Why You Need Two (Yes, Two) Bottles of Olive Oil

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

After living in Italy for a bit, I quickly became enamored of olive oil. I have two bottles in my pantry that I reach for every single night. My constant use is a case for moving back to Italy, buying an olive farm, and making my own supply just to support the habit.

Because that’s not happening anytime soon, I’ll continue to lean on my local grocers to supply it for me, and I’ll continue to always have two bottles. While I am a minimalist in most regards, I feel strongly that one olive oil is not enough.

I have my large bottle of everyday cooking oil (this is my favorite), which never breaks the bank and gets swirled into hot pans, tossed with roasted vegetables, and baked into cakes. My second bottle is smaller and a splurge, used for dunking bread and finishing salads, soups, and more. It’s something I firmly believe should be in your pantry too.

My Everyday Olive Oil: California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, $15 for 16.9 ounces

Why You Should Splurge on a Bottle of Very Good Olive Oil

A high-quality bottle of olive oil, more often found at a speciality store than your everyday grocery store, is the quickest way to elevate just about any dish that comes out of your kitchen. I never cook with this oil, as its delicate flavors and aromas will be lost when heated, but I instead use it as a finishing oil.

Finishing a dish with just a touch of olive oil that’s intensely aromatic, as high-quality oils are, brings grassy, nutty, peppery notes to it and adds richness, even if it’s something as simple as an arugula salad. You just need a drizzle to enhance a dish, which means a splurgy bottle will actually last you quite a long time.

7 Fast & Fancy Ways to Use a Bottle of Finishing Olive Oil

  • Drizzle it over simple greens with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper for the most basic and yet satisfying side salad.
  • Pour a little over a bowl of soup before serving to make it taste richer.
  • Finish a serving of risotto or pasta with it just to gild the lily.
  • Pour a little on a plate next to crusty bread when dinner is light and you’re craving something unfussy to round out the meal.
  • Drizzle it over scrambled, fried, or poached eggs for a more luxurious breakfast.
  • Finish a simple piece of grilled fish, chicken, steak, or even vegetables with it and forgo fussy sauces.
  • Make a dinner party-worthy dessert of vanilla ice cream finished with a little olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Where to Find High-Quality Olive Oil

While grocery stores like Whole Foods often carry a range of great olive oils, your best bet it to make a trip to a speciality store. Eataly and Dean & Deluca are two options with a great selection, or any other local market that sells high-quality provisions should have some A-plus options. The employees should also be able to guide you in selecting an oil that meets your taste, as no two oils are alike — some are more grassy, while others are extra peppery. Amazon also has a bunch of good olive oils.

5 Great Olive Oils to Try

Do you use a finishing oil in your cooking?

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