Frying in extra virgin olive oil gets a bad rap. A myth persists that other frying oils are somehow superior. Those EVOO skeptics couldn’t be more wrong! We’ve been saying this for years: extra virgin olive oil is the wiser choice you can make when it’s time to fry. A recent article from the Olive Oil Times, an authority on all things extra virgin, breaks down exactly why that is.
First, extra virgin olive oil is one of the “most stable oils you can buy”. That means even when heated to high temperatures, the oil does not degrade. More and more studies show that olive oils are the most balanced, safe, and healthy fat for both pan-frying and deep-frying. Consider this:
A 2022 study published in Food Chemistry found that frying with virgin olive oil results in French fries with some of the oil’s healthy qualities; frying with virgin olive oil proved to be more beneficial than using less antioxidant-rich cooking oils to fry. The antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil and unique anti-inflammatory compounds such as oleocanthal make it the ideal candidate for deep-frying.
While we won’t go so far as to say foods fried in EVOO are intrinsically healthy per se, they are healthier than foods fried in other kinds of fat.
It’s NOT empty calories
Refined olive oils, often sold as “light” olive oils, are a common choice for sautéing and deep frying. These products are usually cheaper than EVOO. They are olive oils without the grassy flavors usually found in extra virgin (which are provided by polyphenols).
Some of those light olive oils might even have a higher smoking point than extra virgin olive oil. That is a favorable characteristic when used in a deep fat fryer, but, on the other hand, they lack the polyphenols and antioxidants of extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is around 207°C/405°F. That’s well above the typical deep frying temperature, which rarely exceeds 190°C/374°F. In addition to this, extra virgin olive oil shows higher stability during cooking or frying due to the significant presence of antioxidants. The nutritional differences between extra virgin and refined oils are even more evident with deep-frying.
If you switch to the light olive oil, you are losing the health benefits of the high content of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil.
In the end it all comes down to enriching your food with healthy nutrients vs eating empty calories. Need proof? Check out the Olive Oil Times article itself if you want to get deeper into the scientific reasoning behind this fact.
It Tastes Better
Finally, we think the improved flavor is one of the strongest arguments for frying in EVOO. Food fried in extra virgin olive oil will take on the oil’s fruity, bitter, and/or peppery notes. Those polyphenols responsible for EVOO’s health benefits also create the best flavor. Ask chef Bryan (and all our friends) about the pizza fritta and arancini we had at the Gusti Summer Open Warehouse: some of the finest fried food ever!