The zero trans fat cooking oil contest


The switch to zero trans fat oils presents a special problem for donut makers. As we want to provide the best information to donut makers, we asked two companies for their views about the best oil for frying donuts: (i) Loders Croklann and (ii) the Churrolandia Bakery and The Funnel Cake Factory in Whittier, California.

Other companies are invited to submit their own statements about frying donuts in alternative oils.

Frying donuts by Gerald McNeill, Director of R&D and Marketing, Loders Croklaan

Donuts are typically fried in fats that are solid at room temperature, which in the last 20 years has been mostly partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
In order to eliminate trans fat, trans-free alternatives must also be solid at room temperature.

Efforts to use liquid vegetable oils have failed for various reasons.

Although the donut fries well, when it begins to cool down the donut becomes soggy or 'floppy' because it is soaked in wet oil. The oil leaks out into containers or plates and when in contact with boxes the cardboard becomes oil-soaked and soft.
Additional problems occur if the donut receives a coating such as powdered sugar or chocolate. The liquid oil soaks into sugar coating creating wet blotches. In the case of chocolate and similar coatings, the oil softens the coating making it sticky, and it has a tendency to flow down the donut.

The only no-trans solutions that can avoid these issues are fats that are solid at room temperature.
However, not all donuts are created equal. They differ in texture ranging from slightly oily to very dry, due in part to the different kinds of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils currently available. Therefore various types of no-trans hard fats are needed in order to maintain the desired texture.

Fats based on palm oil are an excellent choice. Palm oil is naturally solid without the need for hydrogenation and is of course trans free. Several palm based products are available that provide different textures and functionalities as required by donut manufacturers. Different components of palm oil can be blended with vegetable oils such as cottonseed oil to provide unique flavors, while avoiding the problems associated with liquid oils.
Several palm based donut frying fats are currently available commercially.

Frying donuts by Norma Chavez-Nielsen,
President of Churrolandia Bakery and
The Funnel Cake Factory, Whittier, California

What is the best oil to fry a donut? The industry standard is that donuts must be fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, commonly referred to as trans fat oil. The prevailing belief is that the oil that donuts are fried in must be solid at room temperature.

At Churrolandia Bakery and the Funnel Cake Factory donuts are handmade. They are prepared from Westco Raised Donut Mix and fried in 350 degree canola oil using a commercial donut fryer. Chocolate, powdered sugar and simple sugar icings are applied. The donuts are light; they do not become soggy, nor is there a problem with excess oil staining the paper container. After eight hours the composition and quality of the donuts remain excellent.

Using canola oil instead of trans fat or palm oil shortening significantly improves the quality of the donuts. Although palm oil is superior to trans fat it still only has a minimal positive impact on the hdl/ldl cholesterol ratio. Canola oil on the other hand, is dramatically beneficial to the hdl/ldl ratio. If the health of one’s customers is a priority then it does not make any sense to use anything but canola oil. Our confidence in canola oil is so strong that we propose a donut challenge using our donuts, fried canola oil against donuts fried in trans fat and palm oil shortening.

Donuts fried in zero trans fat canola oil at the Churrolandia Bakery and The Funnel Cake Factory in Whittier, California




Texas A&M has completed the testing of ten oils in the zero trans fat cooking oil contest. The results are posted on the List of Oils & Results page.

Contest Pictures

Click on the image below to see pictures of the oil contest.