If You're Not Cooking with Olive Oil, You're Doing Something Wrong!

·4-min read
Photo credit: California Olive Ranch
Photo credit: California Olive Ranch

From Best Products

We really can't cook without these four sweet letters: E.V.O.O.

Extra virgin olive oil is basically the unspoken hero of virtually every dish we cook at home, whether we use it as a cooking oil to sear seafood or a finishing oil to make our pizza, pasta, and salad dishes sing. Everyone has a favorite when it comes to the best olive oil, so we asked our editors here at BestProducts.com to spill the tea and disclose their go-to brands.

First, here's some background on why you should be cooking with olive oil instead of butter or other artificial ingredient-loaded cooking sprays. Not only is olive oil packed with heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants, but it also lends a distinctively fresh, earthy taste to virtually any dish. Whether you're using olive oil as a cooking base for sautéing veggies or as a finishing touch on fresh pasta, pizza, or seafood, there's a variety and a price point to meet all of your culinary needs.

To choose the perfect bottle of olive oil for most everyday cooking purposes, our vote is always go for extra-virgin. Essentially a freshly pressed fruit juice, extra virgin olive oil is quite different from refined grades of olive oil (such as “light” or “pure” oils), which are made using heat or chemicals. As an unrefined oil, extra-virgin olive oil retains the highest level of vitamins and minerals naturally found in olives, and is the highest-quality and best-tasting olive oil you can buy.

Here are five editor-approved picks for the tastiest and most versatile extra-virgin olive oil for all of your cooking needs.

Best Everyday Oil

"We keep a regular olive oil for cooking (no pan sprays in this house) and an extra virgin for everything else! California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my go-to for homemade salad dressing and making dipping sauces. We fill up a reusable spray container for spraying pans that go on the stovetop and in the oven! It’s got a smooth flavor and is never overpowering."

Christine Anderson, executive editor of audience for BestProducts.com

Best for Cooking

"An essential everyday cooking oil and my go-to for quick weeknight vinaigrettes, drizzling on raw kale salads, or anything that needs a quick sauté, Colavita is light, mellow, and well-balanced. There's zero acidity or bitterness, and it has a super smooth taste. This is the extra-virgin olive oil my mom keeps next to her stove and uses religiously for everything, so I guess you could say I trust Betsy's judgment implicitly when it comes to the absolute best cooking ingredients. Also: The convenient pour spout means no oil cruet or decanter necessary."

Danielle St. Pierre, senior food & drink editor for BestProducts.com

Best for Drizzling

"For a more robust finishing oil loaded with rich, grassy flavor, I reach for Carapelli. This organic, first cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil is nearly neon green in color, unfiltered, and unrefined, so it has a slightly cloudy appearance and a little bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This oil is insanely tasty used as a dip for crusty bread, a finishing oil on salads or cheese, or as a seasoning oil."

Danielle St. Pierre, senior food & drink editor for BestProducts.com

Best for Heat-Seekers

"After spending a few weeks in Italy, where chili oil is everywhere, my husband and I went on the hunt to find an affordable option we could keep in the house — for putting on pizza, for bread dipping, for pasta — but we still wanted a packed flavor. In comes Mantova! They ship in packs of three bottles (so you never run out). It’s slightly spicy and full of flavor."

Christine Anderson, executive editor of audience for BestProducts.com

Best Splurge

“Sometimes, you just need a taste of la dolce vita — and this olive oil brings it. I love to use it for dipping breads and served alongside cheese because the nutty, slightly spicy taste of the olive oil is too good and, let’s be honest, this is a bit too expensive for everyday cooking. Dress a salad with it, drizzle it over some mozzarella, or dip freshly baked bread into it and you’ll be transported to the rolling hillsides of Tuscany.”

Scott Simone, managing editor for BestProducts.com

Now that you have your favorite olive oil picked out, let's get cooking!

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