In healthy home cooking, many recipes call for olive oil as a substitute for generic blended vegetable oil. But what kind of oil do you use when you need a substitute for olive oil? There's a whole world of delicious and nutritious oils out there and we're here to help you discover them.
Grapeseed oil isa neutral-tasting oil, so it won't add any noticeable flavor to your food. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which makes grapeseed oil good for high-heat cooking.
Grapeseed oil is healthy because it contains polyunsaturated fat and vitamin E. Plus, it has high linoleic acid levels, which can lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Canola oil is another neutral oil made from crushed canola seeds. It's one of the most versatile oils out there. Use it for high-heat cooking like sautéing, stir-frying, roasting, or grilling. You can also use it for baking and in salad dressing or marinades.
It's also one of the healthiest oils you can use. It has less saturated fat than other vegetable-based oils, is high in omega-3s, which can help protect your heart and lower blood pressure and inflammation. It also contains phytosterols, natural compounds that help your body reduce the amount of cholesterol it absorbs
Sunflower oil, made from pressed sunflower seeds, is a mild-tasting oil good for sautéing, stir-frying, or roasting. You can't really taste it in cooked dishes, but when you use it raw in dips like hummus or in salad dressings, it adds a light nutty flavor.
Sunflower oil is an excellent source of vitamin E and vitamin K, linoleic acid, and monounsaturated fats. It's fairly low in saturated fats.
Peanut oil, made from pressing peanuts, has a high smoke point so it is typically used for high-heat cooking like frying. Most commercially sold peanut oil is refined—this type of peanut is what you'll find in restaurants that deep fry food. Cold-pressed peanut oil and gourmet peanut oil are less refined or unrefined and retain more of the nutty flavor. Gourmet peanut oil is used mostly for finishing dishes like stir fries where you want to add peanut flavor.
Peanut oil is a good source of vitamin E, oleic acid, and linoleic acid.
Avocado oil is made from the bright green flesh of the avocado. If you like adding avocado to your food, you'll like cooking with avocado oil. When refined, avocado oil has a neutral taste and the highest smoke point of any cooking oil, so it's great for high-heat cooking. If you're looking for the best substitute for extra-virgin olive oil, go with cold-pressed extra-virgin avocado oil. It tastes buttery and rich and is perfect for drizzling over fish, beans, or vegetables.
Avocado oil is a good source of oleic acid, vitamin E, and lutein, which helps protect your eyes. It's also high in monounsaturated fat.
Walnut oil is made from, you guessed it, walnuts. These nuts can be part of any healthy diet since they're packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Recent research suggests that the oil made from pressing walnuts keeps these healthy benefits. It also has a pleasant nutty flavor, so while you can use walnut oil for low-heat cooking, it's best in salad dressings or a sauce or used as a finishing drizzle.
Walnut oil is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin E, zinc, phosphorus, and choline, a nutrient that helps keep your cells and nerves functioning normally. Walnut oil is also a good source of selenium, which keeps your thyroid working well and may protect against heart disease and cancer.
Flaxseed oil is made by cold-pressing the seeds of the flax plant. You may have seen whole or ground flaxseeds in the grocery store–same plant, different end product. Because flaxseed oil is cold-pressed and is not suitable for high-heat cooking, use it as a finishing oil and in dips and salad dressings to get a mild nutty flavor similar to sunflower seeds.
The oil doesn't retain all the nutrients you find in flaxseeds, such as fiber, but it's still a great source of omega-3 fats and lignans, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some studies have also shown flaxseed oil may lower the risk of diabetes, decrease inflammation, reduce cholesterol, and help some skin and hair conditions.
Like flaxseed, sesame oil is made from seeds of the same name and has a delicate, nutty taste. Sesame seeds may be toasted before they are pressed, making a darker oil with a stronger taste often used as a kind of seasoning to finish Asian dishes. Oil made from untoasted seeds is more neutral and can be used to sauté or stir-fry food.
Sesame oil is a good source of omega-3s, omega-6s, and antioxidants like phytosterols and lignans. In some cultures, sesame oil has been used as a medicine to treat inflammation, joint pain, and toothaches. It may also help regulate blood sugar levels.
The one non-plant-based oil on our list of olive oil substitutes is ghee. Ghee is made by heating butter over low heat until all the water evaporates leaving the milk solids behind. Those solids are allowed to cook until golden brown and then they are strained out. Ghee has been used for centuries as part of Ayurveda, a type of medicine practiced in India, and is gaining more popularity in Western cooking. Because ghee is a type of clarified butter, it tastes nutty and rich like high-quality butter. Ghee also has a higher smoke point than butter, so you can use it for almost any type of cooking.
The low heat process allows ghee to keep more of the nutrients found in butter, including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin D. Ghee is a good source of conjugated linoleic acid, which has been shown to help some people reduce weight gain.