Peanut oil and olive oil are two of the most widely used cooking oils in the US. In some cases, they might be interchangeable, but you will probably want to reserve each for a specific set of tasks. This SPICEography Showdown takes a look at how they compare:
How does peanut oil differ from olive oil?
Peanut oil and olive oil come from two very different sources. Peanut oil has been extracted from the peanut, which is called groundnut in some parts of the world. Peanuts are a legume. The oil is extracted from the edible seeds. Olive oil comes from olives and is extracted from the olive fruit. The whole olives are pressed to extract the oil.
Peanut oil and olive oil don’t have many flavor characteristics in common. The most common peanut oils on grocery store shelves have all been refined, which means that they have a neutral flavor profile of close to it. In fact, one of the reasons that peanut oil is a popular frying oil is that it does not take on the flavors of ingredients and can be used repeatedly without its taste being affected.
Extra virgin olive oil is the most flavorful kind of olive oil. It has a grassy taste, and some varieties also have a mild peppery bite. Refined olive oils are closer to having a neutral flavor like refined peanut oil.
Peanut oil and olive oil don’t have the same smoke point. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which it begins to burn and break down, which is when it generates smoke and toxic compounds. Refined peanut oil starts burning at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and extra virgin olive oil can start burning at about 350 d. In comparison, some refined olive oils will only start smoking at about 470 degrees.
Peanut oil and olive oil have different health effects. Peanut oil is not a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide benefits ranging from cognitive health to eye health and heart health. Olive oil does contain omega-3 fatty acids, which balances out its omega-6 fatty acid content. Doctors recommend a ratio of 4:1 when it comes to omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.
Peanut oil contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for health but only when consumed in moderation. Consumed in excess, and they lead to inflammation and inflammatory diseases. Peanut oil contains more saturated fat than olive oil. Saturated fat clogs arteries and leads to heart disease.
Can you use peanut oil as a substitute for olive oil and vice versa?
Peanut oil can work as a substitute for certain kinds of olive oil but not all. For example, you wouldn’t use peanut oil in place of extra virgin olive oil in most dishes since it doesn’t have the right flavor or the same health benefits. Refined peanut oil can replace refined olive oil since neither has a strong flavor, and both have high smoke points, which means that you can use them for similar applications.
Extra virgin olive oil can be a good substitute for peanut oil in vinaigrettes and other raw applications since it will offer more flavor than the relatively bland peanut oil.
When should you use peanut oil, and when should you use olive oil?
Use peanut oil when you need a versatile, affordable oil for deep-frying and other high-temperature applications. Use olive oil for its distinctive flavor and array of health benefits.