Are canola and vegetable oil interchangeable? It might be a question you’ve always wondered about but been afraid to ask. Or, maybe you’ve never given it any thought at all. Whatever the case, cooking oil is one of the most common items you reach for when you’re in the kitchen, so it’s high time you made an informed decision about the kind you’re using.

When a caller on Milk Street Radio asked whether it’s better to use canola oil or vegetable oil in cooking and baking, hosts Christopher Kimball and Sara Moulton responded with a definitive answer.

Don’t use canola oil.

“It has a funny fishy flavor when heated,” Kimball says. Neither he nor Moulton are fans.

But there’s more to it, of course. When choosing the right cooking oil, there are two things to take into consideration: flavor and smoke point—the temperature at which oil breaks down and starts to smoke. If you’re frying or cooking at a high heat, you’ll need an oil with high smoke point.

The all-purpose oil with a neutral flavor and high smoke point that Kimball and Moulton prefer is grapeseed oil. Safflower oil works, too, but both hosts name grapeseed as a great go-to. Incidentally, the Milk Street kitchen recently tested out a range of oils to determine the precise smoke point, and found that grapeseed and safflower had highest. So, put the canola down.

As for that catchall term “vegetable oil?” When a recipe calls for vegetable oil, any neutral-flavored oil will do, so reach for that grapeseed.

A word of caution, however: When you take a bottle of cooking oil off the shelf, no matter what kind, be sure to smell it. Oil turns rancid over time—a process sped up with exposure to air and light. If the oil is anywhere between two or four months, you could be in trouble. Be sure to throw it out if you detect any odor. Keep the oil in a cool, dark place to keep it fresh, and above all, use it quickly.

For a precise breakdown of the smoke points of various cooking oils, head right this way