5

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Can we put olive oil low smoke point myth to bed?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 19, 2012 at 3:44 AM

You frequently hear that olive oil has a low smoke point and is therefore not appropriate for frying. I think this is myth. Here is one source:

http://www.oliveoilsource.com/page/heating-olive-oil

There are other similar sources. Also, Elevation Burger restaurants cook their french fries in olive oil and it seems to work well.

Where did the myth start? Can we put it to bed? Or can anyone provide any proof otherwise?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on June 03, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Do we know at what temps this happens for different oils?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on November 23, 2012
at 04:18 PM

What about non-EV OO? I.e., the stuff labeled as "for cooking" which I believe is further refined?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:42 AM

Wow. Thank you!

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(4999)

on November 14, 2012
at 08:53 AM

RRRed should that read omega 6 count , or do you worry abut heating omega 3s, and if so, why ?

A8ddd54bd5284341622e9a1211b07dcc

(95)

on July 13, 2012
at 04:45 PM

@Blitherakt - right. That commercial non-virgin olive oil (and the other seed oils) have already been cooked for you and had plenty of solvents applied to extract the remaining oil that cooks at high temps. The actual oil itself is now a toxic waste product. Sesame does have a significant Omega 3 profile, enough to keep me from using it as much as I once did.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 21, 2012
at 02:48 AM

Whoa... My infodump got me an accepted answer?! Thanks! :)

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 21, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Yep, exactly. There are more volatile flavor compounds in XVOO than regular. Those are what smokes when pushing the extra virgin to too high a temperature.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on April 19, 2012
at 08:11 PM

EVOO, yes, heat minimally. More refined olive oil, heat as desired.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

macadamia nut oil and avocado oils are expensive but have higher smoke points 413 and 520 F respectively! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point –

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

macadamia nut oil and avocado oils are expensive but have higher smoke points 413 and 520 respectively!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on April 19, 2012
at 09:33 AM

That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with smoke point, but could be because EVOO and non-EVOO olive oil just taste different.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:38 AM

Commercial non-virgin olive oil has a smoke point between 350 and 400 degrees, in my experience. That's plenty high for most applications. For true stir-fry, you just can't beat sesame or peanut in my book... Sadly, peanut is right out; dunno much about sesame.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:35 AM

N=1. I can taste the difference between foods fried in extra virgin vs. those fried in plain olive oil, depending on the quality of the extra virgin oil.

D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:54 AM

C'mon PHacks, I'm itching to add some Olive oil to my frying pan!!!

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8 Answers

best answer

11
A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

on April 19, 2012
at 04:33 AM

Olive oil does not have a low smoke point. The "myth" of low smoke point, however, is due to imprecise terminology. When discussing olive oil, the immediate assumption or meaning for most people is "extra virgin olive oil", which is an entirely different animal than just olive oil.

XV olive oil is the first pressing of the fruit, and to be a true "extra virgin" oil, it must be pressed without the application of external heat. This methodology gives the first pressing the characteristic flavors of the oil. It's those flavor compounds that have the low smoke point. Cooking with a good, expensive extra virgin olive oil results in, at best, flavors that have a more neutral tone (like second- or third-press oils) and, at worst, a foul-tasting oil due to the breaking down of the heat intolerant compounds into bitter- or burned-tasting ones.

Plain olive oil has a much lower concentration of these compounds due mainly to two factors: a large percentage of the compounds go into the first, cold pressing, and most plainly named olive oils are second or third "hot pressings" where more lower quality oils are extracted. I have seen "Virgin Olive Oil" once or twice; it's claimed to be the second cold pressing. I've had it once in a side-by-side (by side?) comparison with XV and plain; I could tell the difference between extra virgin, but that was all.

TL;DR: Most people mean "extra virgin" when they say "olive oil" so the spirit is correct, even if the terminology is incorrect or imprecise.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 21, 2012
at 02:48 AM

Whoa... My infodump got me an accepted answer?! Thanks! :)

9
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78437)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:07 AM

I think it's worth noting that there is a difference between Extra-virgin olive oil and Olive oil. Most places I'm familiar with that do fry in olive oil do it in a fairly low-grade, yellow olive oil that has a higher smoke point and fewer impurities. The point of EVOO is it's fruity flavour and heat absolutely does ruin that.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41767)

on April 19, 2012
at 08:11 PM

EVOO, yes, heat minimally. More refined olive oil, heat as desired.

