16 Unexpected Foods That Pair Well With Olive Oil

Olive oil is liquid gold. Seriously, what can prevent food from sticking to a pan, make produce and meat crispy, dress a salad, act as a garnish, prevent cutting boards from drying out, and make your skin glow? Olive oil has is thought to have been used since before 4000 B.C. While the concept is simple, to press olives until oil is released, this oil is anything but — it's the epitome of versatility. While you might keep a bottle on hand for light sautéing and to whip up a salad dressing now and again, there are plenty of unexpected foods that pair well with olive oil that you should consider trying.

First things first: Choose the right oil. When it comes to using olive oil as a garnish or pairing it with desserts and gourmet products, it's important to choose high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. (Luckily, we've taste-tested the best olive oil brands to help you narrow down your selection.) And when it comes to quality, we recommend splurging on an imported, fresh bottle to enhance your dish.

Ice cream

Now, we've heard of some weird food combinations. Peanut butter on burgers? Strawberries with balsamic vinegar? French fries with Frosties? Well, as it turns out, they are all surprisingly delicious (at least we think so). If you're an experimental eater with an open mind who wants to try a food combo that will blow you out of the water, try drizzling a high-quality EVOO over your ice cream.

Although we don't usually associate olive oil with sweet treats like ice cream, it can make your already decadent frozen dish even richer. Try it over dark chocolate, coffee, or vanilla ice cream to start, and venture out from there. The surprisingly delicious pairing of olive oil and ice cream is great because it creates the perfect balance of sweet and savory. High-quality olive oil should have a subtle citrus and floral flavor that, together with its smooth and fatty mouthfeel, can only elevate a dish, even dessert.


Olive oil and hot beverages may seem like quite the stretch, but in reality, adding a fat to coffee isn't all that far out of left field. Adding some form of fat to coffee is a long-standing practice all around the world, especially in the Himalayas. It's not uncommon to find coffee with ghee in such areas, which is thought to give coffee an extra health boost. On a more relatable level, adding cream to coffee is another way to balance the natural acidity of coffee with fat. Within that context, olive oil blended with coffee deserves its hype and isn't as unusual as it might sound.

Adding olive oil creates a creamy richness that black coffee itself tends to lack. Like coffee, olive oil can carry unique and subtle earthy and floral notes, so it's no wonder the two complement each other so beautifully. Simply stir or blend 1 teaspoon (or less for the wary) of EVOO into your morning cup of joe, and let your taste buds do the talking.

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse, although typically made with heavy cream, egg yolks, and chocolate, can be made with just about anything these days. Ever heard of avocado chocolate mousse? Well, it's actually quite delicious and holds a similar texture. Across the board, all mousse recipes have a few common threads: They are sweet, they are rich, and they are fatty.

Dark chocolate itself can be bittersweet, so it's no surprise that it pairs beautifully with olive oil. Next time you make a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, whatever the recipe, try topping it with more than just chocolate flakes and orange peel. Extra-virgin olive oil can make mousse even more incredibly decadent and rich. It's important to use extra-virgin olive oil as opposed to regular because your typical olive oil lacks the intensity of flavor that EVOO has. In order to get that grassy color and peppery flavor, it's essential to splurge and reach for a freshly pressed bottle of olive oil labeled "extra virgin."

Fruit salad

Fruit is fresh, light, sweet, and tangy, so it's no wonder it can be enhanced when combined with a floral, dense, fatty olive oil. In fact, olives themselves are categorized as fruit, and what goes better with fruit than more fruit? Consider making a fresh fruit salad with all of your favorites. Cherries, honeydew, pineapple, grapes, blueberries ... really any combination of fruit will do the trick. Tangy citrus fruits tend to complement EVOO nicely, so consider adding slices of oranges and grapefruit to the mix. Be sure to slice large larger fruits so they are bite-sized, and wait until the very end to add any soft fruits like peaches or bananas that might mush or break up when mixed. Fresh mint or basil can help to enhance a fruit salad as well.

Make your olive oil vinaigrette using extra-virgin olive oil, honey, and lime juice. Whisk the ingredients together until creamy and smooth. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and gently toss the fruit around until the dressing coats it entirely. This will add incredible flavor to the dish.

Hot chocolate

The sweet traditions of drinking chocolate from around the world feature some pretty interesting ingredients that may raise an eyebrow if you're used to Nestlé quick mix. Whether employing egg yolks, heavy cream, corn starch, and even cheese, cultures have one thing in common: They like hot chocolate thick, dense, and creamy.

