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Can olive oil be substituted for vegetable oil in making a box cake mix?

  • Comments are not for answering the question or extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Cascabel Apr 7 '17 at 17:55
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Yes. As far as the mix is concerned, oil is oil. You're not reaching high enough temperatures to worry about smoke points or anything, and you're not trying to use a weird substitution (applesauce or some such).

That said, I've done this before, so I can tell you that it may affect the flavor of the finished cake-- vegetable oil is called for because of its neutrality, but olive oil (especially the good stuff*) often has a distinct, fruity flavor. Depending on the (quality, quantity) oil that you use, that olive-oil taste may come through in your cake. Whether that's a bad thing or not is up to you.

(*I and many others would consider it a total waste to use good extra virgin olive oil in a cake. I can't speak to any health reasons you may want to substitute, but if it were me and I just didn't have any vegetable oil on hand, I'd either go to the store now or wait to bake the cake.)

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    Also anecdotally, as a young teenager I made brownies with olive oil (thinking it was an equal replacement for vegetable oil) and they were completely inedible. – beattyac Apr 7 '17 at 17:10
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    I will add, I have used olive oil in cake and brownie mixes with no real problem, but will back senschen, in unusual advice, use less expensive olive oil, not the good stuff. One reason to but good olive oil is flavor, but especially in subtle flavored cakes, if you are using strong olive flavor, that might come through. So don't waste the money, have some cheaper stuff to use for things that need bulk oil. My GF hates corn oil and both of us react to canola so we seldom have vegetable in the house, but keep a good olive oil and a cheap one for bulk oil items like cakes. – dlb Apr 7 '17 at 18:00
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    Lest a reader come away the impression that using olive oil in baked goods is somehow odd, it should be pointed out that there are cake recipes which specifically call for olive oil, particularly wanting its flavor. (Not surprisingly, these are usually called "olive oil cakes".) -- But I agree that for your standard boxed cake mix, using olive oil is probably best avoided for flavor/expense reasons. – R.M. Apr 7 '17 at 19:18
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    I almost always use the "extra light (tasting)" olive oil for baking. It doesn't affect the taste or texture at all, even in things like white cake. – 1006a Apr 7 '17 at 20:02
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    I tried it once (extra-virgin, probably the lightest available) and the fruity flavor made it taste awful. The next time, I tried Crisco, and had one of the lightest-textured, most moist cakes from a box that I've ever had. Also, I once tried grapeseed oil when making belgian waffles from Krusteaz mix, and now I'll never make belgian waffles with anything else. (The texture and moisture are exactly how I like it.) Grapeseed oil has become my go-to oil whenever I can fit it in. I haven't made a cake in years at this point, so I haven't tried using grapeseed oil...but I may, someday. – steve_0804 Apr 8 '17 at 1:37
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Yes, but. It will affect the perceived richness and possibly also the flavor.

I have successfully substituted half the oil called for in a brownie mix with olive oil (because I ran out of canola oil). In that case, it gave the finished product a real richness. When I used all olive oil with the same mix, there was a noticeable olive oil overlay to the finished product which was unpleasantly "healthy" in the context. :-)

So, I wouldn't do this with a yellow or white cake, but would definitely consider it with a chocolate, carrot or spice cake. And even then, I would carefully consider the volume of olive oil to the rest of the ingredients: All olive oil when it only calls for 2 tablespoons? Sure. All olive oil when it calls for half a cup? Uhm... maybe not.

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