Can You Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil?

Woman in grocery store oil aisle decides which of two oils she is holding to buy

Can vegetable oil be substituted for olive oil? Selecting which type of oil to put in a recipe will drastically influence its outcome.

Most of the time, olive oil can be used instead of vegetable oil. The type of application will determine if olive oil can be used instead of vegetable oil.

Two of the most commonly used oils used are vegetable and olive oil. The main difference between the oils and when one should use the oils should be known by every cook, including amateurs.

Below is a rundown of multiple applications for olive and vegetable oils and a breakdown of these two oils to ensure that the best type of oil is chosen for future recipes.

A Nutritional Overview of Olive Oil

Close-up of olive oil pouring into small clear bowl near small bowl of olives

Olive oil is primarily composed of fats. It is also relatively high in calories. A point to remember in this, though, is that not all fats are created equal. Olive oil contains predominantly healthy monounsaturated fats. This is considered heart-healthy and can reduce bad cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, and decrease inflammation in the body.

Olive oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for one’s overall health and well-being. In addition, there are phenolic compounds or powerful antioxidants that have been linked to numerous health benefits.

The unique phenolic compounds include health benefits that range from preventing Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, high blood pressure, and more diseases. Many more health benefits are being discovered as well. However, most of the animal fats in one’s diet will need to be replaced with extra virgin olive oil to have a maximum positive impact.

A Nutritional Overview of Vegetable Oil

Small, clear glass bowl of vegetable oil

The saturated fat in some vegetable oils should only be consumed in moderation because it can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. However, vegetable oil also provides small amounts of fat-soluble vitamin E and vitamin K. Vitamin E is also considered an antioxidant that helps protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.

When choosing a vegetable oil, it is best to find one with lower saturated fat and higher unsaturated fat content to contribute to heart health.

Can Olive Oil Replace Vegetable Oil?

Vegetable oil and olive oil originate from two entirely different plant sources. Vegetable oil is comprised of plant sources like nuts and seeds. Olive oil originates from the olive fruit.

This leads to differences in the oil’s smoke point, which is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. Olive oil has a significantly lower smoke point than vegetable oil. This is why it is a better idea to use when cooking at lower temperatures.

On the flip side, vegetable oil has a higher smoke point, which is why it is best to expose it to medium to high heat. When it comes to taste, vegetable oil has little to no taste.

This is why it works especially well when someone wants all the flavor to come from the main food in the recipe. However, olive oil, especially extra-virgin olive oil, is more likely to influence a recipe’s flavor because it has a stronger, more distinct taste. However, some chefs like olive oil mainly because it adds a particular flavor to a dish that some people like.

So, can olive oil replace vegetable oil? Yes, depending on the dish. Olive oil offers a much different flavor profile and more distinct flavor overall compared to the neutral taste of vegetable oil.

When to Use Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil should be mainly used for stir-frying and deep frying. It’s a universal, basic oil that can be utilized in almost any recipe. Also, vegetable oil is moderately cheap, so it is the best choice to get when on a budget.

Read also:  Canola Oil Vs Olive Oil: Differences, Similarities, and How to Substitute

When searching for a tasty meal to make with vegetable oil, consider a healthy veggie chips recipe.

When to Use Olive Oil as a Vegetable Oil Substitute

Olive oil is usually used in more elaborate dishes because of the tasty flavor it adds. It is also slightly more expensive than vegetable oil since it comes from the fruit of an olive. A lemon olive oil cake recipe can showcase the flavor of olive oil in a sweet dish.

If a genuine Italian taste is desired in marinara sauces, other Italian dishes, and salad dressings that can be made from home, then use olive oil.

Extra Virgin vs Regular Olive Oil

When using olive oil as a substitute for vegetable oil, consider the type of olive oil. For example, regular (light) olive oil has a much milder taste, while extra virgin olive oil has a stronger and more pronounced flavor.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil for Frying?

It is possible. However, olive oil tends to be expensive to use in the regular quantities that are used for frying. For this reason, it is not recommended.

The smoke point of olive oil is much lower than vegetable oil, so try not to heat it up too much when deep frying. For a healthier oil to deep fry with, consider canola oil.

The olive taste will be prevalent when used for frying, so avoid it if the olive taste is unpleasant. In fact, olive oil is best when used for pan frying. Since the taste of olive oils can vary from person to person, try a blend of brands to figure out which one is best liked.

Use extra virgin olive oil for finishing and a decent, plain olive oil for the majority of cooking tasks. It is important to remember that oils become stale as time passes, so be sure to use the oil while it is still fresh. After ten to twelve months, extra virgin olive oil of the best quality probably will not be in a good enough state for raw applications.

However, it could still be used for cooking. Butter can also be used. It is important to know that butter contains water in it. One cup of vegetable oil needs 1 1/4 cup of melted butter as a substitute.

Plus, the amount of water in the recipe needs to be reduced by 1/4 cup. Olive oil may be used in these ways freely unless the taste is noticeable. In this case, use another substitute like margarine or butter.

When frying, avoid using extra virgin olive oil because it has a strong flavor, and the taste of most foods would be drowned by it. Additionally, extra virgin olive oil is far too expensive to use in this way.

On the other hand, light olive oil can be used for frying. In fact, it is a decent choice because it does not turn to trans fats when it’s heated. Almost all vegetable oils will turn to trans fats when heated to a certain point. Frying with extra virgin olive oil is the best option because the phenolic compounds are absorbed by the foods that are fried, which makes them more nutritious.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in Waffles, Pancakes, Brownies, and Other Bread Foods?

