As consuming healthy oils continues to increase in popularity, more people are turning to unrefined varieties such as grapeseed oil and avocado oil to improve their cooking habits and health alike. Not all unrefined oils are equal, however.
What’s the difference between avocado oil and grapeseed oil? In addition to being made with different ingredients as a base, avocado oil differs greatly from grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point, while avocado oil has a richer, more buttery flavor. Avocado oil also has more health benefits than grapeseed oil.
The most noticeable differences – other than the obvious ingredient differences their names imply – are in flavor and smoke point, with nutritional value also creating a range of differences.
Grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point, avocado oil has a richer, more buttery flavor. Avocado oil is praised for oleic acid and many vitamins and antioxidants whereas grapeseed oil doesn’t appear to have many health benefits to speak of.
This article closely examines the differences between avocado oil vs grapeseed oil, looking at qualities such as how they’re made, what they taste like, their most effective substitutes, and of course, the health benefits and smoke points.
What is Grapeseed Oil?
Grapeseed oil is popularly used for almost all stages of cooking, from dressing to marinating and yes, even sauteeing.
Best Grapeseed Oil
Whenever you’re searching for any type of oil, you want to look at the quality, because oil can vary a great deal in terms of health and flavor.
We searched for a great expeller-pressed oil in a dark glass jar or tin can and discovered the top seller is none other than our favorite overall oil manufacturer, La Touragelle (Check Current Price on Amazon).
They make artisanal oils and offer them at very reasonable prices. Their grapeseed oil is no exception. You can’t beat perfection.
Key Features: Because it is expeller-pressed, it will protect the nutritional content from being destroyed through high heat refinement.
It was also made in a gluten-free facility that processes only nuts and seeds. Best of all, it’s packed in a food-grade tin to protect the oil from light exposure and oxidation.
Biggest Drawback: This grapeseed oil is not certified organic, as it’s a by-product of conventionally harvested grapes used for the production of wine.
Fortunately, during pressing, trace amounts of pesticide residue are almost entirely eliminated, making them undetectable in the final product.
How is Grapeseed Oil Made?
Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of the winemaking industry, which is not only a brilliant business move, but it also means as much of the grape as possible is used.
There are two basic ways the oil can be extracted from the seed of a grape: by using solvents and heat or by pressing the seed.
If chemicals and solvents are used, the final product is considered refined. It loses almost all nutritional value, but it does become more tolerant to heat and has almost no flavor.
Expeller-pressing seeds is the most traditional way of extracting oil and it has been used throughout history.
Cold-pressing uses expeller-pressing, but in a climate-controlled facility so that the temperature of the seeds and final product never exceeds 120F. This is thought to better protect the nutritional qualities of the oil.
Is Grapeseed Oil Healthy?
The health aspect of grapeseed oil is a little controversial.
Many people choose to use this oil because of its moderately high smoke point compared to other unrefined oils. While it’s true that it won’t burn as easily as coconut oil, the type of fat found in grapeseed oil may not be ideal for high-temperature cooking regardless.
Polyunsaturated fats like those found in grapeseed oil react with oxygen at high temperatures, forming free radicals which can be potentially hazardous to your health.
There is research on both sides of this argument, but very little conclusive evidence supporting either claim. Moderation is probably best when hedging your bets.
What Does Grapeseed Oil Taste Like?
Grapeseed oil is as neutrally flavored as you can get from an unrefined oil. Usually, if you want the flavor of your food to shine through without taking on hints of the oil, you have to turn to a refined oil that has all the flavor and nutrition stripped out of it.
Grapeseed oil provides this neutrality without compromising the nutritional quality of the oil (especially if it is expeller-pressed).
Grapeseed Oil Substitute
If you’re substituting grapeseed oil solely for the neutrality of the flavor or the high smoke point, the best alternatives are canola oil or a vegetable oil blend. These oils are highly refined leaving them with little to no natural flavor and high tolerance to heat.
If you’re looking for an oil that has similar health benefits, you’ll want to be sure that you choose an unrefined oil.
Most cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oil will retain some of the natural flavors of their source, so they won’t be as neutral or have quite as high of a smoke point, but they will provide a variety of natural vitamins and healthy fats.
Our favorite substitutes for grapeseed oil are extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, which we will talk more about below.
Grapeseed Oil Smoke Point
Grapeseed oil is often used in frying foods because of its neutral flavor and relatively high smoke point of 390 F – 420 F (195C to 215C). It has one of the highest smoke points for an unrefined oil, giving you the best opportunity to cook with oil safely and nutritiously.
What is Avocado Oil?
Interestingly, this oil is just as popular for use in skin and hair care as it is for cooking. Avocado oil is rich in nutrients like Vitamins A, E, and K that are just as healthy applied topically as they are when consumed.
