The origins of rice bran oil - unlike vegetable or canola - are much more transparent. As evidenced by its name, the oil is derived from rice. While not nearly as ubiquitous as some other cooking oils, rice bran oil is a great option that is both suitable for varying types of cooking.
If you’re in the mood to diverge from the usual olive/canola/vegetable trifecta, why not try out some rice bran oil?
Rice Bran Oil
Smoke point: 450°F
Best uses: Roasting, sauteing, stir-frying, searing, and deep frying
Substitutes: Canola, vegetable, peanut, or another neutral oil
What Is Rice Bran Oil?
Rice bran oil is precisely what it sounds like: oil derived from the ‘bran’ - aka the outer layer - of the grain of rice. Rice bran oil is essentially the result of taking something that was previously discarded or possibly used as feed for animals and turning it into a substantial, efficient cooking oil that can rival the more popular options.
Because of the sheer amount of rice exported from countries like India and China, rice bran oil is primarily produced in those countries. It’s considered a sustainable oil because the rice would be hulled and procured regardless, so utilizing the byproduct to create a versatile cooking oil is obviously a great option. Win-win!
How It’s Made
According to AOCS, rice bran oil is acknowledged as an "up and coming" plant oil that’s being incorporated more and more in cooking. The oil itself is derived by mechanical pressing or solvent extraction and then thoroughly refined to rid of any impurities prior to being ready for use.
It contains monounsaturated fat (47%), polyunsaturated fatty acids (33%) and saturated fatty acids (20%), according to this study. It can also be mixed with other oils to raise the smoke point.
Rice Bran Oil Smoke Point
As we noted in this piece, smoke point is defined as "the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke." Rice bran oil has a very mild and light flavor, a viscous consistency, and a smoke point of 450°F. It holds up well to all forms of heat, making it a fine option for roasting, sauteing, stir-frying, searing, and even deep frying.
Where to Buy
While it is by no means the most ubiquitous cooking oil, it can be purchased alongside most other cooking oils at some supermarkets. It can also be found at various online retailers.
How to Use Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil is a flavorless ‘neutral oil’, so if you stumble upon a recipe that calls for a neutral oil, rice bran oil is a good choice! It can even be an excellent alternative for butter in baked goods, making it a great non-dairy option, since it helps to tenderize and aerate cakes, muffins, cookies, and more. You can also use rice bran oil in salad dressings or to oil a grill grate.
It would not make a great dipping oil for bread, though; that’s better reserved for a fruity, buttery, forward-flavored oil such as extra-virgin olive oil.
Rice Bran Oil Substitutes
If you don’t have rice bran oil, you can substitute for canola, vegetable, peanut, or other neutral oils.