Olive oil can be pricey—and that’s for good reason. The good stuff has a high production cost, which starts in carefully tended orchards and ends with premium packaging that protects the integrity of the product. Some options that may seem like bargain buys are actually too good to be true—they could be cutting their oil with cheaper oils. But you don't *have* to search far and wide to find a high quality, legitimate bottle. Browse through Amazon, and you'll find hundreds of brands. But which ones are the best ones?
We asked trained chef Annie Lucey at Brava Home for her tips for choosing the best olive oil—and a few of her favorites you can find on Amazon (ICYMI, Brava is like the Tesla of kitchen appliances—it’s a smart oven—and Lucey heads up their recipe development and content).
According to Chef Lucey, look at the packaging: “I always look for extra virgin olive oil in a dark bottle, stainless steel, or a bottle that is simply not clear, as light and heat both deteriorate the quality of the oil,” says Lucey.
Lucey also shared some metrics she learned from Skyler Mapes, the Co-Founder of Exau Olive Oil, which she says “have changed the game for me,” when it comes to picking a quality EVOO. Here’s what to look for on the label:
Fresh is best. Look for oils that have been harvested closer to the time of your purchase (under 24 months) and if it comes from the northern hemisphere, it may denote that it was harvested in October or November. “If you're looking at two years [or more] your oil is probably rancid,” says Lucey. And, “Once you have the olive oil in your kitchen, use it up! Many people want to save olive oil for a special occasion, but it’s important to use it while it’s fresh for optimal flavor and quality. If you let it sit for too long it’ll go rancid, so get cooking!
Country (or state) of origin
“Spain, Italy, California, and Greece are some of the most popular countries of origin,” says Lucey, who notes that it’s simply most important that the brand shares where the oil is from on the label versus where it comes from specifically. “This is more about giving credit to the producers, families, and land owners, and less about one area being better than the other.”
Lucey points out that this is a "bonus," and not necessarily required. She shares information from Mapes again: “According to the International Olive Council, an extra virgin olive oil must have an acidity below 0.8 grams per 100 grams, or 0.8 percent.” Why? “The acidity is a clear indication of the health of the olive tree and the olive fruit.”
“My go-to brands, which also happen to make fabulous gifts, are from the following smaller, mission-driven, female-founded brands :Exau Olive Oil, Brightland Olive Oil, and Pineapple Collaborative,” she says, but if you’re looking for Amazon picks, don’t worry, she shared her top five with us, too!
The best olive oils on Amazon, according to a chef
This Italian olive oil from Italy has a particularly herbaceous flavor because it’s “undecanted” and harvested mid-October. And don’t just trust the Amazon reviewers (though four thousand stellar reviews corroborate Lucey’s suggestion that Partanna EVOO is high quality all the way)—this is some award-winning liquid gold. Literally, gold—Partanna won gold at the Los Angeles International EVOO Competition and the New York International OO Competition.
Seka Hills’ oil comes from Capay Valley, California, between wine country and Sacramento. This premium EVOO is made from Arbequina Olives, which were grown by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. The flavor of this particular blend is described as “balanced and fruity with a hint of pepper and the aroma of fresh cut grass.”
There are so many varieties to choose from with Enzo’s Table, Lucey’s third pick on Amazon. Garlic-infused is particularly popular (for obvious reasons — garlic and olive oil go together like PB&J), though Meyer lemon is close competition. These oils are organic, and have won countless (not exaggerating) awards through the years.
Cobram Estate has a variety of oils to choose from, but their 100% California Select is one of their best rated with a flawless five-star rating (and it’s one of their most affordable!). You can see the acidity right on the label (<0.3%), as well as tasting notes: a clean palate with medium levels of bitterness, and an aroma of fresh-cut grass with a hint of tropical fruit.
California Olive Ranch makes a variety of EVOO options with different flavor profiles, using olives from different regions—not just California. This favorite brand of Lucey has some pricier versions, but the most affordable option of the lot is a mix of olives from four regions called the “Global Blend,” and can be found on both Amazon.com and Whole Foods.
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