I Tried More than 30 Bottles of Olive Oil from the Grocery Store — These Are the Ones I’ll Buy Again
I’ve mindfully tasted fancy olive oils before (and have been floored by a few), but if someone were to ask me which grocery-store brand of olive oil I trust most, I wouldn’t have had an answer. For something so elemental and precious, I sort of just blindly consumed it in glugs and drizzles. That is, until now.
After shopping for more than 30 bottles of that liquid gold, I learned just how many variations there are available in everyday grocery stores. Take a look next time you shop, you’ll probably be shocked at the selection. I also noticed label trends that translated to vastly different flavors and textures once I put the oils to the test.
Besides feeling pretty greasy after the samplings, I am now far more confident in the oil aisle, and know what to seek out when shopping. The winners really did wow me! The good news is there are a lot of “bests,” so I can find a great option no matter where I’m shopping. These are the best olive oils that I found in mainstream grocery stores — plus a few special picks.
How I Tested the Olive Oils
Of the many bottles I gathered, I noted country of origin and processing method (cold-pressed, cold-extracted, or “processing unknown”). All of those factors made a difference in how each oil tasted. I also wanted to make sure I was choosing a winner for flavor not out of tastebud fatigue, so I enlisted my family members to double-blind test.
Professional tasters like to bury their noses in special vessels, and rinse their mouths with oil, swishing like sommeliers. It’s quite a show and, surprisingly, color is no indication of quality. I did by best to mimic the swishing and did pretty well until around oil #16, when my stomach was like, get out of town. After that, I decided that simply dipping a piece of a plain baguette in each sample was a better choice.
The Best Grocery Store Olive Oils
1. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil First Cold Pressed Premium World Selection, 100% Spanish
This oil is invigorating and very full-bodied. The viscosity is gooey but splashy, like liquid honey, and the flavor really flowered in my mouth. I tasted notes of pink peppercorn, and, oh right, OLIVES. This oil also has a bit of bitterness — like a good gin — and would make for an excellent salad dressing.
Buy: Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil First Cold Pressed Premium World Selection, 100% Spanish, $19.06 for 25.5 fluid ounces
2. Premium Greek Athena Exclusive Cold Extracted Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Premium Greek Athena Exclusive Cold Extracted Extra Virgin Olive Oil is super rich, with a thick texture (think: gravy). My palate exploded with flavors of green banana and fresh artichoke. I really loved the complexity of bitter green and fruity notes. I want to marinate some feta and finish summer soups with this. It would also be divine drizzled on scrambled eggs, ripe tomato, and toast.
More info: Premium Greek Athena Exclusive Cold Extracted Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $11.99 for 16.9 fluid ounces at Whole Foods
3. Basso Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Basso Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is so grassy! And by that I mean it tastes like a freshly-cut lawn (in a good way). Upon sniffing, this reminded me of the smell of sliced uncooked eggplant and tasted slightly more delicate than Athena. It was distinct, but super approachable — perfect for a casual caprese salad on the patio.
Buy: Basso Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $9.99 for 500 mL at AsianMart
4. Rosilini First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This bottle stood out because it tastes kalamata-y. (Olive-lovers, do you read me?) I’d roast garlic cloves in a few glugs of this and smear it on bread, or add it to pasta, or roast veggies and potatoes with it. Basically, this would be amazing with any food that you’d like to “warm up.”
Buy: Rosilini First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $6.29 for 34 fluid ounces at Mercato
5. Pompeian First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robust
Take note: There is nothing bad about a blend. This one in particular has the spiciness of Spanish olive oil, the green-ness of Greek olive oil, and, like the label says, an overall robust olive essence. Plus, the groves are farmer-owned. The bottle is plastic, so it doesn’t have the same heft of other bottles, but the oil inside still tasted very fresh.
Buy: Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil Robust, $7.98 for 32 fluid ounces
6. California Olive Ranch 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A lot of olive oils I tested and loved were full of character and a distinct olive-ness, but this one has something different going for it — a well-rounded levity. The green notes on this brand are more floral and fresh and the texture is lighter than others, but still has substance. This is a bottle I’d want to cook everything with, without having to think too hard about whether it’ll overwhelm the other flavors of my food.
Buy: California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $14.99 for 750 mL at Target
The Best Fancy Finishing Olive Oil: Brightland
Yes, this was a taste test of olive oil you can buy at grocery stores, but I’d be remiss not to mention this direct-to-consumer option that Kitchn editors recommend time and time again: Brightland. As the price tag suggests, I recommend using these high-quality olive oils a bit more sparingly for fancy drizzling and other “finishing” touches. You can’t go wrong with either of the brand’s core olive oils: Awake and Alive.
Buy: The Duo (Alive and Awake), $74 for two 12.7 bottles
The Best Truffle-Infused Olive Oil: Truff
Another special-order option, but hear us out: It’s infused with black truffles! If you’re Team Truffle, this stuff is a must. It’s just the right amount of truffle. Just a hint. Nothing too overpowering. The olive oil itself is smooth and buttery, and the truffle shows itself at the end. Pour some on top of a pile of mac and cheese, a tray of french fries, a bowl of popcorn, or a plate of scrambled eggs.
Buy: Black Truffle Oil, $24.88 for 6 ounces at Truff
What I Learned
- If the brand cares enough to put its oil in a dark glass bottle, that’s just one more level of attention to handling. The olive oil is probably going to taste better because of it.
- Cold-pressed and cold-extracted olive oils taste better than mysteriously processed ones.
- It’s fun to compare olive oils from different regions! As to be expected, each has a super-different flavor profile.
- “Best by” date is very important. Most extra virgin olive oils will stay fresh up to two years after packaging and two months after you open the bottle. That means that purchasing that giant gallon tin is smart if you want to save money (and use a ton of oil), but, the oil won’t be fresh if you don’t use it all up within two months. Olive oil is fruit juice, after all.
Did your go-to olive oil make the cut?