Can You Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in an Air Fryer?

April 15, 2023
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You Can, But Only at Relatively Low Temperatures (Below the Smoke Point)

Wondering if using extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer is safe? You're not alone. Many people want to use this healthy oil but are concerned about its smoke point and potential drawbacks. This article will answer that question and provide valuable insights on air frying with extra virgin olive oil.

First, let's clear up some misconceptions. Yes, in some instances, you can use extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer. Extra virgin olive oil prevents food from sticking, enhances flavor and maintains moisture inside your meal.

But there Is a Catch … Smoke Point

Smoke point is the temperature at which oil or fat begins to smoke and break down. This process gives your food an unsavory burnt flavor. Even worse, this process can release harmful compounds that may be unhealthy for people to consume.

The smoke for extra virgin olive oil can be a bit tricky to determine as it will vary based on the type of olive oil and its contents. Olive oil smoke point varies between around 350℉ and 410℉. This is considerably lower than many other cooking oils.

Many air fryer recipes call for heat higher than 350 degrees. If you plan to cook at temperatures above around 350 ℉, you’ll probably want to choose a different cooking oil. The North American Olive Oil Association is less concerned with smoke point. In the video below, they mention that smoke point isn’t a huge concern as long as:

  • Your olive oil isn’t heated up on its own above the smoke point
  • Your food that is being cooked by the oil doesn’t dry up entirely

The North American Olive Oil Association Discusses the Smoke Point of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a type of high-quality, unrefined olive oil. It comes from the first pressing of olives, without added heat or chemical treatments. This process ensures you get a pure, natural product with a rich and robust flavor.

When you use EVOO, you benefit from a product that retains more nutrients and antioxidants than other types of olive oil. These beneficial properties come from the natural antioxidants found in olives, called phenolic compounds. EVOO is also known for being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat (it contains 75% by volume), which along with polyunsaturated fats are beneficial for your heart health.

As a result, using olive oil in an air fryer for recipes requiring relatively low temperatures can provide health and taste benefits.

Understanding Air Fryers

Air fryers are a popular kitchen appliance known for cooking food in a healthier way than deep frying or pan frying. They use hot air to circulate all around the food, giving it a crispy exterior without the need for excessive oil.

When you air fry, you get the best of both worlds.


An air fryer will provide your food with crispy texture, similar to what is produced by deep frying.

More Healthy

Your food won’t be greasy after being cooked in an air fryer. When deep frying, your food absorbs excess fat and grease from being submerged in the deep fryer.

If you want to use a little bit of oil in the air fryer, go for it. You can lightly coat your food in oil, by simply tossing it in a bowl with a small amount of oil. Olive oil is a great choice for this purpose as long as you’re cooking at lower temps. It can enhance flavor, keep your food from sticking, and keep your food moist without being overly greasy.

The Benefits of Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil in an Air Fryer

You enjoy several advantages when you use extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer. First, this oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, which can benefit your heart. Unlike saturated fats in some other oils, these fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your blood, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.

Extra virgin olive oil also contains antioxidants, like polyphenols and vitamin E, which help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants may contribute to a healthier immune system and even aid in preventing certain diseases.

Moreover, using extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer enhances the flavor of your food. This oil is known for its distinct taste and aroma, which can elevate the overall flavor profile of your dishes. So, when you cook with this oil, you're making a healthier choice and a tastier one.

Another Drawback: Altered Flavor

In addition to the smoke point issue, another potential problem with using extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer is flavor change. It may take a bit of trial and error, but be mindful of the amount of oil you use on your food. Too much can cause your food to become a bit greasy and the olive oil flavor may dominate the flavor profile of your dish. It's best to use just enough oil to coat your food lightly, ensuring a crispy and flavorful outcome.

Now that you understand the potential issues when using extra virgin olive oil in an air fryer, you can make informed decisions to maximize your air frying experience.

Alternatives to Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Air Frying

While you can use extra virgin olive oil for air frying, there are other oils worth considering as well. These oils not only provide different flavors but also offer varying smoke points, making them suitable for different temperatures.

The Ninja Speedi Rapid Cooker & Air Fryer - Cooking Vegetables Which Appear to Be Lightly Covered in Oil and Wrapped in Foil

Please note that you can find a list of oil smoke points and fat types on this page from Colorado State University (Go Rams!).

  • Avocado Oil - avocado oil is a great choice for your air fryer to fry chicken, french fries and even vegetables. It has a high smoke point of 520°F and a very mild flavor that won’t overwhelm your food. You can get avocado oil in a cooking spray format - making it easy to incorporate into your dish.
  • Canola oil is known for its neutral flavor and high smoke point (around 400°F). This versatile oil is great for frying a wide variety of foods, and it's often used when you don't want any strong taste from the oil itself.
  • Coconut oil is a healthy alternative with a unique, tropical taste. It has a smoke point of around 350°F, making it suitable for lower temperature cooking in your air fryer. Remember to choose unrefined and cold-pressed coconut oil for the best results.
  • Peanut oil if you like the taste of fried food without the extra fat, consider peanut oil. It offers a mild, nutty flavor and a high smoke point of 450°F, making it perfect for higher temperature frying. It's suitable for most recipes in your air fryer, and it's a popular choice for its versatile taste profile.
  • Sesame Oil - Another option is sesame oil, which boasts a rich, nutty flavor. Ideal for Asian-inspired dishes, it has a smoke point of around 410°F. However, it can be quite strong, so use it sparingly and consider mixing it with other oils like canola oil to balance the flavor.
  • Sunflower oil is a light, mild-tasting oil with a higher smoke point of around 450°F. This makes it well-suited for high-temperature cooking, and it pairs well with a variety of dishes. Give it a try next time you're looking for an oil that won't overpower your food's flavors!
  • Vegetable oil is another alternative that's commonly used to deep fry food and for air frying. Like canola oil, it has a neutral taste and a smoke point around 400°F. It's easily accessible and works well for most recipes.

Feel free to experiment with these alternative oils in your air frying adventures. By trying different oils, you'll discover new tastes and textures that elevate your dishes to new heights!

Tips for Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil in an Air Fryer

1. Toss your food in oil first: Before placing your food in the air fryer, lightly coat it with extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. This ensures even coverage and helps with crispiness.

2. Avoid overcrowding: Give your food enough space in the air fryer basket. Overcrowding can limit air circulation, which affects the cooking results.

3. Use oil sparingly: A few teaspoons of oil is usually enough for most recipes. You can even use an oil spray to lightly coat your food. As air fryers use hot air to cook your food, you don't need as much oil as you would with traditional frying methods.

4. Choose the right temperature: Stick to recipes that require temperatures below 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent the extra virgin olive oil from reaching its smoke point and causing unwanted flavors.

5. Shake or rotate your food: To ensure even cooking and crispiness, gently shake or rotate your food halfway through the cooking process.

By following these tips, you can enjoy tasty and healthier dishes using extra virgin olive oil in your air fryer.

For Some Dishes, you Can Apply Olive Oil and Enclose in Aluminum Foil Before Placing the Food in Your Air Fryer

Frequently Asked Questions

What oil is best to use in an air fryer?

There is no “best oil” - your air fryer can work with different oils, just make sure that the smoke point of your oil is higher than the temperature of your air fryer. Some great options include extra virgin olive oil, pure olive oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, and peanut oil. If you’re feeling more indulgent, you can use less healthy oils like coconut oil.

Why is olive oil not recommended for air fryer?

Olive oil isn’t recommended in an air fryer if you’re cooking at higher temperatures above its 350 degree smoke point. If you’re cooking at lower temperatures, olive oil can be a good choice for air fryer cooking.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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