Many people are looking for a substitute for cooking with sunflower oil. Olive oil is by far the best option: it’s very versatile, has many health benefits, and is usually very easy to find. However, there are many other alternatives, each with their own unique flavor, aroma, and uses. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to sunflower oil substitutes here.
What is sunflower oil?
Sunflower oil is a type of vegetable oil that is primarily used for cooking, especially for frying, baking, and roasting.
What is it made of?
Sunflower oil is obtained from pressed sunflower seeds. It usually comes in three varieties: organic, cold-pressed, and high-oleic sunflower oil, which means it has been modified to be higher in oleic acid. This increases the “good” monounsaturated fat content and makes it more heart-healthy.
Is sunflower oil good for health?
Compared to many other alternatives on the market, sunflower oil is very nutrient dense and is therefore good when consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Sunflower oil is not bad at all. It can be cooked with it and used in salads, although it is best eaten in moderation as the oils are still fatty and therefore high in calories.
Sunflower oil does not contain gluten. In addition, it has a high content of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that not only protects the health of our cells, tissues and organs, but also helps maintain our immune system.
It contains phytochemicals such as choline and phenolic acid and is trans fat free.
Additionally, research shows that sunflower oil can effectively lower our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, factors that promote heart health.
Substitutes for sunflower oil.
Olive oil generally contains the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats of all cooking oils.
It comes in two varieties:
- extra virgin olive oilwhich comes from the first pressing of the olives and is therefore more fruity in aroma, tastier in flavor and richer in antioxidants.
- Virgin olive oil, a more refined version from the second press that is lighter on the palate. Both varieties have a smoke point of 210°C, which makes olive oil work best for low-temperature cooking like stir-fries.
Best for: Dipping on bread and using in salad dressings.
Traditionally, “vegetable oil” was a term reserved for soybean oil, but today it mostly refers to a blend of several oils.
It is made up of polyunsaturated (61%), monounsaturated (24%) and saturated (15%) fats, although it does contain some omega 3.
Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor and doesn’t have much aroma, but its smoke point of 220°C makes it a very versatile oil for high heat cooking.
Ideal for: frying vegetables and fish.
Peanut oil has a sweet, nutty flavor and aroma.
It is packed with vitamin E (a single tablespoon provides 11% of the recommended daily allowance), although its percentage of saturated fat is higher than that of other vegetable oils.
Peanut oil has a smoke point of 227°C and does not absorb flavor from foods cooked with it. It is therefore perfect for Asian-inspired dishes.
Ideal for: curries and stir-fries.
This neutral-tasting oil comes from the rapeseed plant.
It has the lowest level of saturated fat of all cooking oils (7%) and is one of the few good sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s relatively inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways, from baking and roasting to dressing salads. It has a smoke point of (204°C).
Ideal for: cakes and barbecues.
Walnut oil is rich in texture and flavor.
It comes from pure ground, dried, cold-pressed nuts and is packed with antioxidants, omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats.
It can become bitter when heated, so it is best reserved as a finishing oil or in cold desserts.
Best for: Drizzling over fish or ice cream.
Coconut oil comes in two varieties: refined and unrefined (also known as virgin coconut oil).
Both types have a mild topical flavor, although refined coconut oil is more commonly used for sautéing and cooking thanks to its smoke point of 177°C.
On the other hand, unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 200°C, which makes it more suitable for frying.
With only 117 calories per tablespoon, coconut oil is a great low-calorie alternative to many other oils you might have on hand.
It is rich in antioxidants and is often used as a butter alternative for vegans and vegetarians, as it works great in cold desserts.
Ideal for: raw chocolate and slices.
As you might expect, avocado oil is extracted from the fruit of the avocado tree.
It has a pleasant herbaceous flavor which decreases in intensity when heated.
It contains high levels of carotenoids, lutein, vitamin E and phytosterols and is ideal for roasting and grilling as it has a high smoke point of 271°C.
Ideal for: Roasted vegetables and grilled meats.
Butter is known for its delicious flavor, creamy texture, and to enhance the flavor of any ingredient cooked in it.
It is rich in vitamins A, E and K and contains many healthy saturated fats.
The downside is that butter is high in calories and tends to burn easily when heated due to its low smoke point of 177°C.
Ideal for: cookies and cakes.