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Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil?

Home baking has become more popular than ever (especially, since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold – baking has exploded in popularity!).

Due to shortages in many of the most essential items, due to panic buying and stockpiling, there was a lot of hype surrounding alternatives to more traditional ingredients. Or perhaps you may have asked the same question in our title anyway.

As we will show in the following post, despite how strange it might sound, you can use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, even in baking and sweet recipes.

If you haven’t yet given baking with olive oil a try, let’s dig deeper and explain the pros and cons for using it in your baked goods.

Does It Make a Difference if You Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil?

For most recipes, you will find that olive oil can be used instead of vegetable oil, even in sweets and baking.

Obviously, due to its stronger, grassy flavour, compared to vegetable oil, which is essentially flavourless, olive oil will add a distinctive taste to anything you cook or bake with it.

However, it will never be hugely overpowering (depending on the type and quality of olive oil you use – for example, extra virgin olive oil is less bitter).

It also depends on what it is you are making and, of course, individual tastes.

For instance, in dressings and cooking savoury ingredients and recipes, it is more likely to add and enhance the flavour. Whereas in baking, it could detract from it if done wrong, even if only slightly.

Aside from the flavour, you also need to think about the fact that vegetable oil, although not hugely different, are better suited to different cooking heat levels.

While you are best saving olive oil for moderate heat cooking, vegetable oil is best for high heat cooking.

That is another reason why it is favoured, where possible, for baking.

What Happens if You Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in A Cake?

It indeed has a stronger and more distinctive flavour, but there is no reason you can’t bake a cake using a 1 to 1 ratio for replacing vegetable oil with olive oil.

Ideally, you should look to use one that is labelled as mild flavoured.

However, if you have no other options and you want cake, the addition of sugar and other ingredients with sweet flavours will likely help to drown out that pungent olive oil taste.

If you are concerned about too much of the olive oil coming through and you have alternatives in your cupboards, it may be a good idea to use them or a mixture of half olive oil with the other half consisting of canola, coconut, or vegetable oil if you have only a small amount left.

We have also found, aside from using it in incredibly sweet recipes that contain a lot of sugar and vanilla flavouring, olive oil works well as an alternative to vegetable oil in recipes with strong citrus flavours.

Can You Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil for Cooking?

In general, you can use olive oil in most instances where vegetable oil is used, apart from those recipes that require extremely high heat.

As it has a moderate heating point, there is a chance that you will burn or denature the oil.

If there is anything worse than strong olive oil flavours that stand out too much and overpower a dish, it’s the taste of burnt olive oil.

What Can I Use if I Don’t Have Vegetable Oil?

There are various healthy alternatives to vegetable oil that you can use. You need to be aware that not all substitutes for vegetable oil are the best option for all types of cooking.

For instance, as we have already noted above, some kinds of oils have strong flavours that can have an impact on the taste of a recipe.

You also need to take into consideration the fact that many alternative oils have lower heat points and are not suitable for high-heat cooking or baking.

Let’s look at some of the great alternatives to vegetable oil.

Can I Use Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil blog post image

Coconut Oil

One healthy alternative to vegetable oil with a less pungent and flowery flavour than olive oil is coconut oil. This is extracted from the meat of coconut oil.

When you are substituting vegetable oil in a recipe with coconut oil, you can use the same measurements.

One thing you need to bear in mind is the fact that because it is in a solid-state when it’s at room temperature, you need to melt down coconut oil for any recipes requiring liquid oil.

You also need to make sure the other ingredients are not too cold, or they could cause it to resolidify.

As it can withstand high temperatures, it is a good choice for baking and high-heat cooking.

Although it is only a small point, it is worth remembering that some coconut oils, depending on the brand and quality, have stronger, vanilla-like flavours than others that may not be suitable for all recipes.

Flaxseed Oil

Also known alternatively as linseed oil, flaxseed oil is derived from flax plants and is a great source of soluble fibre.

The problem with this oil and why you should avoid using it in cooking is that it does not have any heat stability.

While it is fine in salad dressings and marinades, or drizzled over grilled or oven-baked vegetables and other ingredients and food before they are served, you should look to using olive oil or another oil instead when cooking overheat.

Summary

If you ever find yourself stuck for options to cook with because you have run out of vegetable oil and butter and there is no chance of getting to a supermarket or shop, there is no reason why you can’t embrace the olive oil.

It may alter the flavour of your recipe a little, especially if you are making a cake, but if the cake has a strong citrus taste or lots of sugar, it should be fine.

The one word of caution we would offer is to be careful when dealing with recipes that require a lot of cooking at high heats, as olive oils generally have a moderate to low heating point and could burn or denature, which may completely ruin the flavour and/or become unhealthy.

Check out our recipe for Liquid Chocolate Cake made with extra virgin olive oil here.