How to Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil the Right Way Including an Experimental Video

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There are some discrepancies about how long ago the olive was being grown and produced for its oil. One thing is agreed upon, it dates back before Christ when Israel’s 12 tribes overtook the land of Canaan (Israel).

The first recorded oil extraction is from the the Bible, in the 13th century B.C., during the Exodus from Egypt. Its many uses spread from present day Israel, Syria and Turkey to the Mediterranean basin during the Roman Empire. Since then its not only been used for food but ceremonially to anoint, medicinally for health, and topically for beauty.

Present day, olive oil continues to be the oil of choice for many parts of the Arab world and the Mediterranean.  Its climates have optimal temperatures where olive trees live for thousands of years. Spain, Italy and Greece are the major producers of olive oil producing more than 75% of the world production.

Can You Heat and Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

One of the most confusing “suggestions” I’ve seen within the real food and health communities are the explanations on how to use extra virgin olive oil.  Many people suggest you only use extra virgin olive oil raw or slightly heated. Drizzled on vegetables, to finish off dishes, and used to make vinaigrettes for salads.

Being that I come from a Spanish traditional family, its been slightly difficult to stomach considering my family has used extra virgin olive oil in all of their cooking for generations. I’m referring to thousands of years. It’s my number one oil of choice and I use it in sauteing, frying, and eaten raw.

So, What’s the Issue?

The issue concerns the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil. The temperature at which olive oil burns, turns rancid, and in turn lets out free radicals which act as carcinogens. Yes, this is true.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil does not have as high of a smoke point as lard or coconut oil. However, do we ever truly reach its smoke point while cooking with it?

An Experimental Video

huevos_fritos

I’ve created a video talking about my feelings towards some of these olive oil suggestions and test how high I typically heat my olive oil to cook a traditional Spanish dish, papas fritas con huevos (fried potatoes and eggs).

In this video I talk about how olive oil should be used, how to cook with it the right way so that you never reach its smoke point, and a trick on how to always know when your olive oil is brought up to temperature and ready to cook with.

Did I reach the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil while frying potatoes and eggs?

Not even close.  This was such a fun experiment for me as it really tested how high of a temperature olive oil gets when cooking common dishes of a typical Spanish, Mediterranean diet.

5 Points from the Video to Take Away

  1. The quality of the extra virgin olive oil is important.
  2. Never use extra virgin olive oil for typical American dishes such as deep fat frying chicken.  Use lard.
  3. Whenever you cook with olive oil (or any kind of oil) raise the temperature of your oil gradually.  Never heat your oil at high heat…it will burn.
  4. When raising the temperature of the olive oil gradually, how do you know when it’s up to heat and ready to cook with?  Use the traditional bread method as explained in the video.
  5. Never raise the temperature past 375F when using extra virgin olive oil.

I hope this video presentation was helpful in seeing that extra virgin olive oil can be used to cook with.  When using it to cook just be aware to never deep fat fry with it. If it’s an American staple, use an American fat…pure pork lard.

Do you use extra virgin olive oil to cook with?  What’s your oil of choice?

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80 Responses to "How to Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil the Right Way Including an Experimental Video"
  1. Katherine Meier says:

    Thank you for explaining this!

  2. Winnie says:

    Terrific post Diana. I am working on a series for my blog about fats and oils, and was just writing up the olive oil part. I am so happy we’re in agreement, and I’ll be adding a link to this post within mine :)

  3. GREAT POST, Diana. Growing up in an Italian family, all we ever cooked with (and often baked with) is extra virgin olive oil. I have been so confused these past few years because of some of the points you bring up in your video. So thank you! I will be sharing this!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Thanks so much Jenn for the comment and sharing! I feel the same way as you do. I think it’s just a little difficult for some to understand when they’re not from a country that has used olive oil traditionally in most of their cooking. You know, the flavor alone is so representative of European cuisine and to substitute it would change everything about the food and in essence, the culture. Can’t imagine my food without EVOO, lol!! Huge hugs!!

