Avocado oil captures the creamy, nutty flavor of fruity avocados in a highly concentrated liquid form. You can use it in everything from dressing a salad to marinating meat to deep-frying!
Types: Extra-virgin and refined
Smoke point: 482°F
Best uses: Searing or frying
How Avocado Oil is Processed
Avocados are a year-round crop, and some olive oil facilities even process avocados during the olive off-season. Most avocado oil plants are in New Zealand, Mexico, Kenya, and California.
For the best quality, avocados should be mature, but not overripe, at harvest. The process begins by pressing the flesh of the avocados, removing the skin and seeds, then separating the oil from the water.
Extra-Virgin vs Refined Avocado Oil
Extra-virgin avocado oil retains similar properties to the actual avocado, so it has a deep green hue, buttery, fatty flavor, and a smoke point of around 482°F. The green hue comes from chlorophylls present in the flesh and skin of the fruit. For this reason, it's essential to store the oil away from the light, as the presence of chlorophyll can trigger oxidation and increase the likelihood of going rancid.
Refined avocado oil has a translucent yellow appearance and a higher smoke point between 500F and 520F. The refinement process involves deodorizing or bleaching the oil, so the flavor is much more subtle.
How to Choose the Right Avocado Oil
The trickiest aspect of using avocado oil is finding a high-quality product. A 2020 study showed that most avocado oil sold in the US either went rancid before expiration or had other oils mixed in. Because avocado oil is a newer product, quality standards are still in development.
Here are a few tips to help you choose an excellent avocado oil:
- An extra-virgin, cold-pressed avocado oil, though more costly, will be more likely to be fresh and tasty.
- When selecting an extra-virgin variety, make sure the color has a rich, green hue.
- Try to purchase a bottle as close to the harvest date as possible.
- Chosen Foods and Marianne's Harvest Brands Avocado Oil came out as top-quality refined oils in the study. The study also placed CalPure at the top of the group for extra-virgin varieties. AvoHass is a favorite among many review websites.
Avocado oil is very commonly used in non-culinary applications, like skincare or makeup. When buying avocado oil for cooking, make sure that you're purchasing the food grade variety.
How to Store
As with other cooking oils, avocado oil should be stored in a cupboard or pantry away from the light. Once opened, the oil lasts about 6-8 months in the pantry (and slightly longer in the fridge), but you can always check the exact expiration date on your own bottle.
Rancid oil will smell slightly waxy or like play-doh and should be thrown away.
How to Cook with Avocado Oil
Extra-virgin avocado oil has a grassy and buttery flavor that lends well to raw applications such as salad dressing or a finishing drizzle. For a simple but delicious combination, toast a piece of bread, layer on some freshly chopped tomatoes, and drizzle with avocado oil and a pinch of flaky salt.
Both extra-virgin and refined avocado oil can be used for many different types of cooking, especially searing and frying, because of their high smoke points. To cook with avocado oil, try it with a vegetable stir-fry or use it for deep-frying chicken. The oil is also an excellent choice for searing meat.
Here are a few additional ideas:
- Swap a neutral oil with avocado oil to make mayonnaise
- Make homemade tortilla chips
- Swap olive oil with avocado oil to make hummus
Avocado Oil Substitutes
If you cannot find avocado oil, you will need to choose a suitable substitute based on the desired cooking method.
For raw applications, such as a salad dressing, substitute the buttery, vegetal taste of extra-virgin avocado oil with extra-virgin olive oil.
When required to cook the oil, choose a neutral oil with a high smoke point such as grapeseed, canola, or peanut oil.