For many dishes, the flavor of the cooking oil you use doesn’t matter, and anything in the kitchen will do.
However, some dishes require oil with an almost neutral flavor.
How oil tastes to you may not be the same as how it tastes to me; however, some oils are almost flavorless.
Oils that have been highly refined, even olive oil, have less flavor than other oils and are a good choice if you need tasteless cooking oil.
To learn which oils are considered flavorless, read on.
Which oils are considered flavorless?
Every oil has a bit of a flavor. However, those with the least flavorful include vegetable oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil. However, as with all foods, what one person thinks is tasteless, another might not. Therefore, the oils you consider flavorless are the best to use in your daily recipes. However, the list of flavorless oils includes canola (rapeseed) oil, which has a flavor for many who use it.
Why do you want a flavorless oil?
Also called ‘neutral oil,’ some recipes call for flavorless oils.
For example, when baking, oil is rarely used as a flavor in loaves of bread, cakes, pastries, and tasteless oils are called for.
The same can be said for salad dressings and even sauces.
Oil with flavor will impart those flavors to your recipe and may not be the flavor you are looking for in your finished product.
Flavorless oils are often blended oils, and vegetable oil usually has a high percentage of refined soybean oil as the main ingredient.
Thus, vegetable oil has a minimal flavor and can be used for frying because of its high smoke point.
It is also great for baking because it has minimal flavor, so it does not fight the flavors in the other ingredients of your doughs and batter.
Why do you want an oil with flavor?
The three oils with the most flavors are coconut oil, sesame oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Some recipes call for these oils, and sesame oil is used in Asian dishes and dressings because of its nutty flavor.
Olive oil is also used in salad dressings, and many people use it in place of other oils for its health benefits.
Coconut oil maintains the flavor of its origins and is an excellent replacement for shortening or butter in cookie recipes.
All of the flavorful oils have their uses.
However, if you are making a vinaigrette or cooking other dishes you want to have a particular flavor, beware of substituting any of the above-flavored oils for a flavorless oil.
That is, except for extra virgin olive oil.
Although the less expensive brands of this product have a floral odor and flavor, the clearer the oil, the more it has been refined, and the less taste it will have.
Therefore, if you want olive oil to use every day, and one as a backup for your recipes, purchase the lightest colored olive oil you can buy.
The best flavorless oils
Vegetable oil and canola oil are the best flavorless oil you can use. It is economical, has little flavor, and has a high smoke point.
The smoke point is the temperature at which oil will go from shimmering to smoking.
The higher an oil’s smoke point, the better it is for frying, stir-frying, and sautéing. The oil smoke point ranges from 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 520 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vegetable oil has a smoke point of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avocado oil, one of the few oils made from fruit, and sunflower oil have smoke points of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
These oils are used for dishes that require extremely high heat.
Any flavorless oil will work for baking when vegetable oil is called for in a recipe.
Are flavored oils more expensive than flavorless oils?
Vegetable and canola oil are both flavorless and are two of the most economical oils you can use in your kitchen.
Safflower, sunflower, and corn oil are also flavorless and economical to use.
However, of all the flavorless oils, peanut oil is the most expensive, and has a smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit and is excellent for frying.
On the other hand, sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil can be more expensive than flavorless oils, except for peanut oil.
This is primarily because they are more highly refined, taking time and more processes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Which Oils are Considered Flavorless
Do all flavorless oils have the same smoke point?
They do not. However, all flavorless oils have a smoke point of over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making them excellent for frying.
Are flavorless oils the least expensive?
They tend to be because they are made from common ingredients like soybeans and corn. However, flavored oils are made from more exotic, expensive ingredients.
Using oils considered flavorless is best for most recipes
Unless you are making sesame chicken or require coconut oil for a batch of cookies, it is best to use flavorless oil for most of your recipes.
They are less expensive, do not change your dishes’ flavor profile, and are versatile.
For those unique dishes, like sesame chicken, small amounts of flavored oils like sesame and olive oil are nice to have on hand.
However, they usually come in smaller quantities, as they are generally used in smaller amounts in home and commercial kitchens.
Flavorless oils will work for almost all of your recipes. Flavorless oils also cost less and will work best for your cooking needs.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.