What is the Best Oil for Baking Cakes

It’s no secret that your cake calls for some type of fat in the recipe. For some cakes, it’s butter. Others, it’s oil. But have you ever wondered what the best oil for cakes is? The truth is, canola oil is the best option, with vegetable oil being a close runner-up.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I’ve been baking cakes for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s a super sugary birthday cake or a more tame chocolate bundt cake, I love baking cakes. There are just so many delightful cake options out there!

If you’ve stumbled across this blog, you’re on the hunt for some answers about what the best oil is for baking cakes. Well, I’m here to teach you why canola oil is the best pick. I’ll also be sharing some other fun facts you won’t want to miss out on.

Let’s get oily!

Why Do Cakes Need Fat?

It doesn’t really matter what type of cake you’re baking – it’s going to call for fat. Recipes will typically call for butter, although plenty opts for shortening or oil. What’s the deal? Why do cakes need fat, anyways?

Regardless of the type, fat in cakes acts as a tenderizer. It’s what provides the light, airy, and crumbly texture we all know and love. It also adds a level of moisture, which is why your fork will glide through the cake like “butter.”

Lastly, fat will add richness to your cake. Think of the last time you took a bite of cake. That delectable flavor that melted in your mouth is all thanks to the presence of fat.

Needless to say, you shouldn’t omit fat from your cakes. But if your recipe calls for oil, which one is best?

Best Oil for Baking Cake

The best type of oil for cake is almost always going to be canola oil. Why? Because it has a very indistinctive flavor that won’t overpower your cake. Even softer flavors like vanilla bean will shine with canola oil.

Canola oil is also riddled with health benefits. For example, canola oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are difficult to find. It can also help cut down cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve skin health.

What About Vegetable Oil?

At this point, you might be thinking – “What about the classic vegetable oil?” Plenty of cake recipes call for vegetable oil, which is perfectly fine. Vegetable oil is an excellent option because, like canola oil, it doesn’t have a pronounced flavor that will overwhelm your cake.

However, vegetable oil is a runner-up to canola oil because it does not contain the same health benefits. Some may even argue that it is unhealthy altogether. 

Regardless of your stance on vegetable oil, it can be used in cakes. In fact, canola oil and vegetable oil can be used interchangeably due to their flavor profile. Just keep in mind that canola oil is the healthier option.

Why Not Olive Oil?

Speaking of healthy oils, why not use the renowned healthy olive oil? While olive oil is a perfectly fine choice for baking cakes, you must be careful as the flavor can overpower your cake.

If you’re using olive oil, make sure you’re using a light or extra-light product. This will help cut down on the olive oil flavor that might show up in your cake.

You can also opt for a cake recipe that highlights olive oil. No, seriously. If you haven’t tried an olive oil cake yet, you need to do it immediately. Olive oil cake is incredibly moist and has an earthy quality that is interesting yet delightful.

Choose Oil Based on the Cake You’re Baking

I will start by saying that canola oil (and vegetable oil) will work for any kind of cake you’re baking. However, if you want to enhance the flavor of particular cakes, you can always use a complementing oil.

For example, if you’re making a cake with macadamia nuts, you can highlight the flavor profile with macadamia oil. For light and fruity tropical cakes, you might consider opting for coconut oil to make the ingredients shine in an all-new way.


Now you know what the best oil is for baking cakes. Oh, you still want to learn more? No worries. Keep reading these frequently asked questions to learn even more about this fun topic!

What is the healthiest oil for baking cakes?

If we are talking about the healthiest option for baking cakes, the winner is extra-virgin olive oil. However, if you’re worried about the olive oil flavor ruining your cake, the next healthiest option is canola oil – and it won’t alter the taste of your cake in any way.

Which oil is best to bake with?

When it comes to baking in general, canola oil will still be the best option. Again, it all comes down to the fact that it does not have a distinctive flavor, and therefore the ingredients of the baked good can shine through. Not only that, but it’s a pretty healthy oil, too.

Does it matter what oil you use in a cake?

Not really. You just need to be careful that the oil you’re using won’t alter the flavor. That said, it’s best to stick with flavorless options like canola oil or vegetable oil.

Which is better for baking butter or vegetable oil?

That’s kind of a tricky question. Butter will add more flavor and richness to your cake, but vegetable oil will make the cake more moist and succulent. Therefore, you can get by with either one and have great results. It really depends on the recipe and your desired final product.

Final Words

The best oil for cake is canola oil because it does not have a distinctive flavor and is relatively healthy. The runner-up is vegetable oil due to its neutral flavor, although less healthy. You can use olive oil, but the taste might be altered.

What is your favorite oil to bake a cake with?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Myke

    Hy Michelle,
    A last minute cake mix in the oven now, but, and here’s the question; how will this Birthday cake taste? The only oil available was: Orville Redenbacher’s ‘Popping & Topping’ popcorn oil – obviously I don’t cook, this is for a friend turning 60. Will this cake end the friendship?!


    • Michelle

      Hi Myke,
      The cake should turn out delicious! However, I have never personally tried it. Considering it’s soybean oil with artificial flavors, I would imagine it would taste pretty darn good. Let me know how it turned out!

  • Victor

    Seed oils…including canola are proving to be horrible for the human body. I hope you can do some research into coconut/avocado oils and how to substitute those. But, canola oil should be eliminated from everyones diets….the chemical processing required to make canola oil should disturb everyone.

    • Michelle

      Thanks for sharing this information, Victor!

  • Susanne

    Hi my name Susanne Williams and I love all tips about all the different types of oils to use for baking. So which one is the best for using for baking? Baking powder or baking soda

    • Michelle

      Hi Susanne!
      It depends on what you’re baking. Baking soda is best for cookies and muffins, while baking powder is better for cake and bread as it already contains acid.

  • Susanne

    I love all your comment about cake . What the best for making cake baking powder or baking soda

    • Michelle

      Thanks, Susanne! I responded to your comment above.

  • Diana

    You hit exactly what I needed to know and why. Thanks so much for an excellent, to the point explanation.

    • Michelle

      Hi, Diana!
      So glad I could help.

  • Michelle

    Hi Julia,
    Are you talking about coming out clean, as in they get stuck to the pan? If so, make sure you’re greasing (I use a baking spray) before adding your ingredients. If your cake is crumbly in general, you may be overmixing or using too many dry ingredients.
    Happy baking,

  • Julia

    I have a mini bundt pan. It holds 12 mini bundt cakes.
    My question is they never come out cleanly( like no crumbs).
    Am I using the right oil? ( I use avocado oil) Do they need to be cooked longer than muffins? For the crust on the inside of the mold be browned.
    The little cakes are so cute but I would just like to get it right
    Any suggestions would help.
    Julia Roman

    • Michelle

      Are you talking about coming out clean, as in they get stuck to the pan? If so, make sure you’re greasing (I use a baking spray) before adding your ingredients. If your cake is crumbly in general, you may be overmixing or using too many dry ingredients.
      Happy baking,