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Blind Taste Test: Picking The Best Grocery Store Olive Oils

In the world of grocery store shopping, there are only two types of olive oil consumers. Either you always reach for that one reliable bottle that fits into a price point you’re comfortable with, or you endlessly cycle through different bottles in an attempt to find a brand that stands out. The problem is that since you likely only keep a single bottle in your pantry at any one time — if you have more, la-ti-da, Mr. or Ms. Chef! — you never actually remember to note the differences between brands. Meaning that your olive oil experience varies plenty, but it takes years of random selections to lock in on a brand you love enough to actually seek out.

To save you some time, I decided to bite the bullet and buy up all the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) at my three local grocery stores, then taste it at the same time. Blind! Would I be able to recognize their differences at all? Would I just write “earthy” or “grassy” for every single tasting note? Would the whole experiment prove that my palate isn’t sophisticated enough to be considered a fried chicken sandwich and french fry expert after all?

To embark on this task, I cut up some sourdough bread.

Dane Rivera

Then I had my lovely assistant (my girlfriend, who insisted that I give her an official title) pour a smidgen of oil from different random bottles onto three plates at a time. I did it this way because I don’t have a lot of dishes.

*Insert “glamourous internet food writer” joke here*

Dane Rivera

After dabbing the oil with bread, I quickly wrote down my tasting notes, assigned each EVOO a rating from one to five, drank some lemon water to cleanse the palate, and moved on to another randomized set of three until we ran through each bottle. After tasting each oil, the bottles were revealed and I immediately did another non-blind run-through to double-check my findings, and rank them in order.

For what it’s worth, this took waaaaaaaaaay too long and resulted in me consuming a disgusting amount of oil and bread in a single sitting. I don’t recommend anyone engage in such a thing. Instead, read this ranking, pick a few that sound good, then save yourself some time and money next time you’re at the grocer.

Here we go!

14. Pastene — Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $7.39

Origin

Pastene’s EVOO is a blend of oils from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece with a deep green color and a noticeable olive aroma.

Tasting Notes

Totally unremarkable, with a very thick consistency and a blunt, slightly acrid green olive flavor. It feels like a great kitchen workhorse, something you can use liberally without worrying about burning through the bottle too quickly.

Best Application

Use it for cooking, greasing a baking dish, or to add extra oil into the pan. It’s perfectly passable but not something you want to eat raw with some bread or drizzled on a salad.

13. Star — Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $5.47

Origin

Star features a blend of oils from Spain, Tunisia, Greece, Portugal, and Argentina, it’s a brand I have on hand often, so having to position it so low in the ranking hurts my soul.

Tasting Notes

Light on the nose and buttery across the palate but ultimately forgettable. This oil just fizzles out on the tongue into nothingness. It’s palatable and much more pleasing than Pastene, but ultimately it’s a take it or leave it oil. You’ll only take it because you have nothing else.

Best Application

Brush it on your iron pan before you ready dinner — the smell and flavor doesn’t linger at all. Use it when you’re looking for an oil with a nuetral (if unremarkable) flavor.

12. Trader Joe’s — Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mediterranean Blend

Dane Rivera

Price: $3.99

Origin

Trader Joe’s Med Blend features oils from Italy and Tunisia and my jaw hung wide when I realized how low it ranked. I didn’t have any experience with Trader Joe’s EVOO before this, but I just expected more from the brand.

Tasting Notes

The oil presents itself with a light-almost-yellow color and features a blunt, woody flavor that practically attacks the tongue with bitterness. As it lingers on the palate, Trader Joe’s Med Blend mellows out a little, but the initial taste feels like an attack.

Best Application

Toss a spoonful into some light homemade tomato sauce for a pizza, but beyond that… not stellar.

11. Sprouts — Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $8.99

Origin

Sprouts Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced entirely from Spain and is non-GMO Project Verified. Sprouts is beloved by food obsessives, so I had high hopes for this particular oil.

Tasting Notes

Extremely light with a very neutral flavor that settles into a pleasing vegetal aftertaste. The flavor lingers with delicate herbaceous notes, it really settles quite well on the palate despite its boring initial taste.

Best Application

This is a great oil for drizzling atop a salad or mixing with balsamic vinegar for a complex bread dip. Ultimately, its lack of any notable flavors on its initial taste keeps it comfortably in the mid-tier of our test.

10. Oleamea — Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane RIvera

Price: $18.99 (500ml)

Origin

Oleamea’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an award-winning oil from Turkey and made from early harvest Memecik olives cold-pressed four hours after being picked from the tree. That sure sounds fancy, so let’s see how the flavor lives up.

Tasting Notes

Delicate, with subtle green olive notes with a nutty almost almond-like finish. It’s great, but incredibly light, which makes us want to use more. Careful with this one, it’s too expensive to burn through quickly but you’re always going to feel like you’re not using enough.

Best Application

Its subtle flavor makes it a great option for olive oil-based chocolate cakes or for stir-frying vegetables.

9. Carapelli — Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price $19.99

Origin

Carapelli’s Olive Oil is sourced from Italy, Greece, Spain Portugal, and Tunisia and is made without a filtering process, which is said to increase the vegetal qualities of the oil.

Tasting Notes

That unfiltered production process is definitely noticeable here. This is a much fruitier oil, with notes of dirty artichoke and over-ripened green olives that settle into a woodsy walnut aftertaste. That sounds delicious, but… it comes on a bit too strong.

Best Application

This is a decent all-purpose cooking oil. Drizzle it on your stir fry, finish a salad, or mix it in a fresh sauce — it’ll get the job done. That said, it’s far from the best.

