If you love stir-fries or any other cooking that involves a wok, you have probably found yourself which oil you should be using to get the best results.
With wok cooking, it’s not only the flavor of the oil that you need to think about but also the smoke point.
When you cook in a wok, you’re usually whipping up a fast meal at a very high temperature. This means the best wok oil will have a high smoke point, and a flavor that is either neutral or complements the type of dish you’re cooking.
So what is the best oil for cooking in a wok? The best oils for a wok are coconut, sesame, vegetable, avocado, and grapeseed oils. When cooking in a wok, it is important to use an oil with a high smoke point. Opt for neutral flavors or those complementary to your dish.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the types of oil that are recommended for wok cooking and why. Plus, we’ll share with you our top 5 best oils for a wok.
How to Cook With a Wok
Professional chefs who work with woks are often very dramatic, using open flames and a lot of tossing and kitchen flair. Woks are highly useful in a more calm home kitchen cooking environment as well.
Because of the steep sides of a wok, tossing the food inside removes the need for constant stirring and the material is usually designed to transfer the heat up the sides, increasing the speed at which your food is cooked.
Because of this, the temperature is usually very high and the cooking happens very quickly.
Wok Cooking Temperature
When you’re cooking in a wok, it helps to understand the different temperatures required for different kinds of cooking.
Pan-frying is generally done over low to medium heat for a longer amount of time but isn’t ideal for wok cooking, hence the very specific “pan” title.
Sautéing and stir-frying are very similar, though sautéing usually happens in a standard pan or skillet whereas stir fry is the most common type of cooking for a wok.
Both are done at very high temperatures for quick-cooking, usually of thinly sliced meat, vegetables, or noodles.
Deep frying is another high heat method of cooking that is possible in a wok because it has very deep sides that transfer heat well. Deep frying in a wok also uses less oil because the sides of the pan are sloped.
In summary, the majority of wok cooking is done at very high temperatures so an oil with a high smoke point is necessary for best results.
Many of the same oils that cook especially well in a wok are also good oils for seasoning a brand new wok.
The Best Oils for a Wok
The best oils for a wok depend on what you cook most frequently.
Woks are usually used for stir-frying meat or vegetables over very high heat, so you’ll likely want an oil with a high smoke point, which all of the oils on our list have. Beyond the smoke point, however, the flavor does matter.
Here are our top choices:
|1.||Viva Naturals Organic Coconut Oil||Sautéing|
|2.||BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil||High heat|
|3.||Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil||Healthier stir fry|
|4.||La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil||Chinese food|
|5.||Happy Belly Vegetable Oil||Deep frying|
We’ve included our favorites for both neutral oils as well as some with a flavor that complement certain styles of cooking and recipes. Which one you choose will depend on your preferred cuisine choices.
1. Viva Naturals Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Viva Naturals has one of the most premium brands of coconut oil and, though it’s certainly more expensive than basic vegetable oil, you know you’re paying for quality.
The naturally high smoke point makes it a good fit for stir-frying at a medium temperature in a wok, and the light coconut flavor is a tasty addition to your recipe.
- Best oil to saute with
- Smoke point: 350F/177C
- Extra-virgin, cold-pressed, and unrefined organic coconut oil
Biggest Drawback: The biggest drawback of this product is not a fault of the product itself necessarily, but rather the expectations of the consumers. Coconut oil can be either liquid or solid, depending on the temperature it is kept at.
Many people don’t understand that, if it gets warm enough to melt, it will need to be thoroughly chilled to get it back to solid.
If you keep it at room temperature once it has completely melted, it will not return it to solid, at least not for a considerable length of time. If you understand this and work around it, you should be pleased with the product.
2. BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil, Refined
Refined avocado oil has the highest smoke point of any cooking oil so this is ideal for really quick, high heat frying in your wok.
It has only a very subtle flavor, so it won’t impact your delicate seasoning and can be used for nearly any type of cooking or food preparation.
- Best cooking oil for high heat
- Smoke point: 500F/260C
- Naturally refined with no additives, GMOs, and certified gluten-free
Biggest Drawback: This is a heavily refined oil, though the company does say that it’s cold-pressed and “naturally refined.”
Being refined is what allows for the extremely high smoke point, which is one of the best features of this product, but it also means that a lot of the nutrition, color, and flavor have been processed out of the oil.
For some, this is a positive feature as well, because it’s a very neutral oil, but the lack of substance isn’t for everyone.
3. Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil has been a popular oil for cooking at high heat for many years because of the naturally high smoke point.
It has the added benefit of being naturally very neutral in flavor, so it won’t alter or compromise the flavors of your recipe and is just as useful in baking as in wok cooking.
- Healthiest oil for stir fry
- Smoke point: 470F/240C
- Rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin E, and omega fatty acids
Biggest Drawback: The biggest drawback of this product is one of the oddest we have ever written but it seems there is an issue with the bottles being delivered without their caps more frequently than can be accepted as accidental.
They arrive sealed, but without a cap. It’s still a high-quality oil, but you may want to have an empty sealable container ready, just in case.
4. La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil
Toasted sesame oil is a signature flavor of Asian cuisine and this expeller-pressed artisanal oil has an especially deep, robust flavor that is perfect for all your Chinese food favorites.
The smoke point is ideal for wok frying or sautéing over medium heat.
- Best oil for Chinese cooking
- Smoke point: 350F/177C
- Signature flavor best for fried rice, noodle dishes, and stir fry marinades
Biggest Drawback: For toasted sesame oil, you may find the flavor quite light. This may be a great feature for some, but it is disappointing for people who go out of their way to find a great quality toasted sesame oil on purpose.
5. Amazon Brand/Happy Belly Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is inexpensive and has a high smoke point, so it makes it a perfect option for frying.
Because it’s a low-cost oil, if you’re planning on doing any deep frying in your wok, this is a great oil to use because you can use a lot of it without breaking the bank, and it can stand the heat.
- Best oil for deep frying in a wok
- Smoke point: 450F/230C
- Single-ingredient listed: soybean oil
Biggest Drawback: This oil comes in a rather large bottle that is made of very thin plastic with no handle. On the one hand, we support reducing plastic at any opportunity but, under the circumstances, it makes the bottle difficult to handle.
The walls cave in easily and the oil feels too heavy for the container. We recommend transferring it to a more sturdy glass jar for regular usage, if possible.
What Oil is Used in Chinese Cooking?
In Chinese food restaurants, chefs often use soybean or canola oil. Both have high smoke points, perfect for quick, hot frying. They also have low price points, helping to keep the cost of the cooking low.
In more premium or home-cooked Chinese food, often you’ll find either peanut oil or sesame oil used, which is more expensive but adds better flavor to the food.
Can You Use Olive Oil in a Wok?
You can use olive oil in a wok, but it has a relatively low smoke point, so it’s best for lower temperature frying if possible.
Olive oil also has quite a strong flavor compared to some of the other oils considered on this list which make slightly alter the flavor of your recipe.
If neither of these considerations bothers you, our favorite olive oil to use for wok cooking is Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
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