Olive Oil Butter Substitute – Your Queries Answered

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Journal Tagged

Olive oil and butter – they’re both prominent in Italian recipes, so you’d think its easy to find an olive oil butter substitute, right? Wrong. Don’t sweat it though because I’m about to walk you through everything you need to know – questions and all. So, lets get a move on!

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Table of Contents

olive oil and butter

Substituting Olive Oil and Butter – The Basics

Now, lets get straight to the point – it isn’t always easy to substitute ingredients for one another. This is especially true where not only flavor, but actual science is involved. So let’s cover what won’t work when trying to substitute something first.

Where olive oil or butter are an essential ingredient to a recipe – e.g., this Benihana garlic butter recipe – you can’t really substitute them for one another. But in cases where you’re sautéing some garlic, for example, there is a lot more leeway.

However its not always so easy with other foods. Just within olive oil itself, there are so many types of olive oil that will change the outcome when cooking – for instance, pure olive oil might work where extra virgin does not! Even then, you still have to choose between filtered and unfiltered olive oil. And don’t get me started on measurements – 50g/tbsp butter probably won’t translate as the same in olive oil. So, where do we start? Well, I think its best for us to find out what is possible.

The Limits And Possibilities Of Substitution

To understand why olive oil and butter may be substituted for one another in some situations but not others, we first have to talk about the differences of olive oil vs butter. To put it simply, there are three major differences between them – taste, consistency, and smoke point. So, lets explore them!

Olive OilButter
TasteOlive oil is generally considered to be strong tasting – especially higher grade oils. If you don’t want your food to taste like olive oil, you’re going to want to go for anything from pure olive oil to pomace oil. Make sure to use filtered olive oil, as unfiltered will definitely impact the taste. Butter is also generally strong tasting – especially salted butter. However, it is often used for frying and baking and so is well suited for most olive oil dishes. Even so, it won’t taste the same, it will just match the flavor profile.
ConsistencyOlive oil has a somewhat viscous oily consistency, making it thinner than unmelted butter. This is good for cooking, but doesn’t always provide the same advantage during baking. Before melting, butter has a creamy, soft consistency – provided its not been chilled. In most baking recipes, butter is warmed, making it the perfect consistency for mixing into flour.
Smoke PointWhile olive oil’s smoke point is generally considered to be low, it is still slightly higher than butter’s – at least in the case of pure, refined, and pomace oil. This is very beneficial when it comes to frying and other kinds of cooking. However, olive oil does not have the ability to be ’browned’. Butter has a (slightly) lower smoke point than most olive oils. This means its prone to burning, making it difficult to use in frying sometimes. However, sometimes browning is desired, like in cookie recipes.

Now that you know some of the main differences and pros and cons of olive oil butter substitutes, I’ll go through the answers to some commonly asked questions on the topic.

olive oil on veggies

FAQs – What Can I Use?


Can you substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter?

Because these two fats are so different, the answer is generally…no. But! It does depend on what you’re making. Extra virgin olive oil isn’t really considered good for cooking since it has such a low smoke point, but it can make an excellent dressing. If you’re using butter as more of a ’finishing’ touch and think a strong olive oil taste would suit your dish, then go for it!

Can I substitute olive oil for butter?

Now, this is a little different. Provided you’re not using extra virgin, virgin, or unfiltered olive oil, then you’re (mostly) good to go. As lower graded olive oil has a more neutral taste, you don’t have to worry so much on this aspect of the dish. Unless you really want a butter taste or texture, in which case you should try to use margarine. If you’re baking however, I’d recommend using vegetable oil instead.

How to substitute olive oil for butter?

For cooking, use roughly the same amount of butter as you would and continue to follow the recipe. To get a buttery taste or consistency, consider using margarine instead, or mix a little into you’re oil. Make sure to use PURE OLIVE OIL, not virgin or extra virgin. For baking, you’re better off either using margarine or vegetable oil as olive oil doesn’t work well in sweet baked treats.

How to substitute butter for olive oil instant mashed potatoes?

Substituting butter for olive oil in instant mash is one of the few instances in which you can use extra virgin olive oil instead. It will give your potatoes a creamy texture and will be reminiscent of butter when mixing. To add, simply put the ¾ of the amount of extra virgin oil as you would butter.

Close up of nuggets with sesame seeds being fried in olive oil butter substitute

How Much Do I Use To Substitute?

How Much Olive Oil To Substitute For Butter?

To use olive oil in place of butter, use a little less than the recipe calls for.

For example, if your recipe calls for a stick of butter, use six tablespoons of olive oil (a stick usually equals 8 tablespoons).

The general rule of thumb is to substitute the butter with only three quarters the amount with oil. You can generally expect to reduce the oil by up to three tablespoons to keep the same amount of fat as butter.

How Much Butter Do I Substitute For Olive Oil?

Luckily, butter is easy to substitute in a recipe.

Simply use a ratio of 1:1 to every cup or tablespoon/teaspoon of butter for olive oil.

More Commonly Asked Questions –

Can You Substitute Olive Oil For Butter Scrambled Eggs

You can absolutely substitute olive oil for butter in scrambled eggs – and vice versa! There’s only a two things you should watch out for when doing this.

The first is if you’re cooking with olive oil – make sure to choose an olive oil with a high-enough smoke point and a neutral flavor. In my opinion, pure or refined olive oil work best. Also remember to use a little less than you normally would.

For cooking with butter, all you need to take care with is the smoke point – butter has a very low smoke point, so its frustratingly easy to burn it. To avoid burning it, make sure to turn down the heat as soon as it starts to foam. This means that the water has evaporated out of your butter and its ready for frying!

A trick I like to use is to drizzle the tiniest bit of oil into the pan before adding the butter on top of it – if done right, this will 100% keep your butter from burning.

Can You Use Olive Oil Instead Of Butter On A Pan?

Olive oil is excellent for cooking, providing you choose the correct variety! In my opinion, its even better for cooking than butter, as butter can sometimes be a little tricky to master since its so easy to burn. The same even goes for cooking with butter in a cast iron pan. Again though, just be sure that your olive oil has a higher smoke point and a more neutral flavor – though this isn’t always essential.

Olive oil butter substitute ghee in a glass jar surrounded by flowers

Baking With Olive Oil Butter Substitute

When baking, it can be hard to substitute ingredients for each other. For example, even swapping out similar ingredients like margarine for butter in cookies can affect the outcome. This is because baking is far more of an exact science when compared to cooking, where you can mostly just throw things together and think on the fly.

So, what should you do?

Can You Substitute Melted Butter For Olive Oil In Baking?

You’ll be glad to know that yes, it is possible to substitute melted butter for olive oil in baking!

All you need to do is adjust the amount of oil used, and use a lower grade olive oil. Ideally, you only want to use about ¾ oil to the amount of butter stated in the recipe. The same goes to substitute butter for olive oil when baking bread.

Pain at chocolate and brownies made using olive oil butter substitute next to rolling pin, whisk, and wooden cutting board

Olive Oil Butter Substitute – What Should I Do?

So, what’s the verdict on olive oil butter substitutes? Well… Its pretty doable!

Butter does tend to suit most dishes, while olive oil is a little bit trickier. Still, with the right materials and eye for detail, your substituted dish will be wonderful!

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!

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