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The 7 Best Oils For Baking Cakes

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A good cake is fluffy, spongy, and moist, and what gives it these properties are the right ingredients and proper baking methods.

While butter is a great ingredient to add to baked goods such as cookies, biscuits, and croissants, when it comes to cakes, oil works wonders for its texture.

So, what are the best oils for baking cakes? The best oils for baking cakes are those that do not have too strong of a flavor to affect the flavor of the cake unless the recipe calls for it. Some common neutral-tasting oils include canola oil and vegetable oil.

Read on to find out why using oil is important when baking cakes, the best oils to use, and much more!

Why Use Oil For Baking Cakes?

Before we list down the best oils for baking cakes, you need to understand why oil is necessary and how it contributes to cake baking.

When it comes to cakes, moistness is something that is sought after by all bakers and is what makes the cakes so utterly delicious. If you’ve ever eaten a dry, flaky cake, you’d know what we’re talking about.

Oil is used to introduce fat into the recipe, and while butter tastes far superior, it is the right type of oil that helps get the right texture. This is because oil stays liquid at room temperature whereas butter solidifies.

Liquid adds to the moistness and, therefore, cakes made with oil are moister than those made with butter. They also stay moist on the counter for longer.

In addition to moistness, oil also helps make the cake tender. A tender cake will almost fall apart in your mouth, compared to a tough cake, which is simply a big NO.

The reason a cake becomes tough is due to gluten formation when the batter is mixed. Gluten is formed when the flour and water interact during the mixing process.

Since butter comprises around 80% fat and 20% liquid, the 20% liquid will interact with the flour and form gluten, contributing to the toughness of the cake.

On the other hand, since oil is pure fat, it inhibits gluten formation and the absence of water means that there is less chance of you ending up with a tough cake.

That being said, every oil-based cake will still have a liquid component to it since the flour needs something to hydrate, and it is very much possible to over-work the flour and end up with a tough cake. 

Therefore, be very mindful when mixing your wet and dry ingredients and avoid over-working the batter.

The 7 Best Oils For Baking Cakes

Here are some of the best oils for baking cakes that are perfectly moist, tender, and delicious:

1. Canola Oil

Canola oil is one of the most popular oils used in a variety of cooking applications such as baking, frying, and sautéing.

It is a type of vegetable oil extracted from crushed canola seeds that go through a rigorous process that involves cleaning, conditioning, flaking, cooking, pressing, extracting, and processing. 

Its neutral flavor makes it a great choice when baking cakes since it allows the flavor of the cake to shine through. All flavors work well with canola oil, be it chocolate, vanilla, coffee, carrot, or otherwise!

When choosing the best canola oil with the most health benefits, it is important that you check the ingredients and the quality with which the oil is made.

Check the label to see if the oil is organic and non-GMO, and how the seeds are processed.

Spectrum Naturals Refined Organic Canola Oil is a good option that is expeller pressed and USDA organic certified, non-GMO project verified, and certified kosher by the OU.

2. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a broad term used to refer to any oil that is derived from plant material as opposed to animal fat. Some common examples include canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, or a combination of these.

You may, however, come across a type of oil labeled “vegetable oil”, which we refer to in this article, which is almost always pure soybean oil or a blend of soybean and corn oils.

You will see many cake recipes calling for vegetable oil to be added to the batter, especially the ready-made cake mixes you find in the supermarket.

A close runner-up to canola oil, vegetable oil has a mild, almost non-existent flavor, making it ideal for baking cakes as well as for cooking or frying.

AVO Organic 100% Vegetable Oil is minimally processed and uses no harmful chemicals in the oil extraction process. It is also certified organic, cholesterol-free, and does not contain any trans fats.

3. Corn Oil

Corn oil, also called maize oil, is a popular cooking oil that comes from the germ of the corn plant, one of the most widely grown crops in the world.

Due to its neutral taste and high smoke point, it is used for a variety of cooking purposes including frying and baking. Its lightweight consistency makes it a great choice for baking cakes, cupcakes, and muffins.

Similar to canola oil in its color and nutritional value, both canola oil and corn oil can be used interchangeably, although corn oil is slightly more expensive than canola and other vegetable oils.

Wesson Corn Oil is pure, 100% natural, cholesterol-free, and guarantees that you taste the food and not the oil when used in your recipes.

4. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a great choice for people looking for a healthy option and while you can use olive oil for baking, keep in mind that due to its distinctive taste, it has the potential to change the flavor of your cake.

Therefore, if you are going to use olive oil for baking a cake, instead of extra virgin, go for “light” or “refined” olive oil that will make your cake moist and tender without affecting its taste.

However, if you are following a recipe that specifically asks for olive oil to highlight its unique flavor, you may use the extra virgin variety since the whole point is to enjoy the flavor of the oil along with the other ingredients.

Pompeian Light Taste Olive Oil is a good choice for baking as it has a light, subtle flavor. It is also naturally gluten-free, non-allergenic, kosher, and non-GMO verified.

5. Grapeseed Oil

Made from the seeds of grapes, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking and is one of the most neutral-flavored oils out there.

Due to its neutral, clean taste, it is ideal for baking cakes as it lets the other flavors shine, and you can easily substitute it in place of canola oil or other vegetable oils.

A significant source of both vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids, since grape seeds yield a small amount of oil, grapeseed oil can be a bit pricey. 

Pompeian 100% Grapeseed Oil has a light and subtle flavor making it a perfect choice for stir-frying, deep-frying, as well as baking.

6. Sunflower Oil

With a high smoke point and a neutral flavor profile, sunflower oil is another great option for baking cakes.

Made from pressing sunflower seeds and extracting the oil, sunflower oil is a good choice for health-conscious people due to its high content of unsaturated fats.

Texture-wise, it makes your cake moist and super soft, just as canola oil, vegetable oil, and olive oil do, and can easily be substituted for them in your recipe.

You will also often find dedicated cake recipes that call for the use of sunflower oil.

La Tourangelle Organic Regenerative Sunflower Oil is perfect to add to your cakes, cookies, brownies, and bread for moisture and smoothness in each bite.

7. Safflower Oil

Super affordable and almost flavorless, safflower oil is a pantry staple used in a variety of cooking applications such as deep-frying, sautéing, and baking.

Popular for its versatility and neutral flavor profile, safflower oil is a relatively new product extracted from the seeds of the safflower plant (a thistle-like plant related to sunflowers).

The oil barely has an aroma or taste and is a useful option when you do not want the oil’s flavor to overpower your dish.

It is available in two varieties: monounsaturated (also known as high oleic) and polyunsaturated (also known as high linoleic) with the former more suitable for baking.

Oléico High Oleic Safflower Oil is a versatile cooking oil used for a variety of purposes that is enriched with vitamin E and is kosher and non-GMO verified.

Hollywood Safflower Oil is another great option perfect for baking and all-purpose cooking.

Related Questions

Now that you know all about the best oils for baking cakes, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!

What can you substitute for oil when baking a cake?

Some great oil substitutes for baking include applesauce, melted butter, fruit puree, Greek yogurt, and avocado.

What is the healthiest oil to use for baking?

Olive oil is the healthiest oil for baking. Make sure you use the light variety for a more neutral flavor.

Up Next: The 9 Best Substitutes For Carrots

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