Why Bobby Flay Uses Avocado Oil When Cooking Pasta Sauce

Bobby Flay's storied public career as a chef, restaurateur, and beloved Emmy-winning TV personality spans three decades. So it's safe to say you can trust his expertise on cooking tips, even if they stray from the norm. 

Speaking to Food & Wine, Flay recommended using avocado oil instead of olive oil as the base for pasta sauce. He argues that avocado oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point compared to the conventional olive oil foundation for pasta sauces. Perhaps Flay is fusing his Southwestern and Mediterranean culinary specialties, but he makes a convincing case.

The smoke point of an oil is the maximum temperature it reaches before burning and releasing smoke and foul-tasting free radicals. Avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points of any oil, which is 25 degrees to 50 degrees higher than olive oil. This means there's less of a chance that it will burn when your pasta sauce, or other dish of choice, is cooking. And once oil passes its smoke point, it's nearly impossible to get rid of that burnt, bitter taste.

Avocado oil vs olive: benefits and uses

While olive oil has been a staple for much longer, avocado oil has quickly garnered acclaim from both the culinary and health community. The nutritional difference between avocado oil and olive oil reveals that they're both cholesterol-free oils with high percentages of fatty acids and numerous health benefits. The main benefit avocado oil has over olive oil is that it encompasses more cooking techniques and has a more versatile flavor. Avocado oil, which is around 50% more expensive than olive oil, is much better suited for searing, baked pasta casseroles, or roasted vegetables than olive oil. It also works well in dressings and raw sauces like miso-ginger vinaigrette or peanut sauce, both of which would clash with olive oil's dominant flavor profile.

Of course, you can always use both ingredients in your pasta dish. For Italian dishes, where olive oil reigns supreme, you can always add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finish the dish. This way, you'll get the delicious earthiness characteristic of Italian cuisine while avoiding the risk of burning the foundation of your sauce.