Cooking Oil Smoke Points

I recently took a French cooking class and was blown away by how delicious our dishes tasted despite how simple they were to create. Specifically, the seared salmon. Our instructor noted that not only are the ingredients a key factor, but so is using the appropriate cooking oil for the required heat of the pan.

I’ll confess, I basically either use coconut oil cooking spray or a tablespoon of whatever EVOO
I have laying around to coat my pan… and call it day. 

Fascinated by my newly acquired culinary skills (just call me Ina f*cking Garten!) I made it point to understand how I could parlay these skills across different proteins and cooking methods. After all, when you’re trying to eat clean fresh ingredients and technique can take a dish from bland to next level. Set yourself up for success with the heat index and oil cooking guide below.


  • Heat: High
  • Cooking method: The goal is to heat protein as rapidly as possible to promote browning. Heat it until it just starts smoking, then add your protein
  • Oil: Peanut, corn, vegetable, avocado oil

Sautéing or Baking:

  • Heat: Medium
  • Cooking method: Heat oil until at most, lightly smoking, and then add your ingredients. Also good for baking because the flavor is on the neutral side
  • Oil: Virgin olive, canola, coconut, soy oil


  • Heat: High
  • Cooking method: Only use a thin coat of oil to cover your food—the idea is to brown ingredients while keeping it crisp and fresh. High heat, nice and quick
  • Oil: Peanut, canola or safflower oil

Dips or Dressings:

  • Heat: None
  • Cooking method: Use for sauces, dips, dressings or anything else you wouldn’t use for the above
  • Oil: Flaxseed

There you have it. Who knew?!


One Comment

  1. Pingback: Cool Sh*t to Share, Vol. 12 – Among Other Things

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *