Sunflower oil is a popular ingredient in cooking at home and in processed foods at the store. It has multiple health benefits and is even used in skincare. But if you can’t find any sunflower oil, there are plenty of replacements that work just as well.
The 14 Best Sunflower Oil Substitutes That You Should Try
Some of the best substitutes for sunflower oil are other oils like safflower, vegetable, peanut oil, walnut, canola, grapeseed oil, corn oil, flaxseed, avocado, coconut, soybean, cottonseed oil, and butter.
What is Sunflower Oil?
Sunflower oil is probably something you’ve seen at the store or in a kitchen in a recognizable plastic bottle. Sunflowers have been cultivated for thousands of years, for not only culinary purposes, but also medicinal and cosmetic ones. Sunflower oil is also a very common ingredient in all types of processed foods.
Sunflowers are native to North America as a crop, but European explorers brought them home in time. Russia and Ukraine began planting them at incredibly quick rates for oil production. When word got back to the U.S. that this was happening, this country began doing the same.
To this day, despite sunflowers being native to the continent North America, Ukraine makes up for almost half of the overall sunflower oil market. Since the invasion of Ukraine, sunflower oil has become much more difficult to find for people all over the world.
Is Sunflower Oil Healthy for Cooking?
When compared to other cooking oils, sunflower oil has one of the lowest contents of saturated fats. It is considered one of the healthiest oils that one could use for cooking. It is high in necessary fatty acids, making it heart healthy and a good source of vitamins E and K.
What are Great Alternatives for Sunflower Oil?
46% of the world’s sunflower oil comes from Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you may have noticed that sunflower oil is more scarce than it used to be. But, there are plenty of alternatives that are just as good.
1. Safflower Oil
The safflower plant, where safflower oil comes from, is in the same family as sunflowers. The main purpose for cultivating safflowers is to make cooking oil. Due to the fact that it comes from the same family that sunflower oil does, safflower oil makes for a promising substitute.
Safflower oil that has been refined has an extremely high smoke point, 510 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking point of unrefined safflower oil is about half that, 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Safflower oil contains fatty acids that promote heart health and reduce inflammation.
2. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil, like sunflower oil, is neutral in both color and taste, so it can easily be a sunflower oil replacement. It is made from a mixture of various plants, seeds, and grains, making vegetable oil an easy option to use for cooking.
3. Peanut Oil
With peanut oil, you are more likely to notice a difference in taste in recipes where you replaced sunflower oil. It is perfect to use when frying foods, and is a saturated fat. Supposedly, cold pressed peanut oil is a healthier version of peanut oil. It is especially popular in Asian cuisine so may be easier to find at Asian supermarkets.
As it is made from crushed peanuts, this sunflower oil alternative should not be used by those who are allergic. Like sunflower oil, it is considered to be heart healthy because it has high amounts of vitamin E. Some studies have shown that peanut oil can help control insulin for those with diabetes.
4. Walnut Oil
Walnut oil can be more difficult to find than many of the other oils on this list. It isn’t recommended to use in high heat settings, but makes for a great salad dressing or for walnut bread. If you settle on walnut oil, keep in mind that it doesn’t last very well and will need to be replaced often.
5. Canola Oil
Canola is an ideal oil for cooking because it hardly has any flavor and is low in saturated fats. For high heat frying, use cold-pressed canola oil.
6. Corn Oil
Corn oil is high in necessary good fats that can improve cholesterol levels and exude antioxidants. It’s another somewhat healthy replacement for sunflower oil that has a mild flavor and color, so it is unlikely to be noticed in cooking.
7. Grapeseed Oil
This is a type of vegetable oil that is derived from grape seeds. The seeds usually are what’s leftover when wine is made. They are pressed to create this odorless and light oil which has a slightly nutty taste.
It is popular in the skincare industry as well as the cooking one because it is high in antioxidants and vitamin E. When it comes to skincare, grapeseed oil helps with redness, scars, and hydrating the skin. For cooking, it is great for any purpose because it has a high smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Flaxseed Oil
As the name would suggest, flaxseed oil is created with the seeds from flax. The seeds are dried and pressed to produce this pale yellow, odorless oil. It is also sometimes called linseed oil.
