Baking Tips

Substituting extra virgin olive oil for another oil or butter

If a recipe calls for another oil, such as canola, use extra virgin olive oil instead.

If a recipe calls for butter, substitute extra virgin olive oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount. For example, instead of 8 ounces of butter, use 6 ounces of extra virgin olive oil. This makes sense because oil is 100% fat, butter only about eighty percent.

A delicate extra virgin olive oil, with low bitterness and pungency, is always a good choice, especially if it has buttery notes because it will then mimic the flavor of the butter that it is replacing. Other good choices are Ascolano oil, with tropical and stone-fruit flavors, and the citrus flavored oils, particularly orange and lemon.

Chocolate recipes are special cases. High-quality chocolate can stand up to the bitterness and pungency of a medium or even a robust extra virgin olive oil. Orange flavored olive oils complement the flavor of chocolate.

Adapting recipe instructions when substituting extra virgin olive oil for butter:

If the butter in the recipe is melted, follow the instructions, substituting the oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount.

If the butter is creamed with the sugar, and there is additional liquid (such as milk) in the recipe, follow the recipe instructions substituting the oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount. (An example is the pound cake in The New American Olive Oil.)

Some recipes, especially cookies, need even less oil that the usual 3/4 the amount of butter. (The biscotti and madeleines in The New American Olive Oil are examples.)



Provided by Fran Gage
Fran is a San Francisco based writer, baker and olive oil aficionado. Fran is a member of two taste panels, the COOC panel based in Berkeley, California and the University of California panel based in Davis. Find out more about Fran and see some of her recipes at