Substituting Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil When Baking a Cake

Published Categorized as Baking, Ingredients Tagged ,

Ever found yourself baking a cake and then running out of vegetable oil? You go into your pantry and find a bottle of olive oil. But can you substitute olive oil for vegetable in your cake?

Short answer is yes, you can use olive oil to bake your cake. But it might not be so simple, so read this first!

Substituting Olive Oil For Vegetable Oil When Baking A Cake

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You probably use olive oil for a variety of savory meals and condiments, such as pasta, salad, and even stir-fry dishes. Since olive oil has a stronger aroma and flavor than vegetable oil, you may not think that substituting olive oil for vegetable oil when baking is a great idea.

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But when you’re baking a cake but find yourself out of vegetable oil, can you reach for olive oil? Can you use olive oil to bake a cake?

The answer is yes, but there are some things you need to keep in mind!

What is Olive Oil?

Olive oil is an edible oil derived from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea). Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and is widely used for cooking, salad dressing, and various culinary applications. Known for its distinctive flavor, versatility, and potential health benefits, olive oil is popular throughout the world.

I found this video interesting. It talks about how olive oil is made, from harvesting to factory bottling:

The oil is obtained from the fruit of the olive tree through a process of pressing and extracting the liquid from the olive pulp. The method of extraction and the quality of the olives used can influence the flavor and characteristics of the oil.

Types of Olive Oil

There are several different types of olive oil, each with varying levels of refinement and flavor:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: High-quality, flavorful oil best for dressings and highlighting its taste.
  • Virgin Olive Oil: First-pressed oil with milder flavor and slightly higher acidity.
  • Refined Olive Oil: Processed oil ideal for high-heat cooking with a milder taste.
  • Olive Pomace Oil: Extracted from residue, neutral in taste, suitable for frying.
  • Light Olive Oil: Mild and versatile oil, often blended, good for baking and high-heat cooking.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This is the highest quality and least processed form of olive oil.

It is obtained from the first pressing of the olives and is known for its rich flavor, fruity aroma, and low acidity. Extra virgin olive oil is typically used for drizzling over dishes, making dressings, and for dishes where its flavor can shine.

Virgin Olive Oil

This oil is also derived from the first pressing of olives but may have slightly higher acidity and a milder flavor compared to extra virgin olive oil.

Refined Olive Oil

Refined olive oil is obtained by refining virgin olive oil using processes like filtering and chemical treatment to remove impurities and adjust acidity.

It has a milder flavor and is suitable for high-heat cooking due to its higher smoke point.

Olive Pomace Oil

This oil is extracted from the residue left after the initial pressing and extraction of olive oil. It undergoes further processing to extract the remaining oil.

Olive pomace oil has a more neutral flavor and is often used for frying and other high-heat applications.

Light Olive Oil

A kind of olive oil with a milder flavor and lighter color, making it versatile for cooking and baking where a strong olive taste is undesired.

For instance, if you are making a light vanilla cake, light olive oil is perfect.

It often has a higher smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking, and might be a blend of refined and extra virgin olive oils for a balance of benefits and neutrality.

Can You Bake With Olive Oil?

Yes, you can certainly bake a cake with olive oil.

Olive oil can be used as a substitute for other cooking oils, including vegetable oil or canola oil, as it has similar properties. Olive oil can be even incorporated into a vast variety of baked goods, including cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and bread.

For example, here is a video recipe of Italian olive oil cake to prove baking with olive oil can be done:

Can You Substitute Olive Oil For Vegetable Oil in Cake?

Yes, olive oil can be used in baking cakes in place of vegetable oil.

When you consider vegetable oil, it is perfect for cakes. Vegetable oil has a neutral flavor that makes it a versatile choice for baking. When you use other ingredients like chocolate and vanilla or fruit, the vegetable oil will not overpower those flavors. Furthermore, vegetable oil often enhances the textures of cakes, because it helps the cake stay tender and soft during baking instead of dry.

So when you do not have vegetable oil in the pantry, you may be worried that any other oil will simply not do. I’ve been there! Fortunately, as I said, you can use olive oil as a vegetable oil replacement in cake.

That said, olive oil and vegetable oil do have their differences, and so you must keep that in mind when making the swap.

Key Considerations When Substituting

As mentioned above, substituting olive oil for vegetable oil in cake mix is absolutely viable. However, olive oil is different from vegetable oil, meaning it will change the final product of your cake-making journey.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind to ensure the best outcome when using olive oil instead of vegetable oil:

  • Flavor: Olive oil has a distinct flavor that can range from mild to robust. Consider whether the olive oil’s flavor complements the other ingredients in your cake. Opt for milder olive oils (such as light olive oil) or blends with neutral oils like grapeseed or canola for a balanced taste.
  • Texture: Olive oil might alter the texture of your cake, leading to a slightly denser or moister result. If you want a fluffier cake, olive oil may not be the best choice.
  • Color: Some olive oils, including extra virgin olive oil, have a greenish tint that could affect your cake’s color. If color matters, select an olive oil that aligns with your desired cake appearance.
  • Baking Temperature: Since olive oil has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil, you cannot bake your cake at the same temperature as you would with vegetable oil. High heat may burn the olive oil.

Can I Use Olive Oil in Cake Mix

Yes, you can! Olive oil can be used in cake mix instead of vegetable mix, in a 1:1 ratio.

For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, measure out and use 1/2 cup of olive oil instead.

Substituting Olive Oil For Vegetable Oil When Baking A Cake

How to Substitute Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil

Substituting olive oil for vegetable oil in your recipes is relatively straightforward, but it’s important to keep a few guidelines in mind to ensure a successful outcome. 

Here are some tips for ensuring delicious cake:

Determine Which Olive Oil to Use

Decide whether you want to use extra virgin olive oil for a more robust flavor or a milder olive oil for a subtler taste. Light or mild olive oil can be a good choice for recipes where you don’t want the olive oil flavor to dominate.

There are certain flavors that olive oil may mask in your cake. Sweet and delicate flavors, like vanilla, citrus, and other fruits, will be overpowered. I’ve found that olive oil also clashes with mint, coconut, and cream cheese.

Additionally, some olive oil has a peppery undertone that will not blend well with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Check The Substitution Ratio

In most cases, you can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil at a 1:1 ratio. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil, use 1 cup of olive oil.

Mix Thoroughly

When substituting olive oil for vegetable oil, ensure that you mix the oil thoroughly with the other ingredients. This helps distribute the oil evenly throughout the batter.

Monitor The Baking Temperature

Olive oil is generally suitable for baking at regular temperatures. However, if your recipe requires very high heat, be aware of the oil’s smoke point to prevent any potential issues.

Overheating olive oil may lead to the formation of acrolein, a compound that results in a smoky flavor and pungent, acrid smell. Harmful compounds, such as free radicals and lipid oxidation, may also form when olive oil is overheated.

Benefits of Olive Oil Instead of Vegetable Oil in Cake

Once you use olive oil for a cake, you might even prefer using it as the main fat when baking. No, really!

Here are some things I personally like when baking with olive oil:

  • You get a unique flavor to your cake. BUT, it’s important to note that this is not always the case. Depending on the ingredients, olive oil can be a great complement to the overall taste of your creation. (Olive oil goes well with zesty flavors, just saying.)
  • Using olive oil can give you a moist and tender cake. Though you can’t expect a light, fluffy cake when using this oil, olive oil’s natural properties help make a juicy and moisture-laden crumb.
  • Olive oil is not as processed as most vegetable oils. So if you’re more of a whole foods fan, this is a better option.
Substituting Olive Oil For Vegetable Oil When Baking A Cake

Now You Know How to Use Olive Oil in a Cake

Can you substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in cake? It is indeed possible.

Using olive oil offers a chance to infuse your baked goods with a distinct flavor and texture. Understanding the nuances of olive oil, from its flavor to its impact on the final product, empowers you to make an informed decision.

As you embark on your baking journey, remember that while olive oil can be a flavorful substitute, the choice ultimately depends on the compatibility with your recipe’s elements.


Can I substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in any cake recipe?

While you can generally substitute olive oil for vegetable oil, it’s important to consider the flavor and texture of the cake you’re making. Olive oil has a distinct taste that may not work well with every recipe. It’s recommended to choose recipes where the olive oil flavor complements the other ingredients.

Will using olive oil change the texture of my cake?

Yes, using olive oil can potentially alter the texture of your cake. Olive oil tends to yield a slightly denser or moister outcome. This might be desirable for some cake recipes but may not suit others that rely on a specific texture.

What type of olive oil is best for baking a cake?

To avoid an overpowering flavor, opt for mild or light olive oil, as these varieties have a more neutral taste compared to extra virgin olive oil. Consider the flavor you want to achieve in your cake and select the olive oil accordingly.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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