Can You Substitute Vegetable Oil for Olive Oil?

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Unrefined olive oil is an indispensable part of salad dressings, marinades and baked goods such as bread.

Fortunately, you can substitute vegetable oil for olive oil in most of these cases as it has similar chemical properties.

However, you will lose out on the unique flavor of olive oil since vegetable oils typically have a neutral flavor.

Keep reading to find out when you should substitute vegetable oil for olive oil, and when you should leave it out.

Can you substitute vegetable oil for olive oil?

Vegetable oil can be used as a viable substitute for olive oil whenever you’re making a salad dressing or a marinade.

It has the same viscosity and nutritional value as olive oil so there won’t be much of a difference apart from taste.

Unlike the highly prized grassy flavor of extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil comes with a neutral flavor.

As a result, dressings and marinades made with vegetable oil have a rather flat taste.

So if you want to preserve their originally intended flavor it’s best to stick to olive oil.

Baking recipes, on the other hand, are an entirely different story.

Whether you’re making a cake, homemade brownies or muffins, vegetable oil will be a much better choice than olive oil.

Olive oil’s strong flavor can easily overwhelm and throw off the flavor balance in baked goods which doesn’t happen with vegetable oil.

For that matter, vegetable oil also works great as a substitute for butter in vanilla cupcakes and other pastries.

What’s the difference between olive oil and other vegetable oils?

Vegetable oil is an umbrella term that’s used to encompass a variety of oils made from nuts, seeds or grapes.

These oils are sometimes made from a single source as is the case with canola oil, but in most cases they contain a blend of different oils.

In order to become shelf stable, vegetable oils are most often refined with chemicals and heat which dampens their flavor.

Olive oil on the other hand can be classified into two types – extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is made by mechanically crushing olives into a pulp and extracting their oil via a centrifuge.

In order to minimize the loss of flavor, the olives are crushed gently which reduces friction and keeps the temperature of the pulp below 80°F (27°C).

Refined olive oil in comparison is extracted at a higher temperature similarly to vegetable oils.

Due to this, it has a lighter color and a less pronounced taste than extra virgin and virgin olive oil.

Since the production of extra virgin olive oil takes more time it is a bit more expensive than vegetable oils.

Another difference between vegetable oil and olive oil is their smoke point.

According to the USDA, most vegetable oils have a smoke point in the range of 435 – 450°F (224 – 232°C), whereas EVOO starts smoking at 410°F (210°C).

At first glance, this temperature difference might seem significant, but it actually doesn’t have a profound effect on foods.

Deep fryers typically cook foods at a maximum temperature of 400°F (205°C) which means you can safely use extra virgin olive oil.

The last notable difference between vegetable oils and olive oil is the proportion of their fats.

Even though both share the same total amount of fat, olive oil contains slightly more monounsaturated fats.

According to research, the consumption of monounsaturated fats can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and the overall mortality rate.

So if you want to opt for a healthier source of fats for your meals, then you should go with olive oil.

The bottom line

Vegetable oil can be used as a one-to-one substitute for olive oil in pretty much any meal you can think of.

However, if you use it in a marinade or a salad dressing you’ll need to sacrifice some of their flavor.

In these cases, resorting to sesame oil or other nut-based oils might be able to offset the loss of flavor.

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