Are Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing? – Olive vs Vegetable Oil Differences

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The question ‘is olive oil and vegetable oil the same thing’ is one that’s honestly understandable – especially when you take a moment to consider the incredible popularity of these two oils. I mean, they do kind of look alike, and in some cases may not even taste that different from each other. But still, what is it that makes these oils distinct from each other, and does it really even matter? Read on to find out what the crucial variations between them are, as well as to discover when it might not count so much!

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Is Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing?

Table of Contents

Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil… Is There A Difference?

The answer to ’is olive oil considered vegetable oil’ is no. The question of whether olive oil is functionally the same as vegetable oil, however, is a little more viable and can have important implications.

So, lets take a look at some of their core differences so we can find out whether this changes the ways in which they can be used.

The Main Differences Summarized

1) Vegetable Oil vs Olive Oil Smoke Point

First, let’s talk about possibly the most significant difference between olive oil and vegetable oil – smoke points.

While olive oils of any varieties have a lower smoke point than vegetable oil, different types of olive oil have a more significant gap between them.

To visualize this, think of olive oils as being on a spectrum of smoke points – some oils can tolerate the higher end, while others can’t. This is because of the way that the oils are made as well as their composition.

For example, extra virgin olive oil – the highest quality olive oil – has the lowest smoke point of them all, coming in at around 375°F. This means that the oil cannot tolerate high heat cooking and will begin to smoke once heated over this threshold.

So, why does this matter when substituting oils?

The reason that this is important to consider is because a dish that calls for veggie oil likely includes cooking that is too high heat for something like extra virgin or virgin olive oil. You can play it safe however by replacing the vegetable oil with pure olive-based oil instead. I often use this form of olive oil to sauté garlic as it’s smoke point is high enough for most forms of cooking. In the event of deep frying, something like olive pomace oil may be a better choice. For some further context, I’ve compared these oils below.

Is Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing?

Comparing Smoke Points

TYPES OF OILSmoke PointSuitable For…
Vegetable Oil400°FLow heat, medium heat, high heat and deep frying. Usually used in medium – deep frying.
Pomace Olive Oil460°FLow heat, medium heat, high heat and deep frying. Usually reserved for high heat and deep frying.
Refined Olive Oil390°FLow heat, medium heat and high heat. This oil is lower quality than pure olive oil, but it is cheaper and cooks at the same range of temperatures.
Pure Olive Oil390°FLow heat, medium heat, and high heat cooking. This is my preferred oil to use, especially when sautéing garlic and onions before making basmati or Jasmine rice.
Virgin Olive Oil350°FLow heat, sometimes medium heat.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil345°FSometimes low heat, best used as part of a dressing or dip.

2) Vegetable Oil vs Olive Oil Frying

The question of whether veggie or olive is best for frying really depends on two things – primarily, what type of frying you’re doing as well as which olive oil you choose to use.

Generally, vegetable oil is more reliable for frying as it’s more versatile due to it’s higher smoke point and absent taste.

Still, if you’re attracted to the health qualities or the taste of olive oil, I’ll insert a chart so that you can better understand which oil is best for what.

Vegetable OilPomace O/ORefined O/OPure O/OVirgin O/OExtra Virgin O/O
Low Heat FryingSuitable, but may be heavyNot great, may have an unpleasant tasteSuitableGoodOkayBetter not
Sautéing Suitable, but may be heavyBest not, may have an unpleasant tasteGoodBest choiceBetter notNo
Searing & Higher Heat FryingGood OkayGoodSuitableNoNo
Deep FryingBest choiceGoodNoNoNoNo
This table takes into consideration not only the smoke points, but also the viscosity, flavor, and cooking reactions of the oils.

3) Vegetable Oil vs Olive Oil Calories And Health

Calorie-wise, vegetable oil and olive oil are virtually the same, being both 100% fat. There may be some variation across brands, but generally they come in at about 120 calories per tablespoon.

However, as you’ll find below, there’s much more to how ’healthy’ a food may be than it’s calories.

If you’re interested in which is actually the healthier choice for you of the two, there’s some research out there that suggests olive oil oil may be better than vegetable oil in those with heart disease or those who are at risk of breast cancer. This line of thought comes from the fact that olive oil has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease in Mediterranean populations – however, there hasn’t been any definitive proof on whether this is true of other populations. This is great news for those of you who have previously avoided this oil due to the myth that heated olive oil is carcinogenic! Still, it’s important to know all the facts behind this claim.

