Is Rapeseed Oil Vegan?
Rapeseed oil is a vegetarian, amber-coloured oil that comes from the oilseed-rape plant. It’s commonly used as a cooking oil and can be used as a vegan and gluten-free butter substitute in some baking recipes.
If you’ve ever driven past a giant field full of bright yellow flowers in the summer time, this was probably a rapeseed field. The yellow flowers are also known as oilseed-rape or canola flowers, and the seeds are squeezed to make oil.
Rapeseed oil is currently the 3rd most consumed oil in the whole world. It actually originates from Canada and was first created as a lubricant for machinery and oil lamps! It was named canola oil there, with the word meaning Canada and low acid (because the oil has a low erucic acid content). Canola oil is still the name most commonly used in North America for this oil.
In the UK and Australia, you’ll most often hear people using the name rapeseed oil. This name comes from the Latin word ‘turnip’, which may be confusing at first, but it makes sense once you realise they are both part of the same Brassicaceae family!
Is rapeseed oil vegan?
Yes. Rapeseed oil is vegan and vegetarian. The oil is extracted from flower seeds and does not contain any animal ingredients or byproducts, nor does the processing method.
It can be used in vegetarian or vegan cooking for frying, or in some dairy-free dessert recipes as a butter replacement. It works especially well as a substitute in recipes that call for melted butter. In fact, you’ll actually find that rapeseed oil is an ingredient in many vegan butters and margarines.
Is rapeseed oil good for frying?
Yes. Rapeseed oil is perfect for frying with a high smoke point of 230°C. The high smoke point means that more of the nutritional benefits of your food will be retained after you’re done cooking. It’s a great neutral-tasting oil for cooking but beware that hydrogenated oil is NOT a health food, so be careful how much rapeseed oil you consume. A cold-pressed rapeseed oil may be a better alternative.
Is rapeseed oil gluten-free?
Yes. Rapeseed oil is naturally gluten-free, as are most other cooking oils. It is mostly suitable for those who have coeliac disease. The only exception to this might be oils with flavourings added to them, which could contain gluten.
There may also be a risk of cross-contamination, depending on the brand you choose, so make sure to always check the label before you purchase it.
Ways to use it
If you have some of the oil to hand and are not sure how to use it, here are some ideas:
As mentioned earlier, this oil has a high smoke point of 230°C. I sometimes use it for frying pancakes when I’ve run out of coconut oil and vegan butter. It’s also good for frying vegetables and other food items that you want to retain flavour in. Sometimes when you fry with coconut or olive oil, the flavour can start to take over the whole dish. This won’t happen with rapeseed.
I would personally not recommend this oil for roasting. While it will work OK, the end result won’t taste as pleasant as something like olive oil. I recently roasted some vegetables with it and because it doesn’t have a strong flavour, it just tasted a bit greasy and bland.
If you’re on a budget, baking with oil is a great alternative to more expensive vegan butters or margarines. But if you look closely at the ingredients of these butters, you’ll see they’re mostly just a blend of oils anyway, along with a few extra ingredients to solidify it.
If you’re using a cake or cupcake recipe that calls for melted butter or melted margarine, you can use rapeseed oil instead. Due to its neutral flavour, this oil will not be noticeable in your final bake. Please note this will probably not work in other dessert recipes. Cakes, cupcakes and muffins are best. You can try it in any of the following vegan dessert recipes:
- Vanilla sprinkle cake
- Jam and coconut cake
- Banana cake
- Chocolate traybake
- Victoria sponge cake
- Blueberry muffins
So, is rapeseed oil vegan? Yes, rapeseed oil is vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. There are no animal ingredients, animal byproducts or gluten-containing ingredients used to make or extract the oil. Always check the label before purchasing as there may be a risk of cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients.