5 Fats You Should Be Cooking with - but May Not Be | Chris Kresser
Last Chance – ADAPT Health Coach Training Program Enrollment Ends May 26   Learn more

5 Fats You Should Be Cooking with – but May Not Be

by Chris Kresser

Last updated on

In a recent article I wrote on my other blog, 9 Steps to Perfect Health – #1: Nourish Your Body, I explained that saturated (SFA) and monounsaturated fats (MFA) are the preferred fuel source of the body. Another important benefit of LCSFA, and to a lesser degree MFA, is that they are stable at high temperatures and thus the safest fats to cook with.

With this in mind, here’s a list of my favorite cooking fats. Not just because they’re safe to cook with, but because they taste so good.

Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter, and it’s popular in Indian cooking. Because the milk solids have been removed, it’s very low in lactose and is almost entirely fat – mostly saturated. I tend to use ghee to brown meat and sautee garlic and onions when I make soups or stews, and I sometimes scramble my eggs in it. A tablespoon of ghee contains 8g SFA, 3.7g MFA fat and 0.5g PUFA.

Coconut oil

Along with ghee, coconut oil is one of the best fats to cook with because it’s almost entirely saturated. In fact, coconut oil is more than 90% saturated fat. While this makes it the devil according to the so-called medical authorities, we know better. In addition to being a great fuel source for the body, coconut oil has some unique properties. It is a special type of saturated fat called medium chain triglyceride (MCT). Unlike other fats, MCTs do not require bile acids for digestion. This means they are easily absorbed in the upper part of the small intestine. Coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid found in mother’s milk that is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Coconut oil has 4g of SFA, 0.3g of MFA and

Leaf lard

No self-respecting French chef would ever be without lard. Leaf lard is obtained from the visceral fat deposit surrounding the kidney and loin, and is considered the highest grade of lard because it has little pork flavor. This is why it’s prized in baking, where it’s used to make flaky, moist pie crusts, croissants and other non-Paleo delights. Lard is an incredibly versatile fat. I use mostly to roast vegetables. Unlike olive oil, vegetables roasted in lard do not get soggy or greasy. They stay crisp and almost dry, with a wonderful flavor. This surprises people because they think of lard as “greasy”. Not so. A tablespoon of lard has about 6g MFA, 5g SFA and 1.6g PUFA.

Duck fat

Let me just say this, if you’ve never had potatoes roasted or fried in duck fat, you haven’t had French fries. I mean that literally. Duck fat was what folks in Europe used to make the original French fries before industrial seed oils came along. Once you taste potatoes – or any vegetables – roasted or fried in duck fat, you’ll know why. A tablespoon of duck fat has 6 g MFA, 4 g LCSFA and 1.6 g PUFA.

Butter

Butter has a lower smoke point than the fats listed above, which makes it less suitable for high temperature cooking. However, it’s a great fat to use on top of fish or meat in the oven, or in stews or slow-cooked meals at lower temperatures. “Butter makes everything better” is exactly right. A tablespoon of butter contains 7.2g of SFA, 2.9g of MFA and 0.4g of PUFA.

What are you favorite uses for these fats? Let us know in the comments section.

  1. EVCoconut oil has no competitor,the benefits in antifungal etc make the difference for me and I love the flavour. The reason why people have health problems is not fats its Grains and sugar. Thats the poison people eat everyday.
    i used to get bloating from bread cereal and anything iwth flour. The only grain I currentnly eat if you can call it that is rice.
    I read mostly spinachs and vegetables tuna lemon apples salmon turkey and chicken ocasionaly…I eat honey or maple syrup as sweetener. And no matter how many say that egg yolks are good bacon and so on…I believe pork is not healthy. I dont feel good after eating it,I have yet to try it from grass fed organic farmers but those of you eating pork should think twice and wonder why so many religions avoid it. On the other hand I use tallow on my skin and is the best mousturizer ever.
    Dead meat should be eaten in moderation and fats should come from coconut oil alone.You can add maybe ghee or lard for flavouring but I would keep it to halt tspoon or 1,
    I think all that crazyness around EVOO is wrong,Im spanish and I have no reason to go against EVOO,its praised here as liquid gold but I stay away form it.ghee is better option but if I ave to choose EVCO is the king. Guys leave that pork alone trust me,eat turkey or grass fed cow meat without the fat. Dont touch sugar or grains and youll get to 100.Im 35 and people dont believe me they think Im 25 or less.No wrinkles 6 pack.
    fresh vegetables,fruits with not much sugar in it,quality meat ocasionally,tuna and salmon. Dont abuse egg yolk,add 1 yolk for 3 whites,you get the flavour and vitamins but dont store all that fat directly to your belly. get your energy from lemon,nuts…avoid diary and if you drink milk drink it lactose free. Sugar ,grains(bread corn etc) and diary should be avoid or reduce to minimum if you really want the perfect health, you are not a bird,and you are an adult.You dont need grains or milk. And remember there is not white sugar hangin on the trees.If you eat sugar should be ffrom a natural source,fruits o rhoney. Follow what I said and you will live forever. chick peas aare another thing you should eat almost everyday and green smothies of spinachs appples and lemon. Ok Im out

