When the heat is on which oil should you use?

When cooking with olive oil, high heat makes a lot of home chefs nervous. But should they be?

Cooking at home is one of life’s pleasures. It's a great way to spend time with family, explore different dishes and ingredients, and of course, enjoy delicious meals in the comfort of your own kitchen! But when it comes to cooking, something that many home chefs forget about is which oil they should be using. If you're striving for restaurant-quality food at home, you need to know which oil will stand up to the heat.

In this blog, we'll explore everything from smoke points to flavor profiles and answer the question: When the heat is on which oil should you use?

Understanding the basics of smoke points

The term "smoke point" refers to the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke and break down, releasing potentially harmful compounds.

Here's a rundown of some of the most common cooking oils and their smoke points:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 350° - 410° F
  • Extra Light Olive Oil: 390° - 470° F
  • Canola Oil: 400° F
  • Avocado Oil: 520° F


EVOO is an excellent option for high-heat cooking, and it has recently been recognized by the USDA as a recommended oil for frying. EVOO stands out from other oils in that it has a mild flavor and high smoke point, so you can use it to fry without worrying about flavors competing or becoming overpowering.

At what temperature does olive oil become carcinogenic?

Olive oil does not become carcinogenic at any temperature. Research published in 2018 by Acta Scientific Nutritional Health concluded that extra virgin olive oil was the most chemically stable cooking oil after exposure to high temperatures of heat. The results of the study showed that, despite the extreme heat, extra virgin olive oil lead the way in chemical stability and produced the lowest number of free fatty acids as byproducts. These results demonstrate that an exceptionally long period of time (over 24 hours!) must be spent exposing olive oil to extreme temperatures for it to be considered harmful. So, you can rest assured that your EVOO is safe to use in normal everyday home cooking!

Is olive oil good for high heat cooking?

As mentioned above, EVOO is actually one of the best oils for high heat cooking due to its mild flavor and high smoke point. Its versatility in the kitchen spans from sautéing and searing to roasting and baking. EVOO is also rich in antioxidants, making it a nutritious choice for your everyday kitchen needs.

Whilst many still believe that oils such as vegetable oil and sunflower oil must be used for high heat cooking due to their higher smoke points, EVOO is actually the better option. Its mild flavor and rich antioxidants make it a great choice for all types of cooking - from high heat to low temperature.

The best oils for cooking, grilling, baking, and beyond

When it comes to cooking, it's important to use the right oil for the job. Olive oil is a must-have in every kitchen. Its remarkable flavor and variety of uses make it an ideal ingredient for cooking up delicious meals. Many people don't know that olive oil can be used for much more than just salads and marinades -- its range extends far beyond what you would expect!

All olive oils, including regular olive oil, are great for pan frying

For grilling - Despite the popular belief that olive oil cannot stand up to heat, certain premium extra virgin olive oils can easily withstand the temperature of grilling - boasting an impressive smoke point of more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Which is more than enough to handle even the hottest of grills.

For baking - Olive oil has natural emulsifying properties that make it an ideal choice for cakes, muffins, and biscuits. It also provides a light but distinctive flavor that enhances the taste of baked goods.

For sautéing - A higher smoke point and delicate flavor make olive oil an outstanding choice for sautéing. It's a great way to add a bit of extra flavor to your veggies or proteins without overpowering their natural taste.

For deep-frying -Contrary to popular belief, heating olive oil up sufficient to fry food will not alter its chemical composition so that it becomes unhealthy. Although, it's best to enjoy fried food sparingly when you do decide to partake in some deep-frying, choose an extra virgin olive oil with a high smoke point and use it to fry in moderation.

For dressings - Of course, we can't forget about the classic use for extra virgin olive oil - making delicious salads and other dishes. Its subtle flavor and aroma make it a great choice for adding a special touch to any dish.

Does high heat hurt olive oil?

It may come as a surprise, but high heat and extra virgin olive oil are an ideal combination. A study conducted by the University of Granada revealed that in fact, it's healthier to fry your vegetables in EVOO instead of boiling them. This is because the olive oil itself helps your body absorb the vital nutrients retained in the vegetables, as well as offering its own health benefits—like cancer-fighting polyphenols. What's more, due to its high smoke point, olive oil doesn't reach undesirable levels of smoke or flavor at high temperatures like some other cooking oils and fats.

How do you cook with olive oil without burning it?

When compared to vegetable oils and grapeseed oil, regular olive oil offers a range of health benefits, such as "good" monounsaturated fatty acids

Cooking with olive oil can be tricky since it has a relatively low smoke point compared to some other cooking oils. The key is to make sure you don't heat olive oil up too quickly or over high heat. Start off by heating your pan or skillet over medium heat and then adding your olive oil. This will help ensure that the oil doesn't reach its smoke point too quickly and burn.

You can test if the temperature is right by sweeping a small portion of whatever you are cooking in the oil for a second. If it sizzles, then your oil is ready for use.

Another tip for getting your food cooked without burning your oil: use smaller pieces of ingredients that will cook through faster, thus reducing your overall cooking time. With these tricks, you can confidently cook with olive oil without burning it!

Why you should stop worrying about olive oil's smoke points

The debate over olive oil's smoke point has caused many cooks to become concerned about cooking with it. But as we discussed, research shows that extra virgin olive oil can withstand temperatures beyond 400°F, making it suitable for many types of cooking.

Rather than worrying about the smoke point of EVOO, focus on the flavor and quality of the oil you are using. Look for oils that are cold-pressed, which helps to preserve the flavor and health benefits of the oil.

Also check to make sure that your olive oil is extra virgin, as this indicates it has gone through minimal processing compared with other oils such as refined olive oil and retains more of its beneficial compounds. With these tips and tricks in mind, you should have no problem cooking with olive oil.

Final thoughts

It's time to put the myth that olive oil is not suitable for cooking at high temperatures to rest. Not only can olive oil withstand higher temperatures, but its flavor and health benefits make it an ideal choice for sautéing, deep-frying and dressing dishes.

At Terra Delyssa, we take pride in producing premium quality extra virgin olive oil from our sun-soaked orchards in Tunisia.

Our award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil has inspired cooks around the world to embrace the flavors and health benefits of cooking with olive oil. Every step of the production process, from the ripening of the olives in the unpolluted groves of Tunisian lands to the careful handpicking and cold pressing within 4 hours of harvest, contributes to a superior quality of olive oil. With its unparalleled antioxidants and polyphenols, Terra Delyssa offers customers a mild and smooth flavor that functions as an ideal accompaniment to their everyday cooking. We have created an oil that rivals any other on the market today and one that will make any meal a healthier, tastier and more flavorful experience.

Try our Extra Virgin Olive Oil today and experience the difference for yourself!


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