Of the many cooking oils on the market today, olive is among the most versatile. Often used in European and Mediterranean cuisine, it is highly touted in home and restaurant kitchens around the world, whether it's being used to craft a dressing for salad or pasta, fry, sauté, or bake.
Olive oil has a low smoking point (about 375 to 470 degrees Fahrenheit) so it's best for no-cook uses and low- to medium-heat cooking. That said, it comes in various grades, and the quality differences within each can be significant. Furthermore, while it was once assumed that good olive oil only came from Italy or France, today varieties from Spain, Greece, and California have gained recognition for their unique flavor profiles.
Here, we rounded up the best olive oils for cooking, dipping, shopping on a budget, and more.
California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smooth flavor with herbal notes
Approved by the Olive Oil Commission of California
Available in three sizes
A bit expensive
California Olive Ranch describes its extra virgin olive oil as freshly pressed juice. Unlike light or refined oils, which are made with exposure to high heat, this cold-pressed olive oil is made by crushing fresh olives mechanically.
The "Everyday" blend combines several different types of olives to create a versatile oil that contains herbal, fruity, and grassy notes all in one. And, as the name implies, it’s ideal for everyday sautéing, baking, roasting, and even drizzling over salads, as many customers can attest. If you’re looking for something that tastes a little milder, the "Mild" blend has a less intense, buttery flavor.
All of California Olive Ranch’s oils are certified extra virgin by a third-party lab that tests the chemical and sensory properties of the oil. The extra virgin olive oil is also certified kosher, verified non-GMO, and carries a seal from the Olive Oil Commission of California (OOCC). While some customers say a bottle of this oil is a bit more expensive than some brands they buy from the grocery store, many say it's worth the cost, particularly because of its quality and flavor.
Price at time of publish: $21
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: California, Argentina, Chile, and Portugal | Sizes: 16.9 fluid ounces, 25.4 fluid ounces, 33.8 fluid ounces
"High-quality, fresh EVOO will always burn on the back of the throat—these are the polyphenols you are experiencing. It will always have lots of flavor and aromas and it'll be very thin on the lips. It'll not feel like oil. It should disappear as soon as you swallow and it shouldn’t leave a greasy, lingering taste. If none of these are true, the product you are tasting is either very old or not extra virgin olive oil at all." — Emil Merdzhanov, owner of Georgetown Olive Oil Co.
Best for Dipping
La Tourangelle Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bright, peppery flavor that isn't overpowering
Made from early harvest Picual olives
Harvested and processed in the same day
Design of container could be improved
While you can certainly use it for cooking, the La Tourangelle Extra Virgin Olive Oil really shines when paired with a big piece of fresh crusty bread. That’s why it’s earned the spot of best dipping olive oil. To make the extra virgin olive oil, La Tourangelle harvests Picual olives from Andalucia, Spain, during the early season and cold presses them the same day.
This process creates an oil that has a fresh, bright, and peppery taste with hints of almond, olive leaves, and freshly cut grass. Customers love that its flavor isn't overpowering, though some say the container could use a redesign so that the oil doesn't dribble down the side of it.
The La Tourangelle olive oil is also 100 percent organic and non-GMO verified and the tin container it’s packaged in is BPA-free.
Price at time of publish: $16
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Andalucia, Spain | Size: 16.9 fluid ounces, 25.4 fluid ounces
"The main flavor profiles obviously come from the type of olive that is used to make the oil, much like different grapes are used for different wines. Another factor is climate and soil. Spanish olive oils tend to be a more golden color and have a more earthy, nutty flavor. This is attributed to the seasonal climate with warm, sunny summers and cold, rainy winters. Italian and Greek olive oils tend to be green in color with a more grassy, herbal flavor. California olive oils are more like Spanish, while Chilean and other South American olive oils tend to skew towards the Mediterranean green oils." — Kathy Davis, owner of The Seasoned Olive
Napa Valley Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smooth flavor with fruity notes
Flavor might be too mild for some tastes
Napa Valley may be known for wine, but Napa Valleys Naturals, a brand of Stonewall Kitchen, puts the Northern California region on the map for olive oil, too. While the company started as a roadside produce stand, its operation has expanded throughout the world. Its organic extra virgin olive oil is now made of a blend of regional olives that come from the Mediterranean and present with a smooth buttery flavor mixed with light, fruity notes. Customers love the taste of this olive oil, though one notes that it's a bit mild for her taste. Another says it works great as a salad dressing.
All five of its olive oil sizes, which range from 12.7 ounces to 128 ounces, are packaged in wine bottles, which just makes them feel kind of fancy.
