Oils have lots of uses in cooking and baking, but is canola oil gluten free? If you’re on a strict gluten free diet and curious if you can use canola oil for baking and frying - you’re in luck!
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about canola oil and how it can be safe for anyone on a gluten free diet.
What is canola oil
Canola oil is a type of vegetable oil made from rapeseed. There are two types of canola oil: refined and cold-pressed (or expeller-pressed).
- Refined canola oil is made by heating then crushing the seeds. Solvents, water and acid are used to extract the oils and it may be bleached to be made lighter. The refining process removes any issues with taste, smell or composition and any solvents added during the refining process aren’t in the final product. (At least they shouldn’t be…)
- Cold-pressed or expeller-pressed canola oil is made by crushing the seeds within a press at low temperatures. No solvents or or chemicals are used, keeping the oil as natural as possible. (Fun fact: the “canola meal” left over from the crushed rapeseed during cold-pressing is used as feed for livestock and fertilizer!)
Canola is a popular crop and they can come in genetically-modified (GMO) or non-GMO varieties. Some GMO canola has been genetically altered to increase the composition of omega-3 fatty acids (more on those in a bit) and make it resistant to pesticides.
Given the option, I’d always go for non-GMO, organic, cold-pressed canola oil. It’s the healthier choice.
What is canola oil used for
Canola oil is a high smoke point and a neutral taste, so it’s the perfect candidate for deep frying. It can also be used in the following ways:
- As a fat in baking (to replace butter)
- The primary cooking oil in sauteing, grilling and roasting
- An ingredient in salad dressings, marinades and commercial margarines
Canola oil is also used in non-food applications. It can be an ingredient in lubricants, biodiesel, bioplastics, and household items such as lipsticks and candles!
Is canola oil gluten free?
Guess what?! Pure canola oil is naturally gluten free, so it’s perfectly fine for a gluten free diet!
However, as with all food products, be sure to check the product ingredients and the packaging for any warning labels, as the canola oil can become contaminated with gluten during processing and packaging.
What brands of canola oil are gluten free?
- Is Great Value canola oil gluten free? Yes! The pure canola oil from Great Value is gluten free. (Be sure to check the ingredient listing on the Great Value Canola Oil Cooking spray, though, as some labels indicate it may contain traces of wheat.)
Before you head out to the grocery store, here are a few more brands of canola oil that are safe for people with celiac disease and anyone else on a strict gluten free diet:
- Spectrum: they offer two versions of refined canola oil - one is organic and the other is not (but both are non-GMO).
- Native Harvest: sells all non-GMO, expeller-pressed canola oils.
- Simple Truth: organic, non-GMO and expeller-pressed.
- Farm to Market: organic, non-GMO and expeller-pressed.
- Mazola: their pure canola oil and cooking spray is gluten free.
- Crisco: their pure canola oil and cooking spray is gluten free.
- Kirkland Signature: need a ton of canola oil? Costco offers two 3-quart jugs! (Now that’s a lot of oil…)
Is canola oil bad for you?
Oils can have a bad reputation because they are full of fats, but the honest truth is - you need some fat in your diet to survive!
Before you run out and guzzle a glass of vegetable oil - I should warn you that not all fats are created equal. They have different compositions (fatty acid content) and can impact your health in different ways. Read below to learn about specific fats you should (and shouldn't) include in your diet.
The short answer: canola oil is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, so it’s a better choice in the list of possible oils.
All about fats
Fats can fall into the following categories, based on the type of fat that the oil is primarily made of:
- Polyunsaturated & Monounsaturated: these are considered “good fats.” The easy way to remember is that they remain as a liquid at room temperature. They come from nuts, vegetables, seeds, and fish.
- If you wanna get technical, the poly- and mono- refers to hydrogen spaces that aren’t occupied in the fatty acid molecule. If you’ve ever heard of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids - they are polyunsaturated.
- Saturated: these fats primarily come from animal sources, such as meat and dairy, although coconut oil is high in saturated fats. They are typically solid at room temperature. Don’t go overboard with these fats (they are the “bad ones").
- If you wanna get technical, saturated fats have all their hydrogen “seats” filled, so the structure of these fats are rigid - that’s why they are solid. The bad news is - they also solidify your cells. Not want you want - especially when it comes to your heart health!
- Trans fat: the nastiest of the bunch, these fats are formed when monounsaturated fats are heated during hydrogenation. This chemically alters the oil. They get rigid and act like saturated fat within the body. Avoid them as much as possible.
What’s the difference between canola oil and vegetable oil?
Since canola oil comes from rapeseed, it’s a type of vegetable oil.
Is that the same as the vegetable oil you can buy at the grocery store? Oftentimes, no. Pure canola oil is 100% rapeseed, but vegetable oil can be a blend of different oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, corn, palm, or safflower oils.
A note about deep fryers
Since canola oil is often used for deep frying, we should have a discussion about deep fryers. There are lots of crazy myths out there, so I really want to clear a few things up.
- Firstly, pure canola oil is naturally gluten free, but deep fryers are a hotbed for cross contamination. If a product is fried in a deep fryer that is also used for gluten foods, the deep fryer will 100% contain gluten and there’s a very high likelihood it will be transferred to other foods.
- Deep fryers will not burn off the gluten. I repeat - the deep fryer WILL NOT make the gluten magically disappear!
So, if you’re ready to devour some delicious fried food, you’ll need a dedicated deep fryer. Ask your restaurant server, or whoever is preparing the food, each and every time.
FAQs on other oils
Pure canola oil is safe for anyone on a strict gluten free diet, but what about these other oils?
- Is vegetable oil gluten free? It sure is!
- Is corn oil gluten free? You know it, my friend!
- Is olive oil gluten free? Yes - I use it all the time! Extra-virgin olive oil is my BFF!
- Is sunflower oil gluten free? Yeppers!
- Is coconut oil gluten free? Yes, and it’s a great substitute for butter, especially if you love the taste of coconut!
- Is soybean oil gluten free? Yes, soybeans are naturally gluten free.
So, if you noticed the pattern - all oils are naturally gluten free! Yay for us!
As always, double check the ingredients to make sure there are no sneaky gluten ingredients or warnings about cross contamination.
Happy cooking and baking!