The world of olive oil offers a spectrum of flavors and qualities, but the best olive oils are characterized by their exceptional taste, purity, and health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil, often considered the highest quality, is cold-pressed from freshly harvested olives and boasts a rich, fruity flavor with a peppery finish. These top-tier olive oils not only elevate culinary creations but also contribute to a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, making them a staple in discerning kitchens worldwide.
According to recent research, olive oil consumption has increased over the years — and for good reason. This long-term study also showed that replacing margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with an equivalent amount of olive oil reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. When researchers compared those who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those in the highest consumption category had a 19 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, a 17 percent lower risk of cancer death, a 29 percent lower risk of death from dementia, and an 18 percent lower risk of respiratory disease death.
This is consistent with the plethora of findings published about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, oily fish, and olive oil. Another study examining the blood and urine samples of over 600 elderly people over two decades found that the Mediterranean diet contributed to living a longer life. It has also been implicated in stopping Alzheimer’s disease, preventing frailty in the elderly, promoting healthy aging, and fighting off depression.
Health benefits aside, olive oil offers great flavor in cooking, ranging from roasts to cakes. To help you find the best olive oil, StudyFinds visited 10 expert websites and put together this list of the most-recommended products across these sites. Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Olive Oils, According to Experts
California Olive Ranch is one of the most popular brands due to its emphasis on freshness and transparency with harvesting. “This is because California Olive Ranch is one of the few bigger producers that always note the harvest date,” says The Strategist.
It’s also popular for its beautiful color and mild flavor, making it a great option for versatile and aesthetically pleasing cooking. “Pour a bit of this oil out in a dish for dipping and you’ll see it has a stunning golden hue and a slightly floral aroma. As for the flavor, it’s incredibly versatile,” adds Taste of Home.
According to Tasting Table, “this highly talked-about domestic bottle was the unanimous group favorite. It’s well worth the few extra bucks—throughout the rest of the sampling, we couldn’t stop comparing everything else to this oil’s buttery, almost-creamy smoothness balanced by a floral, peppery kick.”
The taste and texture of this olive oil makes it stand out, but especially when used for dips and vinaigrettes. “This gold-hued oil was buttery and fruity with just a touch of acidity—the perfect balance for creating herbaceous dipping oil or tangy lemon vinaigrette,” says Taste of Home.
It’s a blend from Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, but together the flavors combine for a subtle note. “If you’re the nitpicky person who doesn’t like oils too bitter or too ripely sweet, this is your Goldilocks (literally, golden). The neutral flavor makes it a great basic olive oil to get your pantry started,” adds Tasting Table.
If you’re looking to splurge, Brightland has different flavors that meet your culinary needs. The Awake and Lucid varieties are some of the best-sellers, featuring a robust flavor and a lemony one respectively. “This 100% extra-virgin olive oil is described as ‘bold and robust,’ ideal for ‘roasting, sauteing, soups, stews and bread,” Forbes writes about Awake.
“One of the tell-tale signs of a truly great olive oil is how well it coats a salad and how few ingredients are needed alongside it in a dressing. Brightland’s bestselling Lucid olive oil is a clear winner here. Infused with lemon, this early-harvest oil is zesty and bright, and works as well with fruit and vegetables as it does protein,” adds Women’s Health Magazine.
This olive oil is mild, versatile, and affordable, making it one of the best overall options to add to your grocery list. “It boasts a clean and simple taste, with both fruity and oaky notes, so it’ll bring out the flavor in whatever you’re cooking without overtaking it,” raves Women’s Health Magazine.
It’s great for dipping or drizzling over a salad, but the flavors get brought out more during cooking. “It tasted great on its own but reaches higher highs when used for cooking. Catherine suggests using it to sautee cruciferous veggies like brussels sprouts or broccoli,” writes Taste of Home, including the thoughts of recipe developer Catherine Ward.
Originating from Sicily, this oil is well-balanced and great for neutral cooking. “If you’re in the market for an olive oil you can use liberally, seek out one that balances spiciness and grassiness, as well as citrus and floral notes,” explains Forbes.
Though because of the varying environment depending on when it’s harvested, it may taste differently. “Pianogrillo Farm’s olive oil tastes a bit different year to year depending on the year’s climate and harvest time, but according to Italian-food importer Beatrice Ughi, there is one constant: ‘Because of the soil, it always has the flavor of green tomatoes.’ Ughi likes using it to prepare seafood, but a fruity olive oil can enhance the flavors of everything from white meats to cakes to vegetable dishes, making the last sweeter and more caramelized,” notes The Strategist.
You might also be interested in:
- The Strategist
- Taste of Home
- Women’s Health Magazine
- Tasting Table
- The Spruce Eats
- Food Network
- Good Housekeeping
- Bon Appetit
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.