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 vs. vegetable oil in your pantry you wonder: Will my recipe come out OK?
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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 canola oil in lieu of vegetable oil in brownies 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.
If you don't have vegetable oil on hand, canola oil is a good substitute in your brownie mix. It even has a slightly lower saturated fat content than regular vegetable oil.
Canola vs.Vegetable Oil
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.
Due to its high oil content, the rapeseed plant has a long history of use in the development of both edible and inedible oils. However rapeseed is high in eruric acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that could have dangerous health effects over time, especially in children up to the age of 10, according to the European Food Safety Authority.
The canola plant was selectively bred and developed from rapeseed to contain all the beneficial oils and nutrients and dramatically reduce the erucic acid content. 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, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Read more: Canola Oil vs. Vegetable Oil
Understand the Labels
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 plus oil" label for its soybean-canola blend.
Read more: Is Canola Oil More Healthy Than Olive Oil?
Substitute for Vegetable Oil
Canola oil can be used in place of vegetable oil — both are 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 as a substitute for vegetable oil in baking.
As such, the two may be used interchangeably when making brownies. Further, comparing soybean oil's 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon with canola oil's 1 gram per tablespoon — according to USDA FoodData Central — canola oil may be the slightly healthier option for use in brownies.
- USDA: "USDA Specifications for Vegetable Oil Margarine"
- Mazola: "Mazola Vegetable Plus!"
- WessonOil.com: "Vegetable Oil"
- Crisco.com: "Cooking Oil"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Oil, Canola"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Soybean Oil"
- European Food Safety Authority: "Erucic Acid a Possible Health Risk for Highly Exposed Children"
- Mayo Clinic: "I've Read That Canola Oil Contains Toxins. Is This True?"
- Fat Free Kitchen: Best Cooking Oil, Healthy Cooking Oils and Olive Oil