Can You Fry With Olive Oil? What to Watch Out For

can you fry with olive oil
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Daria Obymaha

Olive oil is one of the most common cooking oils and is a staple in most kitchens. It is loved for its versatility and health benefits. Wondering if you can fry with olive oil? We’ll take a look at how to do it and what you should watch out for. 

Whether you like to use it in your cooking, as a salad dressing, or even when baking, olive oil is a great ingredient. Frying with olive oil is definitely possible, though depending on what you want to fry, it isn’t always the best oil to use.

Frying With Olive Oil

frying with olive oil
The high amount of monounsaturated fats in olive oil makes it one of the healthier oils. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Mareefe)

Have you ever heard the myth that olive oil is unhealthy for frying? Many people believe that extra virgin olive oil has a low smoking point, making it unhealthy to fry foods in. What does the smoking point have to do with it?

The smoking point of oil refers to the temperature at which fat or oil starts to break down and burn. The process of frying requires a minimum temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit — for best results, the smoking point of your chosen frying oil should be higher than that. The smoking point of extra virgin olive oil is around 410 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it a perfectly good candidate.

When being heated for short periods of time, temperature doesn’t have a huge impact on the nutritional value of olive oil, which is why it is actually one of the healthier oils to fry with. Olive oil contains a high amount of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, which work to protect the oil from oxidation. Olive oil also helps form a crust on the outside of the food when frying, sealing in all the flavor and preventing oil from soaking in.

Olive oil is best for pan-frying. Deep frying in olive oil is also possible, but due to the price of extra virgin olive oil and the quantity needed, you might want to choose a different option.

Frying Tips

  • Allow the oil to heat up in the pan before adding food, otherwise the cold food will soak up the oil.
  • Don’t skimp on the oil. Make sure to add enough to the pan to ensure an even cook.
  • You can reuse olive oil up to 4 times – this is due to the fact that the digestibility of the heated oil doesn’t change.
  • Avoid mixing olive oil with other oils or fats as this will change the smoking point and the nutritional value.

Olive Oil Health Benefits

Oil is often given a bad reputation when it comes to healthy eating, mostly due to its association with deep-fried foods. That being said, experts agree that olive oil, especially extra virgin, is in fact quite healthy. Here are some of the benefits: 

  • Nearly ¾ of the total oil content in olive oil is oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) which is quite resistant to high heat, making it ideal for cooking. Oleic acid may also help reduce inflammation
  • It contains a surprising amount of antioxidants, which may reduce your risk of chronic diseases and may also help reduce inflammation. 
  • It may reduce the risk of strokes, which affects nearly 800,000 people in the US every year.
  • Protects against heart disease — heart disease is not as common among those who follow Mediterranean diets, in which olive oil plays a central role.

Tips for Purchasing and Storing Olive Oil

can you fry with olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the most unrefined of all types of oil. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Steve Buissinne)

When it comes to cooking or frying with olive oil, the quality is incredibly important. Quality not only determines the taste, but also the health benefits, which is why extra virgin olive oil is the best to use. Be sure to read the labels carefully, because many oils labeled as extra virgin actually contain a mixture of oils. According to a study at the UC Davis Olive Centre some of the major brands sold in American grocery stores have been diluting their olive oil with cheaper alternatives like sunflower or canola oil. That’s why it’s always recommended to check the ingredients list to make sure you know what you’re buying. 

  • Extra virgin olive oil should always include a harvest date on the bottle along with a “best before” date.
  • Store in a dark bottle and keep away from direct light.
  • Use it up within three to six months of opening.
  • Optimal storage is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so storing it by your stove or oven isn’t the best idea. 

If you’re not sure whether your olive oil is of good quality, you can do a fridge test. Place your bottle in the fridge for approximately 5 hours at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and then check it — if the oil has started to solidify, you’ve got extra virgin olive oil. If it is still liquid, it has been diluted with other types of oil. 

Sustainability

In terms of sustainability, buying organic olive oil produced in the US is your best option. Luckily, there are a few states that grow olive trees, including California, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Alabama, and Hawaii.  Some great USA-produced olive oils include:

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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