The Best Olive Oil You Will Find on the Shelves in 2023

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on October 30, 2023

Olive oil is a staple in kitchens worldwide, as well as on televisions. More than just a cooking ingredient, it is a testament to tradition, health, and gastronomy. The liquid gold, cherished for centuries, has woven its way through history, marking its presence in ancient rituals, medicinal remedies, and, most importantly, at the heart of culinary arts. Each bottle holds a story, a flavor profile as diverse as its origins, and the potential to transform a simple meal into a gourmet experience.

In this article, we’ll embark on a journey exploring the depths of olive oil – from its rich history and production process to the myriad health benefits it offers. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious food enthusiast, understanding the nuances will elevate your cooking and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. There are also some of our favorite choices that you can bring into your kitchen to punch up flavor and health in your dishes.

Brief History of Olive Oil

Olive oil’s story begins in the cradle of civilization, where it was not only a food source but a symbol of cultural and religious significance. Ancient Greeks anointed athletes and royals with olive oil, while Romans used it for culinary and medicinal purposes. This reverence spread across the Mediterranean, making it a cornerstone in regional diets, a trend that continues to this day.

Types of Olive Oil

Olive oil comes in various types, each with its unique characteristics and culinary applications. Understanding these differences is key to selecting the right oil for your needs.

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO): This is the crème de la crème. Produced from the first cold-pressing of olives, EVOO has the highest quality standards, including an acidity level below 0.8%. Its flavor ranges from fruity and peppery to grassy and herbaceous, making it perfect for dressings, dips, and drizzling over dishes.
  2. Virgin Olive Oil: Slightly less refined than EVOO, virgin olive oil also comes from the first pressing but has a slightly higher acidity level, up to 2%. It maintains a good flavor profile, making it suitable for cooking and baking.
  3. Pure or Light Olive Oil: Contrary to what the name might suggest, “light” refers to the oil’s lighter color and flavor, not a reduced calorie content. These oils are a blend of refined olive oils and a small percentage of virgin or extra virgin oils. They have a neutral taste and higher smoke point, ideal for frying and sautéing.
  4. Refined Olive Oil: This oil is made by refining lower-quality olive oils to neutralize strong tastes and acid content. It lacks the distinct flavors found in virgin oils but is a versatile cooking oil due to its higher smoke point.
  5. Olive Pomace Oil: The lowest quality of olive oils, pomace oil is extracted from the olive pulp after the first pressings. It’s mainly used for high-temperature cooking.

Additionally, the region where olives are grown plays a crucial role in the oil’s flavor profile. Each type of olive oil offers a unique window into the culinary traditions and natural environments of their regions, making them not just cooking ingredients but storytellers of the lands from which they hail.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil isn’t just a culinary delight; it’s a powerhouse of health benefits. Integrating it into your diet can have profound effects on your overall health.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, which have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Regular consumption can improve blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Extra virgin olive oil is also loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and polyphenols. These compounds fight oxidative stress and combat inflammation, which is key in preventing chronic diseases. Some studies even suggest that it, particularly extra virgin, can have positive effects on brain health, potentially lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, olive oil contains oleocanthal, a compound with anti-inflammatory effects similar to ibuprofen. For those with digestion issues, its protective effects on the stomach lining make it a gentle choice for those with acid reflux or ulcers.

Moreover, contrary to the myth that fats lead to weight gain, olive oil, with its healthy fats, can be a part of a balanced diet and may aid in weight management. That being said, while it is incredibly healthy, it is also high in calories, so moderation is key.

Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil tops the list because it brings a full-bodied taste to any dish. This oil, first cold pressed from high-quality olives, has a rich and robust flavor profile that’s perfect for more than just cooking in a skillet. It can elevate salads and marinades or be drizzled over your favorite dishes. Its hearty taste can transform the ordinary meal into something much more memorable.

Going beyond taste (even if that is the most important part), this oil is also a commitment to health, being gluten-free, non-allergenic, and non-GMO verified. The North American Olive Oil Association’s certification for authenticity is a testament to its purity and quality, making it a trusty companion for your culinary explorations. It’s also available on shelves everywhere.

