Culinary Arts

What Is Grapeseed Oil? Learn How to Cook With Oil Made From Grape Seeds

Written by MasterClass

Jul 8, 2019 • 2 min read

Considered by many the most neutral of the neutral oils, grape-seed oil lets other flavors shine.

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What Is Grapeseed Oil?

Grape-seed oil is a cooking oil made from the seeds of grapes, a byproduct of winemaking. First developed by the French, grapeseed oil has been used in Europe since the 1930s and became popular among chefs stateside in the ’90s. Since grape seeds yield such a small amount of oil (only 8–20 percent of the seed contains oil), it can be pricey, but it’s prized for its truly neutral, clean taste.

Mostly composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids, grape-seed oil may break down in very high-heat applications such as deep-frying, but is great for moderately high temperatures or medium-heat cooking, like sautéing.

How Is Grapeseed Oil Made?

When grapes are pressed into juice to make wine, their seeds are either discarded, or processed into grapeseed oil. There are two ways of doing this: The more efficient (and predominant) method uses a chemical solvent to get the most out of the seed’s meager oil supply. The other method, known as cold-pressing or expeller-pressing, involves mechanically squeezing the oil out of the seeds, and yields a more expensive and some say better-quality product, since there’s no possibility of solvent residue.

What Is the Difference Between Grapeseed Oil and Olive Oil?

Both grapeseed oil and olive oil are made from seeded fruits, but olive oil is made from the pulp of the olive fruit, which contains about 20–30 percent oil, and grape-seed oil comes from the grape’s seeds alone, which contain about half that amount of oil. Unrefined, extra-virgin olive oil is prized for its strong flavor, which can be fruity, buttery, spicy, or grassy. In contrast, even the fanciest cold-pressed grapeseed oil is valued for the exact opposite: its relative flavorlessness.

What Are the Benefits of Cooking with Grapeseed Oil?

Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point (about 420-445°F) for a vegetable oil, so it’s unlikely to oxidize and produce off flavors during higher-temperature cooking. The combination of its high smoke point and very neutral flavor makes grapeseed oil one of the most versatile options in the kitchen.

4 Ways to Incorporate Grapeseed Oil Into Your Cooking

Use grapeseed oil whenever you want to add fat, but not flavor, to a dish.

  1. Try it in baked goods instead of canola oil.
  2. Take advantage of grapeseed oil’s high smoke point for searing, grilling, and sautéing foods that are flavorful on their own, such as a well marbled steak.
  3. Grapeseed oil also works for raw applications, such as salad dressing or mayonnaise.
  4. Use it to stretch more flavorful oils, such as extra-virgin olive oil or pricy nut oils.

How to Substitute Grapeseed Oil in Cooking

Most refined vegetable oils are almost flavorless and so can be used interchangeably: think, corn oil, canola oil, and even sunflower oil and safflower oil. When cooking at higher temperatures, such as stir-frying, make sure you’re substituting oils with similar smoke points for each other, and keep in mind that you’ll change the flavor profile of a dish if you swap grapeseed oil for a more flavorful oil, such as sesame oil or coconut oil.

What Are the Health Benefits of Grapeseed Oil?

In terms of nutrition, grapeseed oil is a significant source of both vitamin E and omega 6 fatty acids. One tablespoon of grapeseed oil contains about nine milligrams (19 percent of the recommended daily value) of vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that neutralizes free radicals to support immune function. Grapeseed oil is made up mostly of polyunsaturated fat (68 percent) with small amounts of monounsaturated (16 percent) and saturated fats (11 percent).

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