Can Canola Oil Be Substituted for Vegetable Oil in Brownies?

Sometimes you just want to make that delicious brownie recipe, but you don't have all the ingredients on hand. If you find only canola oil in your pantry, rather than vegetable oil, you wonder: Will my recipe come out OK?

Use canola oil instead of vegetable oil in baked good recipes. (Image: Mizina/iStock/GettyImages)

Vegetable oils belong to the larger family of plant oils, referring to any oil that is not made from animal fats or petroleum products. Canola oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from a variety of the rapeseed plant.

You can use it in lieu of vegetable oil in brownie, and other, recipes. It may make your final product have a slightly different taste or texture, but the recipe will generally come out just fine.

Vegetable Oils

Edible vegetable oils, or cooking oils, can be made from a number of different vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and trees. Some widely available vegetable cooking oils include olive oil, corn oil, sesame oil, peanut oil and palm oil.

Canola Oil

Due to its high oil content, the rapeseed plant has a long history of use in the development of both edible and inedible oils. The canola plant was developed from rapeseed to create a source of edible oil low in erucic acid, a toxin found in high concentrations in wild rapeseed.

Containing no trans fats, low in saturated fat and high in both omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats, canola oil can be safely used in both cooking and baking without adverse effects on health.

Products Labeled as “Vegetable Oil"

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's specifications for vegetable oil margarine state that a product must be made from canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean or peanut oil to use the "vegetable oil" label.

Despite this range of possible sources and the availability of vegetable oil blends, products labeled as "vegetable oil" in the U.S. generally refer either to soybean oil or soybean/canola oil blends. Wesson and Crisco, for example, label their soybean oil products as "vegetable oil," while Mazola uses the "vegetable oil" label for its soybean-canola blend.

Canola Oil as a Vegetable Oil Substitute

Canola oil and vegetable oil are both suitable for use in cooking and baking. As the "vegetable oil" label can be used for products containing canola oil, there is often little difference between vegetable and canola oils.

Both soybean and canola oil are capable of withstanding the high temperatures required for baking, and neither oil considerably alters the texture or taste of foods when used in baking.

As such, the two may be used interchangeably when making brownies. Further, comparing soybean oil's 15 percent saturated fat content with canola's 7 percent, canola oil may be the slightly healthier option for use in brownies.

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