Can You Use Olive Oil In Brownies?

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There’s no point trying to deny it – we all love a warm, gooey chocolate brownie! But we’ve all been there – started making our favorite recipe and discovered we are missing a vital ingredient!

A common ingredient in most brownie recipes is vegetable oil, but what if you have run out or are looking to use something different, like olive oil?

So, can you use olive oil in brownies? Olive oil can make a great substitute for vegetable oil in brownies, with it adding a fruity and slightly bitter taste. Some olive oils work better in brownies than others, and extra virgin olive oil is not suitable for making brownies.

If you’re looking to switch away from vegetable oil, read on to find out everything you need to know about using olive oil in brownie recipes.

Can You Make Brownies With Olive Oil?

If you are looking for a healthier option, or have simply run out of vegetable oil, then you’ll be glad to hear that your favorite brownie recipe can be made with olive oil!

Olive oil has the same density and viscosity as vegetable oil. This means that it can be substituted for vegetable oil, using the same quantity as the recipe asks for.

If your recipe calls for butter or another type of oil or fat, you can still use olive oil as a substitute.

However, you do need to be aware of the potential problems of using olive oil to make brownies!

Firstly, olive oil has a stronger flavor than vegetable oil or butter. This can taste slightly bitter when baked, although sometimes this works very well with rich chocolatey flavors.

Different types of olive oil have different flavors, so it is important to know which types work best for baking.

Olive oil also starts to burn at lower temperatures than other types of oils and fats, so extra care must be taken during the cooking process. An oven that is slightly too hot may result in brownies that are blackened and crispy! 

Why Do Brownies Need Oil?

Whether you’re an experienced chef or just trying out some recipe ideas, brownies are a popular choice for many home bakers.

You’ll probably have noticed that most brownie recipes contain similar ingredients, with just some slight variations. A standard brownie recipe will normally include a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate, and vegetable oil.

But why do brownies need oil? Oil is the key ingredient responsible for making brownies soft and gooey, as well as preventing lumps from forming in the batter.

Vegetable oil is normally chosen as it has a very neutral taste, so will not mask the rich chocolatey flavor. As oil is a liquid it will keep the batter smooth and free from bubbles, unlike solid fats such as butter.

What Is The Difference Between Vegetable Oil And Olive Oil?

They may look very similar, but vegetable oil and olive oil are actually completely different!

Olive oil is made from (yes, you guessed it!) olives, the fruits of an olive tree. The oil is produced by washing, crushing, and then pressing olives to release the oil.

Olive oils are considered to be healthier than other types of fats and oils, including vegetable oil. With higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids than vegetable oil, many people in search of a healthier option turn to olive oil.

Vegetable oil is normally a mix of different oils rather than just one type of oil. This includes any oil which has been extracted from fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts.

Your bottle of vegetable oil will normally consist of a blend of oils extracted from rapeseeds, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, palm kernels, and peanuts.

Vegetable oil is normally highly processed and contains lower levels of micronutrients and other healthy compounds than olive oil.

Why Use Olive Oil To Make Brownies?

There are several reasons why you might consider using olive oil to make brownies. Firstly, you may have run out of vegetable oil or butter, and are looking for a substitute without running to the store! 

Or you might be looking for a different flavor or texture in your brownies – olive oil brings an interesting fruity and slightly bitter taste to brownies, which can perfectly complement the sweet chocolatey flavor.

Another reason to use olive oil to make brownies is that it is a healthier option than most oil types.

Compared to vegetable oils and butter, olive oil has higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and lower levels of saturated and trans fats.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce cholesterol levels. 

Benefits of using olive oil to make brownies:

  • Mild taste, with slightly bitter and fruity flavors
  • Good texture, comparable to using vegetable oil
  • Healthier option than butter or vegetable oil

Downsides of using olive oil to make brownies:

  • Different flavor than vegetable oil or butter, which may affect the flavor of the brownies
  • Normally more expensive than vegetable oil or butter
  • Olive oil has a lower smoke point and will burn easily if the oven temperature is too high

Using Olive Oil In Brownies Instead Of Vegetable Oil

So, you’ve chosen to use olive oil to make your brownies, but how exactly do you use it?

The good news is that if your recipe asks for vegetable oil, all you need to do is substitute the same amount of olive oil!

If you are substituting olive oil for butter, then it is slightly more complicated. You need to add use 7/8 cup oil for every cup of butter called for.

The other important point to remember is that olive oil burns at lower temperatures than other types of oil.

The correct oven temperature is vital when making the perfect brownie, so it can be hard to find the right balance when using olive oil.

Here are some tips to stop your brownies from burning if you are using olive oil:

  • Make sure your brownie pan is deep enough – thinner, flatter brownies can burn easily!
  • Line your brownie pan with greaseproof paper, leaving high sides around the edges.
  • Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking time.
  • Try the brownie ‘water bath’ cooking method for delicious gooey brownies without crusty edges!

What Is The Best Type Of Olive Oil For Making Brownies?

Many people shy away from using olive oil for baking, as the slightly bitter flavor puts them off. Although the bitterness can work well with chocolate, we definitely don’t want it to be overpowering!

The secret to using olive oil when making brownies is to select the right type of olive oil.

