Can you cook at high heat with olive oil?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can you cook at high heat with olive oil?”

Can you cook at high heat with olive oil?

Yes, Compared with seed oils, virgin olive oil (VOO) is preferable for high heat cooking, especially in home cooking. 

Under proper temperature conditions, without overheating, it undergoes no substantial changes and its performance is usually equal or superior to refined vegetable oils, due to its balanced composition regarding both major and minor components. (1)

What components in olive oil make it good for cooking?

Olive oil contains 55% to 83% of monounsaturated oleic acid, which is 50 times less prone to oxidation than linoleic acid, the polyunsaturated fatty acid that predominates in the majority of vegetable oils. (1)

Virgin olive oil (VOO) is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants, which contribute to its nutritional value. Compared to other edible oils, VOO undergoes less degradation when exposed to high heat during cooking. 

This is primarily due to the presence of phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants, inhibiting the oxidation of fatty acids and preventing the formation of harmful oxidized lipid products.(2)

Can some components degrade during cooking?

Yes, it is important to note that certain antioxidant compounds in VOO can degrade to some extent during cooking, and this degradation varies depending on their specific chemical structure. 

For example, ortho-/diphenols are more prone to oxidation, while lignans are less susceptible.

The degree of VOO degradation during cooking is also influenced by the cooking technique employed. 

Innovative methods such as vacuum pot cooking have been shown to minimize the formation of oxidation products while achieving similar cooking results compared to traditional techniques. (2)

Can some components migrate during cooking?

Yes, during the cooking process, certain compounds migrate between VOO and the food being prepared, leading to different outcomes. 

When food is enriched with antioxidants from VOO, it becomes less vulnerable to oxidation, resulting in a decrease in the formation of undesirable products.

Lastly, the transfer of beneficial compounds from the food to VOO during cooking can help preserve these compounds, ultimately improving their bioaccessibility for the body to utilize effectively. (2)

What is olive oil’s smoke point?

Olive oil has a smoke point of 210 °C, it stands up well to high frying temperatures, as its high smoking point is well above the suggested temperature for frying food (180 °C).

That said, VOO has previously not been recommended for frying because it has a relatively low smoke point when compared to other oils (peanut oil ≈225 °C, sunflower oil ≈255 °C, soybean oil ≈242 °C, palm oil ≈227 °C) (1, 2)

A key reaction when frying or cooking with oil is the oxidation of fatty acids and it is believed that low smoke point means that fats are oxidized. However frying oil performance and deterioration may be determined by evaluating several oil parameters.

VOO may be considered resistant to oxidative deterioration due to high heat cooking largely to its high monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) content together with a low polyunsaturated-to-MUFA ratio.

Furthermore, it contains microconstituents that may contribute to the retardation of oxidative deterioration of olive oil at high temperatures. (1)

Is it true that heating extra virgin olive oil eliminates its health benefits?

These concerns are unfounded, the degradation of fatty acids and minor compounds in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) due to heat is not a significant issue. 

While oils rich in saturated fatty acids, like palm oil, may experience less degradation during cooking, they lack the minor compounds, such as polyphenols, which contribute to the health effects associated with EVOO.

During the cooking process, the minor constituents of EVOO, including phenolic compounds, undergo oxidation, which helps prevent the oxidation of fatty acids and other compounds, thus contributing to the overall stability of the oil.

The impact of cooking on the health benefits of EVOO can vary depending on the cooking technique employed. Methods like vacuum pot cooking, can minimize the degradation of fatty acids and minor compounds, preserving the nutritional value of EVOO.

Even under heating conditions, EVOO can retain a significant portion of its minor compounds and, consequently, its nutritional properties. (2, 3)

What are the health benefits of cooking with olive oil?

Using VOO for high heating cooking like frying improves the quality of fat intake, which is important in preventing cardiovascular and other diseases. The favorable fatty acid profile of VOO plays a significant role in these health benefits. 

Moreover, fried foods prepared with VOO are enriched with various health-promoting microconstituents such as polar phenolics, squalene, phytosterols, tocopherols, terpenic acids, and thermal/oxidative decomposition products. 

These components have the potential to interact with the food’s constituents and contribute to its nutritional value. Clinical events related to cardiovascular disease have been significantly reduced through the use of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), which was also employed for frying. 

VOO has  beneficial effects and superior protective properties when compared to the detrimental effects of other oils like  sunflower oil on DNA oxidative damage. (1) 

Other FAQs about Oils  that you may be interested in.

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What can i use instead of oil in brownies


In this brief article, we have answered the question “Can you cook at high heat with olive oil?”


  1. Chiou, A., & Kalogeropoulos, N.  Virgin Olive Oil as Frying Oil. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 16(4), 632–646. 2017.
  2. Julián Lozano-Castellón, José Fernando Rinaldi de Alvarenga, Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós, Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil: A mixture of food components to prevent oxidation and degradation, Trends in Food Science & Technology, 123, 28-36, 2022.
  3. Allouche, Y., Jiménez, A., Gaforio, J. J., Uceda, M., & Beltrán, G. How Heating Affects Extra Virgin Olive Oil Quality Indexes and Chemical Composition. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55(23), 9646–9654. 2007.