Home » Can I use vegetable oil instead of olive oil? (Explained)

Can I use vegetable oil instead of olive oil? (Explained)

Although both vegetables and olive oil have many things in common, the rivalry between them in the food industry seems to know no end. While many believe that substituting the oils can cause a dent in their recipes, others think there is not much difference between the two liquid fats when used in cooking.

However, digging deep has shown us that the oils have common grounds just as they have angles where they do not meet. You may be surprised when you find out that olive oil is actually a type of vegetable oil.

If that is true, what differentiates the oils then? You will find out in this article, the properties, similarities, and differences between olive oil and vegetable oil. You will also learn if and when the two liquid oils can be substituted in cooking. Read through!

What is vegetable oil?

Vegetable oils are extracted from diverse sources including sunflower, soybean, canola, corn, safflower, palm, and Olive. Any oil sourced from plants is a “vegetable oil.” The oils are used most especially in culinary to alter food texture, taste, and enrich dishes.

Vegetable oils are also used in manufacturing beauty products like soaps, and cosmetics. You can also find vegetable oils listed in the ingredients for making things like candles, perfumes, paints, and so on. Sources of vegetable oils include fruits, nuts, seeds, and cereals. Check out examples of oils you will find under the previously mentioned sources below;

The vegetable oils you see in bottles are mostly a blend of oil from various sources. Sometimes, the vegetable oil may be from just one source too. The intense processing the oils go through makes the result bland which means you cannot tell which sources the oil came from most of the time. Unlike individual vegetable oils like olive and coconut oil, the regular vegetable oil we use in cooking does not have a specific scent or flavor.

The attribute of vegetable oil include;

  • Light and thin texture
  • Blandness
  • High smoke point

Vegetable oil is ideal for cooking at high temperatures because of its high smoke point characteristic. It does not have any flavor that makes it a good choice of oil where you do not want your desired taste disrupted

What is olive oil?

Olive oil is a type of vegetable oil. The making of olive oil involves crushing olive fruits into a paste and extracting oil through a centrifugation process. Olive oil can either be extra virgin or refined.

The extra virgin oil does not go through heat or complex procedures. Instead, it goes through a subtle process that does not require heat or chemicals.

After processing, the extra virgin olive oil has a distinct flavor due to its olive source. Refined olive oil on the other hand, is a result of a complex procedure involving the use of heat and chemicals.

As a result of the harsh manufacturing process, the outcome is flavorless. Refined olive oil can pass as the regular vegetable oil we use in our everyday cooking.

Differences between olive oil and vegetable oil?

Although olive oil is a type of vegetable oil, there are notable differences between the latter and the former. Those disparities are found in the source, making, flavor, and nutritional value.


  • Vegetable oil can be extracted from various plant products like  soybeans, cottonseed, corn, rice barn, wheat, almond, groundnut, coconut, and olive
  • Olive oil can only be sourced from olive


  • Vegetable oil tastes bland
  • Olive oil has a distinct flavor


  • It goes through extra manufacturing process to achieve its thin and bland nature
  • Olive oil does not necessarily go through heat or any extra procedures to manufacture. It is usually cold pressed and mechanically processed

Nutritional value

  • Antioxidant and other beneficial nutrients are minimal due to intense processing
  • Nutritional value Antioxidant and other beneficial nutrients are minimal due to intense processing. Vitamin K and E are present in extra virgin olive oil. Antioxidant is also active.

Can you use vegetable oil instead of olive oil?

Vegetable oil can be used in place of olive oil without any issue. However, you may not get the expected flavor in your cooking when you make such a substitution. Olive oil has a reputation for adding extra flavor to a dish, unlike vegetable oil.

The latter is mostly used in preparing dishes where added flavors are not needed in the recipe. When used in baking, both oils produce very similar results as they have the same texture.

The only difference you may notice when vegetable oil is used in place of olive oil and vice versa is the taste. While substituting vegetable oil for olive oil may not really affect your final product, switching the other way round can disrupt a recipe’s flavor

Pros and cons

When it comes to which oil has the higher nutritional value, olive oil beats vegetable oil hands down. Due to the intense processing that the vegetable oil goes through, most of the nutrients are lost.

The extra virgin variation of Olive oil, on the other hand, contains most of its natural nutrients due to minimal processing. The active micronutrients in olive oil include antioxidants that help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Both oils are excellent in cooking.

While vegetable oil may not add any taste to your final product, it gives your baked chicken a different kind of shine. Vegetable oil also enriches the texture of your various dishes just as you want them. Olive oil has a distinct flavor which is evident when you use it in your recipe. That flavor of olive oil can interfere with your desired flavor. You might want to be careful how you substitute it in recipes

In summary

It may seem now that olive oil has an edge over vegetable oil due to its heart-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. However, that vegetable oils don’t possess the same nutritional value as olive oil does not mean vegetable oil cause adverse effects. Vegetable oils also have minimal micronutrients and add excellent touches to our various dishes. Nothing stops you from using both oils as long as they fit into your recipes.


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