The simple answer is yes you can! Cooks from all around the Mediterranean have been using olive oil to fry for centuries. Frying with olive oil imparts a taste that cannot be matched by other types of oil. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind especially when frying with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The two most important factors are time and temperature control.
- The smoke point of quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil is between 350° and 380° depending on the exact variety of olives used in the making of the oil. This is a relatively low smoke point compared to other oils such as canola oil (400°), peanut oil (440°), or corn oil (450°).
- This is why temperature control is key when frying with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Always use an accurate fry/candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of your oil as you heat it. Aim for a temperature of 320° to 330°.
- By keeping the olive oil below the smoke point you keep all of the beneficial polyphenols and oleic acid. Olive oil is also high in healthy monounsaturated fats that do not break down when heated, unlike other oils that can break down into harmful trans-fats.
- Do not heat the oil too quickly. This leads to a greater chance of it burning. Instead, start with a medium flame and let the oil come to temperature slowly.
- Frying with Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best for small bites or things that will cook quickly. A perfect example is frying chicken tenders or thin chicken breasts rather than whole bone-in chicken breasts.
- Less is more. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is best for shallow or pan frying. Using a smaller amount of oil makes it easier to control the temperature and avoid burning the oil.
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