Martha Stewart on the One Ingredient She Never Uses

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(Image credit: Sterling Munksgard)

There are few ingredients quite as polarizing as truffle oil. Proponents love to use a drizzle to add gloss, glamour, and an intense, truffle-esque aroma to everything from french fries to cheese pizza. Critics, however, point out that truffle oil does not actually contain any truffles, and they often describe the aroma and flavor as one-note and overpowering. Now it looks like lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart has come down firmly in camp No Truffle Oil, because she called the ingredient “hideous” and said it was the one ingredient she would never cook with.

When Today asked Martha Stewart if there was any ingredient she never cooks with, Stewart did not hesitate.

“Oh, I would never use truffle oil, oh never,” she said.

Martha Stewart clearly has nothing against real truffles. Her most recent Christmas Eve dinner was a jaw-droppingly indulgent dish of homemade fettuccine with shaved white truffles.

But white truffles are only available when they’re in season, and at around $300 an ounce, they’re one of the most expensive delicacies in the world. White truffle oil is designed to smell similar to white truffles at a fraction of the cost, and because of that, it became very trendy to splash it around on everything from pizza to salads.

The thing is, most truffle oil does not actually contain any truffles at all. It’s usually olive oil with a synthetic aromatic compound like 2,4-dithiapentane in it. Real truffles have a subtler and more complex flavor and aroma, while truffle oil tends to deliver one note very powerfully. Truffle oil has a very strong, immediately recognizable scent, but it does not really taste much like truffles. Martha Stewart is vehemently not a fan of the stuff.

“It’s bad,” Stewart told Today. “They’ve done many studies on truffle oil. It’s synthetic, it’s fake, it’s horrible. It clings to your taste buds, it’s a hideous thing. Forget truffle oil.”

How do you feel about truffle oil?