In cooking, we’re all very used to using things like olive oil and vegetable oil, but some recipes will explicitly call for corn oil.
There are pros and cons to using corn oil, as it’s much lower in saturated fats but it does contain a lot of fatty acids which increases inflammation.
So there are plenty of reasons to want to use corn oil, but also plenty of reasons you might want to substitute it for something else.
Today we’re listing the best substitutes for corn oil you can use in a pinch if you’re looking for an alternative flavor, something healthier, or you’ve just run out of the stuff.
The best substitutes for corn oil
Corn has a distinct flavor that makes it a good choice of oil for all kinds of different foods, from frying, making a salad, or baking.
But if you don’t have any to hand, is it going to affect things very much if you substitute the oil or something else?
The answer is, very little, as all of the recommendations we are sharing today won’t impact the flavor very much.
The main things we need to consider are the cooking temperature, as not all oils are appropriate for extremely hot cooking, and in the flavor profile for some dishes such as salads, you’ll be able to taste the flavor of the oil more.
1. Vegetable Oil
Much like corn oil, vegetable oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids which can contribute to inflammation. So not the healthiest choice!
But nevertheless, vegetable oil is great for frying and will produce an almost unnoticeable end product compared to corn oil.
It also has a high heat point of about 232°C so you can prepare all your foods nice and hot without worrying about smoking or spattering.
Its flavor is very mild so isn’t as ideal for things where you’re relying on the oil to saturate the flavor.
Salted butter in particular should be used when it’s intended to be a substitute for corn oil as, without it, it’ll end up feeling lackluster against the corn oil’s more saturated flavor.
The downside to butter is that it’s quite easily burnt. With a cooking temperature as low as 175°C it can’t be used for everything corn oil can, which can be cooked much hotter with a smoke point of over 320°C.
3. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is a nice, natural, and vegan-friendly oil that imparts a subtle, but delicious flavor onto whatever you cook with it.
Its high amount of monounsaturated fat makes it really good for high-heat cooking, so it’s ideal for hot frying in a way something like butter can’t handle.
There are two kinds of peanut oil available, unrefined and refined. Refined peanut oil has a much milder and less impactful taste, in case that signature flavor isn’t appropriate for whatever meal you’re preparing.
However, unrefined peanut oil has a rich nutty taste that’s quite strong and, although providing a different flavor from corn oil, is still a great choice when you’re looking to utilize the flavor of the oil in a dish.
4. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is known for being fairly bland tasting (not in a bad way).
This can make it a nice, safe substitute for corn oil because it’s not going to affect the taste of whatever it is you’re cooking.
It works for hot frying thanks to its high smoke point and low saturated fat content. This makes a really good substitute if your meal is taste-critical and you need to fry it in something that’ll stay out of the way and not affect the flavor.
5. Canola Oil
Canola oil is technically a vegetable oil that comes from a particular kind of rapeseed plant.
It doesn’t have an overly distinct flavor meaning you’re safe to use this in essentially any scenario in which you would usually use corn oil. It also has a quite high smoke point so it’s good for frying too.
While not a perfect oil in terms of nutrition as it does contain some trans fat, it is actually a healthier choice than corn oil as it doesn’t include those inflammatory acids.
Oils can get pretty expensive sometimes too, so this is fortunately on the more affordable side of things and is quite accessible.
6. Safflower Oil
Like most vegetable oils, this one comes from the plant that it’s named after, in this case, the safflower plant.
It has an exceptionally high smoking point of 266°C so it’s perfect no matter what kind of dish you’re trying to make.
Taste-wise it’s ever so slightly nutty, but it’s nothing that’s going to overpower your food, it’s a safe oil to use!
7. Avocado Oil
As the name might suggest, this comes from the processing of avocados in which machines will deskin, remove the stone and extract the oil from these fruits.
Avocado is well known for its plethora of health benefits, often being the fruit of choice for athletes who are looking to get only the healthiest kinds of natural fats.
These qualities also transfer over to avocado oil making it one of the best options on this list.
The catch being, much like real avocados, it’s pretty expensive. But as its popularity is growing it’s become both more accessible and cheaper. So it’s definitely worth considering!
8. Grapeseed Oil
Unlike some of the other oils on this list, grapeseed oil has a distinct flavor that is slightly fruity and light.
So as long as that taste is appropriate for the kind of meal you are making it’s an ideal substitute.
Its high smoke point makes it good for deep frying, but where grapeseed oil really shines is on things like a salad where you get a clearer picture of the delicious flavor it adds.
9. Soybean Oil
Another great choice for the health-conscious, with a good amount of unsaturated ‘heart healthy’ fatty acids, is generally considered a more healthy option than both corn oil and olive oil.
Like most things that come from soybean, it’s nice, clean, and will work well in most scenarios.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil comes with a bit of a price tag. It’ll also impart a bit of its signature coconutty flavor onto whatever you fry in it, but it’s fairly toned down and muted in flavor.
In fact, there aren’t many meals where coconut oil will do anything but enhance the flavor.
So providing you’re ok with the price tag coconut oil is one of the best around.
11. Light Olive Oil
For some people, the heavy fat content present in regular olive oil is not desirable. And as such, they lean toward light olive oil, which is essentially olive oil that has been further refined to remove some of those fats.
It has a fairly bland taste which may be a good or bad thing depending on what meal you are making. But this refining process also leaves it with a very high smoke point making it a good corn oil substitute.
12. Walnut Oil
The creation process of walnut oil is exceptionally simple, they are just walnuts that have been pressed to produce a golden brown oil that has a strong nutty, yet slightly sweet flavor.
Studies have shown some of the compounds found in walnut oil are also very good for your skin.
Cooking wise it works every bit as good as corn oil, the only thing to consider is if that flavor difference is something you are looking for.
How to choose the best corn oil substitute
While every substitute suggested here does work well, depending on your cooking scenario some might be more appropriate than others.
So here’s a quick recap of which substitute might be the best given a range of criteria.
If the flavor is a concern and you are not looking to impart anything ‘new’ into your dish we recommend canola oil.
This is probably the closest in terms of pure flavor that you’re going to find and particularly on dishes where you are specifically using the oil to add flavor this works a treat.
Almost all of the oils presented today have a fairly uniform viscosity and shouldn’t affect anything you are cooking in a major way. Pick your own favorite here as they’re all good!
Canola oil will be the best choice for the budget-conscious. It’s used widely throughout the world and as such is produced en-mass. You should be able to find canola oil at your local grocery store quite a bit cheaper than some of the others suggested.
If you want a substitute that’s always guaranteed to be available, butter is your best choice. It’s available everywhere and is broad and unspecialized enough to where you’ll never have trouble getting hold of this stuff.
Our top pick
Our pick for the best oil goes to Avocado Oil for its many health benefits and the fact its flavor is mild enough that it can be used in any cooking scenario you’d normally use corn oil. The difference will be near imperceptible.