Flaxseed oil is another heart healthy option, and some studies have shown that it helps reduce the production of cancer cells. It is also used to treat digestive issues. One downside of flaxseed oil is that it has a considerably low smoke point (225 degrees Fahrenheit) so it should not be used for high-heat cooking.
Flaxseed oil is the sunflower oil substitute for something like a salad dressing. Many people like to use it to finish off rice, soups, smoothies, and desserts.
9. Avocado Oil
There are two types of avocado oil; refined and unrefined. The type of avocado oil depends on how much it was processed. Unrefined or extra virgin avocado oil is deep green in color and has the taste of avocados. Its smoke point is about 428 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refined avocado oil has a higher smoke point, at 520 degrees Fahrenheit, and is much lighter in color and more neutral in taste. Avocado oil is known for its health benefits. It is rich in omega-9 fatty acids that can help manage cholesterol and inflammation.
It is also a great source of vitamins E and A. Because of avocado oil’s versatility and nutritional profile, it is a coveted replacement for sunflower oil. It can be used in high heat settings as well for low heat settings such as salad dressings and marinades.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It is healthy for both your internal body and your skin, and is a favored ingredient in many skincare products. Specifically, it helps with acne breakouts, wound healing, and moisturizing.
The smoke point of coconut oil is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect option for sauteing or stir frying. There are two types; extra virgin and refined. Extra virgin coconut oil has a distinct coconut flavor, while refined coconut oil has a more clear taste.
11. Olive Oil
Olive oil is popular to use for cooking and baking, but also has medicinal and cosmetic purposes. The smoke point of olive oil is somewhere between 374 and 405 degrees Fahrenheit. There are three types of olive oil that are classified by how they were processed; refined, virgin, and extra virgin.
The most processed type of olive oil is refined, while the least processed is extra virgin olive oil. In other words, the healthiest type of olive oil is extra virgin. Olive oil can help reduce inflammation and the risk of diseases, as well as lowering cholesterol.
It is also high in antioxidants and vitamins E and K. Olive oil is the best sunflower oil replacement for bread dips, pastas, and salads.
12. Soybean Oil
Soybean oil is generally one of the most popular cooking oils. Its smoke point is between 453 and 493 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a perfect choice for high-heat settings like grilling and roasting. It has been shown to be heart and bone healthy because it is high in unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin K.
13. Cottonseed Oil
This oil comes from the seeds on cotton plants. Its color is a deep yellow but it is very mild in flavor. Cottonseed has a considerably high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is a great option when you are cooking at high heats.
It is a common ingredient in many processed foods because it can help extend shelf life. In addition, cottonseed oil may be used in salad dressings and oils. It also helps to moisturize and reduce inflammation in the skin.
If you don’t have any sunflower oil on hand, you probably do have butter. Its smoke point is 350 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a sufficient choice for sauteing, baking, roasting, and grilling. It can also be combined with other oils to enhance the flavor of your recipe.
Butter adds a nice creaminess to dishes without altering the taste too much, and is a common cooking ingredient. It has many vitamins, including vitamins A, E, and K. The only downside about using butter is that it’s high in calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight, butter might not be the best option for you.
Which is the Best Alternative for Sunflower Oil?
If you’re looking to replicate the properties of sunflower oil, opt for safflower or vegetable oil. They both have similar smoke points and health benefits, and are mild in color and flavor. In addition, they are both pretty common and shouldn’t be hard to track down.
Where to buy sunflower oil?
Sunflower oil is likely available at your local grocery store, but can also be bought at mass retailers online.
Is sunflower oil the same as vegetable oil?
Sunflower oil is a type of vegetable oil. They are made using the same process, and are very similar in their chemical makeup. They both are high in necessary good fats, and low in saturated bad fats.
Is sunflower oil a bad fat?
The fats in sunflower oil are known as monounsaturated fats. These are known to be “good” fats, because they are unsaturated. They have been shown to improve heart health and lower inflammation.
Sunflowers are native to North America, but Ukraine produces 46% of the world’s supply of sunflower oil. Since the recent invasion of Ukraine, this may make sunflower oil increasingly difficult to find. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of alternatives that work just the same.