Vegetable oil vs olive oil: which is better? When to use one or the other? Here’s what to know about cooking with these two types of oil.

Vegetable oil vs olive oil

Vegetable oil vs olive oil: which oil is healthier? Technically olive oil is a vegetable oil, of course. But the generic term “vegetable oil” is used for any oil with a neutral flavor, including those marked with that title at the store. Which one should you use regularly in your cooking? Can you substitute one for the other? Spoiler alert: there’s a clear winner. Here’s what to know about when to use each one!

Vegetable oil vs olive oil: definition and uses

Olive oil is a heart-healthy cooking oil that we recommend using as your primary cooking oil. But vegetable oil is suitable when used in moderation. Here’s a quick primer on how to use each:

  • Vegetable oil is a neutral oil made from extracting oils from various types of seeds, grains, fruits and nuts. Anything labeled “vegetable oil” at the store often includes oil from a mix of ingredients and is usually the most processed. Other types of vegetable oils include grapeseed oil, canola oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, and more. What makes vegetable oil unique is its clean, neutral flavor. It’s often used in baked goods to add texture and richness. Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it’s better for high heat cooking like searing.
  • Olive oil is oil that’s extracted from olives, and this Mediterranean food is one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world. The uses for olive oil in cooking are endless: use it for sautéing and roasting vegetables, making marinades, drizzling on raw vegetables, or making salad dressings. It can be used in baked recipes, but keep in mind: it has a strong fruity flavor with a lightly bitter finish.

Bottom line: Olive oil is the best all purpose cooking oil: it has a strong fruity flavor and is good at medium temperatures. Vegetable oil has a clean, neutral flavor and is best for cooking at high heat.

Vegetable oil vs olive oil: which is healthier?

There’s a clear winner, here: and it’s olive oil! Here’s what to know about why olive oil is the healthier choice of the two oils:

  • Olive oil is healthier than vegetable oil. Why? Olive oil has “good” fats or monounsaturated fats, which can have a beneficial effect on your heart when eaten in moderation. It also has beneficial anti-oxidants and minerals. (source)
  • Can you still use vegetable oil? Yes! Vegetable oil undergoes a lot of processing to neutralize its flavor, and it doesn’t retain any of the beneficial nutrients. It also has omega 6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation. You’ll want to use vegetable oil sparingly (buy organic if you can find it), and avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils if possible. (source)

Bottom line: Olive oil is the healthiest cooking oil; use it as your all purpose cooking oil. Vegetable oil can be consumed in moderation: try to find organic vegetable oil that is not hydrogenated. See also: Best Neutral Oil for Cooking

Olive oil recipes

There are lots of ways to use olive oil in your cooking! Try it with:

Vegetable oil recipes

Here are some recipes with vegetable oil to get you started:

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Balsamic Dressing

Balsamic & Olive Oil Dressing


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: ¾ cup 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This creamy balsamic vinegar dressing recipe will become your go to! It’s perfectly balanced with honey, Dijon and olive oil.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and salt until fully combined.
  2. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, adding 1 tablespoon at a time and whisking until it incorporates, until an emulsion forms. Taste and if you like a sweeter dressing, you can whisk in a bit more honey. Serve immediately. Store refrigerated and bring to room temperature before serving (keeps at least 2 weeks).
  • Category: Dressing
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: Salad dressing

Keywords: Vegetable oil vs olive oil

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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