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Can You Bake With Canola Oil? | What You Need To Know

Running out of oils typically used for baking is a common occurrence. If you happen to only have Canola in the kitchen and wonder if it can be used for baking, then you’ve come to the right place.

Canola oil is safe for baking and can be substituted for vegetable oil in recipes. The high smoke point means it’s suitable for use in baking, stir-frying, frying, roasting, and grilling. Another benefit is that canola oil is made from rapeseed, so it only has a mild flavor. 

When used in baking, the purpose of oil is to provide moisture and to create a lighter texture, not to add any flavor. In fact, an oil with a strong flavor could ruin cakes, cookies, or other types of baking. The best types of oil for baking have either a mild or neutral flavor that doesn’t affect the taste. 

Many brands of vegetable oil include canola oil in the ingredients. So if you’ve previously used vegetable oils, you may have already baked with canola oil without realizing it.

Crisco-Canola-Oil

Is Canola Oil Safe for Baking?

Canola oil is made from a type of rapeseed plant and has a light, almost unnoticeable flavor. This is one of the reasons why it’s so popular in the kitchen and regularly used for baked goods. The neutral taste won’t affect the recipe while still adding moisture and creating a light texture. 

Canola is safe for baking, frying, roasting, grilling, and stir-frying, as well as other types of cooking. It has a high smoke point of 400-450°F (204-232°C) which is higher than the standard baking temperature of 350°F (177°C).

The smoke point of an oil is crucial for safety while cooking, and it’s an important detail to check. Baking typically takes place at 350°F (177°C), which means that not all oils will be suitable. 

The smoke point refers to the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke, which is shortly before it begins to boil. It’s not a good idea to heat oil beyond its smoke point because it creates a bitter, burned flavor. There have also been links to the formation of carcinogens.

Related The 10 Best Canola Oil Substitutes in Baking.

Canola oil is popular for cooking and baking due to its smoke point of 400-450°F (204-232°C), which is higher than many other oils:

Type of OilSmoke Point
Walnut oil300°F (148°C)
Hemp seed oil330°F (165°C)
Butter350°F (176°C)
Unrefined coconut oil350°F (176°C)
Extra-virgin olive oil350°F (176°C)
Sesame oil350°F (176°C)
Ghee375°F (190°C)
Light olive oil390°F (198°C)
Grapeseed oil392°F (200°C)
Refined canola oil400°F (204°C)
Vegetable oil400°F (204°C)
Virgin olive oil 420°F (215°C)
Almond oil430°F (221°C)
Refined coconut oil450°F (232°C)
Peanut oil450°F (232°C)
Soybean oil450°F (232°C)
Unrefined avocado oil480°F (248°C)
Refined avocado oil520°F (271°C)

As can be seen from the above table, canola oil has the same smoke point as vegetable oil which is also commonly used in baking. Both types of oil are classed as having a high smoke point which makes them suitable for use in various types of cooking, including baking. 

Some oils have two different smoke points, and this is because they are available in both refined and unrefined forms. Unrefined forms of oil are typically processed more simply without substantial heat or solvents. This type of processing usually means that unrefined oils aren’t able to handle high temperatures as well and have a stronger flavor. Both of these qualities make them unsuitable for baking. 

Technically it’s possible to find canola oil in its unrefined form, but in practice, it’s almost always the refined version that’s on sale. Refined canola oil has a lighter flavor and a higher smoke point, as well as a longer shelf life. All of these qualities make it a desirable store cupboard ingredient that is ideal for baking. 

Is Canola Oil Toxic?

There has been some confusion over the constituents of canola oil and whether it’s safe to ingest. This is due to the fact it’s derived from rapeseed, which contains components that are unsafe for human consumption.

A jar and glass of Canola oil

Canola oil is a genetically modified form of rapeseed oil. In Canada during the 1970s, rapeseed plants were crossbred to produce a new variant that had lower levels of erucic acid. In Europe, this new brand of oil is labeled rapeseed oil without making any distinction. In the US and Canada, it’s labeled as canola oil, but it’s exactly the same product. 

