What can I substitute for cooking oil?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for cooking oil?” Besides, some alternatives of cooking oil, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, have been mentioned.

What can I substitute for cooking oil?

Cooking oil can be best substituted with butter oil, avocado oil, canola oil, coconut oil, and Worcestershire sauce. 

In a study, scientists collected frying oil samples which were fresh, in‐use, and discarded from 20 Toronto’s restaurants (Canada). Their monitoring indicated that 35% of in‐use frying oils and 45%–55% of discarded frying oils had not an acceptable status; however, fresh samples were compatible with their standards (1).

What is cooking oil? 

Cooking oils are mainly a mixture of some vegetable oil such as sunflower oil, corn oil, or rapeseed oil. Also, these products should be formulated only with vegetable oils. Due to their specific fatty acids which are mainly unsaturated, cooking oils cannot withstand high temperatures and therefore have no applications in frying. 

The frying oils are utilized in the processes which are exposed to extreme heat. Hence, these products should have a high thermal stability compared with other edible oils used for cooking or salad. The linolenic acid content should have an upper limit of 3% (2).

Substitutes of cooking oil

Cooking oil has various alternatives. Following are some substitutes for cooking oil:

Butter oil: 

Butter oil is the fat that is obtained from butter or cream and it is also called ghee. While the preparation of butterfat all the water and nonfat solids are removed. Butter oil is used while making numerous dishes, for instance, to give a butter puff in croissants. It is considered as the supreme cooking and frying medium. 

One of the best things about cooking oil is that its shelf life is longer. However, ghee undergoes oxidative degradation during storage and the extent of degradation depends mainly on storage temperature (controlling factor for maintaining ghee state either in liquid or solid state), oxygen availability (in unpacked, packed, type of package etc.) and ghee condition (liquid or solid state) (2). It is used to enhance the flavour of bakery items. Besides this, it has a lot of nutrients which are good for proper body functioning. Butter oil has a very low quantity of lactose in it, therefore people who are sensitive to lactose products can easily use it (3).

Butter oil also has some disadvantages like it has high calories and saturated fat due to which can lead to weight gain. If butter oil is consumed in high quantities, it can lead to high cholesterol levels in our bodies. The chances of heart attack and stroke increases with the increased quantity of cholesterol in our body (3).

Avocado oil: 

Avocado oil can be used as a substitute for cooking oil. It is extracted from the pulp of avocados and the fruit of Persea Americana. Besides using it as an edible, it is also utilized for cooking. It also has applications for lubrication and cosmetics.

Oleic acid which is a very healthy fat is present in sufficient amounts in avocado oil. Avocado oil is very helpful to decrease the level of cholesterol in the body and enhances heart health. Absorption of nutrients can be stimulated by using avocado oil. Symptoms of arthritis can be decreased by using avocado oil. Avocado is a well-known source of carotenoids, minerals, phenolics, vitamins, and fatty acids. The lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, antithrombotic, antiatherosclerotic, and cardioprotective effects of avocado have been demonstrated in several studies (4).

Avocado oil has some disadvantages like its fat content is very high due to which it can cause weight gain, when consumed in excessive amounts, as any other energy-rich food source. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 30% of total energy intake from fat, as some cohort studies and one key randomized controlled trial have shown that a high-fat diet is a major risk factor for excessive weight gain (5). In a study, among different fruits investigated, avocado showed extraordinarily potent liver injury suppressing effect (4).

Canola oil: 

Canola oil can be obtained from various rapeseeds which are low in erucic acid. Canola oil can be used for edible purposes as well as for industrial purposes. An unopened bottle of shelf life can be around two years if it is kept under proper storage. It is mandatory to check il before utilizing it.

The benefit of canola oil is that it contains a high amount of nutrients which are essential to maintain body functions. Canola oil is composed of omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids which make it the healthiest cooking oil (6).

A high ratio of omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids which are present in canola oil can enhance the risk of certain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Research studies did not support a beneficial effect of chronic canola oil consumption on two important aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease pathophysiology which includes memory impairments as well as synaptic integrity (7). A high quantity of fatty acids can also lead to obesity (5). Trans fats present in canola oil are also harmful to us. Although these are present in low amounts they are not good even in low quantities.

Coconut oil: 

Coconut oil can be used for edible purposes. Coconut oil is solid with white colour. It can be melted at room temperature of about 25 degrees centigrade. Every variety of coconut oil has a different aroma.

Coconut oil is very healthy to promote heart health. The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil make it a very useful oil. A study revealed the efficacy of virgin coconut oil in weight reduction and lipid profile. While no improvements were seen in the lipid levels, decrease in visceral adiposity as measured by waist circumference was seen, especially in men (8).

Consuming coconut oil in large amounts can lead to uncomfortable conditions like diarrhoea, cramps, and stomach issues (9). A study reported that in addition to an overall decrease in serum cholesterol, LDL, and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels were also reduced after consumption of VCO. Furthermore, elevated levels of HDL were found, thus enhancing the cardioprotective benefits of coconut oil (8).

Worcestershire sauce: 

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment. It was made in the city of Worcester in Worcestershire, England for the first time.

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented product, and if made with distilled vinegar rather than malt vinegar, it should be gluten-free, and the elimination of anchovies or oysters should make it vegan (10). Its benefits are that it contains a lot of nutrients and vitamins which are good to maintain a healthy life. However, Worcestershire sauce contains a high amount of sodium, which can be negative, especially for hypertensive individuals.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for cooking oil?” Besides, some alternatives of cooking oil, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, have been mentioned.

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Verma, Narsingh, et al. Fats And Oils With Reference To Indian Clarified Butter. Clinical Nutrition (IJCN).


Tabeshpour, Jamshid, Bibi Marjan Razavi, and Hossein Hosseinzadeh. Effects of avocado (Persea americana) on metabolic syndrome: A comprehensive systematic review. Phytother res, 2017, 31, 819-837.


Lin, Lin, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutr rev, 2013, 71, 370-385.


Shankar, Padmini, Suman Ahuja, and Alexandra Tracchio. Coconut oil: A review. Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech, 2013, 24, 62-64.


Smith, J. Can you say Worcester? 2021. University of Illinois.