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What’s The Deal With All of Those Oils?

We rescue all sorts of high-quality cooking and finishing oils but if you’ve ever been left scratching your head when it comes time to use them—or which one to buy in the first place—we’ve got you covered.

Extra Virgin

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) must be mechanically cold-pressed without the use of chemicals to be considered virgin. Depending on the variety of olive used, its color can range from yellow-gold to deep green. Its flavor isn’t as mild as you think—quality olive oil can have a little peppery kick. That’s why we liked it added to dressings, used for low-temp sautéing, or for dipping bread.


Made from pressed rapeseeds, canola oil can handle high heat so it’s usually a go-to for deep frying. Plus, it has a mild flavor that gives it a wide range of use. Use it for sautéing, baking, and frying, but skip it when it comes to dressings and sauces since it doesn’t add much flavor.


This neutral-flavored oil is made from (you guessed it) sunflower seeds. Like the seed itself, it’s high in vitamins and minerals. Its higher smoke point makes it a great choice for roasting and frying. It can go rancid fairly quickly so be sure to store it in a cool, dry place.


Vegetable oil can be made from any mix of different oils including soybean, corn, safflower, and more. It’s a staple in baking because of its neutral flavor and goes well in cooked dishes where you don’t want to mask the flavor of the ingredients.


Extracted from dried coconut meat, coconut oil is solid at room temp. With a lower smoke point, use it for quick-cooking at lower temperatures, or for adding to baked goods and smoothies for extra creaminess, a subtle tropical flavor, and a boost of healthy fats.


With one of the highest smoke points of any oil, this one deserves a spot in your pantry. Beyond high-temp cooking like roasting and searing, it’s great for adding avocado-y flavors to dressings.


Be on the lookout for two varieties of this neutral-flavored oil: regular, which has a high polyunsaturated fat content that helps it remain liquid at cold temps and is ideal for dressings; and high-oleic varieties that are better for high-temp cooking like deep frying and roasting.


If you’re looking for an all-purpose cooking oil, reach for non-toasted sesame oil since it has a fairly neutral flavor. To add rich, nutty flavor to dishes like stir-fries, or to craft a strong sesame-flavored dressing, use the toasted variety.