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Properties of Vegetable and Olive Oil
Is It Safe to Mix Together Different Oils?
How to Mix Vegetable Oil and Olive Oil?
TLDR: Yes, you can. For flavor, affordability, or you just ran out of one or the other, it’s OK. However, don’t mix if you are frying, as olive oil has a lower smoke point and isn’t always suitable.
All oils are different. They have a different flavor, thickness, smoking point, nutritional profile, and many other properties that make them unique. Because of this, there’s an ongoing debate in the culinary and scientific community on what’s the healthiest or best oil for different purposes.
Interestingly, there isn’t one superior oil that would be the magic answer to everything. In fact, the healthiest oil, the best oil for deep frying, or the most suitable oil for baking are all entirely different answers. And, for each oil, there are both advantages and downsides.
So, naturally, people began asking, “Can you mix different oils?” Is this a way to get the best out of two or more oils? And, you might be surprised to hear that this is done more often than you think. In fact, vegetable oil is a term that describes a specific blend of plant-based oils.
However, just because you can mix oils, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to mix vegetable and olive oil. There are many things that you need to consider before making a decision.
In this article, we’ll talk about the nutritional properties of both vegetable and olive oil, discuss what they’re most suitable for, and then see when it might be a good idea to mix them and how to do it safely.
Properties of Vegetable and Olive Oil
There are many reasons why you might want to mix vegetable and olive oil. Maybe you want a healthier alternative than regular vegetable oil, or you might want to make olive oil more suited for deep frying? Either way, to truly understand what you can expect each oil to contribute to the mix, we need to discuss each oil’s nutritional and chemical properties individually.
Everything You Need To Know About Vegetable Oil
The term vegetable oil can be applied to any cooking oil that’s derived from a plant-based source. These oils are most commonly extracted from seeds or other parts of fruits. The most famous examples of vegetable oils include olive oil, palm oil, canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, and more.
Vegetable Oil as a Product
However, in our context, the term vegetable oil is used to describe a specific type of cooking oil that’s labeled “vegetable oil” – a label you can find on many bottles in supermarkets worldwide.
So, what exactly is vegetable oil as a brand or product you can buy?
Bottled vegetable oil has traditionally been made almost exclusively from soybeans. However, today, you’re most likely to find brands that use a specific blend of soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, palm oil, and corn oil. Because of this, it’s not justified to say that vegetable oil equals soybean oil.
The uncertain or variable nature of vegetable oils makes things a little bit more tricky when answering whether it’s okay to mix vegetable and olive oil. Surely, we’re not talking about mixing pure soybean oil. Therefore, to be specific and accurate, you need to know the exact blend of oils and their concentration in your vegetable oil to understand how it reacts with olive oil.
But for the sake of simplicity, here we’ll discuss the most typical characteristics of most vegetable oil products.
Properties of Vegetable Oil
Almost all vegetable oil products are highly refined oils because the goal is to produce an affordable and neutral oil with a very high smoke point – oil suitable for frying.
Commonly, vegetable oil products are a blend of soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, and palm oil. The concentrations vary, but soybeans are still considered to dominate most blends. Because of this, vegetable oil mainly consists of saturated fatty acids (FAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Blends that have a higher concentration of saturated FAs are more stable at high temperatures (suitable for frying), but are more hazardous to our health.
The smoke point of vegetable oils is usually around 400-450°F (204-230°C), which is more than enough for deep frying, let alone other cooking methods.
To conclude, vegetable oil is a very affordable cooking oil that’s great for deep frying because it has a high smoke point and it’s very neutral in taste. However, it’s not really nutritious, and high amounts of saturated FAs can make it an unhealthy choice – especially if used beyond deep frying.
Everything You Need To Know About Olive Oil
Olive oil is the Mediterranean gem and a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, which is also one of the healthiest diets with proven benefits for cardiovascular and many other chronic diseases. Does this mean that olive oil is the healthiest oil to consume and cook with? Yes and no.
Properties of Olive Oil
Some of the benefits associated with olive oil include:
- 73% of the total oil content is monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) which is known to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Olive oil is very nutritious and rich in antioxidants, especially extra virgin olive oil.
- Olive has anti-inflammatory properties that work similarly to ibuprofen.
- Olive oil might protect against stroke and heart diseases.
- Some preliminary studies find beneficial effects of olive oil against Alzheimer’s disease.
The list goes on as olive oil has been linked to many other health benefits.
Therefore olive oil is the best choice for health, without a doubt. However, there are many other things to consider.
First, olive oil is a lot more expensive than vegetable oil. Therefore, cooking with olive oil can put a strain on people’s budgets.
Second, olive oil has a relatively strong taste that many might not like. Some say that tasting olive oil is like tasting a wine – the taste is intense but depends a lot on the olives from which it has been extracted. It can definitely affect the taste of the food, so keep this in mind.
Third, olive oil, especially unrefined extra virgin olive oil, has a relatively low smoke point. To be more specific, the smoke point of different types of olive oil include:
- Extra virgin olive oil: 325-410°F (163-210°C);
- Light/Refined olive oil: 425-465°F (218-241°C).
Of course, to enjoy all the health benefits of olive oil, you should choose the extra virgin olive oil type, which is most suitable for sauteing, baking, as a finishing oil, for salad dressings, and marinades. Having said that, if you’re looking for an oil to fry, then you should choose refined olive oil as it’s more stable at high cooking temperatures.
Is It Safe to Mix Together Different Oils?
In the beginning, we mentioned that mixing different oils for various purposes is a longstanding practice in the culinary world. In fact, vegetable oil alone is a blend of several different plant-derived oils.
