The Underrated, Budget-Friendly Oil To Use For Frying

Frying food at home can be an expensive proposition, especially if you are using the wrong oil. Deep frying often means pouring an entire bottle of oil into a pot, and even just a few recipes of shallow frying in a pan can be enough to wipe out your supply. After a year of surging oil prices, including some of the most popular choices like vegetable and canola oil, that cost can really put a damper on the enjoyment of your homemade fried chicken or onion rings. There are ways around this dilemma, including an array of frying oils and fats out there for you to choose from, each with different characteristics that make them work in specific circumstances. And if you want to save a few bucks when frying, corn oil is a great choice.

Corn oil may not be recommended in recipes as often as vegetable, canola, or even the pricey peanut oil, but it works just as well when frying. Corn oil comes from corn kernels which are pressed and refined. While this process means it's not the most healthy oil, it also means corn oil is relatively neutral tasting, and can handle high heat. It's widely available at most supermarkets, and usually comes in at prices as cheap as the affordable vegetable oil, if not cheaper.

Corn oil has a high smoke point for frying and a low price point for buying

Producers are able to keep corn oil cheap for a variety of reasons. Successful cross-breeding has made corn one of the most productive crops in the world, and the United States is the top producer. The U.S. government heavily subsidizes corn growing, which is why it gets made into many different products. Because it's a refined oil, it has a high smoke point, which means it can reach very high temperatures before it starts to break down. High smoke point oils are essential for frying, because when oils pass that point they develop off or acrid flavors that can ruin a meal. Corn oil's smoke point is 450 degrees Fahrenheit, in the same range as other great frying oils.

While corn oil has a pretty neutral flavor, which is what you normally want from a frying oil, it does have more of a taste than vegetable and canola oil. So you get the best parts of frying, and a little more buttery flavor than you would from other options. A great place to start when frying with corn oil is with french fries. Corn oil will crisp them up perfectly, and give the mild potatoes a little extra flavor. It's also very nice for fried baked goods like donuts or fritters, where a little hint of sweet corn can be welcome. Really, it can do anything vegetable oil does, and it's cheap.