Olive oil is a prevalent ingredient in both home and professional kitchens. And since there are varieties that work well for high heat cooking and others for finishing dishes and cold applications, it’s an ingredient you’ll find in all manner of cooking and baking recipes.
Luckily, if you’ve run out, I’ve got you covered. From culinary school to an avid home cook, I’ve had tons of hands-on experience with all types of cooking oils and fats.
Whether you need a swap for light or extra virgin olive oil, there are suitable alternatives for every application. Together, we will go through each 1-to-1 substitution and when you should choose each.
In This Article
7 Swaps For Olive Oil & How To Use Them
Butter is an excellent alternative to olive oil for all low-heat applications, finishing dishes, and baking. Butter has a rich flavor, much like olive oil, but it is milder and more versatile.
Use butter to quickly sauteé your aromatics before adding other ingredients when making a sauce, soup, stew, or curry.
And at the end of cooking, add a pat of butter to achieve a rich consistency and depth of flavor similar to extra virgin olive oil.
You can also melt butter and use it at a 1:1 ratio instead of olive oil in all your baking.
Ghee is clarified butter, which is butter with all of the milk solids removed. The result is a fat with a golden color and nutty flavor that’ll taste delicious in any application that calls for olive oil.
The solids in butter scorch easily and make it a poor choice for high-heat cooking. By clarifying, the milk solids are removed so the ghee can be heated to a higher temperature without burning.
So, for any dish that calls for olive oil for pan-frying, ghee is a great option that adds great flavor.
Ghee also has healthier saturated fats than olive oil, so if you’re looking for a health-conscious swap, this might be it.
Canola oil is the perfect substitution for olive oil when you need to do any deep frying. It has a very high smoke point and can handle high-heat cooking even better than olive oil. It’s a versatile option and can be used to bake, sauté, stir-fry, and roast.
Also, when deep frying things like fried chicken, french fries, or even funnel cake, canola oil has a more neutral flavor and is better suited for sustained high-heat cooking.
Olive oil may be a healthier choice than canola oil because it contains antioxidants as well as monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
However, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding canola oil in the health community. And if you purchase organic, non-GMO, and expeller-pressed canola oil, you can still get heart-healthy monounsaturated fats in your diet.
Walnut oil is an excellent substitute for olive oil in salad dressings and cold dishes. It’s most comparable to extra virgin olive oil in that it shouldn’t be heated or it will turn bitter very quickly.
If you opt for virgin walnut oil, it will have a noticeable nuttiness. Whereas if you choose refined walnut oil, it will have almost no taste and can handle some cooking without any negative effects.
Use it in place of olive oil in equal amounts for finishing dishes, drizzling over vegetables, or blending into salad dressings.
Use coconut oil instead of olive oil in cooking and baking, but be aware that different types of coconut oil are better suited for specific applications.
Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point and less coconut flavor and scent. Use this for sauteéing or in stir-frys.
Unrefined coconut oil has a lower smoke point and is better suited for baking as it carries a pronounced coconut taste and smell. This is an excellent swap for extra virgin olive oil, but be mindful of the difference in flavor in whatever recipe you create.
Peanut oil is prevalent in Asian cooking and can be a superb alternative to olive oil that adds a light and nutty flavor.
This is my go-to swap when cooking Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese dishes. It’s versatile and works well whether you’re deep-frying, stir-frying, making a curry, dressing, or marinade.
This is also a great substitution if you’re looking for a low-cholesterol option since peanut oil is the only oil without any cholesterol. It has healthy fats similar to those found in olive oil as well.
Sunflower oil is a great alternative for both regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. It has less flavor than the robust taste of olive oil but is full of antioxidants and other nutrients.
Refined olive oil and sunflower oil have almost the same smoke point, so you won’t notice a difference when swapping one for the other.
When shopping for sunflower oil, remember that they aren’t all the same. Opt for high oleic sunflower oil when you can since it is the healthiest pick and more stable for high-heat cooking. It also has a milder flavor and longer shelf life than other sunflower oil options.
Use sunflower oil in cooking applications where you’re not relying on the taste of olive oil to carry the dish.
Tips For Working With Olive Oil Substitutes
When choosing the best olive oil substitute, it’s helpful to think about the oil’s purpose in your recipe. This is because lighter and more refined olive oil is a very different ingredient than the extra virgin variety.
Light olive oil is made from a blend of processed olives and is often heated and refined. This makes it good for cooking but it won’t add much flavor to your dish.
On the other hand, extra virgin olive oil comes from pure, cold-pressed olives. Since it is the least processed oil, it retains many vitamins and nutrients and a much more complex flavor.
So, if your recipe requires oil for something like sauteing or roasting, you’ll want an oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor. Alternatively, suppose you’re finishing a dish and are looking to add complexity and flavor. In that case, you may want a less processed (virgin) substitute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use butter instead of olive oil?
Butter can be used in place of olive oil in all recipes at a 1-to-1 ratio. Just remember that butter is solid when cold or at room temperature, whereas olive oil is liquid.
What’s the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
Both oils are pressed from olives. However, plain or “light” olive oil has been processed and refined, increasing the smoke point and decreasing the flavor. On the other hand, extra virgin olive oil is largely unrefined and has a low smoke point but a lot of flavor.
What is the best olive oil substitute for high-heat cooking?
For high-heat cooking, coconut or peanut oil are excellent alternatives to olive oil. For deep-fat frying, try canola or peanut oil.