Baking Tips

Substituting Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Another Oil or Butter

Extra virgin olive oil is a great substitute for butter and other cooking fats when baking. Its use provides a depth of flavor and healthy antioxidants and monounsaturated fat.

If a recipe calls for butter, substitute extra virgin olive oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount. For example, instead of 8 ounces of butter, use 6 ounces of extra virgin olive oil. This makes sense because oil is 100% fat, butter only about eighty percent.

A delicate extra virgin olive oil, with low bitterness and pungency, is always a good choice, especially if it has buttery notes because it will then mimic the flavor of the butter that it is replacing. Another good choice is Ascolano oil, with tropical and stone fruit flavor notes.

Chocolate recipes are special cases. High-quality chocolate can stand up to the bitterness and pungency of a medium or even a robust extra virgin olive oil. Chocolate recipes are great prepared with bold, grassy oils.

Instructions for adapting a recipe when substituting extra virgin olive oil for butter:

  • If the butter in the recipe is melted, follow the instructions, substituting the oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount.
  • If the butter is creamed with the sugar, and there is additional liquid (such as milk) in the recipe, follow the recipe instructions substituting the oil for the butter at 3/4 of the amount. (An example would be when making a pound cake.)
  • Some recipes, especially cookies, need even less oil that the usual 3/4 the amount of butter. (An example would be a recipe for biscotti or madeleines.)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Conversion Chart

Butter/Margarine Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TSP 3/4 TSP
1 TBSP 2-1/4 TSP
2 TBSP 1-1/2 TBSP
1/4 CUP 3 TBSP
1/3 CUP 1/4 CUP
2/3 CUP 1/2 CUP
1 CUP 3/4 CUP

Information provided by Fran Gage
Fran is a San Francisco-based writer, baker and olive oil aficionado. Fran is the author of The New American Olive Oil and a member of the COOC Taste Panel. Find out more about Fran and see some of her recipes at