People often use olive oil as their go-to for cooking, dipping bread, and even baking. With its full flavor profile and an abundance of health benefits, it's no wonder it's such a popular choice.
The high concentration of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in olive oil is what makes it appealing to health advocates. These beneficialfats help to boost heart health and promote a feeling of satiety (or fullness).
If you look in the pantry and see you're out of olive oil right in the middle of a recipe, or you're looking for specific advantages of another oil, you might need to reach for an alternative. Here are some of the most popular olive oil substitutes.
A single serving for any oil, including olive oil, is 1 tablespoon (14 g).
One tablespoon of olive oil has 124 calories, all of which come from fat. One tablespoon of olive oil contains:
- 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 1.9 grams of saturated fat
- 10.2 grams of monounsaturated fat
For all of the olive oil alternatives listed in this article, the substitution ratio is a simple 1:1. So if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of olive oil, you'd use 2 tablespoons of the alternative.
Know Your Cooking Oil Smoke Points
Grapeseed oil offers a similar fat profile as olive oil, with 2 grams of monounsaturated fats and 9.5 grams of polyunsaturated fats per 1-tablespoon serving. It also offers a healthy dose of vitamin E, an antioxidant that data suggests may help prevent aging and prevent chronic disease.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral taste, so it can replace olive oil when you're working with flavorful ingredients, such as vegetables and proteins.
Canola oil has been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk factors. It reduces cholesterol levels compared to other oils and reduces triglycerides compared to olive oil. It offers almost 9 grams of monounsaturated fat and almost 4 grams of polyunsaturated fats.
Like olive oil, canola oil is a versatile ingredient that can be used for sautéing, frying, and grilling, as well as in salad dressings and sauces.
Not unlike canola oil, sunflower oil can lower cholesterol levels thanks to its fatty acid profile. One tablespoon of sunflower oil also provides more than a third of the recommended vitamin E intake for a day.
Cold-pressed sunflower oil is best used in dressings or in other cold applications. Refined sunflower oil can be used in high heat applications, even frying, because of its high smoke point. Refined sunflower oil also has a more neutral flavor than cold-pressed sunflower oil.
When olive oil is called for in a baking recipe, be sure to assess whether the flavor of the olive oil is the basis for its inclusion. Some recipes pair the flavor of olive oil with citrus or aromatics like rosemary because they balance each other well. You might not get the same result if you use a different oil.
Of all the plant-based oils, coconut oil is among the highest in saturated fat. Some theorize that since coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, it contributes less to the storage of body fat than those made of long-chain fatty acids. However the evidence for this claim is uncertain, and more research needs to be done.
Refined coconut oil can be used in high-heat cooking. Coconut oil is unique among plant-based oils because it is solid at room temperature. That makes it incompatible for use in liquids like salad dressing or marinades.
Butter has 102 calories per 1-tablespoon serving. Most of the calories in butter come from saturated fat. Experts recommend that people reduce their intake of saturated fat in favor of mono and polyunsaturated fats.
While it might seem hard to compare a solid to a liquid in terms of ratio, you want to use the same amount of butter as you would use olive oil when substituting. Use the tablespoon reference guide on the wrapper of most sticks of butter to portion out a serving.
Butter is one of the most convenient substitutes for olive oil. It has a satisfying flavor and you might eat less of it (some say it curbs cravings with a smaller portion size). However, butter doesn't provide the other health benefits you'd get from using olive oil.
Walnut oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, making it among the most heart-healthy oils. In particular, walnuts have alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which when metabolized can protect cells from inflammation.
Because of its low smoke point, walnut oil is not ideal for cooking but is better suited as an ingredient in dressings, pesto, or other finishing applications. Interestingly, it is also used to condition wooden kitchen tools like wooden spoons and cutting boards.
Bananas are famously rich in potassium, and they are also almost entirely fat free with less than 1 gram of fat in a cup of mashed banana.
Ripe bananas are best for this substitution. If your bananas ripen before you are ready to use them, try freezing them. To freeze, peel the ripe or overripe banana, mash it with a fork, and freeze in a freezer-friendly container.
Freeze mashed banana overnight in ice cube trays or muffin tins. Once frozen, pop out the pre-portioned frozen banana and store it in an airtight container. When it's time to use it, you can thaw just what you need.
Bananas have limited use as a substitution for olive oil in many cooking applications, but mashed banana is an excellent replacement for oils in baking.
Peanut oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat per tablespoon. The fat profile is mixed, with 2.3 grams saturated fat, 6.2 grams monounsaturated fat, and 4.3 grams polyunsaturated fat. It also provides some vitamin E and vitamin K.
Peanut oil is excellent for high-temperature cooking such as frying and sautéing. Alone it has a neutral flavor and doesn't absorb the flavors of the food it is cooking, which means peanut oil can be reused.
Ghee, or clarified butter, contains more saturated fat than some other cooking oils. Ghee contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are believed to help in the reduction of chronic disease.
Because of its high smoke point, ghee can be used for frying in addition to sautéing, grilling, and roasting. It does not burn as easily as butter because it has a lower water content.
Just like olive oil, avocado oil has a good proportion of unsaturated fats that make it among the more beneficial fat sources. In addition, one study showed avocado oil improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels and had anti-inflammatory properties.
Avocado oil can be used in high heat settings, but it also makes for a delicious finishing oil for salads or roasted vegetables.
A Word From Verywell
Fat is an essential macronutrient that's required for your body to function properly. Beyond olive oil, there are many oils that offer beneficial fats. Olive oil and most olive oil alternatives add flavor and a boost of nutrition to a well-balanced meal. Choose your oil wisely and enjoy in moderation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is vegetable oil a good substitute for EVOO?
It can be! From a nutritional perspective, vegetable oil contains about the same amount of saturated fat as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The rest of the fat is split pretty evenly between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. They also heat with similar smoke points, so their cooking uses are easily interchangeable. EVOO offers a different flavor profile in certain finishing applications like salad dressing, whereas vegetable oil has a more neutral taste.
Which oils are the best for cooking?
Peanut oil is among the best choices for performance in high temperatures, particularly for frying. Canola oil, refined sunflower oil, and ghee are excellent for other heat-intensive cooking methods like sautéing, roasting, searing, and grilling.
Which oils are the best for baking?
Canola oil, vegetable oil, and grapeseed oil are all excellent baking oils because they enhance texture without imparting strong flavor, allowing your other ingredients to shine. If you want to infuse a subtle hint of flavor through the oil you use, reach for cold-pressed walnut oil or avocado oil.
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer, and fitness nutrition specialist.
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