Can You Substitute Olive Oil For Vegetable Oil in Brownies?

Vegetable oil is a very popular, neutral-tasting substitute for egg in brownies. Plant-based dessert lovers everywhere know the amazing results that can be achieved by substituting the egg in your brownie recipe for vegetable oil. 

But what to do when the vegetable oil runs out? Having searched the cupboards from front to back, you find yourself clutching a bottle of olive oil and wondering: can I use this instead? 

If you’ve been wondering whether you can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in your brownie mix, you’ve come to the right place!

This article will take you through the differences between olive oil ad vegetable oil, and the advantages and disadvantages of substituting olive oil for vegetable oil in your brownie recipe.

What is Vegetable Oil?

Vegetable oil is essentially a general term for liquid fats extracted from a variety of plants. 

This type of oil can be extracted from sunflower seeds, soybeans, rapeseed, palm, safflower, and many other plants. The vegetable oil that you purchase in a bottle from the store may consist of the extractions of a blend of any of the above ingredients. 

Vegetable oil is an extremely versatile product, which is why, as well as being a popular ingredient in soaps, candles, and cosmetics, it is also widely used in cooking and baking.

What is Olive Oil?

Whilst vegetable oil refers to a broad category of extracted plant fats, olive oil is liquid fat extracted specifically from olives. 

The oil is extracted either by mechanically pressing the olives or extracting the oil through a chemical process.

Olive oil is one of the most popular types of oil for cooking and is frequently used in frying or food dressings. 

Olive oil has a stronger, more distinctive taste than vegetable oil, which is why it isn’t commonly used in baking. However, olive oil is generally considered to be healthier than vegetable oil because it is high in antioxidants and is less processed.

Substituting Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil in Brownies

Now that you know exactly what the differences between vegetable oil and olive oil, it’s time to tackle the question you came here to find the answer to: can you substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in brownies? 

The short answer is: yes, you can! But before you start splashing the olive oil into your brownie mix, there are a few things you should take into consideration. 

Taste

Firstly, as mentioned above, olive oil has a much stronger, more distinctive taste than vegetable oil. 

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing! If you enjoy bitter, dark chocolate, you might find that the taste of olive oil compliments your brownies nicely. In fact, some bakers report that olive oil can actually give your brownies a richer taste.

However, if you have more of a sweet tooth and are concerned about the impact of olive oil on your brownie flavor, there are ways to tone down the taste of olive oil in your brownie mix. 

The best way to achieve this is to purchase an extra-light olive oil rather than a stronger (and more expensive) extra virgin oil. You could also try adding more chocolate to your recipe to mask the taste.

Quantities

When it comes to substituting ingredients in baking, there are many conversions that involve complicated ratios and calculations. Thankfully, substituting olive oil for vegetable oil is not one of them. 

Olive oil and vegetable oil have almost exactly the same density, so the conversion ratio will be the same (1:1). This means that if your brownie recipe calls for ½ a cup of vegetable oil, you simply need to add ½ a cup of olive oil instead. 

However, don’t be afraid to alter the quantities (within reason) according to your personal taste. Brownies are one of those baked goods that everyone likes a little differently: some prefer a really soft, gooey brownie, while others like their sweet treats firmer and more crumbly.

For a drier brownie mix, reduce the olive oil quantity very slightly. For added moisture, feel free to add a little extra - but remember that olive oil has a stronger flavor, so unless that herbaceous tase is one you particularly enjoy in your baked goods, be careful not to add too much!

Health Benefits

Although many people will tell you that vegetable oil beats olive oil on the taste front when it comes to baked goods, olive oil does have one indisputable advantage over vegetable oil: the health benefits. 

In the context of making brownies, healthy eating may very well be the last thing on your mind. However, introducing olive oil into your brownie mix instead of vegetable oil is a great way to boost the nutritional value of your baked goods. 

Olive oil is higher in monounsaturated fats than vegetable oil. Monounsaturated fats are found in plant-based foods such as nuts and avocados and have a variety of incredible health benefits. These benefits include lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure and minimizing the risk of heart disease. 

Because olive oil is less processed than vegetable oil, it retains its natural antioxidant and micronutrient content in a way that vegetable oil does not. Olive oil, therefore, contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals. 

However, it is important to note that these benefits are most prominent in extra virgin olive oil, since this is the least refined type of olive oil. Therefore, in order to derive the maximum nutritional benefit from your olive oil brownies, you may need to be prepared for the more pungent flavor that extra virgin olive oil provides.

Overview 

Advantages of Substituting Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil

  • Easy to substitute (1:1 ratio)
  • Less processed (especially extra virgin) than vegetable oil
  • Higher in monounsaturated fats
  • Higher antioxidant and micronutrient content
  • More vitamins and minerals
  • Can contribute a richer taste to your brownies 

Disadvantages of Substituting Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil

  • Stronger, more distinctive taste may be noticeable in finished product

Final Thoughts 

To summarise, the answer to whether you can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in brownies is: yes, you absolutely can! 

As you can see from the overview, there are many more advantages to substituting olive oil for vegetable oil in your brownie mix than there are disadvantages, and with the conversion ratio being the same, it’s an easy substitute to make!

There are many nutritional and health benefits that come with substituting olive oil for vegetable oil, including higher levels of monounsaturated fats, lower levels of saturated fats and higher vitamin and mineral content. 

Even the impact on flavor is debatable; although many people worry that using olive oil instead of vegetable oil will negeatively impact the taste of their brownies, there is evidence to suggest that olive oil can actually give your brownies a richer taste, especially if you’re a fan of richer, darker chocolate. 

The only real debate you need to have with yourself regarding substituting olive oil for vegetable oil is whether to use light or extra virgin olive oil. Light olive oil is less pungent in terms of flavor, but lacks the complete nutritional value of extra virgin oil due to its refinement. Meanwhile, extra virgin oil will provide greater health benefits along with a more noticeable taste. 

Ultimately, which kind of olive oil you prefer to use in your brownie mix will come down to your own palate and may involve a little bit of trial and error, but you can be sure that the results will be worth it!

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