Price at time of publish: $19
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Mediterranean | Size: 12.7 fluid ounces, 16.9 fluid ounces, 25.4 fluid ounces, 50.8 fluid ounces, 128 fluid ounces
"Olive oil tasting is much like wine: 1. Pour it into a small glass stemless glass. 2. Cap it with your palm and swirl the olive oil—this will release the aromas. 3. Put your nose in the glass and inhale deeply. You will be able to smell the different flavor characteristics—green, grassy, fruity, peppery, etc. 4. Then slurp and swallow. You don't have to spit it. If you want to taste like a professional, you shouldn't dip food in it." — Emil Merdzhanov, owner of Georgetown Olive Oil Co.
Best for Cooking
O-Live & Co. Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Light, fruity flavor
Great for dipping
May be too mild for some palates
If you’re looking for the best olive oil for cooking, the O-Live and Co. Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil checks all the boxes. Its flavor profile—which is best described as mild and fruity—is designed to complement any type of cooked dish. Customers praise that its mild flavor doesn't have a bitter aftertaste, saying it works equally well for drizzling and cooking. The olive oil comes from Chile and exceeds the purity standards set by the International Olive Oil Council.
In addition to their regular Everyday olive oil, O-Live and Co. also offers a certified organic option. And if you prefer a more intense, peppery olive oil over a fruity one, O-Live and Co. has your back with its "Robust" extra virgin olive oil.
Price at time of publish: $15
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Mechanical extraction | Origin: Chile | Size: 16.9 fluid ounces, 25 fluid ounces, 33 fluid ounces, 66 fluid ounces, 169 fluid ounces
"People are always surprised when I tell them that I use it to fry. The key is to fry at low temperature. That’s the Mediterranean way. You can fry eggs, potatoes, zucchini, chicken, fish, cheese, pretty much anything in olive oil and you will never go back to using anything else after you do that. Nowadays you can use an air fryer to fry a lot of foods. Just marinate your food with good extra virgin olive oil and put it in the air fryer." — Dimitrios Komninos, Owner of Dimitri Olive Farms
TRUFF Black Truffle Oil
Prominent truffle flavor shines through the olive oil
Versatile way to elevate many dishes
Truffles can be a polarizing flavor that isn’t for everyone
If you’re a fan of truffles, this truffle-infused oil by TRUFF is a treat you will want to have on hand in your pantry. This oil is "a delicate blend of olive oil and real black winter truffle," according to the brand. It’s the perfect oil to dress up virtually anything, whether you’re having a casual meal alone or entertaining.
Not sure how to use it? TRUFF recommends using it on meals like "pasta, pizza, roasted chicken, salads, fresh cheeses, drizzled over soup, tossed with popcorn, stirred into creamy risottos and hearty morning scrambles"—but the limit does not exist. There are no artificial flavors, and they specifically use a very neutral olive oil to ensure the truffle flavor is pronounced. The oil is all-natural, non-GMO, trans fat-free, cholesterol-free, sugar-free, sodium-free, and gluten-free. The sleek, luxe packaging also makes this a great gifting option for any foodie friends or family. If you want the complete collection, TRUFF also makes a White Truffle Oil.
Price at time of publish: $20
Grade: Not listed | Processing: Not listed | Origin: Not listed | Size: 6 fluid ounces
Heat, light, and air all affect olive oil. Olive oil is best stored in sealable metal tins or dark glass bottles to protect the oil from the light. These darkened containers should then be kept away from light and heat.
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Great quality for the price
Comes in three other flavor profiles
Oil is a blend from many sources
Good olive oil doesn’t have to come at a high price, and Filippo Berio’s extra virgin olive oil proves that. For a very budget-friendly price, you can get 25.3 ounces of extra virgin olive oil that’s made in Italy from a combination of olive varieties from Italy, Spain, Greece, and Tunisia. The result is a robust rich-tasting olive oil that’s ideal for cooking, dressing, and marinades. Several customers who typically buy more expensive oils say it's a worthwhile purchase due to its quality and versatility.
In addition to getting olive oil at a great price, you also get some additional options. If you’re looking for different flavor profiles, you can opt for the Robusto, which has a peppery finish, the 100% Italian, which is light and fruity with a spicy finish, or the California, which combines a delicate balance of fruity and peppery.
Price at time of publish: $44
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Italy, Spain, Greece, and Tunisia | Size: 8.4 fluid ounces, 25.3 fluid ounces, 50.7 fluid ounces
Best Bulk Buy
Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smooth flavor profile
Made from organic Koroneiki olives
Inexpensive per ounce cost
See-through plastic packaging exposes oil to light
You may know Bragg from its wildly popular raw apple cider vinegar, but its commitment to quality extends to olive oil, too. Bragg makes its extra virgin olive by cold-pressing organic Koroneiki olives cultivated from Greek orchards. Customers rave about this oil's smooth flavor profile, which is ideal for all applications including light sautéing and drizzling as a finishing oil.
