Canola oil and soybean oil are two of the world’s most popular cooking oils. Their main benefits include versatility and affordability. While similar in many respects, they are not the same product and do have some different characteristics. Let’s compare canola and soybean oils via the SPICEography Showdown below:
How does canola oil differ from soybean oil?
Canola oil and soybean oil have different sources. As their names suggest, canola oil and soybean oil come from different plants. Canola oil comes from a kind of rapeseed that was developed in Canada in the 1950s to eliminate poor flavor and other unwanted characteristics in rapeseed oil.
Soybean oil is extracted from the soybean legume. It began in Ancient China as a byproduct of making soy meal, which is a valuable animal feed.
Canola oil and soybean oil can have very different flavor profiles. Canola oil has a very mild buttery taste but is otherwise neutral. In fact, the flavor profile is so subtle that most people would perceive no flavor at all.
Soybean oil is processed to be similarly neutral, but its flavor can return. The returned flavor is called reversion flavor and gives the oil a beany, vegetal flavor that some people find unpleasant.
Canola and soybean oils have different nutritional profiles. Both are considered to be highly nutritious oils and contain some of the same healthy compounds but there are some key differences. Soybean oil is a better source of vitamin K per serving but Canola oil contains more vitamin E.
Canola oil might be the more heart-healthy of the two options since it has significantly less saturated fat compared to soybean oil. Both oils offer significant amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, but soybean oil contains much more of it. Omega-6 fatty acids are important for health but only in moderation. Too much omega-6 can cause inflammation and the health problems associated with it.
Can you use canola oil as a substitute for soybean oil and vice versa?
Canola oil has a neutral flavor profile, which makes it a good substitute for any other cooking oil that is also supposed to be almost flavorless. Ideally, soybean oil is supposed to be neutrally flavored too so canola oil can make an excellent substitute for it. Use canola oil in any application that requires soybean oil.
Soybean oil can make a good substitute for canola oil if it has a neutral flavor. The problem with soybean oil is that its strong beany flavor can return during storage even after the oil has been filtered and deodorized. It can affect the flavor profile of foods too much to be considered a good canola oil substitute.
When should you use canola oil and when should you use soybean oil?
Canola oil is the ultimate general-purpose cooking oil. You can use it in uncooked applications, but it is generally reserved for cooking since it has a high smoke point, which means that you can cook with it at high temperatures without it breaking down into toxic compounds. Canola oil is one of the best oils for stir- and deep-frying.
Soybean oil can be used in much the same way as canola oil but is typically used only as a cooking oil. It has a high smoke point that makes it suitable for high-temperature cooking. The fact that soybean oil can have a strong flavor means that it is best suited for highly seasoned dishes where the flavor won’t be easily detected. Use it in stir-fried dishes, curries and chili.