PROS

  • Full-Bodied Robust Taste
  • 100% Farmer Crafted
  • Health-Conscious Choice
  • Wide Availability

CONS

  • May Overpower Delicate Dishes
  • Lacks Complexity

Tastefully Olive Garlic Infused Olive Oil

Tastefully Olive Garlic Infused Olive Oil goes beyond pure olive oil (though that is its foundation). But it goes beyond that, blending the rich, aromatic qualities of freshly crushed garlic with the finest early-harvest Greek Koroneiki EVOO. The infusion of garlic elevates this oil, making it perfect for a wide range of dishes.

The oil is fantastic for use with various dishes, such as pizza crusts, enhancing the flavor with the added garlic. The use of high-quality Greek olive oil as the base ensures a smooth, rich texture, making it as good as any other product on the market. Tastefully Olive has an assortment of infusions to try that ensure you can get a unique flavor to take your cooking to the next level.

PROS

  • Rich Garlic Infusion
  • Versatile Cooking Use
  • High-Quality

CONS

  • Specific Flavor Profile
  • Limited Pairing Options

Graza “Sizzle” Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you are looking for an olive oil that can handle high temps (not its usual strong point), then Graza’s “Sizzle” Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a game-changer. Made from mid-harvest Picual olives, known for their stability and mellow flavor, it’s perfect for everyday culinary adventures. The oil’s versatility shines in its ability to enhance a wide range of recipes.

Sizzle is also notable for its innovative packaging – it comes in a BPA-free squeeze bottle, making it incredibly user-friendly and precise for cooking. But it is not just about convenience, also promoting a more controlled and waste-free use. Plus, being sourced from mature olives in Jaen, Spain, Sizzle boasts a high polyphenol content, contributing to both its health benefits and longer shelf life.

PROS

  • High Heat Stability
  • Versatile Use
  • Innovative Squeeze Bottle

CONS

  • Mellow Flavor Limitation
  • Limited Seasonal Harvest

Desert Miracle Cold Pressed Moroccan Olive Oil

From a challenging terrain to kitchens everywhere, Desert Miracle’s Cold Pressed Moroccan Olive Oil has an extraordinary journey. The olive trees endure extreme temperature fluctuations and scarce water, conditions that compel them to produce high levels of antioxidants. This struggle results in a product rich in polyphenols, offering not just flavor but significant health benefits not found in all olive oils.

This olive oil is organic and is first cold-pressed, ensuring the preservation of natural flavors and nutrients. It is a premium product with a desert origin, and if you are looking to take your olive oil game to the next level, this is a great choice.

PROS

  • High in Antioxidants
  • First Cold-Pressed
  • Unique Desert Origin

CONS

  • Limited Production
  • Slightly pricey

Atlas Organic Cold Pressed Moroccan Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Another great Moroccan product, Atlas Organic Cold Pressed Moroccan Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cultivated in the unique climate of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. It boasts a rare combination of flavors, ranging from sweet bananas to aromatic herbs and almonds. While it might not be the ideal flavor for every dish, it is a fantastic and unique product.

This olive oil is a product of single pressing, which maximizes its health benefits while preserving the delicate flavors. It also embodies sustainable and ethical farming practices, ensuring that each bottle is as good for the planet as it is for your palate.

PROS

  • Unique Flavor Profile
  • Single Pressed for Quality
  • Ethically Produced

CONS

  • Flavor Not Suitable for Every Dish

Pamako Ultra-Premium Organic Olive Oil

Pamako Ultra-Premium Organic Olive Oil stands out in the world of culinary oils. Awarded for its high phenolic content, it’s not just an ingredient but a touch of wellness in every bottle. Derived from Greece, it holds the distinction of being one of the healthiest olive oils globally from 2016 to 2021. Though, the health benefits come at a high cost.

Aside from the greater health benefits compared to the average olive oil, the taste is spectacular. It has a smooth texture and rich flavor that ensures every dish is elevated. Whether you want the health benefits or the taste, you cannot go wrong. Just be prepared to pay a premium.

PROS

  • High in Antioxidants
  • Rich, Robust Flavor
  • Focused on Health

CONS

  • Very Expensive
  • Limited Quantity

Whole Foods Extra Virgin Mediterranean Olive Oil

If you are looking for something for cooking, Whole Foods’ Extra Virgin Mediterranean Olive Oil is a great choice. Its mild flavor allows it to be used in almost any capacity, though that also dulls the flavor profile compared to other options. However, the olive oil is very pure, being free from over 100 prohibited ingredients.

This olive oil is ideal for those who seek a reliable and inexpensive product. Plus, you can rest assured of stringent quality standards. It is also an Amazon product and on Whole Foods shelves everywhere, so you will always be able to find it.

