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What type of oil is best for an air fryer?

oil being measured for air fryer cooking

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We often get the question as to what type of oil is best to use in an air fryer. There are many different types of oil readily available to consumers now. Everything ranging from regular ol’ canola or vegetable oils, varying qualities of olive oil, and the more premium oils such as avocado and coconut— and that’s just scratching the surface! While we all have our favorite oils for added flavor and health benefits, you must also consider which type of oil is best for the high temperatures of your air fryer.

Why Do I Need Oil In An Air Fryer?

Didn’t we buy air fryers so we wouldn’t need to use oil when preparing foods? I know I did! But realistically, I know that’s not always the case. Foods with little to no fat (e.g. lean chicken breasts, unprocessed potatoes, tofu) tend to dry out and stick to their cooking pan at high temperatures. So spraying or misting those items and the cooking basket with oil before putting them in the air fryer will help alleviate those issues. Processed foods like frozen tater tots and frozen french fries were manufactured with oil so they won’t suffer the same fate and can be prepared in the air fryer without added oil.

Smoking Points Are Key When Using An Air Fryer

Because your air fryer works most efficiently at high temperatures (between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit), it is important to choose an air fryer oil that will retain its health properties at high temperatures while also adding your favorite flavors to all your air fried foods.

Why are smoking points important when using oils?

Basically a smoking point for oil is the temperature at which it will burn or smoke. Oils with lower smoking points like olive oil and extra virgin olive oil (smoking point of 380 degrees) will lose many of their great nutritional benefits when cooked at high temperatures.

The good news, however, is that you can still enjoy some of your favorite oils in the air fryer.

In fact, the best oils to use in your air fryer are avocado oil, extra light olive oil, peanut oil and sesame oil.

 

Best Oils for Your Air Fryer

OilsBurning/Smoking Points
Avocado Oil 520 °F
Extra Light Olive Oil468 °F
Peanut Oil441-445 °F
Sesame Oil450 °F
Safflower Oil (Refined)510 °F
Sunflower Oil486-489 °F
Clarified Butter (Ghee)482 °F
Mustard Oil480 °F
Palm Oil455 °F
Soybean Oil453 °F
Canola Oil (Rapeseed) (Refined)400 °F
Canola Oil (Rapeseed) (Pressed)428-446 °F
Corn Oil (Refined)446-460 °F
Rice Bran Oil450 °F
Almond Oil430 °F
Vegetable Oil428 °F
Cotton Seed Oil446 °F
Sunflower Oil (Refined)450 °F

 

Best Oils for Added Flavor

While certain oils are best for higher cooking temperatures, you must also consider your favorite flavors when cooking in your air fryer. For example, you wouldn’t want to use avocado oil when cooking coconut shrimp or prawns. Since prawns cook at a lower temperature, high-quality coconut oil (which has a smoking point of 350 degrees) will work in the air fryer to enhance the flavor of the prawns and coconut coating used in that recipe.

You can also use infused oils, like cayenne-infused olive oil, which is great for making spicy dishes, and some of the fruit flavored oils are fun to use for fish or chicken. However, you should always remember to refrigerate infused oils, especially if you add the spices yourself rather than buying pre-flavored store-bought varieties.

Use Higher Quality Oils

While they are more expensive, higher quality oils are more flavorful, have added health benefits, and require lower quantities.

One of the many benefits of using an air fryer is that you do have the option to use a much higher quality (and therefore higher priced) oil than you would when deep-frying. Though it does come with a heftier price tag, it’s actually more cost-effective to use a tablespoon or two of a premium oil than it is to fill a whole deep-fryer with the stuff.

With that, my own preference is to use a high-grade cold-pressed extra light olive oil in most cases. It’s readily available, has plenty of health benefits, and leaves the air-fried food with a light, crispy texture. However, when using your air fryer at a high-temperature setting, be sure NOT to use regular or extra virgin olive oil as those have a much lower smoking point than light or extra light olive oil. Avocado oil is my second choice for many of the same reasons and I use it to change things up a bit sometimes.

How Can I Use Less Oil When Air Frying?

Our two favorite tips for using less oil when air frying are:

  1. Perforated parchment paper liners
  2. Oil misters

Parchment paper liners for air fryers are our favorite air fryer accessory. These liners are inexpensive, help prevent food sticking to the air fryer basket and make clean up easier. Especially when cooking low fat foods like those mentioned above (chicken breasts, unprocessed potatoes, tofu), it’s always a good idea to use an air fryer liner.

When you use an oil mister (we’ve reviewed the CHEFVANTAGE mister and The Fine Life mister), you have total control over the contents, unlike what you get with non-stick cooking spray. You can be very targeted with your oil mist and also evenly distribute it on the food you’re cooking. This allows you to use only what’s needed and controls the amount of fat you’re adding.

Choosing the Best Oil

AirFrying.net’s best advice?

Consider flavor, temperature and health benefits when selecting an oil to use with your air fryer. Experiment and have fun! Let us know in the comments below what type of oil is your favorite for air frying. Below are our recommendations for some oils to try or check out our Amazon shop for even more options.

 


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