  4. Tamara says:

    Thanks for this info. Just a note: The music in the video detracts. It would be better without it. Thanks again!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Thanks for the comment Tamara and the advice. I’ll definitely think about the music next time ;)

    • Susan says:

      Once I read the thing about the music, I figured you must have had Ozzy playing in the background, so I watched the video. I thought the music was lovely and I don’t feel like it was disruptive at all!

    • Randa says:

      Thanks for this video!! I’m Lebanese and grew with olive oil being a staple, as did my mother and her mother, etc. :). Thanks for eliminating some of my more recent confusion!

      I do agree with Tamara about the background music while you are talking (before the experiment), it did distract me… but it’s lovely during the experiment!

    • Sharon Devi says:

      Sorry to say, but, I agree. I’m trying to listen to what you’re trying to say, but, the music is just too over-powering.

      • Sharon Devi says:

        Correction! Now that I’m almost at the end of the video, the music is nice, with the background cooking up of those 2 eggs. I think it works well, when there was no talking involved (i.e. when it was just a “fast-forward” presentation of the cooking). But, when you were trying to explain things in the beginning, it was very hard to listen to your message, when it was competing with the music.

        On a positive note, thank you for posting this message. That’s new info for me. I really thought that we shouldn’t cook with Olive Oil anymore. However, my aunt has a small olive farm and she refuses to believe that it’s bad cooking with olive oil. I also thought, how can it be bad when the Italians/Mediterranean have been cooking with it for centuries (i.e. traditional cooking). Now, it all makes perfect sense. So, thank you :)

  5. Ben says:

    Thanks a lot for this post! I love the video, the explanation and the background music :) Oh and the way you grab that piece of bread with your bare hand, hehe. That’s a real cook :)

  6. Jenn Campus says:

    Thanks Diana!

  7. Thank you Diana! This really clears up some confusions that I’ve had also. I cook alot with olive oil because I can buy a large container of it here without paying an arm and leg! LOL. Another question… do you ONLY use extra virgin olive oil for everything? I just recently started using regular olive oil for cooking and extra virgin for uncooked things because of all the confusions. I am thinking I’ll just go back to using extra virgin for all my cooking and salads, but I do use coconut oil too ;o)

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Hi Mare! I do use extra virgin for pretty much everything. You can still get a good quality of regular olive oil, but note that it’s not from the first pressing so many of the nutrients are gone. Also, be aware of where the olive oil is coming from. Is it a “blend.” Meaning from different countries? What’s the brand? Yes, I love coconut oil to and mostly use it for baking and asian type dishes (when we make them).

  8. meemsnyc says:

    I cook with olive oil all the time. I tend to use a lower heat because of the smoking. I love the taste though.

  9. annie says:

    Oh yeah, we use evoo for everything. Anytime a recipe calls for vegetable oil we use olive. So, all of our muffins, sweet breads, crackers, etc. contain olive oil. We also use a lot of butter and, as you say, lard (we render ourselves from a local farmer… we are so lucky to have access to that) for traditional American dishes.

  10. gilly safdeye says:

    Very informative, I was never knew you could use extra virgin oil for frying. You also mentioned that we should never start frying oil at high heat which I do sometimes when I am in a hurry.

  11. Karen Lauer says:

    I use olive oil all the time – it’s my oil of choice. I didn’t grow up with it, but I cook so differently from my mom – lots of Italian, vegetarian, etc.

  12. AndiP says:

    Diana, I am so glad you posted this!! I have been baking tilapia drizzled with olive oil under the broiler for years! It almost always smokes, I had no idea it was bad for you. I honestly just chalked it up to not being a good cook. Do you have any suggestions on what I should use instead? (Maybe I shouldn’t be using anything).
    Thanks!!!!

  13. I am so glad you posted this. Being a real food lover I have grappled with the idea of not cooking with olive oil, but I used to use it for many dishes, especially my eggs. Coconut oil for eggs doesn’t bother me, but my husband can’t handle it. I am very happy to know I can safely grab that bottle of EVOO and make my husband a breakfast he’ll appreciate. I love your blog, thanks for your work! ~Rachael

  14. City Share says:

    Great job on the video, and I liked the music (you can tally votes at the end I guess). Super helpful to see the demo because all the conflicting info on olive oil has been confusing. My husband has made things smoke, but I think he is using heat that’s too high. Good to know that we can easily change the heat level, and continue to use the olive oil we love in a healthy way.