So, it’s safe to assume that mixing together different oils is okay in most cases. Still, there might be some exemptions. To be sure that you’re making the right choice for your meals, we need to answer another question: Why do you want to mix vegetable and olive oil? Are you trying to make a healthier blend that won’t strain your pocket? Are you trying to make olive oil more suitable for deep frying?
In other words, whether mixing vegetable and olive oil makes sense and it’s a good idea depends on your personal reasons for this decision. So, let’s see in what circumstances it’s okay to mix vegetable and olive oil.
Why Mix Different Oils?
Most people want to combine vegetable and olive oil because of health and financial benefits, both of which are smart reasons to mix two oils. However, mixing the oils will also impact the smoking point and taste, which is not always the best outcome.
Mixing for Flavor: Great Idea!
The biggest advantage of mixing vegetable and olive oil is flavor. Olive oil has a strong and unique flavor that is absorbed in the food when cooking. This can significantly alter the taste of the meal. Most people do not like how olive oil tastes, but still want to enjoy the health benefits associated with it. If this is you, then adding vegetable oil to our olive oil can be a smart solution. It will definitely make the taste more neutral and won’t be noticeable when cooking with it.
Mixing for Affordability: Good Idea!
Another reason to mix olive oil is price. Unless we’re talking about exotic oil such as avocado oil, pistachio oil, and pumpkin seed oil, then unrefined olive oil is one of the most expensive on the market.
In the US, one bottle of olive oil is usually around $7 to $8, while vegetable oil can be found at a price of around $3 to $5 (depending on location).
And, while this might not be a big expense if you’re using the oil primarily as a dressing or as part of healthy recipes, frying with olive oil changes things!
If you’re a person who enjoys deep-fried foods, then bathing your food in olive oil can ramp up monthly expenses. This also applies to marinating recipes. Therefore, mixing it with vegetable oil is a good choice, although you might also consider using vegetable oil for frying and olive oil as a dressing.
Mixing for Increasing the Smoking Point: Bad Idea!
A common misconception is that mixing two oils with different smoking points will increase the smoking point of the oils that are less resilient to heat. However, this is entirely untrue! Mixing two oils won’t alter the smoking point.
Let’s take vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil as examples. The smoking point of vegetable oil is 400-450°F (204-230°C), while extra virgin olive oil has a smoking point of around 325-410°F (163-210°C). To safely deep fry, you need an oil with a smoking point above 350°F (176°C), which is more than that of extra virgin olive oil. Therefore, adding vegetable oil will produce a mixture with a smoking point that’s an average of vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil, right? No!
The oil molecules of the lower oil type in the mixture, in our case extra virgin olive oil, will begin to degrade earlier than those molecules of the higher oil type (vegetable oil). Each oil will burn at its own smoking point. This still might be better than cooking with oil past its smoking point, but it’s not worth it.
On top of that, if we take into consideration that oils degrade following each heating cycle, then it makes no sense to use an oil with a relatively low smoking point for frying. In this case, it’s better to use pure vegetable oil.
Mixing for Health: Bad Idea!
Unless money is an issue, consuming pure olive oil is always better than mixing the two. Unless we’re talking about deep-frying, then using pure vegetable oil is better (as we explained above). Still, mixing the two is not a good idea.
Consuming a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil will decrease the amount of antioxidants and vitamins you’ll consume from the olive oil, which in turn will decrease the beneficial effects of the olive oil.
How to Mix Vegetable Oil and Olive Oil?
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of mixing vegetable and olive oil, you can make an informed decision on which oil to use for your next meal. And, if it’s for taste, affordability, or you’re simply low on one and want to mix them to finish cooking, then here’s how to do it.
The first step is to check the label on your vegetable oil and see the ingredients. This will tell you which oils (and what concentration) your vegetable oil is composed of. While not necessarily essential, this information will give you a better idea about your oil’s properties and nutritional value.
The second step is to try mixing a tbsp of each in a small container to check the density. Usually, the density of vegetable and olive oil is more or less the same, so you should be able to mix them without separation. However, depending on the vegetable oil brand, it’s best to try with a very small quantity before ruining a large amount of both oils. This is because oils with a very different densities might not mix well together and separate.
If the test goes well, mix together 1/4 of olive oil with vegetable oil and check whether the taste is to your liking and adjust accordingly.
Another way to mix the oils is to begin cooking with vegetable oil, then lower the temperature and add olive oil as a final touch. You can also cook with vegetable oil and add olive oil after the cooking, if the recipe allows for that, of course.
Finally, be mindful about the temperature and cook for longer with a lower temperature whenever you use olive oil – regardless of the quantity used in the mixture.
There are many reasons why one might think to mix vegetable oil and olive oil. Sometimes, that’s as simple as running out of one type of oil, so you want to finish with the other instead of running to the store.
The good news is that mixing vegetable oil and olive oil is safe and won’t hurt you in most cases – with the exception of deep-frying (cooking at very high temperatures). However, just because you can mix these two types of oils, it doesn’t mean that you should. Sometimes mixing them together is a bad idea.
To help you decide, we shared the nutritional and chemical properties of both oils. Then, we took a deep dive, examining some of the most common reasons for mixing vegetable oil and olive oil and seeing whether that’s a good idea.
Overall, we’ve concluded that mixing the two for flavor and affordability is generally a good idea. Vegetable oil can help neutralize the intense flavor of olive oil and make your cooking more affordable.
On the other hand, mixing the two for health reasons or artificially increasing olive oil’s smoking point is a bad idea. The latter won’t work and can make the mixture more harmful to your health versus simply cooking with vegetable oil, especially if you plan to use the mix in multiple heating cycles (re-using the oil).