When it comes to savory additions, olive oil covers all of those bases. Simply take a spoonful of high-quality EVOO and whisk it into your chocolaty beverage. The frothier the better, so consider using an electric whisk to get the job done. Whether you enjoy a savory hot chocolate without any added sugar, a water-based hot chocolate, or a mug filled to the brim with heavy cream, marshmallows, and melted chocolate, olive oil can be the unexpected ingredient to bring your cocoa to the next level. Think about it: Chocolate is made with cocoa butter, which isn't naturally sweet, so is adding olive oil really that much of a stretch?


While the average home cook might find the addition of olive oil to cake rather off-putting, creative chefs know that it can actually add a layer of depth to baked goods that is worth exploring. In fact, some cake recipes even sport the fresh-pressed oil in their name. Olive oil cake is more common than you might surmise and is actually quite popular because of its moisture content and density. While apple, chocolate, and citrus olive oil cakes are most common because of their flawless ability to blend with the natural flavors of the oil, really any cake can be made with EVOO.

Simply use olive oil in place of canola oil, or seek out an olive oil cake recipe. We recommend Chef Clinton Woods' hot chocolate cake recipe, which loads up on specialty ingredients like coffee, vanilla, whipped cream, buttermilk, and, of course, a full ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil.


Just like in cake, olive oil can be used to add a savory dimension to cookies while making them dense and delicious. Most cookie recipes call for some form of fat, usually butter or vegetable oil, but by using olive oil you add subtle earthy and floral flavors to the mix. This gives you an opportunity to layer in the flavor instead of adding a rather thin and tasteless oil out of necessity.

Both chocolate and tahini olive oil cookies are a huge hit and taste incredible with large flakes of sea salt sprinkled on top. Chocolate seems to take the cake when it comes to adding olive oil to cookies, so try making Chef David Siegel's double dark chocolate sea salt cookies this holiday season, or, heck, how about a random Tuesday?


Cheese is our favorite fatty, oily block of salty goodness. Besides melting it, there can't possibly be any way that cheese can get any better, can there? Think again. Drizzle any cheese in high-quality EVOO and see what your taste buds have to say.

Drizzle warm cheese like baked brie or a hot feta dip with extra-virgin olive oil to enhance their oily texture. Pair it with spreadable cheese like manouri, or fry cheese in EVOO and make saganaki. Crumble, shave, or dice hard cheeses like Parmesan and pecorino and arrange them in a dish with olive oil for tasting or dipping fresh bread into. Any way you slice it, olive oil helps to enhance the unique natural flavors of cheese and should be used in cheese-heavy dishes or on charcuterie boards.

Sorbet or granitas

Sorbet and granitas are ice cream's ice-based cousins. Made with fresh fruit, the two share many similarities. The biggest difference is the variance of texture. While sorbet or Italian ice is creamy and smooth, granitas tend to be flakier with larger ice crystals. All in all, these frozen fruit snacks don't tend to have that element of fat to them as ice cream does. Luckily, olive oil can save the day. Simply drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on your frozen dessert of choice and enjoy creamy, fatty, fruity sweet treats with an extra decadent twist.

While fruit and olive oil may seem like an odd pairing, keep in mind that olives are indeed fruit and that most fruits actually pair quite nicely with the Mediterranean oil.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt, like olive oil, can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes. You might think of Greek yogurt as that tart, thick yogurt used in smoothies, made into ice cream, or enjoyed for breakfast with fruit and granola. But it's special in the sense that it can be served alongside roasted vegetables, proteins, nuts, fruits, grains, and any other category of food you can fathom. A simple way to serve Greek yogurt with olive oil is on fresh toast.

Smear sourdough bread with Greek yogurt like you would with cream cheese. Drizzle with both olive oil and honey and garnish with cracked black pepper or hot pepper flakes. The tartness of the yogurt, mellowed by the sweet honey and floral oil, will deliver an unmatched mouthfeel. The cracked black pepper or hot pepper flakes add just enough heat and texture to the mix, which makes for a refreshing and hearty breakfast or afternoon snack.


