Sunflower Oil: A Multi-Use Ingredient

Oils are indispensable when it comes to cooking and there is an everlasting debate as to which oil is the best for cooking. Oils are used for almost all types of cooking from baking to sauteing to frying; oils that can tackle all three applications are especially useful to have on hand. One of the most popular oils used for cooking is sunflower oil. 

History Of Sunflower Oil

Sunflowers are indigenous to North America where they have been cultivated by Native Americans for thousands of years. Sunflowers were eventually brought to Russia where they became an important crop not only for their seeds, but also for their oil. The commercial production of sunflower oil began in Russia and Eastern Europe around 1830. 

Image Credit: moritz320 from Pixabay 

Eventually, sunflower oil was brought back to Canada by the Russian immigrants where it eventually spread to the rest of the Americas. To this day, Ukraine and Russia are the leading producers of sunflower oil. 

Flavor and Appearance Of Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is an amber-colored and clear liquid at room temperature. It has a slightly fatty odor, but is predominantly neutral. Sunflower oil is a mild oil that is mainly used for cooking. Sunflower oil has almost very little flavor to no flavor at all.

Type of Sunflower Oil and Culinary Benefits

Sunflower oil is famous for being rich in Vitamin E content. It is also perfect for frying and sauteing. Its high smoke point means that it can be used for a variety of high heat applications. There are two types of sunflower oil produced today: unrefined sunflower oil and refined sunflower oil. 

Refined sunflower oil is more heat-stable than unrefined; it can be used for cooking in low and high temperatures but it has less nutrients than unrefined. Refined sunflower oil also has a longer shelf life compared to unrefined sunflower oil. Refined sunflower oil can be used for frying and sauteing. Refined sunflower oil can replace other oils to fry or saute vegetables or meat. It can be used to roast potatoes, make fries, and even stir fry vegetables. You can enjoy this delicious braised vegetable recipe by using sunflower oil, or use sunflower oil in this Turkish delight! 

Because unrefined sunflower oil is so delicate, it is best used as a salad dressing or other low heat application. Unrefined sunflower oil is commonly used in salads in Eastern European countries. Sunflower oil is also used to make sunflower butter. Sunflower oil can also be used for baking dishes like cake as a replacement for butter, just like many other vegetable oils. Try out our tangy lemon cake using some sunflower oil.


Sunflower oil is manufactured in low temperatures and it is optimum to maintain and store sunflower at a lower temperature in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. 

Unrefined sunflower oil is less heat stable, while unrefined oil can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. Unopened sunflower oil can last up to 2 years in the refrigerator or normal pantry conditions. 

Opened sunflower oil, if maintained in proper conditions, can last 3 to 6 months. Sunflower oil has a fairly long shelf life compared to other vegetable oils. 

Image Credit: Flickr user torange.bizCC BY 4.0 )

Feature Image: Flickr user wuestenigel ( CC BY 2.0 )

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