Olive Oil Smoke Point: What Is It And Why Does It Matter

Customers often express concerns about the smoke point of olive oil (OO). While a straightforward concept, it can be a bit confusing. Especially when it comes to the technicalities and science.

Thankfully, human beings have been cooking with our favorite fat for centuries. And researchers have been studying the product for well over 70 years. Over the past 15 years universities and researchers have dedicated even more time and energy to fully understand the olive fruit and its by-products. So today we have an abundance of resources.

This article covers:

  • The smoke point of olive oil
  • What to do if your¬†olive oil smokes
  • Smoke point and stability
  • Cooking at high temperatures with¬†OO
  • Frying with¬†OO
  • Baking with¬†OO

What is the smoke point of olive oil

As the phrase implies, the smoke point of olive oil is the point at which the product begins to smoke.

  • The smoke point for extra virgin olive oil is 350 - 430F
  • The smoke point for regular olive oil is 390 - 470F

Technically speaking, the smoke point can only be determined by a lab test. However, when an oil gives off white smoke it has reached the smoke point. When it changes color to blue, grey, or dark tones the product has greatly exceeded the smoke point and is breaking down.

Vapors

Sometimes people confuse vapor with smoke. Olive oil is a highly concentrated cooking fat with an extremely low percentage of water. When heated vapors can release or evaporate and mimic smoke.

Vapors usually appear when the product is heated on low or medium low heat.

Stability and Smoke Point

The smoke point of olive oil does not indicate whether or not the product is stable. There are different qualities including ordinary, virgin, and extra virgin. However, the two most common on North American grocery store shelves are ordinary and extra virgin.

Although ordinary olive oil has a higher overall smoke point, extra virgin is the best and most stable cooking oil.

smoke-point-olive-oil

Should consumers worry about smoke point of olive oil

No, consumers should not worry about the smoke point of olive oil. This is because home cooks usually don't cook on extreme high heat.

The temperatures of 350 - 470F refer to the temperature of the oil not the food. So when you're baking eggplant parmesan at 375 F, a dish full of EVOO, the food is not going to reach the temperature of 375 F. That is simply the temperature of the oven.

The same goes for roasting potatoes, chicken, or salmon at high temperatures of 450F. I once roasted a porchetta at 500F covered in EVOO to create a crust. It turned out incredible.

When labs test smoke point they perform a stress test where they heat the product up to certain temperatures in a very controlled environment. Home cooks are roasting vegetables, boiling beans, frying potatoes, and making pasta sauces.

What do I do if my olive oil is smoking

If the product is giving off a lot of white, blue, or grey smoke toss it. When fat is heated it begins to oxidize. When heated in excess (i.e. it's smoking profusely) it can produce harmful by-products.

Do not leave a on a pot or pan filled with oil unattended on a hot stove and do not heat the pan on high without watching it closely. t's best to heat the product on low and increase the heat slowly. The ideal cooking setting is medium or medium high. We talk about this in deeper detail in our book.

Can I cook with olive oil

Yes, you can and should! Do not be afraid to heat up your olive oil. It will not lose it's flavor, but rather enhance the dish by rounding out flavors.

Here's a helpful guide.

Can I fry with olive oil

Yes, you can fry with all types of OO. It's our preferred frying oil. If you couldn't half of southern Italy would cease to exist because they fry just about everything in their favorite cooking fat. Try these zuccini fritters, fried artichokes, fried chicken , or fried Italian meatballs.

Can I bake at high temperatures with olive oil

Yes, you can and should. Here's a guide for how to bake with olive oil.

You May Also Like…

What is EVOO

How to tell if OO is fake

How EVOO is made

If you learned something new or have opinions on this topic, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts! We love to hear from you and do respond to comments. If you’re on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook don’t forget to tag us and use #EXAUoliveoil so we can repost!

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