What’s the best oil for baking?

This post is sponsored by the United Soybean Board through Kitchen PLAY.

When I first started testing recipes professionally more than 20 years ago, I had A LOT to learn. Sure, I was a more savvy baker than your average 23-year-old. My grandmother made sure of that with her years of teaching me the difference between a dry measuring cup and a liquid measuring cup, understanding the difference between baking soda and baking powder, and so on. But one thing I didn’t learn until later in my career is how important choosing the best oil for baking could be.

If you’ve been around this blog and my podcast for any length of time, you no doubt know that my happy space is always a moment in time dusted with flour as I’m measuring, mixing, and baking up goodies for my family.

(Side note: If you want to find a way to bake more for YOUR family, my Healthy Everyday Baking e-book is the best place to start!)

And while part of the joy in baking is simply in the act of connecting art and science, I certainly don’t want to spend my time baking goodies that turn out dry, crumbly, and/or have an “off taste” for my taste testers.

That’s where baking with soybean oil comes in.

Soybean oil? Wait Regan. Whatcha talkin’ about. I’ve never seen a recipe calling for soybean oil.

Nor will you… at least not at the moment. That’s because in the U.S. most of the oil labeled as “vegetable oil” at the grocery store is actually 100% soybean oil. So, when you’re adding vegetable oil to your grocery cart, it’s actually soybean oil. Who knew, right?

(Well I did. But I’m supposed to. That’s what I’m here for.)

Anyway, back to why I bake with soybean oil. First and foremost, it keeps baked goods moist. Getting the right ratio of liquid and dry ingredients in baked goods is crucial to their success. And while historically, a lot of baking recipes have called for butter, I’ve found that it can result in baked goods that aren’t as moist as those made with soybean oil. Think about it. Butter is solid at room temperature. Once your baked goods cool, the butter inside will firm up and leave the texture less moist than before. Soybean oil doesn’t do this. When used in baked goods, it yields a finished product that’s as moist once it’s cooled as it is when fresh from the oven.

Next, I like baking with soybean oil because it’s so light and neutral in flavor. This is really important when you’re playing around with flavor combinations like spices in pumpkin bread or lemon zest in blueberry muffins. I want my oil to do its job functionally in baking, not compete for top billing in the flavor category.

But Regan. You’re a dietitian. Isn’t nutrition important to you when baking?

Yes. Of course! And baking with soybean oil checks that box just fine IMHO. Soybean oil is one of the few non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids AND there’s scientific evidence that suggests that soybean oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

So, the next time you’re ready to join me in my happy place and bake something yummy for your family, keep these tips in mind! ~Regan


Need some baking inspiration? Start with these family-friendly chocolate muffins.

best oil for baking
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Chocolate Muffins

best oil for baking
  • Author: Regan Jones, RDN
  • Yield: 9 muffins 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (100% soybean oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 9 muffins cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, oil and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Add most of chocolate chips to batter, saving a few to sprinkle over tops of muffins.
  4. Divide batter evenly amoung muffin cups; sprinkle with reserved chocolate chips. Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in ceter comes out clean.

Sources:
https://www.soyconnection.com/soy-for-the-food-industry/consumer-insights
https://www.soyconnection.com/healthprofessionals

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