People who love waffles, pancakes, and other types of bread for breakfast can benefit from using extra virgin olive oil in your batter. It will make the bread tender, moist, and very soft. Plus, it’s a good ingredient for baking. Consider using a butter-to-olive oil conversion chart for baking recipes.

Read also:  Olive Oil Nutrition Facts & Calories + Comparisons

A cake can be cooked with olive oil, but keep in mind that the taste and flavor will be much stronger when using olive oil compared to other oil types.

Sometimes, the olive oil will affect the overall flavor of the baked food. For this reason,  try using fifty percent olive oil and fifty percent vegetable oil.

A substitute such as applesauce can also be used in recipes in place of oil. It adds moisture, similar to how oil adds moisture to a cake. In fact, other cooking oils can be switched in place of olive oil in the majority of baked recipes.

Deciding to use olive oil rather than vegetable oil will give brownies a slightly bitter or fruity taste that can be a tasty complement to chocolate. When choosing the right olive oil substitute, opt for a milder flavor that will not overpower the brownies.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in Salad Dressing?

Woman making salad drizzles some olive oil onto it

Yes! Olive oil is actually the ideal ingredient for salad dressings. In a salad dressing, olive oil is a better choice than vegetable oil unless the flavor really isn’t someone’s favorite.

However, for those who don’t care for the taste of olive oil, this wouldn’t even be a question. Keep in mind that a small amount of olive oil can be added to Italian recipes to give them a more authentic taste. It doesn’t take a large amount.

Extra virgin olive oil makes a great foundation for a delicious vinaigrette. Why? Because this oil is naturally full of flavor. You can switch out the vegetable oil with equal parts of olive oil for salad dressings.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in Marinades?

Again, yes! Oil is one of the primary ingredients of any good marinade. It is a great choice to use with lean meats, and it helps the other ingredients stick to the meat. If the marinade recipe calls for vegetable oil, go ahead and use olive oil instead. This will give the food a bit of extra flavor.

Can Vegetable Oil Be Substituted for Olive Oil in Sauteeing and Stir-Frying?

Again, yes! Olive oil is considered a healthier oil, and since people don’t usually get their pan over 350°F when stir-frying and sauteeing, they stay well within the oil’s smoke point. This cooking method also doesn’t typically require more than a tablespoon or two of the oil.

Choose Premium Oils

When choosing to incorporate gourmet olive oil into different recipes, one cannot forego a high-quality oil. Using low-quality olive oil is similar to cooking with a wine you wouldn’t drink on its own. A low-quality oil can impart an overpowering taste to a dish and can even noticeably change the overall flavor of baked goods made with it.

Are There Any Other Good Vegetable Oil Substitutes?

Many vegetable oil substitutes can be used in cooking and baking aside from olive oil. It really comes down to the specific flavor and smoke point someone desires. Here are a few of the more common alternatives to vegetable and olive oils.

  • Sunflower Oil: This has a light flavor and a high smoke point. It is good for various cooking methods.
  • Grapeseed Oil: This is a neutral oil with a high smoke point and is a versatile option for frying, sauteing, and baking.
  • Palm Oil: This has a distinct flavor with a slightly nutty and earthy taste that might not work well in all recipes. The smoke point also needs to be considered since it is much lower than canola, grapeseed, or peanut oils.
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Final Words

Oil is an ingredient that is vital and often underestimated. It has been used for thousands of years for cooking. The ancient Greeks used it in many different ways. They regarded the olive tree as the “Holy Tree,” with a divine origin and supernatural attributes.

To simplify the question of when to use vegetable oil or olive oil, try to keep in mind a few things: vegetable oil is a basic, universal oil that should be used when cooking at high temperatures.

Olive oil is an oil that adds more flavor to a dish than vegetable oil and should be used when cooking at low to medium temperatures.

Can Olive Oil Replace Vegetable Oil: FAQ

Can canola oil be used as a substitute for olive oil?

Yes, it can be. Canola oil, also known as canola, is a vegetable oil that comes from a variety of rapeseed. It is low in erucic acid relative to colza oil. The most notable difference you will notice in the two oils is taste.

Canola oil has the higher burn/smoke temperature of the two, which means you should not have to worry too much about changing recipe temperatures or times to account for the difference.

Typical canola oil is borderline tasteless, with a small amount of nuttiness and a tiny trace of butter.

Is almond oil preferable to vegetable oils for cooking?

No, it is not. Almond oil is not suitable for high-heat cooking. Almond oil can be used in pastries/cakes. It can also be used as a seasoning to bring a nutty taste to the actual baked or cooked food. It is important to note that vegetable oil is healthier and cheaper than almond oil. The next best option is olive oil.

It costs a little more, but it is healthy and brings a nice taste to a dish. Grapeseed oil would be the next best option. Coconut oil is a healthy option, too, depending on where you live. In some countries, there is only non-consumable coconut oil available.

Can you use corn oil instead of vegetable oil?

Corn oil is vegetable oil. Whole corn, which is what you eat on the cob, is considered a vegetable. However, the corn kernel itself, which is where popcorn comes from, is regarded as a grain. Many mixtures on the market may be called vegetable oil.

However, corn, safflower, canola and other “neutral” oils that do not have flavors of their own all fall into the vegetable oil category. Oils with a flavor, such as olive oil, unfiltered peanut oil, and avocado oil, are not vegetable oils.

What are some bad vegetable oil substitutes to avoid?

While there are several good vegetable oil substitutes, there are some poor choices to avoid due to low smoke points, strong flavors, or other limitations. Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids but has a very low smoke point, making it unsuitable for high heat cooking. Sesame oil is another oil but has a strong, nutty flavor and low smoke point. It is most often used as a flavoring agent rather than as a cooking oil.