Cooking With Walnut Oil: The Dos And Don’ts

Walnut oil is a flavorful oil extracted from walnuts and that is versatile enough to be used in a wide variety of dishes. However, it can be an expensive cooking oil, and it does have a few characteristics that you should keep in mind if you decide to use it. Here a few useful tips for cooking with walnut oil.

Do use walnut oil in small amounts

Virgin walnut oil has a strong flavor profile that can easily overpower the other flavors in a dish. The same goes for roasted walnut oil. In some dishes, you will be able to add a tiny amount of the oil, but the best option in others may be to dilute it. You can do this by adding a small amount of walnut oil to a neutral-tasting oil like canola oil or refined peanut oil. The walnut oil flavor will be less intense so that you can drizzle it on as a finishing oil without no worries about its flavor ruining your dish.

Do store walnut oil properly

With walnut oil, you will need a cool and dark storage space at a minimum. Ideally, you should store it in the refrigerator. Like many cold-pressed unrefined nut oils, walnut oil has a short shelf life. Once you open the container, you have about a year before it goes rancid and that’s assuming that you store it correctly. It can thicken in the refrigerator so allow it to warm up to room temperature before using it.

Do buy as little walnut oil at a time as you need

Because of its high cost and short shelf life, it is a good idea to buy walnut oil in small amounts.

Do use walnut oil in sweet preparations

One of walnut oil’s best qualities is its versatility — you can use it in desserts as well as in savory dishes. Its nuttiness complements chocolate and fruit. It works well in cakes and muffins. Use it to grease pans and dessert molds for cheesecakes and other molded desserts. You can add it to breakfast favorites like oatmeal and yogurt.

Do learn the differences between virgin and refined walnut oils

These oils have different properties and are typically used for different purposes. Like other virgin nut oils, virgin walnut oil is more aromatic and flavorful than the refined version. It is made with higher quality walnuts and will typically be more expensive than refined oil.

Refined walnut oil will be close to neutral in taste and will have a higher smoke point, which is the temperature at which the heated oil starts to smoke.

Do use walnut oil as a finishing oil

Where virgin walnut oil shines is as a condiment for cooked dishes. Drizzle it over savory dishes like pasta, salads and mashed potatoes. It also goes well with various cheeses and roasted vegetables.

Don’t use virgin walnut oil for frying

Because of its low smoke point, virgin walnut oil is unsuitable for frying. In theory, you could use it as long as you never heated it above 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 °C); however, you would be running the risk of burning the oil and losing some of its best qualities.

Roasted walnut oil is also a poor frying oil because the nuts from which it was extracted have already been roasted. The oil has some of the nut’s roasted compounds to give it flavor. Heating it again would risk burning it and producing a bitter flavor.