  15. Thank you so much for this! I could never find any evidence to back up people’s claims that you shouldn’t cook with olive oil, but I felt like I was talking into the wind. Thank you so much for this informative post and video that proves it is indeed safe like i always thought. Now I have something to point people to!

  16. rachel says:

    thank you so much for clearing this up! I have heard conflicting things about olive oil, but no one ever explained it this well. I will feel so much better about using it now.

  17. I am so glad you finally cleared up the Olive Oil mess for me! I had been avoiding it recently, because I just couldn’t figure out what to believe, but this makes perfect sense! Thank you!

    I would love for you to come share this recipe on my link-up, Make-ahead Mondays, at Raising Isabella!

    http://naturalparentingunnaturalworld.blogspot.com/2012/02/make-ahead-monday-6.html

    Hope to see you there!

  18. LOVE. I am always telling people this and if I use it in recipes they FREAK out. Great post.

  19. Thanks! Excellent video showing what my hunch has always been in terms of using olive oil. This is what I tell my clients. Looking at traditional cultures that primarily use it, I felt it must have been a scare not to use it for cooking. Important to use all sorts of fats as they all have different properties and to remember quality is extremely important.

  20. One more question: I noticed you use a lot of oil in the pan with the cast iron skillet. What do you do with the leftover oil? Do you reuse it? It can get very expensive to use that much oil and discard it all the time. I know you can strain through a cheese cloth, but didnt know how much you can actually reuse it with the fats remaining healthy. Any advice you can offer would be great!
    Thanks,
    Deena

  21. Gina says:

    Thanks for such an informative post. I come from a Greek background and although I don’t cook much traditional Greek food I do use extra virgin olive oil for pretty much everything. That’s just how we’ve always done it. I was even lucky enough to have a few large containers of olive oil shipped to me directly from a family farm this year in Greece (it’s divine)!

    Question for you, when you do something like the fries (which I have many fond memories of from childhood), do you reuse that oil or just use it once?

    Thanks!

  22. Jenny says:

    Hi Diana,
    Thanks for the helpful video! I frequently use olive oil in my own cooking … including when I roast veggies at high temperatures (sometimes up to 450!). Do you think I need to lower the temperature of my oven when I’m roasting with olive oil and leave the veggies in longer to avoid the smoking point?
    Thanks!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      You know Jenny, I’ve had other people ask me that as well. With most vegetables you can roast at around 375F degrees. However, when roasting root vegetables it usually does best at 425F. Does it reach the smoke point in the oven, I’m not sure. It’s definitely something I want to look into but I really think it comes down to using a good quality olive oil. However, 450 is definitely on the high side. I wouldn’t go over 425F and I’m going to see just how long it will take to roast potatoes at 375F. I’m almost wondering if that’s the route to go.

  23. Nora says:

    I wonder if there is a way you can type all that was in the video….I can not watch the video and would love to learn this information.

  24. Celia says:

    So is it okay to bake with..? My family has always substituted evoo for vegetable oil when baking, and evoo is always in pizza crust recipes (both in the dough and brushed on the crust) which bake at temps up to 450. I’ve never noticed any baked things or pizza crusts smoking, mostly pale things just get a nice golden color. Is that alright?

  25. Elizabeth says:

    Fantastic demonstration! I used to cook everything with EVOO and then got sucked into the foodie idea of not wrecking the “bouquet” of a good olive oil with heat. I will be very happy to take back the EVOO for sauteeing! About the roasting temperature, I started using the idea from French cooking of mixing butter with olive oil to protect the butter from burning, but I wonder if the saturated fat of the butter also protects the olive oil from high temp roasting? I’ve never noticed the fats reaching smoke point and I roast at 425-450. As for the music, I love La Oreja de Van Gogh, the song brought back lots of happy memories :-) I did have to rewind once though, cuz I was listening to the song and not to you… ;-) Thanks for a great post!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      That’s great to hear Elizabeth, I love La Oreja de Van Gogh as well!! The first time I heard them was MANY years ago in Spain. Good memories ;) I’ve never noticed the fats reaching smoke point in the oven either. I think a good quality olive oil is the ticket.

