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Can you heat olive oil? Can you fry or deep-fry in olive oil?

We get a lot of questions at Gkazas Olive Oil about whether you can heat extra virgin olive oil and whether you can use it for frying and/or deep-frying. It doesn’t help that so many different and conflicting answers are found online. That’s why we want to answer these questions in detail. So we can clear up this matter once and for all. We look at all the different aspects of cooking with olive oil.

First determine the flash point/smoke point of olive oil

The first thing we must determine is when olive oil starts to smoke. This is an indicator that the oil is overheating or burning. You want to avoid this because Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) are released when food is burned. These are unhealthy substances that may increase the risk of cancer. Any food can burn, so this is something you always must look out for. But there is a widespread misconception that extra virgin olive oil burns very quickly. So let’s first look at the smoke point of olive oil.1

In the graph below, you’ll find the smoke point per type of olive oil.

You probably know that Gkazas Olive Oil falls into the extra virgin category. This means you can heat our Greek olive oil to 207 degrees Celsius without any worries. One of the main reasons why you can heat all kinds of all of olive oil to a maximum of 207 degrees Celsius is that they contain large amounts of monounsaturated fats.3 These types of fats can withstand heating better than oils containing polyunsaturated fats, which can lead to the formation of toxic substances such as aldehydes.4

 

Antioxidants

The high level of antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil is another key reason for this. The fact that extra virgin olive oil contains high concentrations of antioxidants forms the basis of everything. The Netherlands Nutrition Centre gives the following definition: ‘Antioxidant is a collective name for substances such as vitamin E and C and trace elements such as selenic and bioactive substances, such as those found in fruit and vegetables.’

“Antioxidants make your food healthier and positively affect the maximum temperature to which you can heat your oil or food.”

Scientific research reveals5 that above all extra virgin oil contains lots of antioxidants and that they are absorbed into food during the heating process. Antioxidants also increase the stability6 of a heated substance. In short: antioxidants make your food healthier and positively affect the maximum temperature to which you can heat oil or food.

And last but not least, Gkazas extra virgin olive oil can be heated to a maximum of 207 degrees Celsius thanks to the oil’s natural self-filtering process.7 This causes the remaining olive fibres to sink to the bottom over a period of three months, meaning the olive oil is ultimately clear and free of residual particles. This is important because these residual particles have a lower smoke point and may even carbonize. This in turn leads to unhealthy substances such as PAHs!8

Heating extra virgin olive oil

So it’s clear that the flash point of (extra virgin) olive oil starts at 207 degrees Celsius. What does this mean in terms of heating olive oil? It simply means you can use extra virgin olive oil to cook foods without any worries. But it’s obviously important that you ensure you don’t heat your olive oil to higher temperatures. How to make sure you don’t overheat olive oil?

First, it’s important to always make sure your oil don’t start smoking. If your oil starts to smoke, it means it is burning and this could result in PAHs being released. So make sure this doesn’t happen! Burnt oil also won’t positively affect the flavour of your food. This is why we recommend keeping the cooking time as short as possible. This lets you minimise the risk of burnt oil.9

In summary: olive oil is one of the most stable types of oil to heat thanks to the high flash point (due in part to the healthy, monosaturated fats and the presence of antioxidants). When olive oil is used correctly, there is absolutely no reason to assume that it poses a health risk.10

Broiling and frying in extra virgin olive oil

So we now know you can heat extra virgin olive oil to 207 degrees Celsius. But can you broil and fry foods with Gkazas Olive Oil? Absolutely! According to the Netherlands Nutrition Centre, extra virgin olive oil is very suitable for frying. The main reason for this is the high flash point of extra virgin oil. Plus the fact that you add nutritional value to your food through the high level of antioxidants is an extra bonus.

Do you know that we produce our olive organically? Read more about it here.

Why do some people advise against using extra virgin olive oil for frying and recommend using regular olive oil as an alternative? That comes down mainly to cost. Regular olive oil is cheaper. It is sometimes claimed that the flavour of extra virgin olive oil is lost, especially when heated for a prolonged time. So you taste the grassy, flavourful accents of the extra virgin olive oil to a lesser degree. But the reality is that when you fry and broil with olive oil, you usually cook the food for a short amount of time. This means you actually add the distinctive taste of extra virgin oil to your dish. This results in a better taste experience. This is why we recommend using extra virgin olive oil, like Gkazas Olive Oil, for frying and broiling.11

Deep-frying in extra virgin olive oil

So it’s now clear that you can fry and broil with extra virgin olive oil. But this inevitably leads to the question: Is it okay to deep-fry in extra virgin olive oil? The answer is: Yes. Given the fact that you normally deep-fry at a temperature of 180 degrees Celsius, this isn’t a problem for our extra virgin olive oil. The general advice is, in fact, that if you want to deep-fry in oil, your best bet is to use olive oil.13 This is mainly due to the high flash point of extra virgin olive oil. With the bonus being that you add extra nutritional value to your food thanks to the high concentration of antioxidants.

