Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

You cannot deep-fry in olive oil

Olive oil has a lower smoke point that most other oils and as a result many people think you cannot use it for deep frying. Balderdash! This would be news to many Italians including the famous TV chef Mario Batali. Olive oil’s smoke point is about 375 degrees and most frying is done below that. Also, just because an oil smokes a little does not mean it is ruined.

Using olive oil for deep frying is undoubtedly expensive. The least expensive olive oil is, in my experience, about twice the cost of other oils that are used for frying such as peanut or canola. Plus you should discard the oil after a single use because the low smoke point means that the oil degrades more during that first use. So, you may never actually want to use olive oil for deep frying, but it is most certainly possible – and can give terrific results for some recipes!

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5 responses to “You cannot deep-fry in olive oil

  1. H F September 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    The problem with frying (deep or in a pan) with olive oil is not primarily one of taste, so ask a chemist rather than a chef. Unsaturated oils like olive oil start to re-link randomly on heating, giving you trans fats. They taste fine but your body doesn’t process them right, as they’re rare in nature. This process starts below the smoke point but increases with temperature and time.
    Per the Mayo Clinic, “synthetic trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

  2. kitchenmyths September 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I understand you concerns about trans-fats. Are you saying that olive oil is worse than other oils in this way?

  3. Asa Bender November 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    To throw in on the exchange above: yes, and not just transfats. you get a fair amount of unhealthy stuff generated as the molecules shift… its worse when you pan frying with margarine: its the same problem magnified by more susceptible oils and higher heat. i’ve seen studies finding generated carcinogens and teratogens (tiny amounts, admittedly) after smoking up a pan of margarine.

    Commenting on the main post: if flash point were as major a concern as people make out, the best deep frying would not be done with lard (which it obviously is :D).

  4. Bigmouth May 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    What nonsense. All oils will produce some trans fats when heated. Olive oil is actually less susceptible to this process. And I asked a chemist.

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