  26. This is a great post! You might want to check your use of it’s vs its though. It’s = it is. ALWAYS. Its is the possessive from. Not trying to be a stinker and please delete this comment. Bottom line, if you’re trying to say IT IS, then leave it IT’S. If not not, delete the apostrophe. :-)

  27. charis says:

    i feel like i learned a lot reading both the post and the comments. thanks so much for putting this info out there! i love evo!

  28. DavetteB says:

    Thanks for giving this clarification – it makes a lot of sense!

  29. Zazy says:

    Hi Diana
    Thank you for your post I don’t feel bad using olive oil for my cooking anymore!
    I would like to ask you if you reuse the oil you used to fry the eggs and potatoes? It feels like a waste to throw it out but also maybe unsafe to reheat?

  30. Cherie says:

    Great video, thank you! Is that Trader Joe’s olive oil you mentioned above extra virgin or just olive oil? Thanks again.

  31. Alex says:

    Dear Diana,

    Thank you for this awesome video. I’m actually new to extra virgin olive oil (as I’m not Western/European), so you’ve actually clarified all my doubts and the confusion I’ve been hearing about EVOO. May I know if the <375ºF rule applies to baking with EVOO as well?

    Thanks!

    • Alex says:

      Just to add, I noticed you used 400F in your Pizza recipe – wouldn’t this be a bit too high for the EVOO you put on the pizza?

      • Diana Bauman says:

        Hey Alex, thanks for stopping by! You know a lot of people have asked me about roasting EVOO in the oven. For the pizza recipe, the evoo is in the dough. I don’t believe that it would be able to burn within it. I would say that if you’re hesitant, roast your veg at 375F. It’ll take a bit longer but will taste great nonetheless! As far as making a good artisanal pizza, unfortunately, you won’t get that crust on anything lower than 400F.

  32. Jonathan says:

    Ok, just a couple of things I noticed while reading this and watching your video:

    – The temp to me seems a bit low. I would think this would make for an oil-logged potato. Did they stand up to the ‘snap test’? Honestly they look as though they’ve been nicely blanched, but not quite fully done. 250-300 is great for blanching, but fully cooked foods fried at that temp tend to come out soggy or greasy. 350 is where it’s at for fully cooking something.

    – Most good quality (which is and isn’t subjective, yknow?) EV’s have a smoke point around 400. Most good frying is done at 350. For example, I have a simple chicken Milanese I pan fry in EV and love it. I heat to about 350 and turn the heat up in a small notches after the chicken goes into the oil, to bring it back up to a constant 350. Works like a charm every time, imparts nice flavors into the breadcrumb crust, browns nicely, and I’ve yet to encounter smoking or foul tastes/odors.

    – I modified your method here a bit, trying to fry potatoes in EV (something I’d never done before), and found that I could blanch at 275ish for about 5 mins wonderfully. I then drain and chill. Slowly bring the EV up to 350. Then reintroduce the potatoes, and like in the milanese, up the heat in small increments to bring it back up to your optimal temp of 350. You get the GB&D outside you’re looking for, they snap when you bite/break them, and are fully cooked.

    – The egg looks wonderful. The 200-250 temp is just perfect. And I love love LOVE frying eggs in EV. It just imparts so much flavor. My family is southern and are used to eggs fried in bacon fat or butter, but I do this and they love it, they just don’t know it or expect it. It’s a great thing turned on its head.

    All in all you’ve got some great points here, I just think if you further experiment with slowly heating your EV to a higher temp, you can do some great shallow/panfry things with it.

