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Substitutes for Groundnut Oil

Asked by Sheikhy. Answered on 30th October 2010

Full question

Dear Nigella and Team, I am baking carrot cupcakes, the recipe I am working from requires groundnut oil, which of course I omitted to buy! Would substituting this with vegetable oil or sunflower oil produce a similar result? Kindest Regards E

Many of Nigellas receipes use groundnut oil as a flavourless medium, Is there an alternative as we live abroad and are unable to buy this? Many thanks.

Our answer

Groundnut oil is a flavourless oil made from peanuts. It is sold as peanut oil in North America and some other markets. Its high "smoke point" (meaning it can be heated to high temperatures without burning) and lack of flavour make it ideal for frying (both shallow and deep fat) and again its lack of flavour makes it a good choice for baking. Obviously you need to avoid it if cooking for people with nut allergies.

There are other oils which make good substitutes for groundnut oil as they are both flavourless and have high smoke points. Sunflower oil is an ideal substitute, as is rapeseed oil which is usually sold as vegetable oil in the UK and and canola oil in North America. If choosing rapeseed oil then go for the regular expeller pressed type for general cooking. The cold pressed type (such as Mellow Yellow) has a peppery flavour which is much better put to use in salad dressings. Corn oil is also a reasonable substitute. Olive oil and other nut oils should not be substituted for groundnut oil, they have strong flavours which will affect the end taste of cakes and muffins and are too expensive to waste on deep fat frying.

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