I bought some red palm oil from an African grocer (no brand... it just comes in an unlabeled plastic milk jug), and it seems to have the lowest smoke point of any oil I've used despite every online source claiming red palm oil should have a pretty high smoke point of 450F (I've checked to see that it seems to start smoking faster than EVOO even!)

I'm assuming this means it's an unrefined oil, and that all the sources claiming 450F as a smoke point are using a refined oil. Unfortunately, I can't find any info about what the smoke point for unrefined red palm might be, and I'm kind of worried about using it a bunch of recipes now because of this.

Does anyone here know what the smoke point of this oil I'm using might actually be, or whether I can safely use it despite all the smoke it's giving off?

  • If it comes unlabeled in a random jug, how do you know that it is actually red palm oil?
    – bob1
    Jan 10, 2021 at 23:20
  • The shelf it's on labels it as such. The lady who runs the shop was also asking me how I'd heard of RPE when checking out, and told me about some of her favorite dishes to make with it. Jan 12, 2021 at 17:19

2 Answers 2


I've found a couple of sources differentiating red palm from palm kernel oil & quoting smoke points from 150℃/300℉ to 235℃/450℉ depending on how refined it is.

One can only imagine if you got a 'straight from the farm' type then it will be unrefined.
I'd use it only for low-temperature cooking, don't let it smoke too much.



Red palm oil, meaning unrefined palm oil, likely has more medium-chain fatty-acids than the refined version. It of course has the various vitamins/anti-oxidants which give the red color.

I made the same mistake a few years ago thinking I could use it for high-heat saute/pan-frying and still get a boost of Vitamin E and lycopene. Because some of its fatty-acid make-up appears to be similar to Coconut Oil or Palm Kernel Oil we need to treat it more like that, and more like EVOO. as in, probably don't bother cooking with it. When you get up over 300F it's done. low heat, like special sous-vide type things (eg Tuna Confit) it's probably fine.

Might be good for seasoning cast-iron, like flaxseed.

My advice: Next time buying a cool local product ask the local store clerk how best to use it. They might just tell you not to use high-heat. The locals know how to use their own ancestral goods.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.