Although you can get smaller sizes, its gallon (128-ounce) jug is one of the best bangs for your buck. While there are other, less expensive oils on the market, this one is a USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, and certified kosher oil at an excellent price of less than 50 cents per ounce.
Price at time of publish: $60
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Greece | Size: 32 fluid ounces, 128 fluid ounces
Best Gift Set
Williams Sonoma Infused Olive Oil Gift Set
Variety of flavors
Small bottle size
Olive oil is the perfect gift for so many occasions, whether it be a birthday, housewarming gift, wedding shower gift—you name it. It’s always beneficial to have olive oil on hand in your kitchen for cooking and finishing dishes, and the benefit to gift sets is that you get to try a variety of different flavors that can complement a wide range of different meals and flavor profiles.
We like the flexibility this Williams Sonoma gift set offers. With four different extra-virgin bottles, you get high-quality California olive oil infused with blood orange, roasted garlic, basil, and white truffle. Each bottle is 3.4 ounces, and they come boxed together in a gift-worthy, secure, divided box.
Price at time of publish: $40
Grade: Extra virgin | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: California | Size: 3.4 fluid ounces
Best for Baking
365 by Whole Foods Market Oil Olive Extra Virgin Mediterranean Blend
Versatile enough to use for baking and cooking
Some may find it too fragrant
Olive oil is not the most common oil used when it comes to baking; far more often, recipes will call for neutral-tasting canola or vegetable oils (or butter). But, once in a while, there may be an occasion in which you’ll reach for that olive oil—specifically if you’re making an olive oil cake, which is a rich, dense cake infused with aromatic, fragrant olive oil. Because so many other ingredients are used in cakes, there really isn’t a need to break the bank with a top-dollar, super high-quality finishing olive oil here; but, on the flip side, you still want a quality oil with a pronounced enough flavor that it’ll shine through.
For that reason, we’re recommending the 365 Whole Foods Mediterranean Blend Olive Oil. It’s reasonably priced, comes in a large bottle (usually you need a substantial amount, more than just a tablespoon or two), and still offers that classic depth of flavor you would want in your baked goods. For some olive oil may be too fragrant, but it is versatile enough to use as a generic olive oil for all your other cooking needs.
Price at time of publish: $8
Grade: Not listed | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Varies (Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Morocco) | Size: 33.8 fluid ounces
”Fresh extra virgin olive oils can taste very different depending on the origin and the variety of olive used to produce it. The two main flavor profiles that almost everyone can distinguish are 1) Fruity/Sweet (like the banana peel, green apple, ripe tomato) and 2) Green/Grassy (wheatgrass, green tea leaf, mint, and herbs)." — Emil Merdzhanov, owner of Georgetown Olive Oil Co.
Best for Salads
Sky Organics USDA Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Versatile; good for salads but also for cooking needs
Oil is key when it comes to a good salad; it is the basis for most dressings and is therefore one of the sole ways you can season a salad. When it comes to selecting oils for salads, you want to pick an aromatic, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, since the oil is not being cooked (no heat will be applied) and the oil’s flavor will fully shine through and not degrade. We love this organic extra virgin olive oil from Sky Organics, which is made in Greece and sourced from small, organic farmers.
Although it shines in salad dressings, you can also use it for any other culinary purposes in your kitchen—sautéing, pan-frying, you name it. This non-GMO, cold-pressed oil is also unfiltered, so all of the "olive oil’s beneficial nutrients and vitamins are preserved," according to the manufacturer. There are even non-culinary purposes for this oil if you enjoy making DIY skin and hair formulations—it’s a "great carrier oil base for your favorite DIY hair and skin products," according to the manufacturer.
Price at time of publish: $11
Grade: Not listed | Processing: Cold-pressed | Origin: Greece | Size: 16.9 fluid ounces
If you’re looking for olive oil that covers all the bases, look no further than the California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you're looking for the perfect gift set, pick up the Williams Sonoma Infused Olive Oil Gift Set.
What to Look for When Buying Olive Oil
There are three edible grades of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin, and refined. Extra virgin has no more than 0.8 percent acidity and virgin olive oil has an acidity of 2 percent or less. While refined olive oils have the lowest acidity level—less than 0.3 percent—they’re oils that are almost clear, odorless, and flavorless.
When it comes to taste, extra virgin olive oils are considered the best choice, but they’re also more expensive than refined oils.
There are different types of processing involved in the extraction of oils. Extra virgin olive oil is only made through mechanical or hand-pressing, while refined oils may be exposed to heat or chemical solvents. Cold-pressing, which is a type of mechanical processing that’s similar to chewing—a machine masticates the olives until oil is made—is generally considered the gold standard.