  2. What about for those on the Mediterranean Paleo diet? Do they use saturated fats to cook but less of it, or do they use something like avocado or macadamia instead? I know EVO is good too, but I’m specifically looking for a blander tasting oil. Any thoughts?

    • What a load of nonsense! this group need to go bck to their Bio-chemistry classes. They are still living the nonsense of the Keys hypothesis. Dietary long chain Saturated fats are transported to muscle and fat tissue directly from the gut via the Thoracic Lymph duct, by CHYLOMICRONS (which have nothing to do with LDL) Excess sugars from carbohydrate are turned into PALMITIC ACID by lipogenesis in the liver and transported by LDL to muscle and adipose tissue for storage. This death dealing Palmitic Acid they warn about is the primary fat produced by the liver and is also a major component of “Breast Milk”. So they must be suggesting that our body is hell bent on killing us and our offspring! I also wish they would refrain from banging on about Bad “Cholesterol” which is a complete misrepresentation of the real problem causing atheroschlerosis.

  3. Coconut oil:
    1) has to be cold-pressed to preserve its magical powers, BUT
    2) it’s totally stable and safe for frying.

    Can anyone resolve this?

    • It isn’t so much what refining takes away from virgin CO, but rather what it often adds (chemicals!) I happily use organic refined CO for deep frying and cooking stuff I don’t want tasting like coconut. I use virgin CO for fish, shrimp, sometimes chicken.

  4. In the 50’s my Gran and Grandad had a fish n chip shop at a English sea side resort. It was very difficult to get cooking oil in those days in enough quantity. My Grandad was a Belgian so he solved the problem by getting a supply of rendered horse fat (popular in Belgium) and mixing it with the regular oil. Not sure this was entirely legal and the customers did not know. They queued for fish and chips for half a block from morning until late at night and the fish and chips were rated the best in England. I can still remember the crowds.

  5. I don’t know. I’ve changed my opinion on the Paleo Diet and using coconut oil and animal fat, because now, after eating an incredibly healthy, organic Paleo diet my cholesterol has sky rocketed to 300 with very high LDL levels and I’m not too happy about that. Prior to my change in diet, my levels were normal. Goodbye coconut oil and animal fat!

    • Read “The Great Cholesterol Myth — Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease (Bowden and Sinatra). Apparently, research that has aimed to prove that high cholesterol in the blood leads to heart disease has failed to do so. Furthermore, there seems to be no link between dietary fat and blood cholesterol. These guys seem to have gone thru’ the literature, studies and research pretty exhaustively. One more thing: research now shows that there are good components of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and bad components HDL (the “good” cholesterol). In other words, the “traditional” way of evaluating cholesterol is oversimplified. You gotta wonder, why did heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes rates began to soar when we took saturated fats out of our diets decades ago?

      • Yessss. No one talks about this! If these fats are so terrible, why are people so much sicker now that those fats are disappearing off the shelves!?

  6. Actually, I have been to the french fry museum in Brugges, Belgium and french fries used to be fried in horse fat. Now, in Belgium, they predominately use beef tallow though at authentic frites places.

  7. I remember the way McDonalds French Fries tasted back in the 1960’s. They were at the time the most awesome fries you could get, just about anywhere. Their secret? Well for one thing, they used to cook them in lard. Cooking your French Fries in Duck Fat is even better and better for you. Duck fat is readily available at places like Whole Foods or Fairway and reasonable in price as well. For a higher end ‘gourmet’ Duck fat, you can try a place called D’Artagnon online as they are the suppliers for Michelin star restaurants and others around the world. Expensive, but the finest quality. Have fun and watch the faces of your friends and family when you serve them fresh French Fries cooked in Duck Fat. Don’t forget to cook your French Fries twice (and blanch them first). I use Jacques Pepin’s technique available for viewing on YouTube. Just search YouTube with the following: KQED: Essential Pepin Shorts, French Fries

  8. I’ve been using all of the above oils for as long as I can remember, and I’m 68. In fact, I just had some eggs (real range free, organic–brand name, “The Country Hen”) , cooked in so much Lard, (on a cast iron griddle), that it looked as though they were swimming in Lard. Then what I like to do, is as the eggs are slowly cooking, I will spoon the Lard over the eggs, instead of turning.

