Although somewhat controversial, olive oil is considered to have many health benefits and is part of many healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet.
Olive oil has many uses that aren’t related to food, but typically it’s used as part of a dressing or marinade. It’s also commonly used as an alternative for butter in baked goods and can even be used as a dip.
With the versatility of olive oil, you might be wondering whether or not it’s safe to use in the oven, either to add flavor to your foods or to simply provide a non-stick surface for your baking pans.
In our home, we’ve used it for these purposes, but it wasn’t until recently that we considered that it might not be a good idea. So, let’s find out whether or not it’s safe to bake with olive oil and see if it makes sense to use it in your oven.
Can Olive Oil Be Used in the Oven?
Yes, olive oil can safely be used in the oven. However, you need to keep the temperature relatively low to prevent it from degrading due to oxidative damage, potentially leading to the release of toxic compounds.
The reason for this is that olive oil has a lower smoke point than other cooking oils. While most vegetable oils have a smoke point above 400 F (~204 C), olive oil is typically only safe up to about 350 F (~176 C).
The specific smoking point varies depending on the quality of the oil (with extra virgin olive oil having the lowest smoking point), but temperatures up to 350 F are generally considered to be safe.
What Happens When Olive Oil Reaches Its Smoke Point?
As mentioned above, it’s generally recommended to keep olive oil under 350 F to prevent it from reaching its smoke point. If you’ve ever gone above this temperature and haven’t experienced the issues below, it’s likely due to the fact that, while your oven might have been above the smoke point, the food and oil inside of it never reached that temperature.
Assuming that you put olive oil in your oven above the smoke point and leave it in there long enough for the olive oil to actually reach that temperature, you will experience the following.
It Will Begin to Smoke
As the term smoke point implies, when olive oil is heated to its smoke point, you will start seeing bluish smoke. The smoke itself isn’t really the concern though. Instead, you should be more concerned with the next two points.
It Will Lose Flavor and Nutrients
When compared to other cooking oils, olive oil has actually been found to hold up quite well when exposed to heat for extended periods of time. This is thought to be due to its high antioxidant levels and is good news if you like the idea of cooking with olive oil.
Just be aware that the longer you heat it, and especially if you reach the smoke point, there will be a loss of flavor and a reduction in some of its beneficial components.
It Will Release Toxins
As cooking oils reach their smoke point, they experience a rapid rise in the release of toxic chemicals, such as aldehydes. This property of cooking oil is the main reason to consider an oil with a higher smoke point if you plan on cooking something at a high temperature and for a relatively long period of time.
Whether you want to drizzle it over your dish or use it to aid in preventing food from sticking to the pan, olive oil can safely be used in the oven. The main concern when cooking with olive oil is its relatively low smoke point.
As long as you stay well below the smoking point, your olive oil can add flavor and nutrition to your foods, instead of potentially releasing toxic chemicals that should definitely be avoided.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.