When it comes to cooking, many of my friends and family come to me for advice. One of the most common questions I get is what is the difference between canola oil and vegetable oil.
Unfortunately, many bad recipes out there blankly call for vegetable oil, and many novice chefs are very confused.
Let’s take a look at the answer to this question.
What is the Difference Between Canola Oil and Vegetable Oil?
Canola is a type of vegetable oil, and can be used anywhere vegetable oil is called for in recipes.
Vegetable oil is a blanket term used for almost any oil that is derived from a vegetable based source.
Further more, if you buy vegetable oil in the store, it will likely contain a blend of several oils and say lots of things like “and/or” on the label.
Some common vegetable oils are:
- Canola oil (which I really like)
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Palm Oil
- Corn Oil
- The list goes on and on
The list goes on and on and on. Virtually anything can be classified as vegetable oil.
Should You Avoid Vegetable Oil?
To me the answer is a resounding yes.
First of all if you have food allergies, or food sensitivities you must understand that vegetable oil is a blanket term that can apply to anything, and it is often sold as a blend.
Be sure to always read that label!
Besides allergy issues, the fact that any blanket “Vegetable Oil” is blended means you may see inconsistencies in your cooking and baking.
Basically, Vegetable Oil is whatever is cheapest the week it is made thrown into a bottle.
Are Vegetable Based Oils Bad?
Not necessarily. Each oil is processed differently, and it is up to decide which we like better from a flavor and health prospective.
Vegetable based oils are not inherently bad if they are a single source, say canola oil or corn oil.
It is when they get blinded together they become a problem, because again, you aren’t sure what you are using exactly.
I use canola oil all of the time for cooking, baking, and things like making pancakes. It is relatively flavorless and inexpensive.
I avoid many other vegetable oils due to food allergies in my home.
The other main oil I use is Olive Oil, which is once again, technically a vegetable oil, but I only use single sourced Olive Oil. It is great for just about everything, even frying!
The issue with olive oil, and many other vegetable oils is that is has a very strong flavor. So while it is nice for many things, like sautéing escarole, things where the flavor is warranted, it is not the best for things like baking when you a more neutral flavor.
How Do You Make Vegetable Oil
Great question! Vegetable oil is made several different ways. In many cases, the fruit or vegetable or nut is simply pressed to express the oil. This is one of the healthiest ways of making vegetable oil.
It is usually called cold press or just pressed. These are the vegetables oils you should look for.
These simple methods give you the best quality oil.
When you have to do things like press the oil in a different way or apply heat, you begin to lose many of the properties of oils that make them healthy.
The general rule of thumb is the more you have to process an oil to remove it from its source, the worse it is.
Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil
So to recap, canola oil is a type of vegetable oil.
Vegetable oil is a blanket term used for any oil from a fruit, vegetable, or nut.
While vegetable oil isn’t necessarily bad, you shouldn’t ever purchase a bottle labeled vegetable oil, as its contents will vary.
Be sure to purchase and use single sourced oils like canola oil and olive oi.