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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can I substitute grapeseed oil for canola oil in baking?

We have been substituting canola oil for shortening in an old cupcake recipe. There seems to be no difference in the results. Now I am wondering if I can substitute grapeseed oil for canola oil in the same cupcake recipe?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

grapes cut in half to expose the seeds alongside a vial of grapeseed oil

Yes, you can use grapeseed oil as a fat substitute in muffins and quick breads.

The challenge for you might be the flavor of the oil. One of the reasons that I like to use canola oil in muffins is because it has very little flavor, where grapeseed oil can be somewhat fruity. It doesn't have quite the flavor of grapes or of olive oil, but it might affect the taste of your baked goods.

The muffin and quickbread recipes on the Dr. Gourmet Web site do use canola oil and often egg yolks and/or butter for the fat. You need some fat (but not as much as many recipes contain) because it helps to trap the carbon dioxide that the baking powder and baking soda give off when they react with the acid (buttermilk is a great choice for the acid in baked goods). The fat offers some elasticity when the bread or muffins are rising.

Thanks for writing.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet