Healthy fats are so important because they’re the basis for good health! When you’re eating a lot of the wrong type of fats, you’re going to experience a lot of inflammation in your body—something we definitely don’t want!
So, let’s talk about some of my favorite paleo oils for cooking and baking!
1. Coconut Oil
This is definitely one of the top choices in the paleo community and has been used for centuries in tropical areas of the world. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it’s such a naturally occurring oil that doesn’t have to go through a lot of processing.
Another reason I love coconut oil is that it’s high in saturated fats!
Now if you’re like most people you’re probably thinking something like, “Kesley, what are you talking about. Aren’t saturated fats bad for us?!” I know, we’ve been told for the longest time that we should stay away from saturated fats, but guess what? That’s not true! Saturated fats and important for brain and heart, plus they’re in every cell of our bodies. Plus, the saturated fat if coconut oil, lauric acid, is thought to have anticancer properties.
Another thing that’s interesting about coconut oil and some of the other oils on this list is that when it’s saturated, it’s solid at room temperature. Now, this is different from products like shortening, which is solid at room temperature and are saturated due to a chemical process—not naturally.
One last thing to pay attention to when choosing oils is the smoking point. When an oil starts to smoke while we’re cooking with it means that fat molecules are breaking down and turning into free radicals which create a lot of inflammation! So one thing to look for in oils is the smoking point—with coconut oil that’s 350ºF. This makes it great for sauteing and light baking.
What should you look for in coconut oil?
The type of coconut oil that I use and recommend is expeller pressed or cold pressed virgin coconut oil, raw is great too but that’s usually more expensive and out of most people’s budget. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s organic, it actually doesn’t make a huge difference with coconut oil.
If you don’t like the flavor of coconut oil, ghee the next best thing! Ghee is a derivative of butter, just pure butter fat, but even if you’re lactose intolerant, don’t be afraid to give this a shot! Many people that don’t digest lactose well can use ghee without any issues because it has all the lactose and casein streamed out!
This is the perfect solution if you’ve been missing butter in your paleo diet because it still has that really yummy buttery flavor!
Ghee, unlike butter, has a really high smoke point—485º! That means that it’s perfect for cooking and roasting at higher temperatures.
Like coconut oil, ghee is a naturally saturated fat, so it’s solid at room temperature.
What type of ghee is the best?
Since it’s coming from a dairy source, you want to make sure that the ghee you’re purchasing is coming from an organic source. Toxins are stored in fat, and because ghee is purely butter fat, any of the toxins from conventionally raised cows are going to be contained in that butter.
3. Avocado Oil
Definitely one of my favorites! I love avocados, but even if you’re not a fan, you shouldn’t write off avocado oil because it actually has a really mild and neutral flavor.
Like coconut oil, avocado oil is minimally processed. Basically, they mash up the flesh of the avocado (like you would do to make guac) and then put it into a machine that spins it around so fast that the oils and water separate from the fruit. Once they’re separated, they heat up the fluids just enough to evaporate any of the water that’s in there!
Unrefined avocado oil has a really high smoke point and is really safe to cook with! Close the ghee, avocado oil has a smoke point of 480º.
4. Bacon Fat
Guys, this is something that we can get for free! One thing that I love so much about paleo diets is that fact that we get to eat bacon, but if you’re tossing out that oil after cooking it, you’ve been doing it all wrong.
Bacon fat is actually a really great cooking oil—SUPER delicious and has a high smoke point of 375º. Plus, it’s just a great excuse to make more things taste like bacon! Can you ever have too much bacon flavor?
What I do is allow the oil to cool a little bit and then pour it into a glass jar and store it in my fridge. But make sure you’re buying healthy, high-quality bacon, without nitrates or sugar.
Some alternatives to bacon fat are duck fat and beef tallow – these two might be a little bit shocking, but both are minimally processed fats and they’re both naturally saturated and have higher smoking points!
Duck fat has such a delicious flavor, you’ll often see it used in fancy restaurants use to make things like fries—the flavor is amazing! If you want a great recipe using duck fat check out these Celery Root “Fries” that I shared a while ago. One thing that makes it so great for cooking is its smoke point of 375º.
Beef tallow is pretty similar, a little more solid than duck fat, and again, super delicious! Plus, it has a slightly higher smoke point than duck fat at 400º.
Have you ever made beef in the slow cooker, you didn’t eat it all that night, and then you popped it in the fridge with all the liquid? When you take it out of the fridge the next day you’ll see that spots of solidified fat at the top. Most people will scoop it off and throw it away, but you can actually strain it and use it for cooking!
5. Olive Oil
This is a really great source of mono- and saturated fat. But a lot of people have so many questions about it!
It only has a smoke point of about 320º, so it’s not the best for cooking, so use it sparingly. What I recommend is using it for salad dressings—that’s where you going to get the most benefits from this oil.
And, as with all your oils, make sure that you’re getting good high-quality olive oil!