8. Trader Joe’s — Trader Giotto’s President’s Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $9.99

Origin

Unlike Trader Joe’s Mediterranean blend, the Trader Giotto’s President’s Reserve is sourced entirely from Italy. It’s a significant step up from the chain’s other blend and more in line with what we’ve come to expect from the grocer.

Tasting Notes

Very fruit-forward with notes of green apple and fresh-cut grass on the nose and an earthy dried grass and white pepper finish. There is a complexity here that the Mediterranean blend is severely lacking. This one really takes you on a journey.

Best Application

Great with bread or for preparing a pan for a grilled cheese on sourdough. I found myself continuously dipping into this one because of how well it paired with the sourdough loaf.

This was where things turned and the oils started to become really notable.

7. Bertoli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $6.39

Origin

Yes, I’m well aware that Bertoli is ranked way too high and it’s something I’m incredibly self-conscious about. I’d really like to chalk up my initial impressions to taste bud fatigue, but this oil was from the first round. It’s made using oil sourced from *deep breath* Argentina, Chile, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Peru, and Tunisia.

The rule with EVOO is that single source is always best. Not in Bertolli’s case.

Tasting Notes

Please don’t shame me. While Bertoli is incredibly thick and oil-y, the taste is a bouquet of flavors, from fresh pine to the more fruity qualities of green olives to nutty pine nuts to a warm hay-like note on the finish. It certainly tastes like it’s made from oil from a bunch of different regions, but in my experience, it wasn’t a bad thing.

Best Application

Use it on anything and everything, Bertoli is dirt cheap.

6. Casas de Hualdo — Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $10.99

Origin

All of Casas de Hualdo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s are sourced from Toledo Spain. For our review, we went with the Cornicabra.

Tasting Notes

Cornicabra is listed as Casas de Hualdo’s “Robust” oil and it certainly lives up to that descriptor. The taste hits hard here, with notes of grass and green apple. The finish has a nice buttery quality to it that makes it a natural pair with savory dishes.

Best Application

Use it on meats, over oven-roasted potatoes, or anything where you actually want the olive oil to be a feature of the dish. This is an oil meant to be tasted.

Great flavor and low price point — that’s a serious win.

5. Oleamea — Private Select Organic Extra Virgil Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $22.99 (500ml)

Origin

Like Oleamea’s Everyday olive oil, the Private Select is sourced entirely from Turkey. We’re a little salty about this brand because the black label Private Select is so much better than the Everyday blend, and the bottles are often paired together.

Why not just produce the better oil?

Tasting Notes

Very light with a subtle, grassy taste with an almost medicinal quality about it. Notes of crisp white tea and spring flowers with a bright finish that settles into a neutral aftertaste that never overstays its welcome. Far more complex than the brand’s white label blend.

Best Application

Drizzle it across a selection of fine cheese with some crackers. Best enjoyed raw to take in all of the complex flavors.

4. Pasolivo — Tuscan Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $47.95

Origin

Pasolivo’s Tuscan Extra Virgil Olive Oil isn’t actually made in Tuscany, instead, it’s made using a Tuscan olive varietal grown on the Pasolivo ranch in California. The oil presents itself with a rich green hue that looks highly appetizing.

Tasting Notes

Incredibly robust with an extremely grassy initial flavor that settles into a round, cracked pepper finish. It has a warm and subtle floral aftertaste that really feels leagues above the oils that rank lower than it on this list.

Best Application

Roasted potatoes and seared meat. Mix it with some balsamic vinegar and you’ve got yourself a deep and complex salad dressing that brings your deep leafy greens to life.

3. Cut 1886 — California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $25

Origin

Cut 1886 is made using olives from the Bel Lavoro olive orchards in Santa Barbara California. The bottle we sampled was from Batch #3, harvested in October of last year and bottled in January.

Tasting Notes

Highly grassy with a medium body and a fruit-forward flavor of pear, fresh cucumber, and stone fruits that settle into a warm and earthy finish with notes of nuts and crushed pepper. This is very complex olive oil, the flavors are constantly changing as they mingle on the palate. It has an almost robust quality to it, but it never gets too loud or noticeable.

Best Application

This makes for a great oil to dress a salad or to awaken the flavors of a hot pasta dish that needs some life injected into it.

A great candidate for a fancy pizza with homemade sauce. Drizzle it on the crust before baking to produce a delicious golden-brown crust.

2. California Olive Ranch — 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $14.99

Origin

California Olive Ranch is made from cold-pressed oils sourced from California. I’ve always been curious about this brand (I guess I just like the label), so I’m happy to see it rank so highly in this blind ranking,

Tasting Notes

Incredibly light and delicate with subtle vegetal notes of green olive, grass, and fresh artichoke, with an aftertaste that settles into its green olive attributes without being overpowering. This was by far the freshest tasting olive oil of the whole batch.

Best Application

Use it on everything, it’s incredibly versatile and flavorful for its price point.

1. Oleavanti — Ehden Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dane Rivera

Price: $19.50

Origin

Oleavanti’s Ehden Grove extra virgin olive oil is made using a blend of Souri and Aayrouni olives harvested from Zgharta Northern Lebanon. Although I’d say almost every bottle of extra virgin olive oil on this list is delicious, this is the one that truly stood apart from the others as something special.

It was a 2020 International Olive Oil Contest silver medal winner in 2020. We don’t know what that means, but it sure sounds prestigious.

Tasting Notes

Highly complex with robust notes of dried herbs on the nose, those flavors give way to fresh pear, toasted almond, and baked apple with a heavy green olive finish.

Best Application

Drizzle it on your meats, use it as a base for a sauce, dip bread in it… whatever you want. But slow down and appreciate this stuff. This is by far the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted, and I just tasted 14 bottles in a single day!

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