The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil is not anything new. And with these easy tips, you will love baking with olive oil, from cookies to scones to cakes and even pie crusts!
I love baking with butter. I love the smell, flavor and texture butter gives to cakes, cookies and pies. But, the fat and calories can scare even a healthy, skinny person away. I have spent the past year, baking with olive oil while I wrote my olive oil cookbook.
I have used extra virgin olive oil in just about every possible baked treat with great success – and I don’t miss butter. Seriously, I don’t. That’s why it surprises me when a reader or a friend tells me their horror stories from baking with olive oil. So, it was high time I write a post sharing what I have learned while baking with olive oil.
Do not bake with old olive oil
Yes, there is such a thing as old olive oil. Olive oil does have a shelf life and it varies depending on many variables: filtered vs unfiltered, container used, where it is stored, when the olives were harvested.
If you are looking for a formula or answer to how long a bottle of olive oil will last, there is no easy answer. Plus, once you open that bottle, you have about one year to use it all before it turns bad, if stored properly.
Olive oil is not like wine or vinegar. It does not taste better over time. It is best to buy olive oil in small quantities to insure freshness and flavor, especially when you bake. So the next time you find a cool olive oil at Marshall’s or Ross, it’s best to pass on it. You don’t know how long it has been there.
Remember, even vegetable oil will turn rancid. If you use rancid olive oil, those brownies will turn up noses.
When baking with olive oil, only use extra virgin
Extra virgin olive oil is the oil generated from the olive’s first pressing. Olives are continuously pressed until all of the oil is extracted. Extra virgin olive oil has more flavor and extremely low acidity level that makes it a higher quality oil than “virgin” or “light” olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is only extracted by mechanical means, and not refined or extracted by chemicals as the lesser quality oils require. All of this will affect how that cake will taste. Every other oil out there uses other chemicals to extract the oil.
Find olive oil brands you can trust
There is tremendous controversy buzzing in the industry over the adulteration of olive oil. Many companies all over the world have been caught mixing other oils with their olive oil and calling it “pure.” Yes, some olive oil executives have gone to jail over this. This should really get your attention if you suffer from food allergies, specifically NUT allergies.
Read your labels. If you can, know your growers. Ask questions, do your research, compare and taste other brands. “Light Olive Oil” is not 100% olive oil. It is typically mixed with other oils so that the olive flavor is not noticeable. If that is what you want, then there is nothing wrong with it. But be aware of the distinctions. This, too, will affect the flavor of that bread you bake with it.
Experiment with flavored olive oils
Once you have found a high quality extra virgin olive oil that you trust, try some of the various flavor infusions. I have found garlic, pepper, basil and lemon infused olive oils in the supermarkets. It’s a terrific way to add that something special to your creations. I love using fruit infused olive oil for my sugar cookies. Who needs the frosting? Pass me another one!
What olive oils do I personally use? Well, when you co-author a book on olive oil, everyone wants you to try and like their brand! And honestly, I can not always buy $100 worth of olive oil to get all the baking that I have to get done on my list!
When I am doing bulk baking that requires no additional flavor for my desserts, I like to use olive oils from California Olive Ranch. I have had these treats taste-tested by hundreds of people. The olive oil flavor is not noticeable when baking and no one thinks twice about eating that slice of cake.
When buying in bulk you must remember to finish the olive oil before your year is up. Don’t buy big bottles if you aren’t going to use them often. I use a lot of olive oil and can go through a big Kirkland bottle in a couple months. And from what I read online, it has passed the purity test. It is also easy on the wallet.
But, for special treats, like my sugar cookies or cocktails, I like to use a special olive oil. Trader Joe’s sells a couple of wonderful olive oils, like their kalamata olive oil. I have also baked with flavored oils from local Temecula Olive Oil.
They have a wonderful Blood Orange Olive Oil that is DIVINE! Their Lemon Olive Oil is also just as wonderful and I use it often with my olive oil cocktails. My kitchen smells of sweet citrus when I bake with these oils. There are many California olive oil brands that have positively magnificent olive oils to choose from.
When I’m enjoying a salad or want to dunk my bread, I like an olive oil with a robust olive flavor. The choices in this option are endless, and are probably how most people are accustomed to enjoying olive oil. I have a great collection of olive oils that fit in this category and I love them all dearly.
And they come from all over the world: California, Greece, Italy and Spain. But remember, that woodsy, peppery olive oil is great for savory breads and pizza crusts, but it will probably not taste so good in your chocolate cake.
So there you have it. My tips on baking with olive oil. I have baked scones, pies, cookies, bread, cakes, muffins, you NAME it with olive oil and have had terrific success, too. People who have poo-pooed or had bad experience baking with olive oil are totally surprised when I give them a treat baked with olive oil. The oil used can make or break your dessert.
To learn more about cooking and baking with olive oil, check out our new cookbook, Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil. You can purchase it here.
More baking recipes with olive oil
If you are ready to get your feet wet baking with olive oil, I have lots of fabulous recipes for you to try out, besides the olive oil pumpkin bread. My most popular is my Easy Vanilla Olive Oil Cake, the white cake pictured on top with the pink peony on it.
I also bake scones with olive oil and olive oil gingerbread cookies. My cookbook has a wonderful olive oil pie crust recipe. And I also have a chocolate olive oil pie crust recipe here on my blog, too.
