Cottonseed Oil Uses

Updated March 23, 2017

Cottonseed oil, an extract of cottonseed, is a vegetable oil that has many health benefits, according to the National Cottonseed Products Association. It is free of cholesterol and is a good source of natural antioxidants. It is cooking-friendly, enhancing the taste of foods. This vegetable oil is becoming increasingly useful for those looking for health-friendly options and others looking to recreate regional food recipes from across the world with the same authentic flavour. In addition to its gastronomic benefits, cottonseed oil finds application in cosmetics as well.


Food products when cooked with cottonseed oil do not lose their natural fresh taste. In fact, cottonseed oil enhances their inherent flavour. Cottonseed oil is light, tasteless and has a high smoke point, which means fats in the oil begin to break down and produce unpleasant odours only at a very high temperature. These properties make the oil ideal for stir-fry applications. You can use cottonseed oil to fry seafood, fishes and in Oriental recipes. Cottonseed oil finds application in both domestic and commercial cooking.

Food Dressings

About 56 per cent of cottonseed oil usage in U.S. is as salad or cooking oil, according to National Cottonseed Products Association. Cottonseed oil exhibits a consistency of flavour throughout its life; the oil doesn't give off bad odours as it ages. This property makes it ideal for preparing many food products such as margarine, mayonnaise and marinades and sauces. Salad dressings also use cottonseed oil. Shortening made of cottonseed oil renders a light and crisp character to baked products. Cottonseed oil margarine makes for good cake icing.

Healthier Food Options

Cottonseed oil offers a healthy alternative for the diet-conscious. Cottonseed oil is highly unsaturated, a characteristic shared with only a few other oils such as soybean, corn and safflower. These oils are considered appropriate for those looking to control their saturated fat intake. Cottonseed oil contains tocopherols in huge quantities; these are natural antioxidants that perform the functions of vitamin E. Tocopherols are also responsible for the flavour consistency property of the oil. Cottonseed oil retains its nutrients even after refining, which makes it ideal for commercial food applications.

Cosmetic Applications

Cottonseed oil finds application in cosmetics as an ingredient in skin-nourishing, hair care and make-up products. In skincare products, cottonseed oil serves as an emollient, making skin soft, and as an occlusive, helping skin to retain water. The oil functions as a surfactant in hair and skin-cleaning products, decreasing the natural tendency of water to separate from substances such as oil and dirt. This improved interaction between water, oil and dirt is essential to wash away the dirt particles.

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About the Author

Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.