    I had some bacon, an English muffin smothered with so much (grass fed), butter, that the butter was pooling on my dish, I of course wiped that liquid gold up along with the egg yoke.

    I love cooking in Duck Fat, Ghee, and Coconut oil also, however, nothing beats eggs cooked in Lard!

    I also had a cup of organic coffee, and I only…only use heavy cream in my coffee, in fact, when I use milk, I only use 1/2 and 1/2 as my regular milk, as it reminds me of the way milk used to be when I was growing up, nice and creamy.

    I laugh when people say that saturated fat is bad for you, my brother used to say that to me, he said that I was going to die of a heart attack if I kept on eating so much saturated fat. You see, he listened to the doctors back then, (the 70’s/80’s), and only used margarine, no egg yokes, lo fat milk, vegetable oils, etc, and he died of a massive heart attack at the young age of 57!

    Our mother who also used to use saturated fat as I do, lived in her own apartment, did her own cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc, up until the week she died,….. at the age of 102!
    I’m 68, take zero medications, (not even an aspirin), I’m healthy, very little gray hair, my mind is as sharp as a tack..etc., etc.
    So all you saturated fat naysayers, try and learn instead of being parrots.

      • Johnny, I do believe David meant the word funny in another way than you took it… funny can also mean ironic. I have been widowed twice and would strongly suggest you abstain from judging another’s grief based on their verbiage. He makes a good point and you are missing it because you want to judge him. Is your mind closed or your heart that you are so quick to judge?

    • Hear! Hear! I eat lots of butter, animal fat and coconut oil. I’m trim and healthy at 63. I gain weight when I eat bread (the “healthy” complex carbohydrate)! Our brains need cholesterol; it’s what they’re mainly made of.

    • Of course, your brother might have carried a genetic difference. What is good for one person, may not be good for another. That’s the mysterious, difficult element of medicine.

    • Teach me your ways O grand wizard! 😉 I mean that in the best possible way!

      I was raised on as little fat as possible, no salt added to anything, zero dairy, little meat etc. and I’ve been sick most of my life. Now that I have added in loads of butter, coconut oil and meat along with a mostly paleo diet, my health is changing. I’ve never felt so good!

  9. Eggs, fried or scrambled in butter. Once the butter froths or bubbles, throw the eggs in, turn off the stove immediately, but don’t remove from heated plate. If frying; cover the pan until the eggs are cooked to your satisfaction. No need to turn over. If the butter has gone beyond the bubbly stage and has browned, then discard, and run the pan under cold water, as it’s too hot. Start again. Because your eggs will taste nasty if cooked in burnt butter.

  10. Sorry to rain on parade somewhat but that “They are happy because they eat lard” from the so called Lard Information Council was a spoof posted on the Active Low Carber Forum, of which I am a member, a few years ago by an English forum member.

    Having said that, I’ve just had a lovely dinner of lamb neck chop stew with turnips, celery, onions and carrots with a side of stir fried cabbage and bacon with duck fat. I also make my own ghee from grass fed butter, using a slow cooker/crockpot.

    • I did not know where the spoof came from but most people seemed to think it was a joke. Well it has come back to bite them now that the fat truth is coming out?

      I fortunately have not fallen for the low fat propoganda and just carry on as our ancesters used to, eating REAL food as God created it.

  11. Hi Chris,

    I wonder what your thoughts are about cooking with food grade cocoa butter. Its fatty acid profile looks ideal for cooking. It does have a pronounced taste that does not necessary “fit” in all recipes, but so does coconut oil in my opinion….

    Thanks,

    Dunia

  12. After reading about olive oils being mixed with other oils like canola, soybean, etc., I don’t know which organic EVOO might be safe! Chris, can you please help!

    • An incredibly reputable company, that I’ve been ordering many products from for quite awhile, is Tropical Traditions. Many of the Real Food bloggers will also recommend this. I love their Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They also sell some of the best quality coconut oil. They describe the process that their coconut oil goes through, compared to others. I hope this info is helpful to you! https://secure.ttpurchase.com/418913ED-D983-8C00-22E94EF4742B68DA

  13. Thanks for all the great information! fatworksfoods.com sells grass fed tallow, duck fat and lard out of Portland, and you can have it shipped to you. Their facebook page has a lot of great recipes and information, too.

Leave a Reply

[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]