Olive oil….probably the most well-known and well-loved of oils. Have you ever met someone who has never heard of olive oil? Me neither.
However, as popular as it is, you might find when you are cooking that you have none on hand for a recipe or you need a more budget-friendly option to fry things with. Or, maybe you just don’t like the taste and want something a bit more neutral. No problem! There are many ways that olive oil can be substituted, and many oils it can be substituted with, and we have made our ultimate list of the best ones for any situation.
First, here are the four oils that work the best as alternatives to olive oil.
- Avocado oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
Now let’s get to which ones work the best for your particular cooking need…
Best All-Around Olive Oil Substitute: Avocado Oil
A note on olive oil, there are various kinds, such as extra virgin, virgin, regular, light, and even olive pomace oil! These substitutions work for any type of olive oil you usually use.
The best non-olive oil all-around substitute is avocado oil. It has a mild flavor, is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, and can be used for cooking even at high heat temperatures. It is also compliant with the keto and paleo diets. If you happen to use olive oil for cosmetic purposes, such as a hair treatment, then avocado oil can be used for that too!
Best Olive Oil Substitute for Raw Cooking: Hemp Seed Oil
The best substitute for olive oil in raw cooking is hemp seed oil. Usually, the olive oil you would use in raw cooking is extra virgin olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fat and polyphenols. Hemp seed oil also has reasonable amounts of both, making it a great substitute.
The flavor of extra virgin olive oil really shines through in raw cooking with its grassy notes, and the slight earthy and nutty flavor of hemp seed oil makes for a tasty substitute that can add depth to any dish.
Regular, light, or virgin olive oil would also be acceptable as a substitute for extra virgin olive oil in raw cooking, but the flavor will be much more neutral.
Best Olive Oil Substitute for Regular Cooking: Avocado Oil
If you want to bake, pan-fry, or use a substitute oil for other regular cooking, avocado oil works well. It doesn’t degrade or change flavor with regular heat cooking, and I find it can be used for most cuisines. It is smooth and a little buttery, lending itself well to a variety of recipes.
Best for Olive Oil Substitute for High-Heat Cooking: Avocado Oil
The best replacement for olive oil for high-heat cooking is also avocado oil! Avocado oil has a high smoke point of around 520 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes I find that alternative oil, even with a high smoke point, can have unpleasant flavor changes with high-heat cooking, but I’ve not found this to be the case with avocado oil; it remains pretty neutral!
Other varieties of olive oil you can use for high-heat cooking would be olive pomace oil and refined olive oil. Extra virgin, virgin, and even regular olive oil can taste oxidized if used at high heat.
Closest in Flavor Olive Oil Substitute: Hemp Seed Oil
Picking an oil closest in flavor is difficult, as olive oil is pretty unique, and depending on where you buy yours from, the flavor profiles can vary. The primary tastes I experience with extra virgin olive oil are grass and earth. The closest oil in flavor for me is hemp seed oil, as it has similar grass/earth notes, albeit more subtle. Hemp oil will add a nice nutty tone to things too.
Some people have also said flaxseed oil has a similar flavor, but I haven’t had that same experience unless my flax oil has gone rancid and is a bit bitter.
If you want another kind of olive oil close in flavor to extra virgin, then that would be virgin olive oil or regular olive oil, which is a mix of virgin and refined olive oils.
Best Neutral-Flavored Olive Oil Substitute: Grapeseed Oil
The most neutral alternative to olive oil is grapeseed oil. This oil has a very, very neutral taste and works well on anything from salad to deep frying, allowing the flavor of the food to stand out.
You might also want to consider olive pomace oil as a neutral-flavored oil from the olive family. This is made with the leftover pulp from the olive pressing process, and it is highly refined, so it does not have much flavor at all.
Best Budget-Friendly Olive Oil Substitute: Grapeseed Oil
The best budget-friendly olive oil substitute is grapeseed oil. This oil is relatively inexpensive and offers a neutral flavor that won’t overpower the taste of the food. Grapeseed oil can be found in most supermarkets and is often used in restaurants for deep-frying and sautéing, as it is much better for a restaurant budget than olive oil.
Healthiest Olive Oil Substitute: Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil would be the healthiest substitute for olive oil, though it only works for raw cooking. Avocado oil is also pretty healthy if you are using it for heat cooking! Extra virgin olive oil is also really healthy if you are looking for an alternative to regular olive oil that has a bit more nutrition.
Hemp seed oil contains high levels of vitamin E, omega-3, and omega-6, as well as various other vitamins and minerals. Avocado oil also has some health benefits, including being rich in oleic acid, which is believed to help reduce inflammation and cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil contains more flavonoids than regular olive oil, making it a healthier choice for cooking.
Best Olive Oil Substitute for Keto/Paleo/Whole30: Avocado Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is safe for all three diets, but if you want to substitute it with something else, go with avocado oil. This can be used for raw cooking all the way to high-heat cooking and is a fantastic, healthy whole food to get those beneficial fats into your diet.
Yes, you can use extra virgin olive oil for hair and skin. It is a natural moisturizer and antioxidant, making it great for hydration and fighting against free radicals. For some skin types, it may be a little heavy and cause breakouts or limp hair though, so be sure to test it out a few weeks before any important events!
Olive oil is an excellent choice for cooking, as you can usually find a version that works for any temperature. Extra virgin olive oil is the best for health, as it contains not just healthy fats but phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties. The antioxidants in olive oil can help with heart health and reduce inflammation.
It is also used for hair and skin as a natural moisturizer.
This is a great question. You might notice that pure extra virgin olive oil is often sold in dark glass bottles. This is so that light and heat have trouble getting in! Light and heat may potentially oxidize extra virgin olive oil, giving it a strange bitter taste and reducing its health benefits. I keep my olive oil in a cool, dark cupboard away from heat and sunlight, but not in the fridge because I don’t like how it drizzles on my salad if it’s too cold!
However, refined olive oils do not need to be kept away from heat and sunlight, as they are much more stable.