What’s the Difference Between Vegetable Oil & Olive Oil?

You might think that choosing a cooking oil isn’t a difficult decision, because they’re all, basically, the same thing. But you’d actually be mistaken. Not all cooking oils are the same and not all of them should be used, primarily, for baking, roasting or frying. Two of the most common cooking oils on the market – vegetable oil and olive oil – according to Food Insight, have considerable differences, despite both being used for cooking your favourite dishes. In this article, we’ll outline how they both differ, but also highlight where they’re similar, in some cases. From nutrition and flavour to smoke points and health benefits, what is the difference between vegetable oil and olive oil?

Everything you need to know about vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is used primarily for a variety of different cooking methods, including frying, baking and roasting. It’s an odourless, mild, flavourless cooking oil that is light in colour. It’s derived from a range of different plants and even seeds. It has a high smoke point, which is why it’s used for cooking and is a popular choice over its other cooking oil counterparts.

Seeing as it’s, generally, flavourless, it’s not an oil that someone would choose to dress a salad or for dipping bread in. However, if you did want to use it as a dressing, you could add herbs and spices to it in order to add the flavour that it’s lacking. This means that vegetable oil is incredibly versatile and is a great cooking oil to have in the cupboard for any occasion or cooking method.

Everything you need to know about olive oil

As the name would suggest, olive oil is derived from pressed olives alone. This oil is the least processed on the market, coming second only to extra virgin olive oil. As such, this is considered to have the most flavour and it will look golden brown in colour. As a result of being relatively unprocessed, it’s often considered to be one of the healthiest oils you can choose, whilst also being versatile.

Olive oil can be used for everything when it comes to cooking methods, but it is suitable for bread dipping and for dressing a salad without the need to supplement it with anything else. This is because olive oil has a distinct flavour that can be enjoyed with and on almost everything. It will have a price tag to match its unprocessed state, so it’s often the most expensive type of cooking oil you can buy.

Vegetable oil vs. olive oil: what’s the difference?

Now that you know a bit more about each oil, let’s look further into their differences. One of the main differences that we’ve already touched upon is that the smoke point for olive oil stands at 390°F (200°C), whilst the smoke point for vegetable oil is around 400°F (205°C). This is usually why vegetable oil is used for cooking and olive oil is used in dips and dressings. In addition to one being more suitable for cooking than the other, here are some other differences to consider:

Processing & flavour

Olive oil isn’t processed to the same extent as vegetable oil. Extra virgin olive oil is actually the least processed oils and, as such, it carries the most amount of flavour. This is why it’s used primarily as a dressing on salads or for dipping bread into with balsamic vinegar. Essentially, the more processing an oil undergoes, the less flavoursome it becomes.

Olive oil is extracted from pressed olive alone. Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is made using a blend of different vegetable-based sources, which is one of the reasons why it’s used for frying, baking and roasting, because it completely lacks in flavour. The vegetable-based sources that vegetable oil is made from includes:

  • Canola
  • Cottonseed
  • Sunflower
  • Soybean
  • Corn
  • Safflower


The amount of processing a cooking oil undergoes will affect how nutritious it is. Olive oil and vegetable oil both contain unsaturated fatty acids, but olive oil actually contains higher amounts of monounsaturated fats, including: oleic acid, linoleic acid and palmitic acid. Vegetable oil, on the other hand, mostly contains omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.

Vegetable oil is often considered to be a highly-refined oil, with a blend of neutral oils that will lack micronutrients. Olive oil, however, hasn’t undergone the same amount of processing. In fact, it is one of the least-processed cooking oils out there. This alone is enough to say that olive oil has a higher nutrition content than vegetable oil.

Which oil is healthier?

Olive oil is more healthy for you than vegetable oil, especially if it’s an extra virgin olive oil because this is one of the least-processed oils on the market. This also means that it will retain the most antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. A study conducted in 2020 found that the higher your olive oil intake, the lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and.or coronary heart disease, in both men and women.

Vegetable oil, on the other hand, doesn’t have those associated health benefits, although a 2015 study found that it won’t increase the risk of breast cancer. In addition to that, a review carried out in 2014 concluded that vegetable oil does possess anti-inflammatory properties, but then it also found that olive oil offers the same benefits. Where olive oil creeps ahead of vegetable oil in terms of healthy cooking oils, there are some others you can try, including:

  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Rapeseed oil
Cater Oils is proud to collect your used cooking oil in exchange for cash or a credit note against a fresh supply of oil. We will responsibly dispose of your used cooking oil, using it to produce biodiesel that will help to keep the community moving. In addition to waste oil collection, we are also certified cooking oil suppliers, providing a wealth of industries with fresh cooking oil supplies as and when needed. For further information about how we can help you today, get in touch with a member of our dedicated, professional team – we’re always pleased to hear from you.

Share This Article


More News Stories