PROS

  • Great for Cooking
  • Budget-Friendly

CONS

  • Average Quality and Taste

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil has 150 years of dedication behind it. Each bottle contains high-quality olive oil, and it is known for its well-balanced, rich taste. The flavor is fresh and subtly fragrant, embodying the essence of the olives used. Though, it can be a bit overbearing when used with lighter ingredients or in light dishes.

Still, this olive oil is a versatile choice, which can be used for things like dressings, sauces, and marinades. Rich in important nutrients like unsaturated fats and antioxidants, it’s free from gluten, GMOs, sugar, and sodium. It is even Kosher Certified.

PROS

  • Rich, Balanced Flavor
  • Health-Conscious Choice

CONS

  • Can Be Overbearing

How to Choose the Right Olive Oil

With so many varieties and labels, choosing the right olive oil can be overwhelming. Here’s a guide to help you navigate your options and pick the oil best suited for your culinary endeavors.

  1. Understanding Flavor Profiles: Olive oils can range from mild and buttery to robust and peppery. The flavor should complement the dish you’re preparing. For salads and to finish dishes, a more flavorful extra virgin olive oil is ideal, while for cooking, a lighter olive oil may be more suitable.
  2. Checking Acidity Levels: Lower acidity is a hallmark of higher quality, particularly in extra virgin olive oils. Look for oils with less than 0.8% acidity for the best flavor and health benefits.
  3. The Importance of Freshness – Harvest Date: Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age. Look for a harvest date on the bottle and aim to use it within a year of this date. Fresh olive oil offers the best flavor and nutritional properties.
  4. Packaging Matters: Light and heat can degrade olive oil, so it’s best to choose oils in dark glass bottles or tin containers. Also, consider the size – buy quantities that you will use within a couple of months after opening.
  5. Price as an Indicator of Quality: While price isn’t always a direct reflection of quality, artisanal, high-quality extra virgin olive oils are generally more expensive due to the careful methods of production.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types and brands. Olive oil tasting can be as sophisticated as wine tasting, offering a delightful exploration of flavors and aromas.

Pairing Olive Oil with Food

The art of pairing olive oil with food is akin to selecting the perfect wine for a meal. The right olive oil can elevate a dish, enhancing its flavors and adding a new dimension to its taste profile.

  1. Pairing by Intensity: Match the intensity of the olive oil with the intensity of the dish. Robust, peppery olive oils go well with strong-flavored dishes like grilled meats or spicy salads, while delicate oils complement lighter dishes such as fish, chicken, or spring vegetables.
  2. Salads and Dressings: Extra virgin olive oil, with its varied flavor profiles, is perfect for salad dressings. A citrusy, herbaceous olive oil can brighten up green salads, while a richer, more robust oil can stand up to heartier salad ingredients like beans or roasted vegetables.
  3. Cooking and Sautéing: For cooking, choose a pure or light olive oil. These oils have a higher smoke point, making them more stable and suitable for sautéing, frying, or baking.
  4. Dipping and Drizzling: The best way to enjoy the full flavor of extra virgin olive oil is to use it for dipping bread or drizzling over finished dishes. A high-quality EVOO can transform a simple dish of pasta, grilled vegetables, or even ice cream into a gourmet experience.
  5. Marinades and Sauces: Olive oil is an excellent base for marinades and sauces. Its flavor can enhance herbs and spices, infusing the food with depth and richness.
  6. Regional Pairings: Consider the cuisine’s origin for a harmonious pairing. Use a Spanish olive oil for paella, an Italian oil for pasta dishes, or a Greek oil for a classic Greek salad.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pairings. The diversity of olive oils available means there’s always a new flavor combination to discover, enhancing your culinary repertoire.

The Essence of Olive Oil in Your Kitchen

The world of olive oil is diverse with rich variety, each with unique flavors and suited for different culinary uses. Its many health benefits, from heart health to anti-inflammatory properties, also make it a great choice for a nutritious diet.

Whether you’re dressing a salad, cooking your favorite dish, or exploring its role in various diets, each type of olive oil we’ve discussed brings its own story and character to your meals. We encourage you to explore some of the exquisite olive oils featured in our list. Let them not only enhance the flavor of your dishes but also infuse your cooking with the essence of the regions they hail from. Embrace the versatility and richness of olive oil, and let it inspire your culinary adventures!

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By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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