If there was a list of ‘good fats’ out there, the odds are pretty high that olive oil would top the list! Long linked with the beneficial Mediterranean diets, olive oil has been shown to help protect against cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and more. Not only that, but it also tastes great, whether you use it for cooking with or for finishing your meals.In this top ten best olive oil for cooking, we look at some of the bestselling cooking oils from a variety of countries. We also consider the differences between olive oils and why extra virgin olive oil or EVOO is the healthiest of all olive oils. We also offer some tips to help you get the best from cooking with olive oil.
The larger bottle of AmazonFresh Mediterranean extra virgin olive oil (68 fl. oz) with its satisfaction guarantee is ideal for your everyday cooking needs.
The compact AmazonFresh Italian extra virgin olive oil (16.9 fl. oz) with its peppery notes is ideal for smaller cooking requirements.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Olive Oil
- 1. AmazonFresh Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2. AmazonFresh Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3. Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4. Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5. Olio Carli Pure Olive Oil
- 6. Holive Extra Virgin First Press Olive Oil
- 7. Filippo Berio Olive Oil
- 8. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 9. O-Live & Co. Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 10. Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Things to Consider Before Buying Olive Oil
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Olive Oil
1. AmazonFresh Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sourced from Greece, Spain and Italy and bottled in Italy, the AmazonFresh Mediterranean extra virgin olive oil (68 fl. oz) is ideal for use as an everyday oil for cooking or finishing. This has a mild and buttery flavor and comes with a one-year satisfaction guarantee. This oil comes in a green plastic bottle rather than glass.Some have found this oil to be bland and lacking in flavor when used as finishing or in dressings, so it may be better suited as a cooking oil.
2. AmazonFresh Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A smooth oil blend with subtle pepper and herb notes, the AmazonFresh Italian extra virgin olive oil (16.9 fl. oz) has been pressed and bottled in Italy. Suitable as an all-purpose oil, this also has a one year satisfaction guarantee. This oil may have a more bitter flavor than expected. The style of green plastic bottle may also make it more difficult to pour out a smaller quantity.
3. Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The first to receive the USDA Quality Monitored seal, the twin pack of Pompeian robust extra virgin olive oil (32 fl. oz) is also Non-GMO Project Verified. This is an extremely low acid olive oil with a full flavor. This comes in yellow colored plastic bottles rather than glass. Some consumers consider this is a better oil for cooking with rather than using for finishing meals.
4. Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Made from the first cold press, the four pack of Pompeian organic extra virgin olive oil cooking spray (10 fl. oz) do not contain any propellants or CFCs. These sprays are also suitable for finishing dishes as well as for use as cooking sprays. The nozzle on this may spray wider than other types of cooking spray and can drip, so you will need to apply it carefully and closer to the pan.
5. Olio Carli Pure Olive Oil
The bestselling cooking oil in Italy, the Olio Carli pure olive oil (25 fl. oz) is blended from virgin olive oils and refined olive oil. This has a milder flavor compared to a virgin or extra virgin olive oil so it may not suit all finishing needs. You can also check the acidity, polyphenols and other characteristics of your batch on the manufacturer’s website.
6. Holive Extra Virgin First Press Olive Oil
From the first press from a farm in the Valley of Sorek in Israel, the Holive Oil extra virgin olive oil has Star K Kosher Certification. This EVOO comes in a resealable can and has a nutty flavor which is quite distinctive from olive oils grown in the Mediterranean.
7. Filippo Berio Olive Oil
A milder oil with a gentle olive flavor, the Filippo Berio olive oil (25.3 fl. oz) is a blend of refined and extra virgin oil. This has a smoke point of between 356°F and 392°F, making it ideal for higher temperature cooking such as basting, braising, sautéing, roasting, stir, pan and deep frying.This oil is unsuitable for dipping or finishing with as it has a neutral flavor compared to other olive oils. It is also free from GMOs and has the NAOOA (North American Olive Oil Association) quality seal. This comes in a PET bottle which is free from BPA although the bottle can be prone to denting during shipping as well.
8. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Colavita extra virgin olive oil (68 fl. oz) contains oil from one or more of these countries - Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. This is a first cold press oil and has the NAOOA quality seal. It is also certified OU Kosher. This comes in a BPA-free green plastic bottle and is suitable for cooking with as well as for other uses such as drizzling. There can be a risk of the bottle arriving damaged and it can leak.
9. O-Live & Co. Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is a first cold press oil with a mild, fresh and fruity flavor. The O-Live & Co. everyday extra virgin olive oil (16.9 fl. oz) is non-GMO, kosher and carbon neutral. This oil is sourced from Chilean olives and the process is fully sourced. This has been a regular medal winner in the Los Angeles International EVOO Competition since 2011. Suitable for cooking with, its lighter flavor may not suit all finishing requirements.
10. Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sourced from Trapani in Sicily, the Partanna extra virgin olive oil (34 fl. oz) has a rich flavor with nutty and artichoke notes and the peppery aftertaste, although some people have commented that this can have a slightly bitter taste. A low acid oil this is suitable for all purposes, including cooking. This does come in a can which can arrive dented and it can be awkward to pour, although the plastic spigot will pop out.
Things to Consider Before Buying Olive Oil
Olive oil is extracted from olives from the Olea europaea tree, of which there are different subspecies and many cultivars.
Wild olive trees originally came from Asia Minor and it is thought the cultivated olive tree first appeared there around 6000 years ago. It eventually spread into Greece and across the Mediterranean. Eventually, and coinciding with the discovery of America, olives were planted in the West Indies and then South America. Today, olive oil continues to be farmed in these countries, as well as further afield such as Japan, South Africa, China and Australia.
The difference between olive oils does not come from the use of olives from different subspecies or cultivars, or even where the olives have been grown; instead it comes from the process used to extract them, their acidity and whether they have been treated (with heat or chemicals).
The acidity level of oils refers to how much free oleic acid is in the oil. When oil is produced inside the olive, it contains fats called triglycerides. A triglyceride is made of one molecule of glycerol and three oleic acid (which is a fatty acid) molecules. When any changes occur in the olive, the chemical link between the glycerol and the three fatty acids can break. This means the fatty acids/oleic acids are released or freed. The more free oleic acid there is in the oil, the lower its quality.
Unrefined and Refined Olive Oils
There are two distinct types of olive oil, unrefined and refined. These are then broken down into other different types. An unrefined oil is one which has not been treated and is still pure. An extra virgin olive oil or EVOO is an unrefined oil.
A refined oil has been treated either chemically or with temperature to remove any flaws from the olives and extract the oil. Through this process, the olive oil loses some of its antioxidants and other molecules that can bring benefits to health. Refining also reduces the natural flavor of the olives.
Extra virgin and Virgin Oils
For an oil to be extra virgin, or indeed, any other type of oil, it needs to meet requirements laid down by the International Olive Council.
An extra virgin olive oil is extracted by grinding the olives in thermal conditions, otherwise known as cold pressing. This extraction method keeps more of its natural olive flavor, more of the natural minerals and vitamins from the olives and gives a lower level of oleic acid – less than 1%. The color of EVOO is usually gold-green.
Virgin olive oil is also an unrefined olive oil, not treated with chemicals or heat and it keeps its distinctive olive flavor, although this is not as strong as an EVOO and its production standards are less tough. It also has a higher level of acidity from the free oleic acid.
Olive Oil and Light Olive Oil
Olive oil or sometimes called pure olive oil is usually a blend of refined olive oil and unrefined virgin olive oil. This has oleic acids levels of between 3% and 4%. Its color is lighter and its flavor not as strong. Olive oil is better suited to cooking with at higher temperatures as it has a higher smoke point.
A light olive oil is one which has been refined to offer a neutral taste. This is an all-purpose cooking oil. You may occasionally see extra light olive oils; these have been refined even further than a light olive oil.
An oil which contains more than two degrees of acidity (another measure alongside acidity percentage) is called a lampante oil. These oils usually arise through poor processing or bad olives. A lampante oil cannot be consumed as it has an unpleasant smell and taste. Instead it is refined or used for technical purposes.
Cooking with Olive Oil
Any type of olive oil can be substituted for another in a recipe depending on the cooking temperature needed. You can cook with EVOO as well as use it in dressings, finishings, cold dishes and bread dipping.
