If you love deep-fried fish but don’t like how it comes out every time you attempt to make it at home, you might be doing something wrong. To be precise, you may not be using oil that is suitable for deep frying fish.
What are the best oils for deep frying fish? The best oils for deep-frying fish have high smoke points and a flavor that will pair well with fish without interfering with or overpowering the taste of the fish. Canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and vegetable oil are all good choices.
When choosing oil to deep fry fish, there are three things to take into consideration – smoke point, taste, and flavor transfer. Taking these criteria into account, we have picked the above five oils to try.
Continue reading if you want to learn more about the best oils for frying fish as well as get some tips for making the crispiest fried seafood ever.
How to Choose Oil for Deep Frying Fish
Choosing the right oil for deep frying is the key to getting light and crispy fish. If you fail to make a good choice, your fried fish will turn out excessively greasy and not crunchy at all.
There are a few things to consider when choosing oil for deep frying fish:
1. The smoke point. This is the most important property of the oil you should take into account. For deep frying, you need to choose an oil with a high smoke point as the deep frying temperature generally ranges from 350 to 375°F.
If you try to use an oil with a smoke point lower than this, it will start to break down. Broken down oil is useless for deep frying. Thus, when choosing oil for deep frying make sure it can handle high heat.
2. Consider the flavor. While this is a question of preference, we recommend choosing oils with a neutral flavor. It is very easy to overshadow the flavor of fish, especially when it is deep fried.
Remember that your goal is not only to make fish crispy but also still be able to detect what fish it is. In this respect, neutral or very light flavored oils are the best for deep frying fish.
3. Choose an oil that impedes flavor transfer. Flavor transfer is when the oil absorbs the flavor of the food you are frying and it gets transferred to the next batch to be fried.
While you should certainly use the oil you have fried fish in only for seafood, it is good to avoid mixing flavors even for different types of fish.
5 Best Oils for Deep Frying Fish
If you are looking for a suitable oil option to deep fry fish, we have picked 5 best oils for you to choose from:
|Type of Oil
|Flavor, Smoke Point
|Happy Belly Canola Oil
|Happy Belly Peanut Oil
|Slightly nutty, 450°F
|Spectrum Refined Sunflower Oil
|Spectrum High-Oleic Safflower Oil
|Pure Wesson Vegetable Oil
All of them are readily available in stores, with high smoke points and neutral to light flavors. Keep reading for even more about these fabulous oils.
1. Canola Oil
Recommended: Happy Belly Canola Oil
Canola oil is one of the best options for deep frying food. It is derived from the rapeseed plant.
This is a very light oil that you can easily find in stores. And the best part about canola oil is that it is affordable too.
This is important as when you deep fry food you need to use ample amounts of oil.
Canola oil has a neutral flavor and is perfect for deep frying fish. When using this oil you are running no risks of overshadowing the taste of fish.
Canola oil has a very high smoke point – 400 °F. As a result of being highly refined, canola oil is very stable. It will withstand high heat cooking without breaking down.
2. Peanut Oil
Recommended: Happy Belly Peanut Oil
If a slight nutty-sweet flavor is something you don’t mind, then peanut oil is another good option you should consider.
It should be noted, however, that the flavor of peanut oil is so mild that it is often considered neutral.
Peanut oil has a reputation for being one of the most popular oils for deep frying. This is not surprising as its smoke point is some of the highest on the list.
You can cook with peanut oil at temperatures ranging from 400 up to 450 °F. in addition to this, peanut oil prevents flavor transfer.
Peanut oil is not the healthiest option for deep frying. But deep-fried fish is not a healthy meal anyway. Thus, using it every once in a while should not be a problem.
3. Sunflower Oil
Recommended: Spectrum Organic Sunflower Oil (Refined)
Sunflower oil, made from pressing the seeds of sunflower, is a common oil used for frying purposes. It is neutral in flavor and doesn’t interfere with the taste of fish.
Sunflower oil is considered to be one of the best options for fish and chips. It makes fried fish and potatoes light and crispy.
When buying sunflower oil for deep frying, opt for refined varieties as their smoke point is considerably higher.
For comparison, the smoke point of unrefined sunflower oil is around 225°F, which is not suitable for deep frying. The smoke points of semi-refined and refined varieties, on the other hand, range from 440 to 450°F.
4. Safflower Oil
Recommended: Spectrum Refined High-Oleic Safflower Oil
Refined safflower oil has a very high smoke point – around 510°F. This makes it ideal for deep frying fish. Never choose semi-refined or unrefined safflower oils to use in a fryer as their smoke points are way lower.
In addition to having a high smoke point, safflower oil is also neutral in flavor and perfect for fried fish if you want the taste of fish to stay bright and unaffected.
Refined safflower oil is high in monounsaturated fats. This makes it an even better option for deep frying. Oils that are higher in these fats are always a healthier choice for high heat cooking.
5. Vegetable Oil
Recommended: Pure Wesson Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is a popular choice for deep frying for many restaurants. Not only it has a neutral flavor that makes it ideal for frying all kinds of fish but it is also very affordable.
This makes vegetable oil perfect for those who don’t believe in reusing fryer oil.
What you should know about vegetable oil is that it is often a blend of other oils. These may include palm oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, canola oil, etc. But its smoke point should be around 400°F.
When buying vegetable oil for deep frying purposes, make sure to check the smoke point on the bottle.
In any case, vegetable oil is always a good and easy option for deep frying and not only for fish but for almost anything you like deep-fried.
Tips for Perfectly Fried Fish
Choosing the right kind of oil is certainly important for well-fried fish. But it is certainly not the only thing you have to get right. Here is what you should do for a delicious and crispy deep-fried fish.
- Pick the right fish. Not every fish is made for deep frying. Frying salmon or tuna is certainly not a good move. Instead, opt for fish that is neutral in flavor and with a low-fat content. Some of the best options include halibut, catfish, cod, striped bass, and trout.
You can also deep fry shrimp using all of the oil options above. While neutral-flavored oils are perfect for shrimp, peanut oil will also pair nicely with it.
- Keep the heat high. Don’t submerge the fish into oil that is not heated properly. It will soak up a lot of it and get greasy and heavy. Maintain the perfect temperature for frying fish which is anywhere between 360 and 380°F.
- Fry in smaller batches. No matter what oil you are using, if you put too much fish in it all at once, the results will be disappointing. It’s best to just commit to frying less at a time, even if you have to do a few extra batches.
What’s the Healthiest Oil to Fry Fish In?
When it comes to the healthiest oil for deep frying, there isn’t such a thing as ‘healthy.’ In general, ‘healthy’ not really the word to go with ‘deep-fried’.
But if you are looking for healthier alternatives, your best bet is coconut oil.
Coconut oil is considered to have high resistance to heat thanks to the high amount (90%) of fatty acids it contains. As far as the flavor is concerned, coconut oil is almost neutral with a faintly sweet flavor.
If you get refined coconut oil, it has a smoke point of 450°F. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at a smoke point of 350°F.
Another option is avocado oil.
It has a very high smoke point (520°F). Being high in monounsaturated fats, avocado oil is a relatively healthier option as it remains stable. Food fried in unstable oil can be bad for your health if you don’t eat it in moderation.
The downside of avocado oil is that it is not neutral in flavor. Its flavor can be described as grassy and nutty with a hint of avocado taste.
While the flavor of avocado oil neutralizes to a certain extent as a result of cooking, it still may not be your favorite for deep frying.
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