Can You Substitute Olive Oil With Vegetable Oil?

I’m no expert in the kitchen and cooking area, but I have always wondered why some dishes call for a specific kind of oil over another. Can you substitute olive oil for vegetable oil? Is there really a big difference in terms of taste and texture when one is used instead of the other?

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To further understand why each recipe calls for a different oil, let us first look at some facts about both oils.

Facts about olive oil:

Olive oil is highly regarded as a “healthy oil”:

The main type of fat contained in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids which are considered to be a healthy dietary fat. Aside from this, olive oil is known to have a promising amount of antioxidants, omega 3, and other vitamins and essential nutrients.

It is naturally processed:

The term ‘virgin’ attached to olive oil products is derived from the process of how the oil was made. No artificial flavor or chemical substitutions are added to create virgin olive oil. The olives are simply pressed to release the natural oil of the fruit.

Olive oil has a low smoke-point:

The smoke point of oil is the temperature at which oil may start burning. This is why olive oil is usually used for dishes that call for the natural flavor of olives but does not require too much heat during preparation. When used for high temperature cooking like deep fried, pan fried, or seared dishes, olive oil might give a smoky taste.

Olive oil can be used as a dressing by itself because it is cold pressed:

Italian restaurants and salad stores usually incorporate olive oil as a key ingredient to their freshly served dishes. Since its oil is only pressed, it retains its natural flavor and adds a distinct taste to any recipe.

There are different types of olive oil:

There are in general two variations to olive oil, this classification is brought about by how it was produced. There’s virgin olive oil and refined olive oil - the first one may be extra virgin, which is labeled so because during extraction nothing is added or altered to the fruit.

Refined olive oil, on the other hand, comes from a mixture of olive oils that still need to be refined after the cold pressing process. Refined olive oils sometimes are unable to carry the authentic fruity taste of olives because they’ve gone through other processing agents.

Facts about vegetable oil:

Vegetable oil is the collective term for a wide range of selections:

Canola oil, palm oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and corn oil are only some of the varieties that are labeled generally as ‘vegetable oil’.

Depending on the type of vegetable oil, fat composition varies:

Out of all the mentioned examples of vegetable oils, coconut oil has the highest content of saturated fat at 92 percent. Some oils such as sunflower and canola are similar to olive oil which is rich in monosaturated fat at 82 percent and 62 percent respectively).

Oil is produced through mechanical and chemical extraction:

This type of oil is being used by restaurants and almost every household as the most basic form of cooking oil. Processes of each specific kind vary because some oils from these vegetables are hard to separate and may sometimes need solvents to break down the oil content.

They have a high smoke point:

There is a reason why vegetable oil is widely used by households and restaurants- it can take the heat. Most of the easiest dishes to cook call for frying or searing meat and vegetable oils are able to work with high temperatures while producing a clean flavor that focuses on the main ingredient itself.

So when can you substitute vegetable oil for olive oil?

When you are okay with losing the added flavor of olive oil:

The biggest feature of olive oil is that is able to retain the natural fruity taste of its original fruit counterpart. I’ve stumbled upon a baking recipe for a muffin that calls for olive oil instead of the regular unsalted butter. I did not really want the added fruity taste of olive oil so I added canola oil instead, and that made everything perfect. The muffin turned out clean in flavor, with no aftertaste.

When you want to subject the dish to higher heat:

Just because it is a healthy oil does not mean you need to use it in cooking every single dish. In our home, the usual dish calls for deep-frying meat, and using olive oil adds a bitter flavor after being subjected to high heat. Use olive oil for medium heat cooking, and use vegetable oils for high-temperature cooking.

Do not substitute olive oil for vegetable oil when:

Making salads, pasta condiments, or sauces:

Substituting vegetable oil in cold dishes or oil-based recipes (e.g Aglio e olio spaghetti) will only result in a bland flavor. No amount of salt and pepper can take the place of the fruity olive oil when used as part of these type of dishes.

Heat up some bread in the microwave oven, and create an olive oil dip by mixing in some balsamic vinegar. We usually use Kirkland’s extra virgin olive oil to compliment our tea time afternoons.


In a nutshell, both oils differ in how they are produced and which situation they are best used in. If you found a recipe that calls for olive oil but you are unable to get your hands on one, chances are it is okay to substitute it with vegetable oil. This will result in a cleaner flavor, and might not really be a huge factor for the overall taste of the dish to change.


There is no problem if you are comfortable with using one type of oil over the other. Just remember what they’re best used for so you can maximize the properties of each.

If you are still unsure, you may leave your questions in the comment box below and I will be glad to answer what I can.

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Jenny Hopper

My name is Jenny Hopper, I'm a mother of two cute little kids. To tell you, blogging isn't an easy task. But for me, I feel rewarded for doing the things that I love and one is sharing my experiences with the world and with you. And I definitely welcome any helpful and sincere contribution from you.

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