Chocolate can be enhanced with EVOO in so many ways, but, starting with the basics, consider just drizzling your dark chocolate bar with olive oil. Cocoa beans are bitter, robust, and rich and, when sweetened, can make for an incredible dessert. Any charcuterie board with chocolate should be accompanied by a small dish of extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling or dipping. In fact, when making any chocolate-based food like muffins, cakes, puddings, or tarts, you should consider using olive oil as an ingredient or garnish after the fact. Rich sweet foods can pair with rich savory foods to create an unforgettable decedent blend.

If you enjoy chocolate for breakfast, consider spreading melted dark chocolate on toast and drizzling it with EVOO. Top with a little flakey sea salt and indulge.

Mashed potatoes

Yes, peanut butter goes with jelly, and butter goes on toast. But let's think outside the box for a moment when considering which fats to use while cooking. Butter, lard, mayonnaise, coconut oil, bacon grease, oil, and extra-virgin olive oil all carry incredibly different flavors and act differently when heated or mixed with other ingredients. When it comes to mashed potatoes, almost any of the above fats would do, but people tend to stick with the old reliable: butter.

Switch things up and use extra-virgin olive oil in your mashed potatoes instead, along with an extra pinch of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Adding EVOO makes the absolute best vegan mashed potatoes on the planet, so it's worth consideration next time you're getting creative with the side dish. The overall texture remains the same, while the flavor differs slightly and skews fresher and more organic. Once it's all mashed up, be sure to garnish with an extra drizzle of oil to help lock in moisture and add to the aesthetic.


Pancakes might seem sweet to their core, but the truth is that they are made with plenty of savory ingredients, including butter or oil. Next time you're in the mood for pancakes, reach for olive oil instead of canola oil. Olive oil is richer and more flavorful and can add subtle citrus and floral notes to your already delicate and fluffy breakfast cakes. Load up with mashed banana, chocolate chips, blueberries, or whatever your go-to pancake flavor is.

Try frying pancakes in olive oil as well. Just like butter or canola oil, your fluffy cakes won't stick to the pan and will crisp up around the edges. Prepare yourself for a more intense and slightly savory flavor. EVOO pairs especially well with oatmeal banana pancakes, as well as buckwheat pancakes because they tend to be hardier and carry more flavor.

Banana Bread

During the pandemic, it seemed like everyone was making banana bread. If you can relate, then you probably tried out quite a few recipes before zeroing in on your favorite. But did you ever try baking your banana bread with olive oil? If not, it may be an ingredient to consider in future banana bread-making endeavors. Olive oil can be used in place of any baking oil to create a unique loaf with subtle floral and peppery notes. Don't worry, we know that bananas and olives don't typically taste great together, but baking with olive oil is a whole different beast with a much milder flavor than using straight-up olives.

Because chocolate and olive oil pair so beautifully, try making olive oil chocolate chip banana bread. This dense, flavorful recipe comes out moist every time. Experiment with adding nuts, raisins, and any other additions you may have messed around with in the past. The olive oil is subtle enough not to overpower or entirely change the constitution of the recipe, so there's still room for culinary creativity, which is a reason we love banana bread in the first place. It's versatile and hard to mess up.


If you're a lover of dirty martinis, then you must also be a huge fan of olives. Perhaps one of the most popular savory adult beverages, right alongside the bloody Mary, dirty martinis are the perfect combination of salty brine and crispy, bitey gin (or vodka, depending on how you make it). Can't get enough of that olivey goodness? Consider fat-washing your gin for a better martini next time you care to indulge.

While the term "fat-washing" might not sound appetizing, it's actually an elite bartending practice that can help infuse alcohol with additional flavor. Simply shake together your gin or vodka with olive oil and let it sit in the refrigerator. Once the fat rises to the top and solidifies, scoop it out, leaving only liquid. Be sure to get every bit of fat to ensure no solids remain, and use your infused liquor to make the best dirty martini you've ever had. Be sure to garnish with fresh olives!


Cheesecake lovers already know the beauty of dishes that encompass both sweet and savory elements. Cheese, which is typically savory and is often served with other savory foods like burgers, bread, and eggs, can make quite a transformation when whipped with sugar, eggs, and other cheesecake ingredients. And although we love cheesecake for its dense, moist richness, you can never have too much of a good thing.

Consider using olive oil in your cheesecake recipe, or even drizzling it right on top of the finished product. You can even incorporate it into the graham cracker crust. Like cheese, olive oil can be quite tangy and vary in flavor, and it will certainly add a depth of flavor to your dessert that cheese alone cannot accomplish.