7
A8ddd54bd5284341622e9a1211b07dcc

(95)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:34 AM

Oliveoilsource.com is obviously a sales site devoted to promoting the sale of Olive Oil. Trusting any of their data regarding cooking or frying with olive oil is like trusting the data over at http://www.sweetsurprise.com/.

Of course they want you to feel like you can cook with it. I used to stir fry all my stuff in olive oil. More than once I filled the house with smoke. That just doesn't happen with ghee, coconut oil or bacon fat unless I accidentally leave the stove on for way too long.

Also, they spelled "macadamia" wrong on their page.

Anyways, if you're following their advice.... "It is annoying to counter these conflicting claims when most people would not fry with olive oil anyway. A cheap, flavorless oil with a high smoke point is usually recommended - something like canola, soy or peanut oil." ... you would be cooking with industrial seed oils. They completely sidestep the issue repeatedly if you actually read these lame articles.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

macadamia nut oil and avocado oils are expensive but have higher smoke points 413 and 520 respectively!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:38 AM

Commercial non-virgin olive oil has a smoke point between 350 and 400 degrees, in my experience. That's plenty high for most applications. For true stir-fry, you just can't beat sesame or peanut in my book... Sadly, peanut is right out; dunno much about sesame.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on April 19, 2012
at 03:47 PM

macadamia nut oil and avocado oils are expensive but have higher smoke points 413 and 520 F respectively! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point –

A8ddd54bd5284341622e9a1211b07dcc

(95)

on July 13, 2012
at 04:45 PM

@Blitherakt - right. That commercial non-virgin olive oil (and the other seed oils) have already been cooked for you and had plenty of solvents applied to extract the remaining oil that cooks at high temps. The actual oil itself is now a toxic waste product. Sesame does have a significant Omega 3 profile, enough to keep me from using it as much as I once did.

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(4999)

on November 14, 2012
at 08:53 AM

RRRed should that read omega 6 count , or do you worry abut heating omega 3s, and if so, why ?

3
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:38 PM

The smoke that often rose from my pans did not look mythological.
Butter, lard, and tallow are all much better. Indeed, since butter browns before it burns you get a nice visual cue (as well as smell) that you need to put whatever it is you are cooking in the pan.

2
Fe92338d21dcc6c6e6623c67d5df5445

on November 14, 2012
at 05:53 AM

It can be a little more complicated than that. There are over 700 olive varietals and they have different qualities throughout the harvest as they are picked. Also, some producers pick their olives earlier that will impact their Free Fatty Acid %.

EVOO has to have Free Fatty Acid % below .8. That will only get you to 330 degrees. Now, you can certainly deep fry at 330 degrees, I just prefer a much higher temperature. If your EVOO has been California Certified, it must have a Free Fatty Acid % below .5 (and they actually test it in order for producers to get a seal).

Free Fatty Acid % - Smoke Point Temp (degrees F)

0.04 - 425 degrees
0.06 - 410 degrees
0.08 - 400 degrees
0.10 - 390 degrees
0.20 - 375 degrees
0.40 - 350 degrees
0.60 - 340 degrees
0.80 - 330 degrees

So, ya, you can deep fry with alot of EVOO.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on November 14, 2012
at 11:42 AM

Wow. Thank you!

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on November 23, 2012
at 04:18 PM

What about non-EV OO? I.e., the stuff labeled as "for cooking" which I believe is further refined?

1
Df09cec30bd0a3f5691fe21453349edb

on June 03, 2013
at 05:27 PM

The problem with cooking with a nonsaturated fat is that it breaks down into free radicals and this happens BEFORE it hits the smoke point. That's why you want a stable fat like coconut oil, lard, tallow or palm oil that is saturated (i.e. there are no open areas on the molecule for oxygen to attach and "oxidize" the oil), especially at higher temperatures.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on June 03, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Do we know at what temps this happens for different oils?

1
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10265)

on April 19, 2012
at 05:16 PM

no.............

1
6235e0b7e3c4c4b9df3d926829bc32f6

(333)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:03 AM

Mark from MDA covered this recently. Basically he says EVOO is ok for cooking and only starts to transform at very high heat for hours on end.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on April 19, 2012
at 09:33 AM

That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with smoke point, but could be because EVOO and non-EVOO olive oil just taste different.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 19, 2012
at 04:35 AM

N=1. I can taste the difference between foods fried in extra virgin vs. those fried in plain olive oil, depending on the quality of the extra virgin oil.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 21, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Yep, exactly. There are more volatile flavor compounds in XVOO than regular. Those are what smokes when pushing the extra virgin to too high a temperature.

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