Refined Olive Oil vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil, a cornerstone of Italian cuisine, serves as the backbone for countless recipes. As you navigate the aisles filled with bottles labeled “Extra Virgin” and “Refined”, you might wonder about their differences. This guide dives deep into these types of olive oils, helping you select the best one for your culinary creations.

Comparison: Refined Olive Oil vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil, at its core, is the liquid obtained by pressing olives. Depending on the extraction process, additives, and free oleic acid levels, we get different grades of olive oil: regular, virgin, and extra virgin. Each grade has its unique taste, color, and oleic acid content.

CriteriaRefined Olive OilExtra Virgin Olive Oil
DefinitionObtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not alter the initial glyceridic structure. Has a free acidity of no more than 0.3%.Highest grade of olive oil with no more than 0.8% free acidity. Comes from virgin olive oil production, without chemical treatment.
QualityOften bland, may be blended with stronger oils.Highest grade with superior taste. Quality can vary greatly between brands.
Flavor and AromaLacks olive aroma, flavor, and color. Has little or no bitterness.Superior taste, ranging from fruity to peppery based on various factors like olive variety and harvest time.
Nutritional ContentLower nutritional content due to the refining process. Contains monounsaturated fats but at lower levels compared to extra virgin.Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy monounsaturated fats. Offers health benefits including reduced inflammation and improved heart health.
Cooking UseSuitable for frying, sautéing, and other high-heat cooking due to its neutral flavor and higher smoke point.Best used in salads, dressings, and for drizzling. Not recommended for high-heat cooking due to lower smoke point.
Extraction ProcessExtracted with the help of chemicals and heat, leading to loss of nutrients and natural flavors.Extracted using a cold-pressing process without heat or chemicals, preserving natural taste, aroma, and nutrients.

Which Olive Oil Is Best for Cooking?

When it comes to cooking and frying, regular olive oil takes the crown. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats, a healthier choice compared to polyunsaturated fats. While extra virgin olive oil can be used for cooking, high temperatures degrade its nutrients and flavor. Thus, it’s best reserved for cold dishes where its distinctive taste can be fully savored. For those seeking a balance of versatility and flavor, virgin olive oil is the optimal pick.

Uses for Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Uses for Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil UsesRefined Olive Oil Uses
Dips for breadTo sauté and fry food
Salad dressingAs a bread baste
Cold pasta saladsIn salad dressing
Drizzled on vegetablesAs a pasta sauce
Spread on focaccia and olive breadFor bread dips
As a butter substitute in dairy-free baked goods

How to Select a Good Olive Oil?

For extra-virgin olive oil, authenticity is the watchword. It’s advised to choose one certified as an extra virgin. Additionally, its packaging should shield the oil from light. Whenever feasible, buy directly from trusted producers. On the palate, a balanced mix of bitterness, fruitiness, and pungency is often preferred.

When it comes to regular olive oil, ensure it’s stored in sunlight-blocking containers to prolong its freshness. As its flavor is more neutral, prioritize brands that mirror your personal values.


In conclusion, when picking out olive oil for your next dish, it’s essential to know what each type brings to the table. From flavor profiles to cooking suitability, every drop matters. Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to make the most of this golden ingredient!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When not to use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)?

It’s advisable not to use EVOO for high-heat cooking. All oils have a “smoke point” – the temperature where they start breaking down and emitting smoke. EVOO has a relatively low smoke point, ranging between 350°F to 410°F. Hence, for high-heat cooking, especially frying, it’s wiser to opt for oils with a higher smoke point such as vegetable or peanut oil. For pan-frying, light olive oil, which has a higher smoke point, can be a suitable choice.

2. Is it OK to have extra virgin olive oil every day?

According to the US FDA, the daily recommended intake of monounsaturated fatty acids stands at about 17.5 grams. This roughly translates to 1.5 tablespoons of EVOO. Therefore, incorporating a tablespoon of EVOO into your diet, rather than cooking with it, can be beneficial. It’s a nifty way to supplement your daily nutritional intake.

3. Which Colour olive oil is best for cooking?

The color of olive oil, akin to wine, suggests its flavor profile and not necessarily its quality. Generally, a dark green hue is indicative of a fruity and grassy flavor. Conversely, a more yellowish tone, when unrefined, might have a spicier kick. It’s essential not to judge its quality by color alone. Quality indicators are often found on the label itself. High-quality olive oils often carry labels such as “Cold/First-Pressed” or “Extra-Virgin (estate made)”. Remember, when storing olive oil, choose dark bottles or tins, as light can degrade its quality.

For those using peanut oil, understand the contrasts between peanut oil refined vs. unrefined.

Shaleen Ashish
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