The Best Olive Oils

This week’s Must Have Monday is all about good olive oil. Growing up, my mom would always buy the light olive oil because she didn’t like the taste of heavier, thicker, deeper, richer olive oils. I’ve got to admit, when I first started cooking, truly enjoying food and learning about different ingredients, I was a bit put off by the full bodied real extra-virgin olive oil. It always seemed to overpower the food rather than enhance it.

When to Use Good Olive Oil

But as time went on and I used it more frequently, I realized that a high quality olive oil truly makes a difference. It actually enhances your food rather than drowning it. Yes, there are some places where good olive oil doesn’t work – stir fries, lighter salad dressings, deep frying, and baking. However, there are a lot more places where good extra virgin olive oil does fit and truly makes a dish better. Just a few ideas where the best olive oil is a must:

  • Hummus
  • Hummus toast
  • Tomato pasta
  • Plain pasta with olive oil
  • Caesar salad
  • Pesto
  • Greek gyros
  • Drizzled on bolognese
  • Chicken gyro wraps
  • Caprese

The Brands I Bought

colavita, california olive ranch, delallo olive oils

Price Break Down

So, now the question is which type of olive should you invest your money in? Ian and I recently did a blind taste test of 6 common brand olive oils. We tried Colavita, food club, California Olive Ranch, Delallo, Lucini, Pompeian.

First, here’s the price breakdown:

Keep in mind these prices were at my local Harmon's Grocery, so they may or may not be the same at your grocery store.

The Best Olive Oil Is...

Again, this tasting was blind, so we had no preconceptions as to which one would taste better. Ian and both unanimously agreed that our preferred order of eating was:

1stplace: Lucini – grassy notes, a bit bitter, spicy, full bodied and strong flavored

2ndplace: Pompeian Robust – spicy end, strong flavored, nutty

3rdplace: food club - buttery mouth feel, more mellow than the Pompeian but still some nice nutty background notes

4thplace: Colavita – mellow, spicy finish

5thplace: California Olive Ranch – very mild flavor, buttery mouthfeel

6thplace: Delallo – too mild, not much flavor, not as buttery as California Olive Ranch

olive oil tasting

Take Aways

I was the most surprised by food club’s placement. Considering it’s the cheapest option, it came in 3rd. I often think that price = quality, and often times it does but there are times when this rule is proven wrong.

The olive oil I have been buying for the past year is the California Olive Ranch and that one came in 5th, which just shows that when you get stuck in a rut, you don’t even realize there are better options (cheaper and tastier).

Unsurprising, was the 1st place winner - Lucini- being the most expensive option. Without a doubt the most flavorful, but keep in mind, while we throughouly enjoy this brand, it is a rather strong, full bodied etra virgin olive oil, so it may be a little too strong for some. Also, if you’re a bit of a newbie to the olive oil world, I suggest going with our 2nd place winner: Pompeian Robust. It’s still full flavored but not quite as strong.

Finally, the Lucini brand is basically double the price as the other olive oils, so it’s definitely a splurge and not one you use everyday.

The Best Oils for Drizzling, Dressings, and Cooking

Drizzling – I would use my 1st and 2nd place winners Lucini and Pompeian.

More Full Bodied Dressings – I suggest using the 2nd, 3rd and 4thplace winners Pomepian, food club, Colavita.

Cooking and Light Bodied Dressings – I would use the lightest olive oils which came in 5th and 6th place - California Olive Ranch and Delallo. If you're cooking an especially special meal or a dish would benefit with some spice and strong olive notes, you could also cook with the Colavita or food club.

caesar salad with croutons on white bowl on wooden shelf
italian salad dressing in clear mason jar

the best tomato sauce with pasta, cheese, parsley on a white plate

hi, I'm leslie

Whether it's through nutrition, mindfulness, spending more time with family, setting monthly goals, or just finding the things that make us happy in life, finding balance is the ultimate goal. Join me as I try and find balance in my own life.

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