Find out when it's okay to substitute butter for olive oil when cooking.
Oil, Butter, and Water on Table
Credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Want to substitute butter for olive oil in your favorite recipe? Chances are, it will work just fine. Unlike butter, olive oil is low in saturated fat and rich in antioxidants. And unlike other oils like vegetable or canola, olive oil has a unique flavor that can enhance a recipe. We recommend choosing extra-virgin over regular or light olive oils because it is the highest quality olive oil, with more antioxidants and natural olive flavor.

Here are a few guidelines for substituting olive oil for butter:

Measure accurately. Substitute three-quarters of the butter in a recipe with olive oil. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons), use 6 tablespoons oil.

For cooking meat and veggies: For savory dishes where meat or vegetables are cooked on stovetop or in the oven (like sautéing, pan frying, or roasting), you can almost always swap out butter for olive oil. Keep in mind that extra-virgin olive oil has a strong flavor that is very different from butter. Depending on where the olives were grown, an olive oil's flavor can range from sharp and peppery to smooth and buttery. Taste the oil before you cook with it so you know how it will affect your recipe.

For making pasta: You can easily substitute olive oil for butter in most pasta recipes, especially ones that have lots of fresh vegetables. Choose recipes that are lightly dressed and avoid pastas with rich cream sauces (which require butter). Recipes for roast chicken or pork are also a good way to incorporate olive oil.

For baking: When baking, olive oil does not always make a good replacement for butter, especially when the recipe calls for creaming the butter with sugar. That process gives baked goods a light and airy texture that can't be achieved with olive oil. Instead, stick to recipes that call for melted butter (or another type of liquid fat) for best results. Olive oil will work well in brownies of all types, from chocolate chunk to pumpkin swirl, muffins, and quick breads.