This myth came about from a study that found repeatedly reheating oils may have carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects. Paired with the fact that olive oil has one of the lowest smoke points among commonly used cooking oils, many pushed the idea that olive oil is even more prone to becoming carcinogenic.

However, this has not yet been tested or proven to be true. As a general rule of thumb, avoid repeatedly reheating any fats you use to cook with.

Is Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing? – Olive Vs Vegetable Oil Differences

So, What Happens If I Use Olive Oil Instead Of Vegetable Oil?

The answer to the question of “can I substitute vegetable oil for olive oil” is broadly…. Well, maybe.

The main issue is the difference between smoke points and between the tastes of the oils, though this is highly dependent on the type of olive oil used. For example, in 99% of cases you wouldn’t want to use unfiltered olive oil in place of vegetable oil as it will greatly change the taste, texture, and smoke point of the dish.

The most important thing to keep in mind when substituting these oils for each other is the context of the situation. Because different smoke points either enable or prohibit fats from certain cooking methods, their most beneficial uses in cooking are a little more versatile. In baking, however, it’s usually a good idea to try and take a different approach.

Baking is often said to be an exact science, while cooking Is better compared to be more of an art. This is why we should instead consider how these fats interact with other ingredients, and factor in the effect that a possible presence of olive flavoring would have in sweet dishes.

With that being said, let’s get into some of the different ways in which these oils can be used while baking and baking!

Is Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing? – Olive Vs Vegetable Oil Differences

The Rundown On Cooking And Baking With Oil

Is Olive Oil The Same As Vegetable Oil For Cooking?

The long and short of it is that no, olive oil isn’t the same as vegetable oil for cooking. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use olive oil at all!

The two things you have to consider though are the taste and, as always, the smoke point. While olive oil has a wonderful taste, it may not benefit all dishes.

At the same time, a dish that would traditionally make use of a strong olive oil may feel a little lacking without it – think garlic confit, pinzimino or aglio e olio. Honestly, probably any Italian dish! Luckily, this is generally a minor part of an entire dish, so it may not be of as much importance. As we explored in the “Vegetable Oil vs Olive Oil Frying” section, smoke points can be integral to how dishes are cooked, so the cooking method requires some greater deliberation when using these types of oils.

Is Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil The Same Thing When Baking?

Overall, it’s not a great idea to use olive-based oil in place of vegetable oil when baking – and this time it’s not even about the smoke point!

Unfortunately, olive oil (especially purer kinds like extra virgin or virgin) tends to have a very strong, fruity taste. While this is usually one of it’s strengths when it comes to cooking, non-neutral flavors can become olive oil’s downfall when it comes to the baking sheet.

So, can I use olive oil instead of vegetable oil in a cake? Well, you certainly can, but it really is best to avoid it. Fruity flavors can be an excellent companion to sweet treats – think strawberry cake – but something about an olive-tasting cake really doesn’t sit right. While olive oil can be an excellent substitute for grapeseed oil when baking, it isn’t always a welcome taste. The olive taste will stick out like a sore thumb in *almost* any cake recipe, so it’s truly best avoided.

Still, if you’re craving a cake of any kind and olive oil is all you’ve got, there might just be an alternative for you…

orange flower-lemon cake

Meet: the orange flower-olive oil cake.

Now I know this goes against everything I’ve just said, but consider this – this cake recipe was made with olive oil in mind! The ingredients are fruity, flavorful, and just the right kind of sweet. Orange-flower’s subtle sweetness and floral notes gently introduce the olive flavor, and the zestiness of the lemon is quick to keep the oil from overpowering everything else!

If you insist on using olive oil to make cake, make sure you use it in a cake like this.

Olive Oil And Vegetable Oil – Whats The Difference After All?

So, there we have it! Olive oil and vegetable oil are incredibly different, especially functionally. They are varied in both smoke points and flavors, so they’re better suited to different dishes and cooking methods. Olive oil is also extra tricky – the many existing varieties of olive oil sit on a spectrum of opposing qualities, which, yet again, impacts the way that they are used.

In essence, the most important thing to remember is this – olive oil should be used in dishes where it’s flavor will not be overpowering, and the veggie kind should be used for higher heat cooking and oils with neutral flavoring. Try not to use virgin olive oil in high heat cooking methods, and definitely don’t use extra virgin! Other than that, you’re pretty much set!

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating! Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

1 comment

  1. Dear Anna: Thank you for very informative article ‘vegetable vs olive oil.’ I’ve had this discussion about flavor & your article proves me right. I wish you would let me know where Sunflower oils fit into flavor & temps opposed to vegetable oils as I think its use may be the reason why french fries at fast food stores taste different than 30 yrs ago.

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