very essential for the strength and structure of the body.
Be it bones or muscles, tendons or joints or even skin, collagen is essential and its production in the body decreases with aging. So, it needs to be supplemented from outside dietary sources.
And what can be better than having it consumed as a part of food rather than resorting to dietary supplements?
#7. Sesame oil:
Its smoke point is 450F, ideal for an air fryer. As far as the health benefits of Sesame oil are concerned, it is often called the “king of oils”. Owing to the presence of high amounts of antioxidants, the Vitamin E, sesame oil is less prone to rancidity adding more to its shelf-life. It has a unique taste and flavor. So, it can be used when this flavor is needed to be added to enhance the taste of any particular dish.
#8. Sunflower oil:
The smoke point of Sunflower oil is 440F which makes it again a worthy choice for high heating air fryers. Being a rich source of Vitamins E, B1, B2, B6, D and K, it also has antioxidant properties and forms a rich source of multivitamins all in one. The strengthened immune system is one of the key benefits you can get using sunflower oil in your cooking. Rich in good fats and having zero cholesterol, it also provides benefits for a healthy heart. Selenium is a micronutrient but essential for good health and there are many medical conditions associated with its deficiency. So, employing sunflower oil for cooking can supplement to those needs.
#9. Ghee or clarified butter:
Its smoke point is also high, 482F. Apart from its health benefits, it adds taste to almost every food. It is made by clarifying butter off the bad fats. Even in Ayurveda, ghee made from cow’s milk is recommended to be the best source to bring a state of equilibrium amongst various elements in our body. Though ghee consists of saturated fatty acids, the ones in ghee made from cow’s milk are short-chain fatty acids making them suitable for a healthy heart. It can be easily digested and also help in the production of a variety of hormones essential for normal body functioning.
#10. Grapeseed oil:
Its smoke point is 420F that makes it a subtle choice for an air fryer. As far as the nutritional value is concerned, it contains Vitamins A, E, and K adding antioxidant properties to the oil. The content of saturated fatty acids is low in grapeseed oil while it has a high content of good fatty acids, the linoleic acids. Apart from its suitability for an air fryer and nutritive importance, it also adds taste to the food.
So, next time you choose the oil for your air fryer, go through our checklist and make the right pick. Be a culinary expert by choosing the specific. Oil choices can be endless but a perfect and wise choice can be made only by a smart and health-conscious chef.