Erucic acid is toxic to humans if eaten in large quantities, but canola oil only contains small quantities. The variant of plants currently in use for producing canola oil contains less than 0.1% erucic acid. This compares to 40-70% erucic acid in the original rapeseed plant. 

The Food and Drug Administration has reviewed the use of canola oil and erucic acid and has set out the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) standard. This requires erucic acid to be 2% or less. Canola oil being sold commercially contains substantially less than 2% erucic acid, and as such, is considered to be safe for human consumption. 

Can You Use Canola Oil for Baking Brownies or Cookies?

Canola oil is an excellent choice for baking brownies, cookies, and other baked goods. Its high smoke point and neutral flavor mean it can replace vegetable oil without affecting the taste or texture. Canola oil also contains lower levels of saturated fat which can make baked goods healthier. 

As canola oil can tolerate being baked at high temperatures, it won’t impair the flavor of cookies, brownies, and other delicious baked treats. Exceeding the smoke point can create an unpleasant, acrid taste which is why other oils, such as butter or walnut oil, aren’t as suitable as canola.

Related 8 Best Substitutes for Vegetable Oil in Brownies.

Can You Mix Vegetable Oil and Canola Oil When Baking?

Vegetable oil and canola oil share many quantities, so can easily be mixed together for baking. Both oils have a light, neutral flavor and a smoke point of approximately 400°F (204°C), so no allowances need to be made when they are combined.

The similarities between canola and vegetable oil mean that it’s possible to mix and match the two while baking without any problems. Whether you’re short on one particular oil or just prefer to combine the two, it’s possible to mix them up without having an impact on your baked goods. 

Next time you use vegetable oil, turn the bottle around and check out the ingredients. Vegetable oil is an umbrella term that often incorporates a variety of different oils – including canola oil. You may have already been using a combination of canola oil and vegetable oil in your baking without even realizing it!

What Is Better: Vegetable Oil or Canola Oil?

With such similar qualities, you may be wondering whether it’s more beneficial to use canola or vegetable oil. Your baked goods will have the same moisture and texture, regardless of which oil you use, and the same taste. 

It’s therefore worth taking a look at how the nutritional values for the two oils stack up:

Canola OilVegetable Oil
Calories per tbsp124117
Fat14g13.6g
Saturated Fat1g11g
Carbohydrates0g0g
Fiber0g0g
Sugar0g0g
Protein0g0g
Sodium0g0g

At first glance, vegetable and canola oil seem to be virtually identical until you get to the saturated fat value. The precise values of vegetable oil can vary depending on the oils used, but overall it has significantly more saturated fat than canola oil.

Canola oil has been lauded by many experts for its low saturated fat, high mono-unsaturated fat, and its ability to lower harmful LDL cholesterol in the body. Canola also contains cholesterol-blocking phytosterols and high levels of healthy omega-3 fats. This is why many nutritionists recommend replacing vegetable oil with canola oil where possible. 

Is Canola the Healthiest Type of Oil Available? 

There are a myriad of reasons to choose canola oil, and it’s one of the most popular oils for baking. Its nutritional profile offers lots of health benefits, putting it ahead of many other oils. 

However, olive oil is often cited as the gold standard, and canola oil falls slightly short by comparison. 

Canola oil contains omega-6 oil, which can be beneficial, but unfortunately, the levels in canola oil are a bit too high. Eating too much omega-6 oil can contribute to inflammation in the body, so balancing it with omega-3 oil is key. 

The other issue with canola oil is that it’s highly processed and genetically modified. There’s no definitive proof that genetically modified foods cause health problems, but there is ambiguity, and as a result, some people may prefer to steer clear. 

In contrast, olive oil is good for your heart, reduces inflammation, and offers a range of other potential health benefits. The problem is that it also has a very distinctive flavor and a lower smoke point, which means it’s unsuitable for baking. 

For this reason, canola oil is preferred for baking even though it doesn’t have the full range of benefits that olive oil can offer. 

Conclusion

Canola oil has a high smoke point and a mild flavor, which means it can be used in any recipe where you might otherwise use vegetable oil. It won’t burn when baked, and the flavor of canola won’t be noticeable in the final product. 

As an added benefit, canola oil also contains lower levels of saturated fat than other oils, making it a superior choice for all types of baked recipes.

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