Can You Use Olive Oil in a Cake Mix?

by Charlie
Olive oil in cake mix

Baking a cake from a mix is convenient, easy, and it’s guaranteed to come out tasting great. Cake mixes call for so few ingredients; typically, just an egg, water, and vegetable oil, so even the most novice baker can pull it together.

Can you use olive oil in a cake mix? Yes, you can use olive oil in a cake mix. All vegetable oils work the same way, so replacing vegetable oil with olive oil couldn’t be simpler. It will enhance the flavor and richness of the cake, though you might prefer a lighter type to the typical extra virgin. 

Olive oil tends to be associated with savory dishes, like sautéed vegetables or salad dressing. When it comes to baking, you’ve probably used it to grease the pan, but have you tried incorporating it into one of your dishes? 

Olive oil definitely has a lot to offer the world of baked goods, whether baking from a box or from scratch. 

Is Olive Oil Good for Baking?

In the Mediterranean, where olives grow in plenty, using olive oil in baking has been a long-standing practice. Italians have traditional recipes for olive oil cakes infused with citrus to bring out the oil’s flavor. They were on to something.

You might find that your ingredients blend together more smoothly when using olive oil because it’s a natural emulsifier. That means your cake will come out softer and with more moisture than you would get with most other oils. 

The substitution ratio for other oil and fat ingredients is 1:1, which makes for an easy switch. When replacing butter or eggs, it will depend on the outcome you’re seeking. Sometimes butter or eggs is being used because it produces aeration in the cake. 

The consensus among bakers is that you should substitute ¾ the amount of butter you need for olive oil. That way, you still have the benefits of butter along with olive oil. But every recipe is different, and you might have to make some adjustments to account for the complex chemistry of baking. 

What Type of Olive Oil Works Best for Baking?

Olive oil has a very distinctive scent and taste. It would help if you considered what it is you’re baking before choosing your olive oil. You don’t want the olive oil to overpower the scent or taste of your finished product. 

When purchasing oil specifically for baking, choose a variety that’s extra light – it will have the least flavoring. With a light version, even the most delicate baking won’t be overwhelmed with the traditional olive oil taste.  

Be sure to use good quality extra-virgin olive oil for baking. This ingredient is not the place to try and save a few dollars because the better quality oil smells and tastes better and is better for you.  

The Flavor of Using Olive Oil in Your Cake

Depending on what kind of cake you’re baking, olive oil can add a little something to the flavor. Some vibrant cake flavors cover the olive oil, but it can add a bit of a fruity note to your baking. There are light olive oils with milder flavor if you want to avoid any changes but still want the health benefits.

If you want to ease the move from using a flavorless oil to something more fragrant, like olive oil, you can also mix them up. Using half vegetable oil and half olive oil will help limit the fruity taste. 

Keep in mind that the oil may be more potent depending on what you’re baking. If you make brownies with typical extra virgin olive oil, the chocolate is so rich, and you won’t even sense the oil.

Where Olive Oil Replacement Works

Of course, there are some types of baking where swapping in olive oil will have excellent results. Other than cakes, you can include olive oil in many different recipes. 

Olive oil works well in loaves and muffins, particularly with something with an already nutty flavor, like pumpkin. It also crafts an incredibly moist banana bread. 

When you’re comfortable moving away from the boxed mix, you can try an olive oil zucchini cake. The vanilla in the cake and the olive oil fragrance really bring out the best in each other. 

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Not only is using olive oil okay in a pinch, but you might also want to make it your go-to choice. It’s better for your cake and your health.

Extra-virgin olive oil is high in monosaturated fat (the good fat) and can actually help lower your cholesterol. Other fats, like butter and even coconut oil, are higher in saturated fats. While they’re still not unhealthy options, olive oil is a better choice. 

Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants and has strong anti-inflammation properties. It’s considered the healthiest fat because of its benefits to your brain, joints, and heart.

Even though you’re putting it in cake, which may not be the healthiest, the health benefits of olive oil are clear. It’s a far better option to use olive oil than any other substitute in your baking.  

Final Thoughts

Using olive oil in your cake mix is a great idea, even if you mean it as a last resort. Any time you come across vegetable or canola oil in your recipes, consider switching to olive oil. It can create a texture unmatched by other oils, even though it costs a bit more per pour. 

It’s definitely a good idea to go for a specifically lighter olive oil variety for a delicate cake. Still, if you’re whipping up a fudge chocolate cake, the oil taste won’t come through. And if you fall in love with olive oil cakes, play around with flavors to see what spices and types of cake you prefer with the fruity olive oil. 

Whether it’s brownies, muffins, loaves, or even cookies, you can integrate olive oil into almost everything you bake and get rid of all those other oil bottles in your pantry.

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