Grapeseed oil and olive oil are two healthy, popular cooking oils that often get used in the same kinds of dishes. While they can be interchangeable, they don’t necessarily have the same properties. We compare grapeseed oil and olive oil in the SPICEography Showdown below.
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How does grapeseed oil differ from olive oil?
Grapeseed oil and olive oil come from different fruits. Grapeseed oil comes from the seeds of grapes left over after winemaking; olive oil comes from the flesh of olives.
The extraction methods for each are usually (but not always) different. Most grapeseed oil is extracted with a solvent called hexane. There is very little oil in grape seeds, and using a solvent is the most efficient and cost-effective way to extract it.
Occasionally, grapeseed oil is extracted by cold pressing where extreme force (but no heat) is used to squeeze the oil from the seeds. Cold-pressed grapeseed oil is usually very expensive. Cold pressing is the method used to extract extra virgin olive oil. The fact that it is hexane-free is considered an advantage by those concerned about the potential health effects of consuming the solvent.
Grapeseed oil and olive oil usually differ a lot in taste. The flavor profile of grapeseed oil is mild. It is considered one of the more neutral-tasting oils. There are different kinds of olive oils and the flavor of most is a lot stronger than that of grapeseed oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the most flavorful olive oil. The best quality extra virgin olive oil has a strong grassy flavor with a mild peppery quality.
Grapeseed oil contains more polyunsaturated fat than olive oil, which has more monounsaturated fat than grapeseed oil. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy, but only polyunsaturated fats are considered essential for health. Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are in higher concentration in olive oil than in grapeseed oil.
Grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil but not more than light olive oil.
If your recipe calls for one, can you use the other?
Grapeseed oil and olive oil have similar calorie counts, so they are 1:1 substitutes in that respect. Grapeseed oil is an effective substitute for light olive oil since both have high smoke points and subtle flavor profiles.
Grapeseed oil won’t be as good a substitute for extra virgin olive oil since it lacks that oil’s strong, distinctive flavor profile. Light olive oil can be used in place of grapeseed oil for both cooked and uncooked applications, but extra virgin olive oil won’t be a good substitute. Extra virgin olive oil lacks the high smoke point and neutral taste of grapeseed oil.
When should you use grapeseed oil, and when should you use olive oil?
Grapeseed oil has a milder taste and is better for pairing with more subtly flavored ingredients where you don’t want the oil to outshine the dish’s other components. Grapeseed oil is also perfect for baking.
Extra virgin olive oil is better for dishes that will benefit from its strong flavor profile. Because it has a low smoke point, it is better in uncooked applications like mayonnaise and vinaigrettes. You can use it on its own for dipping bread. Use extra virgin olive oil when you need olive oil’s nutritional profile without the strong flavor and low smoke point of extra virgin olive oil. It is great for deep-frying and stir-frying.