Cooking with Olive Oil

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Whether you’re keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, eat a low-fat/high carb diet, or low carb/high-fat diet, it seems everyone agrees that olive oil has impressive health-promoting properties and should be consumed regularly, especially in cold applications like salad dressings.

You may not know it but cooking with olive oil has been controversial for years.  The experts always agreed that it was great for using on salads, but they didn’t agree about it being the best for cooking, as they thought it became unstable when heated. The thought was that heat damaged the vitamin E and polyphenols in olive oil and that if you heated the oil beyond its smoke point, it would begin to break down and create health-harming compoundsA 2018 study out of Australia showed that extra virgin olive oil produced few polar compounds, is a powerful antioxidant and has decent oxidative stability.  Not only is extra virgin olive oil safe for cooking, it’s also good for you.  As a side note, the second-best overall cooking oil is coconut.


Can You Fry with Olive Oil?

As part of their study, the researchers in Australia tested oil performance after being heated to 356 F (180 C) for 6 hours to simulate a deep-frying type of experience. Based on their results, I think it’s clear that EVOO can be used for frying and may actually be the best choice

That being said, high-quality EVOO is expensive, and deep-frying requires a lot of oil—most of which will need to be discarded. Because oils are damaged by heat, they become more susceptible to oxidation each time they are reused. For this reason, it’s not recommended to ever reuse frying oil. Because of the expense of EVOO, you might consider high oleic peanut oil for deep frying.

Is it Safe to Sauté with Olive Oil?

The second part of the Australian study heated oil to 464 F (240 C) for 20 minutes. This is what a sauté or pan-fry would look like in your favorite cast iron or stainless-steel pan. 

Hands down, it looks like EVOO is the best choice for this too!

Don’t hesitate to use avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, or bacon drippings depending on the flavor you want to impart.


Can you Bake with Olive Oil?

We know that it’s safe to bring oil to deep frying temperatures (350ish) for 6 hours and up to 464 for 20 minutes, but what about baking? Is it safe to use olive oil in a recipe that you’re going to put in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes?

Absolutely, without a doubt, yes! 

The temperature of the oven doesn’t equal the temperature of the ingredients in the oven. Think of roasting a turkey. You might have the oven on 375 for hours, but you’re waiting for the turkey to reach 165 degrees to be finished.

This same line of thinking can be applied to roasting veggies in olive oil. In this case, the oil is on the exterior of the vegetable, but the veggies will be done long before the olive oil exceeds the smoke point (or the temperatures in the study). 


Which Olive Oil is Best for Cooking?

Extra Virgin olive oil is the way to go, although it may cost a bit more than the alternatives. You’re getting what you pay for in nutrition, health benefits, and antioxidant protection against oil deterioration. 

Check out Heart of the Desert’s full line of Olivelle Olive Oils online or in-store.  There are many great infused flavors to use in cooking and on your salads!


Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico.  They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines.  Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings.  They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts.  The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.