You'll often find sunflower oil being used as a canola oil substitute. This is one of the oils closest in flavour and profile, however there are quite a number of other oils out there, and even a few non-oils, that you can use as a healthy substitute for canola oil.
With a myriad of oils on the market these days, it can get pretty confusing which ones are best for various cooking and food preparation. When it comes to finding an oil substitute or other substitute for canola oil, first of all you need to be clear on what you need the substitute for.
Some oils are great for salad dressings, others not so. Some are great at high heat cooking such as deep frying, and then others such as olive oil, just don't hold the heat to give you a good fry. When it comes to baking muffins or brownies, you don't want an oil too full of flavour – and you may even consider other non-oil substitutes instead. This guide will help you decide on a suitable canola oil substitute should you need one.
All About Canola Oil
Canola oil is a form of vegetable oil extracted from rapeseed which belongs to the Brassicaceae plant family. It is light tasting and with its low smoke point, makes it a popular oil to use in baking. Canola oil is one of the 'healthier' oils out there because it is cholesterol free and lower in trans and saturated fats. It also contains omega-3's which are good for your heart. Canola oil has often been considered a substitute for vegetable oil because of the closeness in flavour profile as well as its health qualities.
Here is a fun fact. Apparently canola oil was first used in Europe as a form of lubricant for machines and steamboats, especially during World War II. To this day, it is also utilised as a kind of biodiesel. Then, manufacturers decided to expand its use for other purposes and that's how canola oil found its way into grocery shelves in the late 1950s.
Canola was first grown in Canada but did you know that these days, canola is Australia's third largest crop, and we export over 2 million tons a year! The canola flowers are bright yellow and there is nothing quite so beautiful as driving past flowering canola fields in the countryside.
Okay, let's get down to business. Why would someone be looking to find a substitute to canola oil?
Well, aside from the obvious – they don't have it on hand in the pantry, there has been a little controversy about this oil being genetically modified. The use of herbicides and chemicals like hexane solvent in the oil extraction is also under scrutiny. This means that canola oil may be harmful to us. And while there is a lot of information out there about the health benefits of canola oil, there is also an argument that it is not a suitable oil because the plant has had to be genetically modified to produce a safe oil. You see the original plant wasn't edible due to unhealthy chemicals present in it, and the taste. In addition to this, the plant has reportedly been modified to be resistant to the pesticide RoundUp, which is just nasty. So, ultimately it is your choice, but it doesn't hurt to know what some suitable substitutes to canola oil are, so you can make a well-informed decision. Now onto our list of 7 alternatives to canola oil.
7 Alternatives to Canola Oil
In a nutshell, here is a list of products that can be used as a replacement for canola oil in the kitchen:
1. Applesauce or mashed banana
2. Olive oil
3. Sunflower oil
4. Safflower Oil
5. Peanut Oil
6. Coconut oil
7. Avocado Oil
1. Applesauce or Mashed Banana
Applesauce or mashed banana are a great healthy alternative to using canola oil in your baking.
If using, use a one to one ratio. This means that if the recipe calls for a quarter cup of canola oil, use the equivalent amount of applesauce or mashed banana. You may wish to add a little water to the banana for more moisture.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is considered the healthiest of the oils since it is composed mostly of monounsaturated fat which helps lower bad fat or LDL cholesterol levels in the body. It's also praised for its antioxidant properties. Altogether, consumption of olive oil is deemed to prevent cancer, heart ailment and other lifestyle diseases; not to mention, giving one radiant skin due to a good diet.
Extra virgin olive oil is the best kind since it has superior taste and has been retained in its pure form, meaning it did not go through much processing. Olive oil is good for use in salads, pastas and for cooking with.
For deep frying, however, other types of oil are recommended since they have a higher smoke point. That means olive oil does not reach the heat needed for a good fry. Did you know, that Australia produces a range of high quality olive oils which you can easily pick up from your local supermarket.
3. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is derived from pressed seeds of the sunflower plant. It is a great canola oil alternative since they are both light and have a low flavour profile. From a health standpoint, sunflower oil, particularly the high-oleic variety, has a very high content of monounsaturated fat (MUF) which fights bad cholesterol. A closer analysis will even reveal that sunflower oil has more Omega 6 essential fatty acids and Vitamin E than canola oil.
4. Safflower Oil
Safflower oil is derived from the seeds of the Safflower. Not to be confused with sunflower oil, safflower oil has a neutral flavour profile and high smoke point so it generates the heat well. This makes it good oil alternative for frying and baking. Safflower oil has many health benefits from helping ease the symptoms of PMT to balancing blood sugar. It is also gentle on skin and can help reduce inflammation. Overall this is a great alternative to canola oil.
Peanut oil is often used in Asian cuisine and is likened to sesame oil for having its own unique flavour, which is sweet and nutty. Peanut oil is high in vitamin E, an antioxidant with health benefits such as helping prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has fast become one of the hottest products to have in your pantry. It does not come without controversy though. Coconut oil is quite high in saturated fat, so if you use it, go easy. From that perspective canola oil is better. However if you don't have any canola on hand, coconut oil is a simple alternative. You can use it to pan fry, and it is an excellent alternative to any oil in baking of sometime link muffins or brownies.
So, it turns out avocado can be used in other ways, not just smashed with poached eggs on fresh sourdough toast... avocado oil is extracted from the flesh of the fruit, and is one of the healthiest oils to use because of all those good oil qualities in the fruit.
The oil is extracted from the avocado flesh, and has the highest amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats. Avocado oil can be a substitute for canola oil and not only has a high smoke point, it is in fact, one of the most heat-stable oils to use. This means you can substitute avocado oil for canola oil in your frying, and all of your baking. Substitute the oil in equal parts. So, one tablespoon for one tablespoon.