Extra virgin olive oil is regarded as a kitchen staple by most professional chefs and serious home cooks. The reasons include the flavor and health benefits associated with this cooking oil. If you are out of extra virgin olive oil, you can get enjoyable flavors and powerful health benefits from other oils. Here is a look at some of the best extra virgin olive oil substitutes.
Your best bet: Pure olive oil
Otherwise called regular olive oil or classic olive oil, pure olive oil may be cold-pressed from olives that are not of a high enough quality to produce virgin olive oil. Cold pressing means that no heat is applied during extraction.
Some oils are a blend of cold-pressed oil with oil extracted by other means, including with chemicals or heat. Making pure olive oil often involves mixing in some extra virgin olive oil with a processed olive oil, so it does contain some of the flavor and nutrients.
Pure olive oil is a better substitute for extra virgin olive oil in dishes where the nuances of a premium oil might be lost. Because it has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil — about 410 degrees Fahrenheit — pure olive oil is better for frying. While it is not ideal for salad dressings and other uncooked preparations, it will still work.
Pure olive oil won’t be as flavorful or as healthy as extra virgin olive oil, but it is still a good source of monounsaturated fat and other compounds that can protect your heart.
A decent second choice: Walnut oil
Like extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil is cold-pressed. It is extracted from dried walnuts. Both walnut oil and extra virgin olive oil have the same low smoke-point, which means that they will start smoking at around 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the low smoke point, walnut oil is best in uncooked applications.
It also has a nutty flavor that can work in many of the raw applications that call for extra virgin olive oil. Walnut oil has many of the same health benefits as extra virgin olive oil. It has more alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-three fatty acid — than extra virgin olive oil but a lower percentage of monounsaturated fats. Walnut oil is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including several B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc.
In a pinch: Grapeseed oil
Extracted from the seeds of wine grapes, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking. It has been promoted as an alternative to olive oil because of its health benefits. It is similar to extra virgin olive oil in that it offers heart-healthy fat and vitamin E.
It has an advantage over extra virgin olive oil in its higher smoke point. Grapeseed oil doesn’t start smoking until it gets to 421 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 degrees higher than extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point. As a result, grapeseed oil is often recommended for high heat cooking techniques like stir-frying.
Grapeseed oil is known for having a neutral flavor, which means that it won’t enhance your food’s taste the way extra virgin olive oil would.
Avocado oil is another healthy oil that can provide many of extra virgin olive oil’s benefits. While it works well in both cooked and uncooked applications, its high smoke point (520 degrees Fahrenheit) makes it a more versatile oil than extra virgin olive oil.