Butter and olive oil are staples in just about every kitchen, and many people have opinions on which one is superior to the other. If you are confused about the difference between butter vs. olive oil, we compare and contrast them in this guide. Then, we delve into when to use butter vs. when to use olive oil and whether or not you can substitute one for the other.

frying egg in oil

Butter vs. Olive Oil

Butter can technically be made from any kind of milk, but it is most commonly made of cow’s milk. Butter is made by churning milk or cream until the butterfat (milk solids) separates from the buttermilk (milk liquids). While butter is high in calcium and certain vitamins, it is also high in saturated fats, which has been linked to heart disease. Due to its nature as a dairy product, butter is not a suitable ingredient for vegan diets or for people trying to avoid dairy products.

In contrast, olive oil is made by extracting the oil from the fruit of the olive tree (making it a great choice for more plant-based diets). There are many different kinds of olive oil, each with their own distinct properties and flavors, including extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, light olive oil and more. High-quality olive oil is healthy and contains both antioxidants and the good kind of monounsaturated fatty acids. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has the highest levels of these antioxidants as well as the most natural flavor, so it is an excellent candidate if you are looking to make a healthy substitution for butter.

Not all olive oils are created equal, and the rigor with which they are harvested and pressed varies widely. For best results, choose domestic olive oil (such as California olive oil) with a recent harvest date so you can make sure to finish the olive oil before it passes its peak. Sample our delicious EVOO with the Duo olive oil set.

pair of brightland olive oils

When to Use Butter

There is one situation where you should not substitute olive oil for butter, and that is when you need to cream softened (but still cool) butter, a very common step in baking recipes such as cookies. Using a completely liquid product, such as either olive oil or melted butter, will result in a batter that is thinner and thus will cook faster than what the recipe calls for. As a result, the texture of the final bake will be affected, and you might even burn the batter if you leave it in the oven too long.

If you are really opposed to creaming butter, then you can try to replace the butter with stick margarine. Tub margarine has a thinner consistency. Even if you do not melt it, it will result in a batter that is too thin, which is why you need stick margarine. Keep in mind that margarine is not necessarily better for you than butter. While it does not contain the cholesterol and saturated fat found in butter, instead, it has a higher percentage of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

When to Use Olive Oil

Creaming butter aside, you can use olive oil in almost every other scenario where you might use butter instead. Olive oil is ideal for sauteing and roasting both meat and vegetables due to its high smoke point. It is also a great addition to homemade marinades, dressings and other condiments. Olive oil can also be used in baking in any recipe that calls for melted butter or another kind of oil (such as canola oil). Flavored olive oil is an excellent way to add even more flavor to your dishes while still retaining the healthy properties of olive oil. In short, olive oil is a versatile, good-for-you ingredient that has many different applications around the kitchen. You cannot go wrong keeping one bottle (or several) of high-quality olive oil in your pantry.

Cooking and baking with olive oil can transform the taste of your food for the better. That is why we use only the best California olives to ensure that we get the freshest, best-tasting oil that arrives on your doorstep in peak condition. We also package our olive oils in UV-protected glass bottles to prevent UV damage and maintain the highest levels of antioxidants. Try Brightland olive oil today, and you will taste the difference.

Browse Our Flavored Olive Oils