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Which Country Has The Best Olive Oil
Pouring good olive oil over perfectly ripe tomatoes and baking them with a slice of bread is one of summer’s greatest joys. But that moment will pass quickly if the oil you use is worthless.
Hill Country Fare Classic Olive Oil
Among the dazzling array of olive oil brands at your local supermarket, we wanted to find the ones that are actually worth buying. Many bottles sit on store shelves longer than they should, the oil is cut before its prime or with inferior oil.
After researching more than 40 bottles of oil and speaking with a trained olive oil taster who helped us define our criteria, we tested 15 olive oils available in national chain stores across the country. We focused on those stamped with harvest dates, which is the most reliable way to ensure your oil is fresh.
Our goal was to find the best everyday extra virgin olive oil that can be used for cooking (which is great for EVOO), but also for salad dressings and bread dipping. Here are the ones that emerged in our tests.
Fragrant and grassy, this oil has plenty of sharpness and a sharp bitterness that our testers enjoyed. It goes well with roasted vegetables, bread and pasta.
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All of our panelists agreed that Graza Sizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 59¢ per ounce), which smells like fresh, living tomato plants, was the best oil we tested. One taster detected a bright, sharp green apple aroma, noting, “It’s quite aromatic, which makes me excited to taste it.”
This oil starts with a light caramel flavor, but a bitter spice blossoms, followed by a pleasant spice. We all enjoyed the grassy flavor, which one participant said gave him “summer vegetable garden vibes.” The oil was rich but not too oily. One tester noted, “The way my tongue reacts reminds me of a good mache—there’s that sharpness and then the long finish.”
The oil wasn’t as fruity or flavorfully bitter as we tasted, but it had a nice nutty and grassy aroma with a distinct, peppery finish and a loose texture.
Cobram Estate California Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 90¢ per ounce) had a nice grassy, nutty aroma, but wasn’t as pungent as other oils we tried. I thought it smelled like a freshly cut haystack in the sun. Others detect notes of green apple, mint, citrus and evergreen leaves. Its bitterness was milder than other oils we tasted, but it had a spicy, peppery finish. We enjoyed the woody, grassy flavor and mild melon flavor.
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One tester wrote: “This is the ‘juiciest’ of all the oils we’ve tried. It has a very light, silky consistency, which is refreshing.” Overall, we find this a subtle, well-balanced oil, bordering on wonderful. Cobram Estate was also the only oil brand we tried with bottles that have built-in spouts that pop out when you unscrew the cap, which is a neat thing.
This oil is grassy like our choices from Cobram Estate and Graze, but smells more floral and has a thicker, more buttery texture. It also has a nice peppery note.
Bertoli Extra Virgin Olive Oil Rich Flavor (about 36¢ per ounce) had the most pronounced grassy and peppery notes of any olive oil. Several testers smelled gasoline at first, but that gave way to tropical fruit aromas, including guava, on later puffs. One of us thought it smelled strongly of tomatoes under the basil.
We all agreed that this oil is one of the more complex oils we have tried. “This is how I imagine olive oil should taste,” said one tester. The oil had lively notes of tomato and artichoke, with a sharp bitterness and some lingering pull. The mouthfeel was greasy and buttery, but the aftertaste was clean and pleasant, and there was a satisfying, sharp spice, a good sign of freshness. It would be a good oil to eat with bread.
Polyphenol Rich Olive Oil
Note: This oil is a global blend, meaning olives come from all over the world. In the bottle we tried first, olives from Spain and Tunisia were used (with a harvest date of 2021/2022). We tasted another bottle from Spain and Portugal (with vintage dates 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 — a blend of the two vintages). Tried side by side, both tasted the same, although we liked the Spain/Portugal blend a bit better – it was lighter and less heavy. Just know that the flavor of this oil depends on where the olives come from.
This oil was milder than the herbal varieties we recommend. It has a mild flavor and a peppery finish, making it a great all-purpose cooking oil.
Our panelists enjoyed the buzz of Target Good & Gather’s 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 72¢ per ounce), which smelled like a mix of freshly cut grass, tomato leaves and cooked artichokes. While it wasn’t as fruity as the Bertolli extra virgin olive oil we tasted, it had a nice spice that provided a nice kick to the back of the throat, causing many of our testers to cough (again, this is a good sign that the oil is fresh).
This olive oil had a light buttery texture and was slightly rich but balanced by the acidity. It had hints of grass and subtle spice, but the overall flavor was relatively mild, making it a great all-purpose olive oil.
Jalapeno Infused Olive Oil 250ml From Texas Hill Country Olive Co.
This oil has a fruitier and warmer flavor than our other products, so it will go well with fish or salad dressings.
Unlike many other oils we tasted, Bono Sicilia PGI Organic Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $1.12 per ounce) was buttery, fruity and floral. All of our panelists agreed that it smelled like bananas, while some smelled faintly of green peas and tomato leaves.
The oil was smooth and buttery, with a subtle, peppery finish that seeped in and sharpened with sips. Tasting notes included green banana and ripe avocado, with a hint of light bitterness. One tester thought the oil tasted similar to the bottles of Bono Sicilian Val di Mazara PDO Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil we tested, except it was more aromatic and lighter. This oil is a good medium choice for breading, light dressings and cooking.
Kirkland Signature California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $25 for 33.8 fluid ounces at time of publication) was smooth and slightly rancid with green banana notes. I thought it had a thick consistency similar to pressed butter; Other testers noted its greasy consistency, which stuck to the inside of their mouths after swallowing.
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Whole Foods Market Small Batch 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil with 365 (about $7 for 16.9 fl oz at time of publication) had a grassy, slightly woody aroma. It had the buttery flavor of avocado and notes of cedar. However, some panelists thought it tasted a little soapy. It was also very bitter, with almost no sharpness.
California Olive Ranch Global Blend Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $8 for 16.9 fluid ounces at time of publication) was slightly bitter and not particularly pungent. It had a herbal, almost minty aroma with some salty notes. But it also had an oxidized, slightly musty fruit flavor that was flat and greasy.
Collection California Olive Ranch Reserve: Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $25 for 16.9 fluid ounces at time of publication) was very light and mild. It lacked fruitiness, bitterness and considerable spiciness. One tester thought it smelled like wet wood in a sauna.
Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $20 for 32 fl oz at time of publication) had a slightly grassy and nutty aroma with notes of caramel, but compared to other oils we tested, it wasn’t overly aromatic. It was quite buttery and very bitter with a slight peppery finish, but overall not very exciting.
Of The Best Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oils To Try 2023
Cobram Estate Classic 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $9 for 12.7 fl oz at time of publication) had aromatic aromas of fresh cut grass, hay, green apples and salty olives. Unfortunately, it smelled more alive than it tasted. It had a silky texture but just a hint of subdued flavors like ripe avocado and artichoke, with a slightly nutty and bitter aftertaste.
Lucini Everyday Argentine Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $20 for 33.8 fluid ounces at time of publication) has a slight hint of tangy but little overt flavor other than ripe avocado. It was a bit tart and lacked flavor and freshness.
Terra Delissa Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about $13 for 17 fluid ounces at time of publication) had less smell and flavor, so we discarded it.
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