The Best Olive Oil Substitutes You Can Use in a Pinch

Whether you are cooking or making a salad dressing, try one of these olive oil substitutes when your bottle of olive oil runs dry.

It seems a different oil is having its moment to shine every week or so. For example, coconut oil has been found useful in the kitchen and also in beauty products. Avocado oil, hemp oil, sesame oil, hazelnut oil—the list goes on and on.

You may not have many of these specialty oils on hand, but chances are good you've got a few of the most common cooking oils (such as canola, corn, and peanut) at the ready in your pantry. If you happen to run out of olive oil mid-recipe, here are some tips to make a smart olive oil substitution.

Drizzling olive oil over pan
Andy Lyons Cameraworks, LTD

Olive Oil Substitutions

You may notice a slight difference in taste and fragrance, but vegetable or canola oil can be substituted for olive oil in most recipes. Refer to these specific uses to find the best olive oil substitute for what you're making.

What to substitute in cooking: Olive oil's smoke point (meaning how hot the oil can get before it starts smoking) is 325°F to 410°F. The low end of the range is for unprocessed extra virgin olive oil, while the upper end reflects the smoke point of pure olive oil, a blend of refined and extra virgin olive oil. Thanks to a similar smoke point (400°F) and mild flavor profile, canola oil is a suitable replacement for olive oil for sautéing, grilling, roasting, and stir-frying.

What to substitute in salad dressings: Olive oil is the base of many salad dressing recipes. Extra virgin olive oil will impart more flavor than pure olive oil. You can use any nut oil as an olive oil alternative in salad dressings, but they will likely add a noticeable nut flavor. Vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, and sunflower will contribute less flavor than olive oil to salad dressings but bring the same body and texture.

With so many oil options available, there's no reason to pause cooking for an emergency grocery run; one of these substitutes will fill in nicely.

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