What Oil Is Used in Thai Cooking?

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Lauren Beck

In my culinary escapades through the vibrant world of Thai cuisine, I’ve come to appreciate the secret behind its exquisite flavors—the oils that lend a touch of tropical magic to every dish. 

Join me as we embark on a delightful journey to uncover the oils that make Thai cooking an enchanting symphony of taste. Let’s dive into the sautéed splendor of Thai cooking oils!

What Oil Is Used in Thai Cooking?

  • Coconut Oil: A star in Thai cooking, coconut oil brings a luscious, tropical taste and aroma to dishes, enhancing the essence of Thai flavors.
  • Palm Oil: Often used for stir-frying, palm oil adds a hint of nuttiness and richness to Thai recipes.

Where Does Thai Oil Come From?

  • Coconut Oil: Derived from coconut meat, this oil is extracted through pressing or heat processes, capturing the essence of the beloved coconut.
  • Palm Oil: Derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree, palm oil is rich in antioxidants and imparts a distinct flavor to Thai dishes.

Does Thai Cooking Use Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil is not a common choice in traditional Thai cooking; however, it may appear in some modern Thai fusion recipes.

Is Olive Oil Used in Thai Cooking?

While olive oil is not a traditional Thai ingredient, some modern Thai chefs experiment with it in fusion dishes. 

However, coconut and palm oil remain the primary choices for authentic Thai flavors.

Is Fish Oil Used in Thai Food?

Yes, fish sauce, derived from fermented fish, is a staple ingredient in Thai cuisine, infusing dishes with a savory and umami punch.

What Are 3 Key Ingredients in Thai Food?

Person Putting Oil on a Pan
  • Thai Chilies: These fiery little gems are the heart and soul of Thai spice, adding heat and flavor to countless dishes.
  • Lemongrass: A fragrant herb that imparts citrusy notes, lemongrass elevates Thai soups, curries, and stir-fries.
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: With their distinctive citrus flavor, kaffir lime leaves bring a zesty twist to Thai dishes, enhancing the essence of Thai cuisine.

Does Thai Food Use Vinegar?

Vinegar is not a traditional ingredient in Thai cooking. Instead, lime juice or tamarind paste provides a tangy and refreshing element to Thai dishes.

What Gives Thai Flavor?

  • Balanced Blend of Flavors: Thai cuisine is renowned for its perfect harmony of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors, creating a symphony of taste in each dish [1].
  • Aromatic Herbs and Spices: Thai dishes feature a medley of aromatic herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, galangal, and cumin, infusing them with their distinctive scents.
  • Signature Sauces: Fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce are among the signature Thai sauces that elevate dishes to new levels of deliciousness.


As we bid farewell to our exploration of Thai cooking oils, I am filled with the satisfaction of unraveling yet another facet of this culinary wonder. Coconut oil and palm oil take center stage, infusing Thai dishes with their tropical allure. 

While sesame oil and olive oil may make occasional appearances, fish sauce remains the true star, adding a savory punch to the symphony of Thai flavors. 

So, next time you savor the delights of Thai cuisine, appreciate the oils that weave their magic, transporting you to the bustling streets of Thailand with every delectable bite. Here’s to the flavorful adventure of Thai cooking!


Lauren Beck
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