There are three basic grades of olive oil: 

  • Extra virgin olive oil is the finest quality and least acidic form of olive oil. It has a strong fruity flavor and is best suited to dishes that do not require cooking.
  • Virgin olive oil is a high-quality form of olive oil that is slightly more acidic than the extra virgin option. Virgin olive oil has a slightly less pungent flavor and is suitable for both raw and cooked dishes.
  • Refined or light olive oil has been highly processed, resulting in a light flavored oil suitable for cooking. Unfortunately, this also means that this is the least nutritious form of olive oil.

Your choice of olive oil for making brownies does depend on personal taste, and also the recipe you are following.

If you think you might enjoy the flavor of olive oil when combined with chocolate, then virgin olive oil would be the best choice. Using virgin olive oil means you get all the nutritional benefits of olive oil, as well as the flavor.

If you are looking for a straight swap for vegetable oil, then light or refined olive oil is the one for you.

This choice will make sure that your recipe comes out exactly the same as when using vegetable oil, but you won’t get any of the nutritional benefits that a less refined form of olive oil would bring.

The only olive oil we wouldn’t recommend you use is extra virgin olive oil – the strong flavor profile of this oil would overpower the other flavors in your brownie recipe.

The result would likely be a bitter, fruity flavor which would not contrast well with the sweet chocolate brownie.

Can Olive Oil Be Mixed With Other Oils To Make Brownies?

There is no reason why different oils and fats cannot be mixed together to make brownies!

What if you have only got a little bit of butter or vegetable oil left? If it is not the full amount your recipe calls for, weigh out what you have and combine it with enough olive oil to make up the difference.

This means you can finish the last part of that bottle of vegetable oil, and simply top it up with olive oil to make the full amount.

It can be hard to mix butter and oil to get the correct quantities your recipe asks for, as the ratios required are not always the same. Melting the butter before blending with oil may help to measure the quantities accurately.

Remember that extra virgin olive oil is not suitable for baking. Stick to light or refined olive oil if you want the same flavor as vegetable oil, or virgin olive oil if you don’t mind a slightly fruity and bitter flavor to your brownies.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how to use olive oil for baking brownies, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the topic!

What can be substituted for vegetable oil in brownies?

Vegetable oil is the most common type of fat used in brownie recipes. This is because it binds together the ingredients without making them fluffy, creating the gooey texture we all know and love.

But if you have run out of vegetable oil or are looking for a healthier choice, what other options do you have?

  • Coconut oil – this will give a slight coconut flavor to your brownies, which can work very well with chocolate!
  • Butter – for a richer, more ‘cakey’ texture to your brownies, butter can be a great substitute.
  • Olive oil – this is a healthier option if you are looking for an oil substitute. Stick to virgin, light, or refined olive oils. Extra virgin olive oil is not suitable for baking.
  • Canola oil – the healthiest cooking oil, high in unsaturated fats.
  • Apple sauce – a low-fat alternative that adds moisture and sweetness to your brownie recipe. Reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by one-third if you are using sweetened apple sauce.
  • Yogurt – an excellent source of protein and calcium, yogurt is a great alternative to oil when baking brownies. Make sure you stick to plain yogurt though, as flavored versions may make your brownies taste quite odd!

Does olive oil make brownies taste bad?

Whether olive oil makes brownies taste bad depends on two things – the type of olive oil used, and what your definition of a bad flavor is!

Different types of olive oil have different levels of flavor. The strongest flavor comes from extra virgin olive oil – this has a pungent fruity flavor that will overpower the other flavors in your brownies, and they can also taste bitter.

So yes, using extra virgin olive oil in brownies will make them taste bad!

However, other types of olive oil can taste good in brownies. Virgin olive oil does not have such a strong flavor, and only a slight hint of bitterness – this can work well with rich, chocolatey recipes.

Light or refined olive oil has very little flavor and will not affect the taste of your brownies.

What happens if you make brownies without oil?

Brownies can be made without oil, but some substitutions may alter the final consistency and texture of your brownies.

The fat or oil in your brownie recipe is what creates the gorgeous fudge-like gooeyness of brownies. If the oil is removed completely from the recipe, your brownies will likely be more cake-like and less dense.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just be prepared for your brownies to turn out slightly different from normal if you leave the oil out!

The two best substitutes for oil when making brownies are yogurt or apple sauce. These will both add plenty of moisture to the brownie batter, helping to keep them dense and gooey.

Are brownies better with oil or butter?

Many people spend years perfecting the ultimate brownie recipe, and will swear by using either butter or oil! But which is best, and why?

The answer depends on a few factors, several of which come down to personal preference and requirements:

  • Texture – Butter will give a more ‘cakey’ texture to the brownie, and oil will be more ‘gooey’. Butter has a much higher water content than vegetable oil – this causes the brownie to rise and have an open structure.
  • Flavor – Butter is richer, nuttier, and slightly sweeter than oil. Butter has traditionally been used for baking for centuries, purely because of the fantastic flavor. However, most oils have a neutral taste that will not overshadow the other flavors in your brownies.
  • Dairy – If you are looking for a dairy-free option, then use vegetable oil rather than butter.
  • Nutrition – There are different (and very complicated!) nutritional advantages and disadvantages when comparing oil to butter.  If you are looking to reduce your calorie count, then butter is the right choice. However, oils tend to be lower in saturated fats than butter.

So which should we choose? Well, both options can taste amazing so we’d say bake both!

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