Olive Oil vs Butter – Which Is Right For Me?

Published Categorized as Ingredients Tagged

When frying up something to eat, it can be hard to choose between olive oil or butter. Even with a recipe to guide you, some might not feel confident enough to do one or the other, or maybe they’re not sure what kind of olive oil is best. Well, rest assured because I’m going to be covering everything you need to know in this article. So, lets get started!

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Table of Contents

olive oil on plate

Olive Oil vs Butter: Cuisine

Olive Oil vs Butter For Taste

Taste-wise, there’s a significant gap between these two.

Butter has a very different flavor to olive oil, but there are some advantages that come with this. Butter suits almost any food, whereas olive oil goes better with Mediterranean dishes.

However, if you’re careful, you can substitute butter for olive oil.

The one other major difference – at least when it comes to cooking – is the discrepancy between their smoke points. So let’s compare them!

Comparing Smoke Points Of Butter And Olive Oils

For those unacquainted, ‘smoke point’ just means the temperature at which oil starts to burn and, well, smoke, rather than boil. When an oil reaches this state, they turn bitter and all of the food you’re cooking in it will taste burnt.

Oils with high smoke points can tolerate high temperatures without smoking, whereas oils with low smoke points start smoking very easily, at relatively low temperatures.

So, where do olive oil vs butter land on the scale? Below, I’ve added a table to demonstrate just that. With a few other oils for context, of course.

OilsSmoke Point ºFSmoke Point °C
Butter302ºF150ºC
Refined or Pure Olive Oil465ºF240ºC
Extra Virgin Olive Oil325-375ºF 163-190ºC
Vegetable Oil 400-450ºF204-232ºC
Refined Sesame Oil410ºF210ºC
Sunflower Oil450ºF232ºC
Refined Coconut Oil450ºF232ºC
Refined Avocado Oil520ºF271°C

If you’re curious about oils that weren’t listed, this other article on cast iron seasoning lists which oils are best according to smoke points and fat. If you’re interested in the smoke points of different types of olive oil, click on the link to check them out too!

So, where does all this put us in terms of actually cooking with these fats?

Tips And Tricks!
Mix olive oil and butter when cooking – butter gives flavor, and the olive oil keeps the butter from burning. You can also mix olive oil with vegetable oil if you find you’re running low on one for deep frying! Just make sure to check the smoking point of the type of olive oil you plan to use.
butter in pan

Cooking With Butter And Olive Oil – Answering Your Questions

Olive Oil vs Butter For Frying

Olive oil is far easier to fry with than butter. I mean, just try sautéing some garlic in butter! While its not impossible of course, it isn’t quite as easy because of the difference in their smoke points. Olive oil is also generally regarded as the more healthy oil to fry with.

Is It Better To Cook Eggs In Butter Or Oil?

Look, in my opinion, its a whole lot easier to cook eggs in oil. The oil won’t burn and it’s easy to baste the egg with so you don’t get any runny spots. Butttt… Butter does have more flavor to it – and a pleasant one at that. If you’re concerned in terms of nutrition though, olive oil is the better choice in most cases.

Is Olive Oil Better Than Butter On Toast?

This honestly just depends on what kind of toast you want. For more of a bruschetta/garlic bread vibe, mash some roasted garlic and spread onto your toast (along with the olive oil with cooked it in) is an *excellent* choice. But if you’re more in the mood for regular old toast, bread and butter is a classic. I mean, that is where the saying ’bread and butter’ comes from after all. Still, if you want to change things up a little you can try making some pão na chapa instead.

Olive Oil vs Butter: Baking

As baking is far more of an exact science than cooking, olive oil and butter’s different qualities produce different end results and so are best used in different things. I’ve linked this video that will show you how they are used differently and why.

Butter And Olive Oil: Health

Is Olive Oil Better For Your Heart Than Butter?

Olive oil vs butter for cholesterol – which is better?

Well, in many ways, they hit similar spots nutritionally as they’re both fats. Both are 100% fat, and both have more than 100 calories a tablespoon.

However, olive oil is usually deemed the healthier choice as it has a lower content of saturated fat and no dietary cholesterol.

Butter vs Olive Oil For Weight Loss

Is olive oil as fattening as butter? The answer to this may be different to what you’d expect.

Olive oil, whilst having more calories than unsalted butter (and sometimes salted too), is generally healthier than butter. This is because – as stated before – olive oil has less dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, and no sodium. This means that olive oil technically is more fattening than butter, but it’s also the healthier choice.

Toast spread with olive oil vs butter

Olive Oil And Butter: Nutrition

Vitamins In Butter vs Olive Oil

To see how much saturated fat there is in olive oil vs butter, or to compare their calories, check out this nutrition table below. The table uses salted butter as I figured salted would be the one most people are using in their cooking. This table compares olive oil vs butter by tablespoon. It also has information on olive oil vs butter calories.

NutrientsPure Olive OilSalted Butter
Calories110.4101.81
Protien0 g0.12 g
Fat12.88 g11.52 g
Saturated FA1.84 g7.29 g
Monounsaturated FA9.20 g2.98 g
Polyunsaturated FA1.84 g0.43 g
Total Trans Fat, FA0 g0.47 g
Carbohydrate0 g0.01 g
Cholesterol 0 mg30.53 mg
WaterN/A2.30 g
1 tsbp approx
melting stick of butter

FAQs On Butter vs Olive Oil

Is olive oil healthier than butter?

Olive oil is usually deemed the healthier choice as it has a lower content of saturated fat and no dietary cholesterol.

Is olive oil or butter better for frying?

Olive oil fries faster than butter and has a better smoke point.

So, Is It Better To Use Butter Or Oil?

Again, this depends on what you want from your fat and your confidence in cooking!

Olive oil is easier for frying than butter, but it won’t give you that same flavor. It also has less saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. However, it has more calories than butter and sometimes can be a bit too strong for certain dishes, or not have the correct properties to work in them.

So really, the choice is up to you!

I hope this article has given you the information needed to make these decisions, and allowed you to have a better insight into cooking with olive oil and butter. Good luck experimenting with these wonderful ingredients in your next recipes!

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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