Best all-purpose cooking oil or butter
cooking oil or butter
Cooking without fat is possible but not fun. Not only does the fat provide the same flavor, but it also promotes browning, helps spices adhere, and prevents food from sticking to the pan. There are plenty of cooking oils on the market, but the average kitchen only requires a little.
You’ll need two, maybe three, cooking oils in your kitchen: something versatile but tasty, like olive oil; a neutral substance that can withstand high heat, like vegetable oil; and you might also want butter because butter is delicious (and suitable for frying).
How to choose general cooking oil
This is what you use to sauté vegetables, fry extra-crispy eggs, or whip up vinaigrette. You can even use high-quality all-purpose oil as a “final oil” and drizzle it over hummus, roasted vegetables, or light pasta. For most people, this oil is olive oil. Olive oil comes in many different forms, but as we’ve already mentioned, the following three are the most common:
“Regular” Olive Oil: The bottle says “olive oil” or “pure olive oil” in an attempt to transcend its status. It’s usually a blend of virgin and refined olive oil, which means that at least some of it has been thermally and/or chemically treated. It has a fairly neutral flavor and can be used in a number of different ways.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: If you’re one of the last generation of food bloggers, choose “EVOO.” This is unrefined, high-quality raw material with the most color, flavor, and antioxidants. It has a relatively high smoke point of 410°F, which means you can make salad dressings with it and use it to stir-fry and fry — but keep in mind that a good quality extra virgin olive oil will give you Everything brings flavor. Frying can be pretty expensive, considering the amount of oil required for frying.
“Light” oil: This oil does not lack calories but somewhat lacks flavor and color. It’s refined to have a smoke point of up to 465°F, so it’s safe for frying.
Another good all-around choice is avocado oil, which has a rich, grassy flavor and a higher smoke point of 520°F. (This makes it safe for any cooking, but given the price, I still wouldn’t recommend it for frying.)
How do you choose neutral oil?
Vegetable oil doesn’t have the same sexy reputation as its cousin, canola oil. Both have a relatively high smoke point of 400°F-425°F, are nearly odorless, and contribute little other than fat. In some cases, this is a good thing.
I like to use vegetable oil for grilling steaks (because it lets the meat speak for itself), frying (because it’s cheap), and even occasionally for making vinaigrette (when I want to bring out a non-olive oil flavor). If you want to taste the oil, choose something tasty like olive oil; if you want to taste the food and only the food, use vegetable oil. (Or Crisco, which is basically “vegetable lard” with a smoke point of 490°F.)
Benefits of cheap butter
A kitchen without butter is like eggs without salt—technically doable but not fun at all. There are two types of butter I prefer to use in the kitchen: cooking butter, which is affordable and salted, and snack butter, which is also salted but not cheap. Still, cheap butter is pretty good as a snack.
Salted versus unsalted butter
The issue of salted versus unsalted butter is a source of great controversy among cookbook authors. As someone who barely bakes, I really like salty things (because salt tastes so good), and on the rare occasions when I bake, salted butter has never given me a problem. However, if you’re watching the sodium content or want a slightly more refined roast, opt for the unsalted roast, which bakes and melts just as well (and even better browned) as the salted version.
Butter can be safely stored at room temperature for a reasonable period if room temperature itself is sufficient. Store a stick of butter in a butter container or butter jar in the refrigerator or freezer, and it will keep for three months to a year.
Use butter when baking, sautéing, and frying, but avoid high-heat cooking. Brown butter is beautiful, but burnt butter is not so pretty. In addition to cooking, it’s an excellent dressing fat; melt it over piles of potatoes, spread on toast, sprinkle on popcorn, or top a steak. If you want to avoid dairy, don’t eat these new kinds of margarine, which are often called “vegetable butter.” The name may be a bit annoying, but the taste is still good.