Vegetable oils get a bad rap. Sure, they’re laden with fats and lacking in proteins, but surely that doesn’t mean they’re useless for the human body, does it?
No, it doesn’t. In fact, some vegetable oils are downright beneficial. It all comes down to the precise mix of fats — omega-3s, omega-6s, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated — in the oil, plus the vitamins and minerals present in between all that lipid-y goodness.
One oil that’s particularly maligned — and particularly unfairly, at that — is cottonseed oil. By most objective measures, cottonseed oil is among the healthiest of the commonly used vegetable oils. It has a great mix of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, not to mention a host of healthy vitamins and minerals. In fact, it’s one of the best sources of Vitamin E around.
Convinced that it’s time to give cottonseed oil a closer look? Great. Here are three heart-healthy cottonseed oil recipes that are sure to satisfy your appetite without denting your diet.
1. Buttery (Except Not) Beignets
Flaky, buttery pastries require actual butter, right? Not when they’re authentic, New Orleans-style beignets fried up perfectly in cottonseed oil.
Beignet recipe ingredients are straightforward: yeast, shortening, flour, confectioners’ sugar, evaporated milk, white sugar, eggs, salt, and warm water — and, most importantly, at least a quart of cottonseed oil for frying. These items are all either in your house already or available at your local supermarket for less than the cost of lunch at your favorite fast-casual restaurant.
2. Tangy Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce
Oil in barbecue sauce? Yep. The perfect Kansas City-style barbecue sauce demands a modest helping of vegetable oil to impart a smooth, rich flavor that’ll leave your guests’ mouths watering for more. According to the people who know these things — actual Kansas City barbecue chefs — cottonseed oil offers the best mix of heart-healthy nutritional power and light, neutral taste. This sauce’s other ingredients include:
- Tomato paste
- Cider Vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Kosher salt
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Dried mustard
- Ground black pepper
- Chili powder
- Crushed red pepper
3. Super Thai Stir Fry
There are as many ways to do a Thai stir fry as there are Thai cooks. It’s hard to go wrong with a simple plate of lightly fried vegetables and protein. But the medium does matter, and informal taste tests prove time and again that cottonseed oil is a superior frying substrate for this beloved dish.
To put your own spin on an Asian classic, add a few tablespoons of cottonseed oil to a hot skillet, then add chopped onions, peppers, broccoli, carrots and any other vegetables you see fit to toss in. Heat on medium-high for a few minutes, then cover and lower the heat. Add a few tablespoons of cottonseed oil to a separate hot pan, then lightly fry your choice of protein with your choice of seasonings on medium-high until cooked thoroughly. Blend the two pans, cook for a few more minutes, and serve with rice or noodles.
Add a Dash of Flavor
Regular ol’ cottonseed oil is a versatile, heart-healthy cooking aid that enlivens virtually everything it touches. If you’re looking for an extra-special flavor kick, though, make like the pros and reach for a bottle of flavor-infused cottonseed oil.
Which homemade cottonseed oil recipe are you most excited about?