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12 Things You Shouldn't Be Cooking With Olive Oil

Get it hot enough to sear meat or roast veggies and there's tons of smoke, your food tastes bad, and it might actually be toxic.

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So people use it to cook everything and ignore all the other oils.

Olive oil section = the cool kids table. In the U.S., sales of olive oil surpassed corn oil in the '90s, and they have increased in the last decade by more than 350%.

Compared with other vegetable oils, olive oil has a pretty low smoke point.

Crazy, right? Note: High-quality (read: expensive) extra-virgin olive oils, as well as very refined olive oil, have a higher smoke point, around 400ºF.

Because not only will it taste bad, it will also be really bad for you. When oil gets heated beyond its smoke point, it starts to break down chemically. It loses most of its antioxidants, releases toxic chemicals in the form of smoke, and becomes filled with carcinogenic free radicals. SCARY.

So as a general rule, cooking over high heat with olive oil is bad news.

And most of the stuff you cook should be done over high heat. For example, the point of searing is to get color and caramelization on the outside of a food, which can only be done over high heat. If you try to sear with olive oil, the oil will smoke before it gets hot enough to sear the food. Or, if you roast olive oil-coated vegetables at 425°F, the oil will burn in the oven. Your vegetables will be bitter and carcinogenic.

Here's when to NOT cook with olive oil:

7. Or vegetables (if your oven is hotter than 400°F):

Go ahead and coat vegetables in olive oil if you're going to roast them in an oven below 400°F. But anything hotter than that and you'll end up with over-charred, bitter vegetables.

8. Anytime you're cooking in a wok:

Woks are for high-heat cooking, which is awesome because it means your food cooks FAST. Not awesome if you use olive oil and set off the smoke alarm, though.

13. So what should you use instead? A neutral oil with a high smoke point, like canola.

Canola oil is an excellent, widely available alternative to olive oil in high-heat cooking situations. Like olive oil, it is low in saturated fat, and the Food and Drug Administration claims that it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Unlike olive oil, canola can stand up to high heat (up to 475°F) and has a neutral flavor, making it a good choice for searing or frying. Nut and seed oils also have high smoke points, but have a strong flavor that you may not want in your food.

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