Best Avocado Oil
We’ve stuck with La Touragelle as our favorite avocado oil for many of the same reasons listed for the grapeseed oil: quality, packaging, and reasonable pricing (Check Current Price on Amazon).
Key Features: This oil is available in a variety of sizes, from single-serving packets to a club-sized 1-gallon jug. Plus, that deep emerald green color makes a beautiful statement for dipping artisanal bread
The production and packaging of this brand also ensure a high retention rate for natural vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. It’s hard to argue with that.
Biggest Drawback: Similar to the grapeseed oil, this avocado oil is not certified organic, but that shouldn’t worry you too much.
It is verified in the Non-GMO Project. Avocados are also #1 on the EWG’s Clean 15 list, meaning it’s very unlikely that any chemical residue will work through the shell-like skin into the flesh of an avocado.
How is Avocado Oil Made?
Avocado oil production uses the same processes as grapeseed oil or even olive oil. The oil is made from the flesh of the avocado fruit, which is made into a pulp, free from the pit and skin before it’s processed.
The pulp is expeller-pressed in a centrifuge and then clarified to differing degrees. Unrefined avocado oil will simply be put through a secondary press, whereas refined avocado oil will be washed with chemicals.
According to La Tourangelle, it can take up to 20 avocados to make a single 8 oz tin of oil.
Is Avocado Oil Good for You?
Unrefined avocado oil contains oleic acid, a type of healthy fat that is thought to help balance cholesterol levels.
It also retains many of the micronutrients found in the fruit itself, including lutein which is an antioxidant thought to protect the health of your eyes.
You can also find Vitamins A, E, K, and D in avocado oil, which are all shown to enhance a youthful appearance and boost the health and structure of your skin.
What Does Avocado Oil Taste Like?
A good quality avocado oil has a mild, buttery flavor and mouthfeel. It isn’t tangy like olive oil, but it does have more flavor than the neutral taste of grapeseed oil.
The more refined the oil is, the less flavor will be retained. A high-quality, cold-pressed or expeller-pressed avocado oil will feel thick and a little creamy in your mouth, making the taste experience more about texture than the mild flavor.
Avocado Oil Substitute
Unrefined avocado oil is great as a dressing or for dipping bread. If you’re looking to substitute it for an un-cooked usage, the best alternatives are extra-virgin olive oil or a mild nut oil, like Macadamia Nut or Pistachio.
If you’re frying with the oil and need a substitute for avocado oil, try extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, or for higher heats, grapeseed oil.
Avocado Oil Smoke Point
Refined avocado oil has the highest smoke point money can buy for use in cooking, topping the chart at 520 F or 270 C.
If you’re cooking at extremely high heats regularly, this is the best oil you could choose to prevent the potential health hazards of burning your oil. However, in exchange, you get less nutritional value because it is all processed out in the refinement process.
Unrefined avocado oil, such as cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils, still have a reasonably high smoke point between 375 F – 410 F (190C – 205C), and you get all the health benefits.
Smoke Point of Different Oils – Chart
Since many people choose their cooking oil based on the smoke point, we thought it would be useful for you to see where grapeseed oil and avocado oil fall on a spectrum of popular cooking oils, in reference specifically to smoke points.
A smoke point, if you’re unfamiliar, is also sometimes called the burning point for oil. This is the temperature at which the oil will start to smoke, or burn, instead of simmer.
Some research suggests oils can turn carcinogenic when they burn, so it’s a good idea to be aware of how your cooking with oil.
This oil smoke point chart should help:
|Type of Oil||Smoke Point (°F)||Smoke Point (°C)|
|Refined Avocado Oil||520||270|
|Refined Olive Oil||390 – 470||200 – 240|
|Refined Peanut Oil||440-450||230|
|Refined Vegetable Oil Blend||400 -450||205 – 230|
|Refined Canola Oil||400 – 450||205 – 230|
|Grapeseed Oil||390 – 420||195 – 215|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||375 – 410||190 – 210|
|Avocado Oil||375 – 400||190 – 205|
Conclusion – Avocado Oil Vs Grapeseed Oil
Avocado oil and grapeseed oil can substitute for each other in many instances, but they are not the same oils – and not just for the obvious reason their names imply.
Grapeseed oil is very neutral in flavor, so it won’t compete with the flavors of your recipe. It also has one of the highest smoke points of unrefined oils.
Avocado oil has a mild, buttery flavor and mouthfeel, making it a perfect choice for using as a dressing or for dipping. The smoke point mid-range, so light frying and baking are appropriate. Avocado oil also has much more varied nutritional content.
Ultimately, both oils are useful additions to your pantry so give them both a try to see which works best for you.
Up Next: The 7 Best Oils For Frying Chicken