The smoke point of an oil is important when cooking. Once oil starts to smoke, not only does it fill the kitchen with smoke, but it is also near its flash point – the point at which it can burst into flames. The higher the cooking temperature, the higher the smoke point of the oil needed.
It is always worth checking the smoke point of an olive oil you are buying for cooking with. Depending on what type of oil it is and how it has been processed (if a refined oil), this can have an impact on the smoke point of the oil.
Unlike vegetable oils, olive oil keeps much of its chemical structure when cooked with at the correct temperatures. Helped by the presence of oleic acid, it also keeps much of its nutritional value. Olive oil has an approximate smoke point of between 374°F and 410°F - higher than the typical frying point of around 350°F. At 410°F, some fats such as butter or corn oil will begin to degrade.
When olive oil is reheated it increases in volume, so you do not need to use as much, and it can be re-used more often than other oils. Its digestibility will not change even if you re-use it for frying up to four or five times.
You should avoid mixing olive oil with other oils and if you are deep frying then there should be plenty of oil in the pan to minimize the risk of burning and overcooking the bottom of the food and undercooking the top. If olive oil is overheated, it can affect flavor.
Olive oil forms a crust on the surface of the food which stops oils from penetrating the food and helps improve its flavor.
Foods with a higher water content, such as potatoes and other vegetables should be fried between 266°F and 293°F. Foods with a coating, such as breadcrumbs or batter should fry at between 311°F to 388°F and small foods that should be fast fried, such as small fish can fry at 347°F to 374°F.
Olive Oil Nutrition
The main fat in olive oil is MUFA or monounsaturated fat. An extra virgin olive oil has around 70% + MUFA. MUFAs are linked with lowering levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and total cholesterol.
MUFAs also contain Omega-3s and Omega-6s. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid which must be obtained from the diet as the body cannot make it. Omega-3s are needed for our cell walls and are also linked with better heart health, brain health and eye health.
Olive oil is also rich in vitamin E, vitamin K, carotenoids and phenolic compounds. These are antioxidants that can help prevent damage in the body by free radicals. Free radical damage is linked to various conditions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Around 13 % of a serving of olive oil is saturated fat. Olive oil does not have any trans fat, carbs, sugars, dietary fiber or cholesterol.
Olive Oil and Health
Olive oil has long been linked with the Mediterranean diet and lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean when compared with other parts of the world. Those who regularly consume olive oil may also be less likely to develop high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia and even suffer a stroke. Olive oil is also linked with a reduction in some blood vessel disorders.
Olive oil is high in antioxidants and a number of these have been shown to act as anti-cancer agents. One study has shown a link between a lower risk of developing breast cancer and high consumption of olive oil.
Olive oil has a number of other potential health benefits. It is linked with reducing inflammation and this may be of particular benefit for those with rheumatoid arthritis as olive oil supplements can improve inflammatory markers in sufferers.
Olive oil can also act an anti-microbial and has been shown to kill strains of Helicobacter pylori – the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. It is also linked with possibly helping to protect against type 2 diabetes. It may also be of benefit to those with Alzheimer's as olive oil has been able to help remove brain plaques in mice.
Properly Storing Olive Oil
As olive oil is a fat, it will eventually go rancid. It should be stored in a cool dark place, or even the refrigerator. If you do refrigerate your oil, it may thicken or look cloudy, this is fine - it will go back to liquid form at room temperature. Ideally, olive oil should be used within six months of opening.
When you buy olive oil, look for one in a darker colored bottle. The yellow or green in the glass or plastic can block some of the light which damages the oil and causes it to turn rancid.
We hope you have enjoyed our whistle-stop tour of everything olive oil related, from where it came, how it is graded, how best to cook with it and even how to store it to help stop it going rancid. We have also looked at the nutrition in olive oil, including its antioxidant content and discussed some of the known health benefits from using this healthier fat.
Whether you prefer to stick to a traditional Mediterranean olive oil, or fancy something from somewhere different, we hope our top ten best olive oil for cooking has given you some food for thought on which olive oil is best for your cooking needs.