Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About

In addition to olive oil, there are a number of other oils that can be used in vinaigrettes and other salad dressings.

  • Nut oils (hazelnut, walnut, almond, etc.): Most nut oils, obviously, carry the flavor of the nut from which they have been taken and impart a very defined character to a salad dressing or vinaigrette. Since they are unstable oils that are very perishable, nut oils should be purchased in small amounts from reputable vendors and refrigerated once open. They make a defining statement and should be used with great care, as you want them to accent the other elements of the salad, not overpower them. They can be used in vinaigrettes, dressings, and sauces; for light sautéing; or as a flavoring garnish.
  • Peanut oil: One of the heavier oils, peanut oil is not really suitable for vinaigrettes, although it is now used for those having Asian seasonings. In French cooking, it is generally reserved for frying, deep-frying, and emulsions.
  • Sesame oil: Light sesame oil, made from raw sesame seeds, is very light and almost milky in texture. Dark brown sesame oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and is most often used in Asian cooking or for salads using Asian ingredients. It has a very assertive, easily recognized flavor which, when a lighter touch is desired, can be diluted with other nonflavored oil. It is used for accenting strong-flavored or bitter greens, for stir-frying or sautéing, or as a flavoring garnish. Sesame oil has a smoke point of 210°C (410°F).
  • Corn oil: One of the most common refined vegetable oils, corn oil is extremely bland. It is infrequently used for making vinaigrettes. It is an excellent multipurpose cooking oil with a high smoke point of 210°C (410°F) and is used for frying, deep-frying, sautéing, and searing. Unrefined corn oil is also available; with a low smoke point of 121°C (250°F), it is used mainly in emulsions and dressings.
  • Canola oil: Also known as Canadian rapeseed oil, canola oil lacks any flavor and is very low in saturated fats. With a high smoke point of 224°C (435°F), it is used for light vinaigrettes and for frying, deep-frying, and sautéing.
  • Sunflower oil: A neutral, pale oil, sunflower oil is high in polyunsaturated fats. With a smoke point of 199°C (390°F), it is used for light vinaigrettes or for frying and sautéing.
  • Infused oils: A recent innovation, infused oils are made by infusing fine-quality oils, even highly fragrant extra virgin olive oil, with herbs, spices, aromatics such as garlic or shallots, ginger, fruits, and fruit peels. These oils can be used in vinaigrettes but are used mainly as a flavored garnish or plate accent.