  33. Loren says:

    I have been cooking with olive oil for the longest time as well, mostly because my mother started using that to fry eggs and to cook with some Asian foods. Recently, though, my mother and father have switched to using other cooking oils because they read about carcinogens being apparent in EVOO when exposed/cooking at high temperature.

    After finding this page and your video about how to cook with EVOO, I looked into what brands would be the best to buy in the States. Apparently Star was listed as one of the brands that had fraudulently labelled itself as extra virgin according to a UC-Davis study. I was wondering if you would know if Star has improved its EVOO quality or not, since these posts about the study were made around last year and the year before.

    Any insight on this would be absolutely appreciated.

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Loren, at the time I was sponsored by Star and using their California line of EVOO. I felt that had to be much better than their other varieties that are mixed. I now use Spanish EVOO from Trader Joes. The oil is from Spain. If I could I would be purchasing EVOO from Chaffin Family Orchards in CA, but the cost is just not economical at the time. Thanks for leaving a comment and sharing that information!

  34. Tabitha says:

    Thanks. I couldn’t watch the video on iPad, but just watched on the PC. Do you have any olive oil shopping tips? I’ve been on the olive oil trade site, but they only list the international award winning oils. While those would be awesome, it wouldn’t fit my budget at the moment. We have Sprouts and Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods are within an hour from here. I can also get several brands from Azure Standard. Right now I’ve been using Spectrum organic from Spain. I did get some bad stuff from Sprouts one time so would love advice on how to choose better.

  35. Bobby says:

    Thanks for such a lovey presentation. Actually, my family had shifted to extra virgin olive oil from the traditional refined sunflower oil considering the health benefits. But, i was perturbed by some misleading post on the contrary. After, watching this video, all i would say is myth busted.

  36. Deborah says:

    I have been wondering if I can stir fry my veggies with EVOO n found your site. Thank God for the video. It clears some confusion n you gave me tip of slowly heating up the oil. Hope you post more videos.

  37. Lucille says:

    I just watched your helpful video on frying with extra virgin olive oil. I can tell you it helped a lot. I should get a cooking thermometer so I can figure out where my cooking temperatures are. Thanks!

  38. Your video was very informative, learned a lot. I have been cooking with olive oil for years but had slowed down recently because of all the negative misinformation out there. The music probably because of my hearing aids was a bit distracting as it tended to override your spoken delivery. Keep up the good work.
    Tom Hutchinson

  39. Pamala says:

    Thanks for the helpful info. We have used EVOO for the past couple years, but when all the smoke point info came out we noticed how often ours does smoke! Eek! Most often it is when we are just lightly coating our iron skillet. Should we use something different for this or is it just that we are heating it too high too fast??

  40. Ann says:

    The experiment is very helpful!! We have stopped using EVOO too!!! Time to grab it back. A silly que…now I’m think of cast iron…does it only not stick with so much oil? Or it will be ok?

  41. Crystal b. says:

    Thanks for the post Diana. I was just wondering about marinading/grilling with olive oil?? Does the temp inside a grill get to hot for it? my recipe for marinade for chicken takes olive oil. Although i just use the regular and not the extra virgin. Extra virgin is something that i would love to switch to but i know it is stronger and i’m not sure if i will be able to handle the taste. But i know it would be healthier! Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply!

  42. Sheree says:

    Any way you could put subtitles on your future videos or at least include a transcript in your post? I’m deaf so I have no idea if I missed anything when you were using the thermometer and talking. From the post, I do get that we need to gradually increase the temp but not sure what else from the video.

  43. Jill says:

    The way to keep eggs from sticking in a heavy stainless steel skillet is to heat the pan first. They say to heat it until a drop or spatter of water sizzles before adding oil. Would this process be safe for EVOO? Thanks in advance for your response. :)

  44. Keith Claridge says:

    Thank you Diana for this article. not sure whether i have missed this, however if you are roasting in the oven using extra virgin olive oil, what is the highest temperature you would heat the oven to?

  45. RachaelM says:

    I thought that the concerns were based on the assertion that olive oil when heated to high temps broke and became more health harmful? Like a trans fat?

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