We want to reiterate the importance of always keeping an eye on the pan or deep fryer when you are deep-frying. This way you can be sure that the oil won’t be heated to an overly high temperature. You can do this by continually checking to make sure your oil is not smoking.

And here’s another tip for you: Do you want to check the oil temperature or find out whether it’s hot enough to deep-fry in? Drop a bit of bread into the hot oil. Bread becomes crispy and golden brown within about 30 seconds if the oil has reached 160 degrees Celsius, in 15 seconds if it has reached 180 degrees Celsius and in 10 seconds if it has reached 190 degrees Celsius. Don’t have any bread at hand? You can also use a grain of rice. If the oil is at the correct temperature (around 180 degrees Celsius), the grain of rice will rise to the surface and start to cook. Special thermometers are also available that make it super simple to check the temperature.

In closing, a pointer on replacing your oil. Research has shown14 that olive oil can be used for more than 24 hours in a deep-fryer before it begins seriously oxidising, which negatively affects the flavour. You can also reuse your olive oil, but we do recommend straining your oil each time to remove water and particles. This will let you reuse the oil about five times.15 Staying alert is also key in this instance. Keep checking to be sure the oil isn’t smoking. We also recommend replacing the oil if it has a strong smell or taste and/or looks syrupy.

Alternatives for heating olive oil

We want to give you a full overview of the alternatives for frying, braising and deep-frying with (extra virgin) olive oil. This is why we are providing information on some alternatives and their pros and cons below.

We’ll not beat about the bush: low-fat margarine/margarine/butter aren’t the most suitable options for broiling or frying. And don’t even think about deep-frying in butter. The Netherlands Nutrition Centre advises against it because it contains a relatively high amount of saturated fat. In addition, low-fat margarine and margarine contain large amounts of water,which you also don’t want for broiling and frying. It also doesn’t help that large amounts of emulsifiers, anti-spattering agents, aromas, flavour enhancers, thickeners, colouring agents, milk components, trans fats and even meat extracts are added to these products. Frying in
butter is also only possible up to 180 degrees Celsius. Other oils are often added to margarine and low-fat margarine that make it impossible to determine to which temperature they can be heated before they start to smoke. The Netherlands Nutrition Centre puts forward olive oil as a good alternative.

Liquid margarine and butter products used for cooking are clearly healthier than hard butter. This is because it can be generally said that hard butter contains mainly saturated fat. So you’re better off avoiding packets of solid frying and broiling products. But it’s important to note that the liquid versions also contain saturated fats and trans fats. Trans fats are extremely harmful and come about mainly as a result of the industrial processing of fats. In short: these liquid products are certainly a healthier choice than butter, margarine and low-fat margarine. The conclusion is, however, that olive oil is still a better choice thanks to the antioxidants and absence of saturated fats and trans fats. And one last thing: don’t deep-fry in liquid margarine and butter products.

Coconut oil is made up of 82% saturated fat (the highest amount of all types of fat and oil!). We know for sure that this has a negative effect on your health. In fact, it’s a fallacy that coconut oil is super healthy. This is revealed by its 5.6 score on the nutritional value table. The flash point of coconut oil is 177 degrees Celsius for refined coconut oil and 232 degrees Celsius for unrefined coconut oil. This means you’ll need to keep a close eye on whether the oil is starting to smoke. So while you can deep-fry in unrefined coconut oil, olive oil is a betterchoice given the high level of saturated fat in coconut oil.

Sunflower oil, like olive oil, is made up largely of unsaturated fats and has a neutral taste (we personally see this as a disadvantage because we love the extra flavour that is added to the food we are frying). The smoke point for sunflower oil is 227 degrees Celsius, which is a plus-point compared to olive oil. But olive oil is still the recommended option. This is mainly because sunflower oil contains a relatively large amount of polysaturated fats. This is mirrored in the nutritional value table, with extra virgin olive oil scoring an 8.3 and sunflower oil a 7.2.

Coleseed oil contains fewer monosaturated fats and more polysaturated fats, making it less suited as an alternative for olive oil. This oil does, however, score better in terms of the percentage of saturated fat. While coleseed oil has a high flash point (240 degrees Celsius), we don’t recommend using it for frying, broiling or deep-frying because it contains high levelsof polysaturated fats. Are you a critical consumer who wants to know what to look out for when buying olive oil? We have 5 important tips that will help you make the right choice.

Olive oil for broiling and (deep)frying?

Looking at the given scientific research, we can conclude that broiling and frying in extra virgin olive oil is the tastiest and healthiest choice. You can easily heat olive oil to temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius whilst simultaneously enjoying its taste and health benefits. The best olive oil for heating, broiling and (deep)frying? The organic, 100% pure extra virgin olive oil from Gkazas, of course!