What is neutral oil? What’s the best one to use in recipes that call for it? Here’s what we recommend and why.

Neutral oil

Making a recipe that calls for neutral oil and not sure what to use? Baking recipes like our healthy banana muffins or banana bread call for this type of oil. What is it? A neutral oil is a cooking oil that has a neutral flavor vegetable or grapeseed. This sets them apart from stronger flavored oils like olive oil and avocado oil. These oils often aren’t used in baking because of their strong flavor.

If you’re making a recipe that calls for neutral oil, which should you use? Here are our top recommendations.

Best neutral oil for cooking

1. Grapeseed oil.

The best neutral oil? Grapeseed. We prefer grapeseed oil because it’s made with a natural processing method. It has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. Grapeseed oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which can be a heart-friendlier option butter, margarine or shortening, (Here’s more on nutrition of grapeseed oil.)

2. Organic vegetable oil or canola oil.

The neutral oil you may already have in your pantry is vegetable oil or canola oil. These work great for most cooking and baking needs. Look for organic versions to ensure best quality.

3. “Light” olive oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil (in a pinch).

Light olive oil, sunflower and peanut oil are a light flavored oils, though they do have a stronger flavor than grapeseed or vegetable oil. However, they will definitely work and the flavor likely won’t have a large effect on the overall recipe.

Here are some recipes that use these types of oils:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. HI, Just found your site – looks great! I’m going to try the muffin recipes right away. Best site I’ve found for healthy cooking that has recipes that use foods I am familiar with.