Changed your diet and now have restrictions? Wanting to experiment with different oils and see if it changes the taste of your baked goods? Trying to lower your cholesterol and looking for a heart-healthy alternative to the oil you've been using? Not have any olive oil in your pantry? Whatever your reason for implementing sunflower oil into your baked goods, we've researched all about sunflower oil, and we'll share everything we've learned below!
Refined sunflower oil has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor profile, making it very suitable for use in baking.
Now that we've established you can, in fact, use sunflower oil in your baked goods, keep reading for information on the smoke point, shelf life, storage, and how to start substituting in a variety of ways with sunflower oil!
Baking with Sunflower Oil - Health Benefits
Sunflower oil has a neutral flavor profile and boasts many health benefits. It contains a healthy amount of monosaturated fats; these have been shown to reduce heart disease, making sunflower oil a heart-healthy choice for anyone looking to lower their LDL cholesterol.
It contains polyunsaturated fat, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood as well. Sunflower oil has also been found to be a good source of omega-3 and 6. It is rich in vitamins A and E, and antioxidants with claims it improves digestive health and has a mild laxative effect.
Sunflower Oil Smoke Point
Refined sunflower oil has a very high smoke point; this is important because the smoke point is when the oil starts to burn, releasing harmful chemicals making the oil less healthy for human consumption. It can also result in a bitter taste in food cooked with oil that has begun to smoke. Refined sunflower oil has a smoke point of 440°F, which makes it great for sauteing, baking, stir-frying, and even deep-frying.
Refined vs. Unrefined
Refined sunflower oil is extracted by applying a scientific process that extracts the oil from the seed; unrefined is obtained by cold pressing the seeds. Unrefined is a little harder to find, has a stronger flavor, and does not boast quite as high of a smoke point; it should only be used for no-heat, such as salad dressings or topical skin, hair, and soap-making recipes.
Sunflower Oil as a Fat Substitute
In addition to being used in place of many other oils in baking, you can use sunflower oil in place of butter or shortening in many cookie, brownie, and cake recipes. It is a favorite among vegan bakers due to the neutral flavor profile and healthy fats. So if you've changed to a vegan diet or want to go dairy-free, many vegan sunflower oil baking recipes online range from cookies, muffins, cakes, and bread.
What is the difference between sunflower oil and vegetable oil in cakes?
Sunflower oil is actually a popular oil used in most vegetable oils on the market. Most oils that are marketed as vegetable oil are actually a blend of canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm, and sunflower oils. So it makes for a great replacement in recipes that call for vegetable oil. You will want to use a 1:1 replacement ratio of sunflower for vegetable oils in cake recipes.
Sunflower oil has a very mild neutral flavor, and you are unlikely to notice or taste a difference; if you did, it would be a very mild one. When baking a cake with sunflower oil texture-wise, it will be identical to vegetable oils with no difference detected. Overall it makes a great replacement if you have run out of vegetable oil and have sunflower oil on hand or if you would like to test out a new oil to see how it performs.
There are dedicated cake recipes specifically for use with sunflower oil, like this deliciously soft, simple-to-make no oven recipe:
Can I substitute sunflower oil for olive oil in baking?
You can substitute sunflower oil for olive oil in baking. They are very similar oils, so it works easily as a replacement for olive oil. You will want to use the exact same 1:1 ratio of sunflower oil for olive oil if you are replacing it in your recipe. Sunflower oil does not have as strong of a flavor as olive oil does, so it will produce a more mild-flavored baked good in whatever you are substituting it in.
Can I substitute sunflower oil for butter in baking?
In most muffin, bread, and cake recipes, you can use a 1:1 substitution of oil for butter. One cup of butter equals one cup of sunflower oil. If you'd like the fat level the same, reduce one cup of oil by three tablespoons of oil in most recipes. If your recipe calls for a brush of butter over the top, you can also use sunflower oil for this step with near-identical results.
For cookies, it's a bit trickier. You'll want to add half the amount of oil for butter, so if your recipe calls for one cup of butter, you will want to add half a cup of oil. You will want to watch your dough closely, though, and add water as needed until the dough comes together, starting at one tablespoon at a time. Usually, if calling for a cup of butter replacement, about three tablespoons reach the desired consistency. If the dough starts to look greasy, add flour.
If you are working with a cookie recipe that calls for creaming the butter with sugar, it might be best to just avoid it altogether and find a different recipe. The oil doesn't carry the air bubbles necessary to create this creaming step.
Does sunflower oil go bad?
All oils go rancid. Most containers have a best buy date stamped on the lid or bottle. Visually it is very hard to tell when sunflower oil goes bad. It may change color some over time; this is nothing to be concerned over and is natural. Once opened, sunflower oil will last you about one year, as long as it is properly stored.
Once it has exceeded its shelf life, sunflower oil will go rancid. You can tell it's gone bad by a strong unpleasant odor. Always check your oil with a sniff before cooking with it; this easily prevents the possibility of digestive issues and an unpleasant aftertaste in whatever dish you have decided to use the rancid oil in.
How do you store sunflower oil?
The best way to store sunflower oil is in its original airtight container in a cool, dry place. A dark cabinet or dark pantry, away from heat and appliances, works best.
If you have a window in your pantry or no cabinet space, you can also store the opened container in the refrigerator. The oil may become cloudy or thick after being in the refrigerator, but just set it out on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes prior to use, and it should go back to its original state.
Sunflower oil is a great health-conscious choice for use in the kitchen. Whether you just want a substitution, are experimenting, or are making a heart-healthy lifestyle change, it boasts some wonderful health benefits and can be used in many baking situations. We hope we answered all your sunflower oil baking questions.
If you liked this article on sunflower oil, consider some of these other great articles from Kitchen Seer!