Is There a Canola Oil Substitute?

canola oil in a bowl and flower

When you are trying to get healthy, it’s important that you take the time to find some healthy alternatives to certain oils, butter, and solid fats. When it comes to heart health, canola oil is one of the best options. It’s made from crushed seeds from the canola plant and has less saturated fat than most of the other oils that are commonly used in kitchens in the United States.

Consider this:

  • Canola oil: 7% saturated fat
  • Sunflower oil: 9% saturated fat
  • Corn oil: 13% saturated fat
  • Olive oil: 14% saturated fat

In addition, canola oil has high levels of unsaturated fats, and has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid than any other oil, except flaxseed. Omega-3s are critical to include in your diet because it’s not something that your body naturally produces. Studies have shown that they could help defend against blood pressure issues, cholesterol, and inflammation. In fact, since some of this scientific evidence exists, canola oil makers have been able to label their products with claims that switching out saturated fat for the same amount of canola oil could decrease heart disease risk.

Cooking with Canola Oil

Due to the fact that canola oil has a light flavor, smooth texture, and high smoke point, it is easily one of the most versatile cooking oils. You can use it in a variety of dishes and cooking methods, such as:

  • Sautéing
  • Stir-frying
  • Grilling
  • Baking
  • Salad dressings/marinades
  • Coat pans for baking
  • In place of solid fats in recipes

Alternatives to Canola Oil – Vegetable Oils

Canola oil falls under the umbrella of vegetables oils. Most of the oils in this category have a high smoke point, which is critical when you’re choosing a substitute, especially if you will be using it for fried foods.

The temperature at which an oil begins to smoke is the smoke point. According to the experts, 468 degrees Fahrenheit is the smoke point of canola oil. By cooking past the smoke point of an oil, you will make your kitchen smell bad and potentially have a negative effect on the flavor of your food.

Sunflower Oil

One great alternative to canola oil is sunflower oil. This has a neutral flavor and the same smoke point as canola. Therefore, it’s an excellent alternative if you plan to pan fry with it. In addition, sunflower oil is a great source for polyunsaturated fats. People who consume polyunsaturated fats tend to have better cholesterol levels and have a decreased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Safflower Oil

Another oil that has a high smoke point is safflower oil. This oil has a neutral flavor and is also colorless. Therefore, it is not only an excellent alternative for frying, but is also great for baking as well. In addition, safflower oil has some health benefits, which serve to increase its appeal.

In March 2011, researchers at Ohio State University released a study that revealed a daily dose of safflower oil led to improvements in inflammation levels, blood sugar levels, and even cholesterol levels in postmenopausal, obese women who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These findings also gave the impression that safflower oil could be helpful in decreasing an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


While it’s true that canola oil and alternatives to canola oil do have their own health benefits, they are also high in calories. One tablespoon of any one of these oils will give you 120 calories. This is definitely not a good thing if you are trying to be a health-conscious cook.

Therefore, when you’re baking sweets such as cakes and brownies, applesauce can be a great alternative. There are some cooks that claim you can use applesauce in place of all of the oil, but this may cause the texture of the final product to be compromised. You will get best results – and significantly decrease the calorie count – by substituting ½ to 2/3 of the oil in your recipe with applesauce. Make sure that you use the unsweetened variety if you don’t want your baked goods to end up too sweet.  

As you can see, canola oil is a very healthy oil to use, but sometimes you may not have any available. However, there are several acceptable alternatives that are almost as healthy as canola oil.