When Can You Swap Canola Oil for Vegetable Oil?

October 15, 2021

When you’re using oil for baking or frying, a recipe will often call for vegetable oil—but what exactly is in vegetable oil? Is it really made from vegetables? What about canola oil? Are canola oil and vegetable oil different? There are many questions surrounding this topic but not a lot of solid answers.

Here are some reasons why it can get confusing, as well as how to know when to use canola oil vs vegetable oil:

What is vegetable oil?

One of the most confusing things about vegetable oil is that it’s not always actually made of the same things. The term vegetable oil is really a catchall for plant-based oils that are light in color, flavor and have a high smoke point.

Vegetable oil is usually made from soybeans, but it can also be a mix of soybean, corn oil, cottonseed oil and, yes, canola oil. Sometimes it may be just one of these oils, and sometimes it may be a mix of all of them. They are easy to swap in and out for each other since they are all similar, refined, bland and light-colored oils. Check the label on your vegetable oil to see what’s in it.

That blandness and light color is what makes vegetable oil so popular for cooking. It doesn’t have much of an impact on the flavor of food, and its high smoke point makes it great for frying. Other oils like olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oils are stronger and may impact the flavor of your recipe, especially for sweet foods.

What is canola oil?

Canola oil is made from a plant called rapeseed, which is in the brassica family. The name was changed for marketing purposes long ago, and today we say it’s made from the canola plant. The name comes from the word Canada, where the plant grows wild, and ola, for oil. The canola plant is a result of crossbreeding to remove toxic chemicals that occur naturally in heirloom rapeseed plants—a process that has made it safe for human consumption.

This oil is made like most other seed-derived oils, though some claim it is a healthier alternative than vegetable oil. While the jury is still out on this debate, there are some types of canola that are definitely healthier than others.

For example, non-GMO, expeller-pressed canola oil is one of the most popular varieties on the market right now. Expeller-pressed oils do not require the use of chemical solvents during production, instead relying on a screw press to extract the oils from the seeds.

The GMO angle is another concern to consider. Most crops in the United States contain some sort of genetic modification. Foods labeled as organic or non-GMO do not. The long-term effects of GMO crops on the environment are not fully understood, though it is widely accepted that they are not harmful to humans when ingested.

When you’re trying to decide how to know when to use canola oil vs vegetable oil, as far as the food is concerned, you should be fine to use them interchangeably. When you need the best cooking oils of any variety, check out Liquid Manufacturing Solutions, Inc. today.

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