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Best Olive Oil Substitute: Top 5 Picks

Best Olive Oil Substitute: Top 5 Picks

Olive oil is the culinary world’s liquid gold. It’s a staple in kitchens around the globe, renowned for its versatility, health benefits, and rich, nuanced flavor. But let’s face it, sometimes you either run out of it, don’t like it to begin with, or need alternates for health reasons.

That’s when knowing a good olive oil substitute can save your dish and your day.

In this guide, we will go over our recommendations for the 5 best olive oil substitutes! I bet you have at least one in your pantry now.

A bottle of olive oil with a green label sits on a table next to a glass of red wine and a bowl of green olives.

Best Olive Oil Substitutes

Here are some of the most popular and accessible olive oil substitutes you can use:

Canola Oil: The All-Purpose Substitute

Canola oil is a versatile and neutral-flavored oil that can be used in a variety of cooking methods. With a high smoke point of around 400°F (204°C), it’s an excellent substitute for olive oil when frying or sautéing. Nutritionally, canola oil is low in saturated fat and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

It’s also less expensive than olive oil, so it’s a cost-effective alternative for everyday cooking. However, it lacks the distinct flavor profile of olive oil, so if you’re using it in a recipe where the oil’s flavor is crucial, you might miss out.

  • Taste: Very Mild
  • Pros: Economical. 
  • Cons: Not a lot of nutritional value or flavor.

Coconut Oil: Another Culinary Champion

Coconut oil offers a unique flavor profile and is solid at room temperature, making it a good substitute for olive oil in specific applications like baking. It has a moderate smoke point of around 350°F (177°C), so it’s not ideal for high-heat cooking methods.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, so it’s best to use it sparingly if you’re watching your cholesterol. It works well in recipes that can benefit from a slight coconut flavor, such as tropical-themed dishes or certain baked goods.

  • Taste: Mild in baked goods; coconutty in stir-fries
  • Pros: Budget-friendly
  • Cons: High in saturated fats

Avocado Oil: The Health-Conscious Choice

Avocado oil is a nutrient-rich oil that’s high in monounsaturated fats, making it a heart-healthy alternative to olive oil. With an impressive smoke point of up to 520°F (270°C), it’s incredibly versatile and can be used for frying, sautéing, and even grilling. 

Its flavor is mild yet somewhat buttery, making it suitable for a wide range of culinary applications, from salad dressings to marinades. While avocado oil can be more expensive than other oils, its health benefits in limited amounts and high smoke point make it a worthwhile investment.

  • Taste: Mild, but the taste of avocado can be identifiable in a lightly flavored dish
  • Pros: A little goes a long way
  • Cons: Pricey.

Sunflower Oil: The Lighter Option

Sunflower oil is light in flavor and texture, with a high smoke point of 440°F (227°C), making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying and deep-frying. It’s also low in saturated fat.

  • Taste: Mild
  • Pros: Good multi-purpose cooking oil.
  • Cons: Watch for the oleic acid content in your preferred brand of sunflower oil; it affects the healthful values.

Sesame Oil: For an Asian Flair

While sesame oil has a lower smoke point of around 350-410°F (175-210°C), it’s a fantastic option for adding a nutty, aromatic flavor to dishes. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine for stir-frying and sautéing, as well as in marinades and dressings. 

There are two types: light sesame oil, which is suitable for high-heat cooking, and dark sesame oil, which is more flavorful but best used as a finishing oil. Note that sesame oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, so it’s best used sparingly if you’re watching your intake.

  • Taste: Distinctive
  • Pros: Flavor will add to the overall appeal of proteins and vegetables.
  • Cons: Best for stir-fries and sautes, not for baking.

Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

A bottle of olive oil sits on a table next to bowls of olives and cheese.

How is Olive Oil Used in Cooking?

Olive oil has been used as a multi-purpose culinary oil since ages. As you are thinking about what kind of oil to use instead of olive oil, consider how you are using it to cook with.

Frying and Sautéing

One of the standout features of olive oil is its high smoke point, which ranges from 365-410°F (185-210°C) depending on its purity. This makes it ideal for pan-frying and sautéing.

Salad Dressings

When it comes to salad dressings, olive oil is often the first choice. Its rich, fruity profile pairs beautifully with a variety of vinegars and spices, making it a go-to for vinaigrettes. Not only does it blend well with other ingredients, but it also helps to absorb the flavors of herbs and spices, creating a more harmonious and flavorful dressing.


Yes, you read that right—olive oil in baking! While it may not be the first oil you think of for your cakes and cookies, olive oil can be a fantastic addition. It provides moisture and a unique flavor profile that can complement both sweet and savory baked goods.


Olive oil serves as an excellent base for marinades. Its ability to blend with a variety of flavors—be it citrus, herbs, or spices—makes it incredibly versatile.

Dips and Spreads

Hummus, tapenade, aioli—you name it, and olive oil is likely in it. This liquid gold is often used in dips and spreads for its ability to smooth out textures and enrich flavors.

The bottom line

Finding the right olive oil substitute doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Whether you’re out of olive oil or looking for an alternative due to dietary restrictions, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Each substitute has its unique characteristics, from flavor profile to smoke point, so consider what your recipe calls for when making your selection. 

Have you tried the Starbucks “Oleata” line of drinks and coffees with olive oil in it? I’m not a fan at all. What about you?