Extra virgin and virgin olive oils are sensitive to light. If exposed to bright lights, the fats can oxidize and the oil can go rancid. When choosing an olive oil, look for one in a dark bottle that blocks light. You shouldn’t be able to see the color of the olive oil through the bottle. This ensures that the oil is protected.
Cooking Uses for Olive Oil
By Molly Watson
When you go to the trouble and expense of buying high-quality olive oil, use it where it can shine: to dress salads and drizzle on dishes. Lesser-quality olive oil can make good cooking oil.
While olive oil gets used in scads of recipes, here are a few where the flavor and even the unique texture of olive oil play an important role:
- Marinated baby artichokes are cooked in a vinegar bath before being "cured" in jars of olive oil
- Smoked paprika soup and fava bean soup both get a hit of flavor and soothing smoothness from a swirl of olive oil as a garnish
- Skordalia is a mixture of potato, almond, and olive oil used as a dip or a spread and full of olive oil flavor
- Aïoli is a garlicky homemade mayonnaise made primarily from olive oil
- Spanish gazpacho depends on olive oil to soften the acidic edge of tomatoes
Tasting and Storing Tips
How to Taste Olive Oil
Professionals taste olive oil plain, from a spoon or small cup. They smell it first, noting aromas before tasting it. They then sip the oil and let it coat their mouths, noting levels of acid, pungency, and fruitiness.
At home, feel free to taste olive oil by dipping a piece of plain white bread into the oil (baguette or ciabatta works well) or do as the professionals do and simply slurp it plain. If it's turned rancid, it will have a sharp bite that isn't the desired pungency. It will make your mouth pucker instead of the kick to the back of your throat that more pungent olive oils tend to have.
How is olive oil made?
Olive oil is made through a combination of crushing and mechanical extraction. Olives are harvested from trees and then brought to a mill, where leaves and stems are removed from the fruit. Once the fruit is isolated, it’s washed and then crushed into a paste, usually with stainless steel rollers. From there, the paste is stirred for up to 40 minutes and then sent through a centrifuge that separates the oil from the solid pieces. The process is similar to how cold-pressed juice (and yes, olives are a fruit) is made.
At this point, the oil may be bleached or refined, but if it undergoes any heat or chemical processing, it’s no longer extra virgin olive oil.
How long does olive oil last?
Olive oil is technically a perishable item that has a shelf life of 4 to 24 months, depending on the type of oil. Extra virgin oils go bad more quickly than virgin or refined oils. If the olive oil is in a clear bottle, or exposed to bright light, it spoils the olive oil, causing it to go rancid sooner.
Can you fry with olive oil?
Many people think you can’t cook or fry with olive oil, but you can, as long as you make sure you’re keeping the temperature in the right range. Olive oil has a smoke point—the point at which it will burn and smoke—of 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. When you fry food, the temperature of the oil should stay between 350 degrees Fahrenheit and 375 degrees Fahrenheit, so olive oil would be suitable for the job.
Can you substitute olive oil for vegetable oil?
You can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in most cases, but you may not want to. Vegetable oil is mostly flavorless, while extra virgin olive oil has a strong, distinct taste. While this taste lends well to most savory dishes, it can overpower or clash with the flavors in baked goods, like cakes or brownies.
Which olive oil is the most pure?
Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined olive oil that’s the highest quality you can buy. In order to be classified as extra virgin, the olive oil must have no more than 0.8 percent acidity. The extra virgin label also means that it’s free of defects in odor and flavor and that no chemicals or heat have been used in its processing. All extra virgin olive oil is mechanically pressed or cold-pressed.
How We Researched
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best olive oils on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like grade, origin, and price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Lindsay Boyers is a certified holistic nutritionist with extensive nutrition knowledge and cooking experience. She’s developed over 1,000 original recipes and is constantly on a mission to find the best tasting foods and beverages at the best prices.
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews. She updated this story to include the most up-to-date information.
- Emil Merdzhanov, owner of Georgetown Olive Oil Co.
- Dimitrios Komninos, Owner of Dimitri Olive Farms
- Kathy Davis, owner of The Seasoned Olive
United States Department of Agriculture. Deep Fat Frying and Food Safety.
United States Department of Agriculture. Quality monitoring program expands to olive oil. Food and Nutrition.
Food and Drug Administration. How GMOs are regulated for food and plant safety in the United States.
United States Department of Agriculture. Labeling organic products.
Sanmartin C, Venturi F, Sgherri C, et al. The effects of packaging and storage temperature on the shelf-life of extra virgin olive oil. Heliyon. 2018;4(11):e00888. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00888
United States Department of Agriculture. Grades of Olive Oil.
United States Department of Agriculture. What is the expiration date for cooking oil?.