Ask Barb - Smoke Point

Ask Barb - Smoke Point

Barbara Braidwood is one of the founders of Saratoga Olive Oil Co. She enjoys educating our consumers about the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegars and how to incorporate them into a healthy, balanced diet.

Dear Barb,

I have always heard that olive oil has a low smoke point and should not be used when sautéing, searing, or frying foods. Is this true?

Lisa Y.
Lisbon Falls, MN

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for reaching out! That is an excellent question and one that I get quite often. First of all, let’s discuss “smoke point.” What is it? Smoke point is also known as “burning point” or the point at which your oil stops shimmering and smoke forms. It is a signal that your oil is breaking down.

When oils break down, they can release chemicals that give food an undesirable burnt or bitter flavor, as well as free radicals that can harm your body. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is commonly listed as having a smoke point of 325-375⁰F; however, according to the North American Olive Oil Association, extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point range is actually 350-410⁰F.

The smoke point is directly related to the free fatty acid (FFA) in the oil. The FFA for extra virgin olive oil can range anywhere from very low, about 0.2%, up to the international standard limit of 0.8%. The lower the FFA, the higher the smoke point.

Since the average stovetop cooking temperature is about 350⁰F, cooking with olive oil is a safe and healthy choice. At Saratoga Olive Oil, we carry only the freshest oils with very low FFAs. Currently, our Chilean Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) with a FFA of just 0.13% is the most suitable for higher temp cooking; however, feel free to use any of our oils the next time you pull out the skillet or wok and add some delicious flavor to your dish.

Happy Cooking!