Yes, it's even good on ice cream.

By Paul Feinstein
July 05, 2019
Ryan Benyi Photography/Getty Images

Extra virgin olive oil: what is it good for? Absolutely everything.

Soaking your bread in oil is great, but if that’s all you’re using it for, you’re missing out on a world of applications that might just blow your mind. I talked to a bevy of olive oil experts who regaled me with many marvelous ways that you can use olive oil. Yes, that includes your face—but we’ll get to that. Without further ado, here are nine brilliant ways to use olive oil that you maybe never thought possible.

Fruit Salads

Aishwarya Iyer of Brightland olive oil says to “chop plums, peaches, cherries, and then take chunks of dark chocolate and drizzle olive oil on top and then add sea salt.” Iyer also recommends replacing the chocolate with burrata to make the snack more savory.

Poaching

“Definitely poaching things in olive oil,” says Kathryn Tomajan, maker of Fat Gold extra virgin olive oil. “Like fish or eggs, or even making a garlic confit. It’s kind of a bonus because you can still use the olive oil afterwards.” Confit is the French way of saying that something is cooked in its own fat, but if you replace that fat with olive oil, something magical can happen, especially with garlic.

Throw garlic cloves from 1-2 heads of garlic in a pan and cover them with olive oil. Simmer on a very low heat for around 30-45 minutes until the garlic is nice and soft. Then throw the cloves into a Mason jar with the oil and then use the garlic-infused oil for poaching just about anything else.

Ice Cream

One of the simplest uses for olive oil is to drizzle it on top of ice cream. “Any vanilla ice cream is great with some olive oil and sea salt,” Iyer says. “Or, take chocolate ice cream, add a teaspoon or two of port wine and top it off with olive oil and fresh figs.”

Granitas

Dino Borri, the general manager and head buyer of Eataly, likes to use it on granita, the brain-freezing treat made from blending together fruit, ice, water, and sugar or simple syrup. Borri replaces the syrup on top of the granita with olive oil.

Yogurt

For an incredibly easy snack in between meals, Brightland’s Iyer says to “take plain Greek yogurt, add some olive oil, salt, pepper, and sriracha, and eat it with pita chips.” Healthy, filling, and with a little kick that wakes you up better than coffee.

Crudo

According to Tomajan, “Americans don’t know much about it, but using EVOO as a dressing for raw fish is incredible. People call it crudo, which is raw fish and dressed in olive oil and sea salt. It’s transcending. If you get really fresh raw fish with olive oil, there’s nothing better.” Just make sure your raw fish is sushi grade—it’s one of the only things that’s worth spending extra money on at Whole Foods.

Cheese

One of the tastiest ways to use olive oil is on cheese. “When you have a cheese plate,” Iyer says, “especially one with hard cheeses like parmesan or pecorino, drizzle olive oil with freshly grated pepper on top. Just make sure you have toothpicks on hand for eating it all.”

Preservation

In Italian, the word sott’olio means “under the oil,” and according to Italian olive oil importer Michele Iadarola of Especially Puglia, you can “keep the flavors of perfectly ripe vegetables all year-long.” The method is fairly simple: Iadarola says to “boil fresh vegetables in white wine vinegar until they’re cooked al dente. Once they’re cooled off, toss with salt, pepper, garlic, or any mix of spices and then cover completely with extra virgin olive oil in a jar.” The olive oil keeps oxygen away from the vegetables, so they won’t spoil.

Skincare

One of the more amazing uses for olive oil is on your skin. Borri says, “We use it to shave. Take a teaspoon [of olive oil] in your hand and use it before and after shaving to make your skin less irritated. It also makes your skin softer. And I don’t like to use chemicals.”

Tamajan is also an olive oil skincare enthusiast. “I would really encourage people, especially DIYers, to use EVOO in your skin care routine,” she says. “I have friends who make their own face masks and using EVOO will get so many nutrients onto your skin. I also use it in the bath. I drizzle a tablespoon in bathwater, and it’s so amazing on the skin. And I also use it as a lotion. It’s oily at first but gets totally absorbed. People in the Mediterranean have been doing it for millennia.”

When your olive oil goes bad

Don’t throw away your old olive oil; there are plenty of ways to use it once the flavor has diminished. Borri says he mixes it with water and puts it on his daughter’s hair to make it easier to brush. He also buys old furniture and polishes it with olive oil. It’s even good for polishing leather shoes.

Advertisement