It’s always worth it when you bite into that perfectly crispy fish, but frying fish at home can be troublesome, especially if you’re not a pro at frying fish. Many people complain that their fish turns out greasy or leathery when frying in oil.
While baking or air frying fish is a great way to avoid the mess and fuss of cooking in oil, it’s no substitute for the flavor and crunch of fried fish. So we want to help you learn how to cook great fried fish at home.
In many cases, the problem is that you’re not using the right oil for frying fish. Choosing the right oil is essential for getting crispy and light fish that’s not laden with grease.
» You might try this Blackened Cod recipe.
How to Choose the Best Oil for Frying Your Fish
The oil you use for frying fish can really affect the texture and taste of fish, as well as how well it fries. Hence using the right fish frying oil is essential. The vital factors to consider while choosing oil to fry your fish are listed below.
The smoke point of oil is very important because it will determine how hot you can get the oil before it starts to smoke. The best oil for frying food is one that can sustain a high heat for long enough to safely and effectively fry the food.
As Serious Eats explains, “Heated past its smoke point, that fat starts to break down, releasing free radicals and a substance called acrolein, the chemical that gives burnt foods their acrid flavor and aroma.”
An oil with a high smoke point can sustain the high heat needed to fry fish properly. The temperature needed for frying properly is between 350 and 375 degrees F. Any lower and the fish will soak up too much oil, and any higher and it will burn.
It’s also important to choose an oil that can be heated to at least 50 degrees above the proper frying temp to make up for the drop in temperature that will occur when you place cold food into the pan.
- Safflower oil has a smoke point of 510°F
- Canola oil has a smoke point of 400°F
- Vegetable oil has a smoke point of 400-450°F
- Peanut oil has a smoke point of 450°F
- Clarified butter (ghee) has a smoke point of 450°F
- Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350°F
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a smoke point of 325-375°F
Fish has a delicate flavor, so you need to choose an oil with a neutral flavor to avoid overpowering fish. You wouldn’t want to choose extra virgin olive oil primarily because of its low smoke point, but it would also impart a strong flavor on the fish.
Some oils with no or very neutral flavor are canola, vegetable, and safflower. Peanut oil is great for frying, but does have a slightly nutty flavor. Clarified butter (ghee) has a slight flavor of butter that will be imparted on the fish.
You’ll always want to consider the health factors of cooking with oil. Once oil passes it’s smoke point, it begins to release free radicals that can cause damage to cells in the body.
According to Medical News Today, “Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the most stable oils to cook with […] Polyunsaturated oils contain short-chain fatty acids and break apart more easily when heated, releasing more free radicals.”
Canola, sunflower, and avocado oil are all healthy to fry with at this temperature. Peanut oil can be find too, but it contains polyunsaturated fats as well as monounsaturated.
Best Oils for Frying Fish
As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of oils that meet the requirements of high smoke point and neutral flavor. You can choose any one of those oils and it’ll be fine, but if you’re still pondering which oil would be the best for frying fish, we’ve listed the most suitable options below.
When it comes to frying fish, canola oil can be your best go-to option. It is a very light oil that isn’t too expensive. The best thing about using canola oil is that it’s readily available in all stores.
Other features that make canola oil ideal for frying fish are its high smoke point and neutral flavor. That means the oil will not overshadow the flavor of your fish.
Moreover, canola oil can also withstand high heat while cooking without the risk of breaking down.
Refined safflower oil has a high smoke point and is ideal for frying fish. However, make sure to avoid using unrefined or semi-refined safflower oil. The high smoke point and neutral flavor make it suitable for frying fish.
Moreover, safflower oil has a high content of monounsaturated fats. This makes the oil a healthy option for you.
The most common choice of oil for frying fish is sunflower oil. Its neutral – albeit slightly nutty – flavor prevents it from interfering with the taste of your fish. High oleic sunflower oil has a smoke point of 440°F.
However, the sunflower oils with a smoke point of just 225°F are not suitable for frying fish.
Next on the list is peanut oil. If you do not mind having a little nutty-sweet flavor, then peanut oil is an option you must consider for frying fish. It has a high smoke point, but it does also have some fats that can break down into free radicals that might harm the body.
It is essential to note that peanut oil isn’t the healthiest option. However, consuming it once in a while will not harm your health.
What Is the Most Suitable Oil for Frying Fish?
The most suitable oil for frying fish is the oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor so it doesn’t overpower or interfere with the taste of the fish.
Some of the best choices are sunflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil.
Can Fish Be Fried in Olive Oil?
If you plan to fry fish in olive oil, it’s perfectly healthy to do so. However, it has a lower smoke point so it’s harder to keep it at the proper temperature. It will also impart a slight olive flavor to the fish, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Is Fish Fried in Olive Oil Healthy?
Without any doubt, olive oil is a healthy option for frying fish. When using olive oil for frying fish, you do not have to worry about any negative impact on your health. This is because, while it does have a lower smoke point, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants and fatty acids that keep it from breaking down into free radicals.
Side Dishes to Try
Now that you know the best oils for frying fish, making a choice can be easy. You can choose the right fish frying oil based on requirement and budget. Select the best fish frying oil and enjoy the taste and flavor of your fish.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite Instant Pot recipes over at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, air fryer recipes at Air Fry Anytime, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.