Peanut oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. It has no trans fat or cholesterol, and little saturated fat. Peanut oil is a favored fat for deep-frying, panfrying and searing because of its high smoke point and resistance to heat damage. The smoke point for peanut oil, or temperature at which an oil begins to break down, is 450 degrees Fahrenheit, notes What's Cooking America. Assuming you are frying, there are good substitutes for peanut oil.
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A number of oils that are, like peanut oil, primarily composed of monounsaturated fats are usually the best alternatives. They too have high smoke points and hold up well against extreme heat, making them ideal for frying. Other common monounsaturated fat oils you can use as a substitute include almond oil, which has a 420-degree smoke point; avocado oil, with a 520-degree smoke point; canola oil, which has a 400-degree smoke point; macadamia nut oil, with a 390-degree smoke point; rice bran oil, which has a 490-degree smoke point; and walnut oil, with a 400-degree smoke point. Olive oil is another common alternative, and its smoke point varies depending on which pressing the particular product was made from.
Polyunsaturated fat-based oils, derived from vegetables, seeds and nuts, can be switched for peanut oil. While you can use these oils to fry or sear, they are generally preferred for sauteing and for cold uses. This is because they often have lower smoke points and less resistance to heat damage. Common cooking oils containing primarily polyunsaturated fats that can be substituted for peanut oil include corn oil, which has a 450-degree smoke point; cottonseed oil, with a 420-degree smoke point; grapeseed oil, which has a 392-degree smoke point; sesame oil, with a 410-degree smoke point; sunflower oil, which has a 450-degree smoke point; and vegetable oil, which is a blend of various polyunsaturated fat oils. The smoke point for the latter varies depending on its makeup.
Some saturated fats can substitute for peanut oil. These are less heart-healthy because they raise bad cholesterol levels more than any other dietary factor. These alternatives are more typically used in baking, but they can be used on the stove top, too, if necessary. Butter, with a 350-degree smoke point, is the most commonly used saturated fat for frying. Clarified butter, with a higher smoke point that varies depending on it purity, is an even better alternative for peanut oil. Other possible saturated fat alternatives for peanut oil include lard, with a 370-degree smoke point; palm oil, which has a 446-degree smoke point; and vegetable shortening, with a 360-degree smoke point.
A Note on Oil Storage
Peanut oil and other monounsaturated oils are far more resilient than their polyunsaturated fat-based counterparts. If you're swapping out the former for the latter in your kitchen, keep in mind that both heat and light easily damage polyunsaturated fats. To maximize their shelf life, all oils should be stored in the refrigerator once they're opened. However, this is particularly important for polyunsaturated fat oils.