Easy Vanilla Olive Oil Cake
Moist and fluffy, this vanilla olive oil cake will be your go-to-cake recipe for every birthday or special occasion that comes your way!
Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Basil and Pomegranate
A little twist to the traditional lemon cake. Spruce up your holiday table and serve this olive oil lemon cake with basil and pomegranate.
Plum Yogurt Cake
This yogurt plum cake is so easy to whip up you can even wow last-minute dinner guests with a warm cake right out of the oven.
Caramel Apple Cake
This caramel apple cake has all the flavors of caramel apples, without breaking your teeth. Filled with apple sauce, apple chunks and even apple juice. It's so versatile, you can bake it in a bundt pan or in a regular cake pan.
Kumquat Upside Down Cake
Don't let the simplicity of this kumquat upside down cake fool you. The candied kumquats nestled into the cake creates incredibly moist and delicious dessert.
Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake
Sweet and moist orange cake topped with tangy leftover cranberry sauce, this Orange Cranberry Upside Down Cake makes an easy dessert when entertaining over the holidays.
Grape Upside Down Cake with Balsamic Vinegar
Cozy up with this Grape Upside Down Cake using black grapes and syrupy balsamic vinegar. The vanilla cake is made with extra virgin olive oil and rosemary.
Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake
This Campfire Dutch Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake bakes beautifully over campfire coals and makes a delicious dessert alternative to the usual campfire s'mores.
Upside Down Orange Cake
A cast iron skillet makes this Upside Down Orange Cake super easy to whip together and caramelizes the Valencia orange slices, peel and all!
Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
Sweet strawberries paired with tart rhubarb are a classic relationship in the culinary world, and make a perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake.
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
The kids (or adults!) won’t notice that you snuck in some vegetable goodness with these Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes.
Dark Chocolate Sheet Cake with Yogurt and Strawberries
If you need to make a cake to feed a crowd, this dark chocolate sheet cake with yogurt and strawberries is the one to make. Ooey and gooey and oh so good!
Paleo and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread
This moist, gluten free pumpkin bread is full of real, unprocessed ingredients like honey, almond meal, almond butter, pumpkin and arrowroot powder.
Olive Oil Beet Bread with Walnuts
Serve your family extra fiber, antioxidants and loads of vitamins in this Olive Oil Beet Bread with Walnuts – and they won’t notice the beets!
Skinny Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Banana Bread
This Skinny Whole Wheat Chocolate Almond Banana Bread is healthier with whole wheat flour, almond meal, extra virgin olive oil and only 1/3-cup of raw sugar.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Long Mulberries
This whole wheat banana bread is packed with blueberries, strawberries and mulberries. Made with whole wheat flour, raw sugar and extra virgin olive oil.
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread
This very flavorful whole wheat banana nut bread has a secret: frozen bananas. It intensifies the banana flavor and is perfect for baking!
Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Muffins
Moist and delicious and less than 2.5-grams of fat per serving! These Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Muffins can jump start anyone’s day.
Peppermint Chocolate Mug Cake
This gooey and decadent peppermint chocolate mug cake is not only soft and fluffy, but is easy to whip up and bakes in the microwave for only 90-seconds! Includes a free gift tag printable so you can make gift mixes, too!
Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake
Nothing like some warm and fluffy Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake topped with icing and pecans to get you in the mood for fall and all it’s color and flavors.
Raspberry Chocolate Galette
Add a new twist to your traditional holiday pie with an easy-to-assemble Raspberry Chocolate Galette with olive oil crust.
Double Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Just when you thought the classic pumpkin pie couldn’t get better, this Double Chocolate Pumpkin Pie will soon be your family’s favorite pie for the holidays!
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
For a filling snack made of fiber packed almond meal, these Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars will please kids of all ages.
Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Whether you are baking for a crowd or need to make a large batch of cookies fast, these sheet pan chocolate chip cookie bars are the perfect treat, and made with olive oil, too!
Raspberry Almond Olive Oil Scones
These protein and fiber packed raspberry almond olive oil scones are moist and easy to whip together for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Balsamic Blackberry Scones with Olive Oil
Sweet syrupy balsamic vinegar is the secret ingredient for these delectable and moist Balsamic Blackberry Scones with Olive Oil.
Red Currant and Rosemary Olive Oil Scones
No butter is needed is these bejeweled Red Currant and Rosemary Olive Oil Scones
Cherry Tomato and Olive Oil Scones
Forget sweet scones, these savory Cherry Tomato and Olive Oil Scones with Rosemary and Parmesan Cheese make a wonderful addition to your omelette or salad
Olive Oil Gingerbread Cookies
These Olive Oil Gingerbread Cookies will soon become a regular in your holiday baking repertoire. And you won’t miss the butter!
Quinoa Flour Spice Cookies
These Quinoa Flour Spice Cookies are gluten-free and packed with protein. They have a nutty flavor and make a wonderful tea biscuit.
Rosewater and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
These cream cheese sugar cookies add a rich touch to this extra virgin olive oil based sugar cookie. Accented with rosewater and dried rose petals, and you have a truly unique and gorgeous cookie.
Whole Wheat Pizza with Hummus and Greens
Back-to-school meals can be made healthy and in a flash with this Whole Wheat Pizza with Hummus and Greens.
Kalamata Olive Rosemary Bread
Whether you mix the bread in a bread machine or by hand, this is fabulous bread for any olive-lover.