The smoke point of oils is a highly debated topic especially when it comes to extra virgin olive oil. The smoke point of an oil is when the oil stops looking shimmering in the pan and begins to smoke. Cooking an oil past this point changes it’s profile and can create free radicals turning a healthy product into an unhealthy one. It will also make your food taste bad. An oils’ smoking point will vary depending on quality, how it’s been stored, and simple production variations making it difficult to put an exact temperature on it.
Extra virgin olive oil is believed to have a much lower smoke point than it actually does. In reality, you can cook most foods with olive oil and it’s been done for years in Mediterranean cooking. The infographic below provides the smoke point for some popular and not so popular cooking oils. Here’s a tip though. You will know if your oil has hit it’s smoke point. It’s not subtle. It’s not hard to figure out. It’s smoking and it smells bad. If you’re cooking with any oil and it begins sending up smoke. Stop and start over.
Lastly, the idea that you can’t bake treats with olive oil because of the flavor is not true. Greeks and Italians use olive oil in many traditional desserts and this way of cooking is part of a true Mediterranean Diet. Check out this article, Baking with Olive Oil, Tradition or Trend, from our friend Elena Parvavantes over at Olive Tomato.
Try using olive oil for treats with our Zucchini Bread recipe.
Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian, author, triplet mom and the founder of Real Living Nutrition Services.