Extra Virgin Olive Oil As A Substitute For Butter In Baking

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Why replacing a saturated fat with unsaturated fats will support a healthy diet, help prevent heart disease and tastes great at the same time.

Cooking With Olive Oil As Part Of A Healthy Diet
Cooking With Olive Oil As Part Of A Healthy Diet

Making the choice to substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter is one of the healthiest choices you can make.  Although many of us are dependent on butter and saturated fat in our daily food preparation, it is easy to swap to extra virgin olive oil and still achieve great flavour without the strain on your heart and daily calorie intake. We bake with good extra virgin olive oil because it adds a wonderful, nuanced flavour to cakes, tortes, brownies, and bread. Moreover, baking with olive oil – instead of butter – is a good way to cut saturated fat. Plus, olive oil is loaded with monounsaturated fat, which promotes “good cholesterol.”

Now, a Spanish baker has gone one step further. Europastry brands itself as an industrial baking company “with a start-up mindset,” trying to change the norms of traditional baking. In conjunction with Verdeo, a company dedicated to creating new ways to use olive oil in food products, Europastry has launched a range of pastries in Spain known as ‘Olive.’

“This range brings together innovation, health and flavour, and opens a range of possibilities for the future.”

Iris Roldán, communication manager, Europastry

Including croissants, donuts and muffins, these pastries are made with 100-percent olive oil instead of butter and palm oil. The new pastries are healthier and more sustainable while maintaining traditional flavours.

The final product contains monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants and polyphenols and maintains a good crumble, appearance and flavour.

They also have less sugar and cholesterol, making them attractive to the consumers as a healthier indulgence that provides the pleasure of eating a pastry with fewer downsides.

“This range of pastries is revolutionary because it uses olive oil as vegetable fat,” Roldán said. “Thanks to the innovative Verdeo process, we managed to solidify the olive oil using sustainable best practices, thus replacing saturated animal fats and hydrogenated vegetable fats.”

According to Europastry, ‘Olive’ pastries contain more than 84 percent unsaturated fats. Extra virgin olive oil, for example, contains the smallest proportion of saturated fat, about 15 percent. Meanwhile, palm oil contains 50 percent saturated fat, margarine and lard around 40 percent and sunflower oil about 15 percent.

So How Can You Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil As A Substitute For Butter?

Olive oil can replace butter and margarine in almost all baked goods. Here are some Q’s & A’s from Chef Sarah House of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, the Oregon provider of high-quality flours and other natural foods.

How much extra virgin olive oil should I use for a healthy diet?

“I use a 3:4 ratio – 3 parts olive oil is equal to 4 parts butter.” In other words: If a baking recipe calls for a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), for example, use 6 tablespoons of olive oil.

Are there times when I should avoid using extra virgin olive oil in a baking recipe that calls for butter?

Yes. “The only time olive oil is not an acceptable substitute for solid fats is in recipes that require a lot of creaming of the butter and sugar (super light and fluffy cakes), or when the fat needs to stay solid, as in a frosting,” House says.

Can I substitute extra virgin olive oil in a baking recipe that calls for a different oil, like canola or vegetable oils?

Yes! Extra virgin olive oil tastes better than “neutral oils” like canola and vegetable oil.  “Any dessert that’s already made with some kind of vegetable oil is a candidate for trying,” award-winning cookbook author and dessert chef Alice Medrich says.

We’ve found you can substitute olive oil for other oils on a one-for-one basis. If a recipe, say, calls for half a cup of vegetable oil, use the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. We’ve done this with carrot cake, pound cake, and chocolate cake.

Can I use any type of olive oil in baking?

Not if you want to improve the flavour of your baked good. Use a quality olive oil that tastes good. “Only use an olive oil that you enjoy eating on salads, as a bread dip etc.,” Matthew Kadey, a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and magazine writer whose work has appeared in EatingWell and Men’s Health, says. “If you don’t particularly like the taste of a highly processed olive oil, why sully your baking with it. As the old saying goes: ‘Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t want to drink.’”

What’s so bad about using any olive oil off the grocery shelf?

Ask House, of Bob’s Red Mill. She initially tried using an “inexpensive, off-the-shelf extra virgin olive oil” while developing a recipe for olive oil spelt cake with caramelized apples.

“Wow, was it obvious that I had used low-quality oil.  The flavour of the oil overpowered the rest of the cake and left a noticeable aftertaste,” House explains.  “When I baked the cake a second time using a high quality extra virgin olive oil the final product was so much better.  There was a lighter, more fragrant olive oil flavour that melded nicely with the nuttiness of the spelt and the warmth of cinnamon and the texture was lighter, almost velvety.”

Stick to using a great extra virgin olive oil, and you’ll be on your way to making a delicious treat!

Here Are Some Recipe Ideas Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil As A Substitute For Butter For A Healthy Diet

Date & Fennel Scones Can Be Part Of A Healthy Diet
Scones Can Be Part Of A Healthy Diet

Date & Fennel Soda Bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil


  • 3/4 cup dates, slices and pitted (about 8 dates)
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small egg
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place the sliced and pitted dates into a small saucepan. Add the rum and heat on low. Once the rum is warm, turn off the heat. You can let this sit as you prepare the other ingredients. 
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: white flour, whole wheat flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and fennel seeds. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, extra virgin olive oil, and egg. Create a well in the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the dates and walnuts and mix so that they are evenly spread into the dough.
  5. Place on a well-floured surface and knead into a small oval ball. Place on a cast iron pan. If you want, you can cut an X into the bread. 
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Enjoy it immediately – fresh out of the oven! 

Chocolate Fudge Banana Bread with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Baking With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chocolate Can Be Part Of A Healthy Diet


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3.9 ounce package instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, pudding mix, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.  Stir in bananas, ¾ of the chocolate chips, eggs and Morocco Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes.