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Best Olive Oil for Tossing, Dipping & Cooking
As you may have guessed from its name, olive oil is a liquid obtained from olives, produced by pressing whole olives and extracting the oil.
Out of all the cooking oils out there, olive oil has the best reputation because of the “good fats” it contains — olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat content which is full of antioxidants and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. Olive oil is also an anti-inflammatory that can help reduce chances of developing conditions like arthritis, and it has even been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
TLDR: We’re not doctors, but if you’ve got an ailment, eating olive oil can probably help you.
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Ok, now you know why you should eat olive oil, but what about how? Not only is olive oil good for you, it tastes pretty damn great too. Olive oil is the most popular type of vegetable oil, and all-around good to use for cooking, both hot and cold food. If you’re cooking at home, odds are you’re using olive oil in something, whether it’s sauteing, pan-frying, or adding to salad dressing and dips.
The 6 Best Olive Oils in 2022
The number of olive oil options on the market can be overwhelming, so we put in the research for you to find out which ones are worth buying. Here are the best Extra Virgin olive oils for various needs to keep in your kitchen.
California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This extra virgin olive oil, made from 100% California olives is our pick for Best Overall. It has a fruity aroma and tastes floral and buttery, but remains balanced. It has flavor, but not an overpowering one, making it versatile enough for everyday use. It’s mild enough to use in pretty much anything you’re going to cook — we like to swirl it to spaghetti, to grill vegetables or for a simple vinaigrette. The folks at California Olive Ranch have made a high-quality olive oil, without the high price tag of many of the other olive oil competitors on the market.
O-Live & Co. Gold Medal Blend
O-Live & Co. makes its EVOO from Chilean olives, which have a fresh, fruit and slightly sweet flavor. Like California Olive Ranch, this is an olive oil that can be used for most types of cooking, but at a lower price point (about $10 cheaper for a similar-sized bottle), O-Live is a better bet for cooking, especially any recipes that call for a large amount of olive oil. If you’re the kind of guy who is environmentally-conscious with how you spend your dollars,this olive olive oil is for. O-Live outwardly promotes being a carbon neutral company that makes an effort to give back to the planet.
Georgia Olive Farms
Fun fact: After California, Georgia is one of the largest U.S. states producing olive oil. Made from Georgia-grown arbequina olive, this EVOO is more expensive for a smaller bottle than some of the others we tried. We suggest this very bright and peppery olive oil for dipping in bread or drizzling on top of dishes rather than for cooking, where the flavor will go to waste.
Blazing Bella Lemon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
There are a lot of infused olive oil options these days, from garlic and chiles to rosemary and sage — but lemon has always been our favorite. Lemon and olive oil just feel like they were meant to be together. If you’re looking for a flavored olive oil, the Blazing Bella Lemon is great for brightening up a salad or drizzling on seafood or poultry, but we don’t recommend it for sauteing or pan-frying.
Zoe Organic Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zoe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cold-pressed from Spanish Cornicabra olives and is blended with other Spanish varieties of olives. The organic EVOO provides a fresh, fruit fragrance and light sweet taste that differs from other more peppery olive oils. Use it drizzled over vegetables in place of butter or on top of homemade hummus. This is one of the few olive oils we reviewed that comes in a can — storing olive oil in a sealed off, dark place is best — so the can helps preserve the olive oil for longer.
Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Don’t judge this olive oil by its packaging, this Kirkland (yes, Costco’s brand) Signature EVOO is the one you’ll want to have on hand at all times. Extremely versatile, this extra virgin olive oil provides the most bang for your buck. The organic olive oil, bottled in Italy with olives from Italy, Portugal and Spain is perfect for everyday use and ideal for cooking. Honestly, it’s better than it has to be. We tip our hats to you, Costco.
Besides the obvious fact that olive oil is made from olives, olive oil differs from vegetable oil in a number of ways. For one, olive oil has more health benefits than products labeled vegetable oil, canola oil and grapeseed oil. It’s high in monounsaturated fats, a.k.a. the “good fats” you keep hearing about.
When it comes to cooking, olive oil has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil due to its lower fat content. Though olive oil is great for cooking many things, the exception is cooking methods that require high-heat searing, such as pan-searing and stir fries. Even the most light flavored olive oil will still have a stronger flavor than vegetable oil, and there are some dishes that the flavor is not ideal for. We also would never want to eat vegetable oil with crusty bread or drizzle on top of salads -- it’s better for cooking.
Olive oil typically lasts for about two years. If you’re not sure if it’s still fresh, smell it. If it’s good, the olive oil will have a fruit or vegetable scent and smell fresh and clean. A rancid olive oil will smell off like a crayon or even old walnuts.
To keep olive oil good for as long as possible, store it in a cool, dark place away from oxygen, light and heat. Glass bottles and cans are preferred over plastic bottles, so make sure to look at what type of bottle it comes in before buying any higher-priced EVOO.
Extra virgin olive oils come from the first, cold pressing of the olives. It’s also less acidic than olive oils from future pressing and has a more balanced flavor. The first pressing also creates stronger flavors that work well for cold dishes where you can taste the EVOO’s distinct flavor (since that’s what you’re paying for). EVOO is more expensive than regular olive oil for that reason as well.