We Tried 8 Brands of Extra Virgin Olive Oil — And the Winner Tastes Like It’s From a Fancy Italian Restaurant

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

As grocery staples go, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil is one of the most prevalent in our homes. “I use olive oil for everything,” says Andrea, our Associate Food Editor. “If I run out of olive oil, nothing is getting cooked.” Needless to say, she’s not alone — editors at The Kitchn always have EVOO within reach, which is why we felt it was about time we take a closer look at the bottles we’re buying.

There are a lot of olive oils on shelves these days. For the purposes of this taste, we focused on EVOOs that print a harvest date on their bottles. (The harvest date tells you when the olives were picked from the trees, aka how fresh the oil is.) We eliminated any potential contenders that only list a best by, use by, best if used by, etc., which ended up disqualifying several olive oils, many from major brands. 

From there, we narrowed our selection to EVOOs available in everyday grocery stores across the country (or readily available online) and are priced at $20 or less (for a 750mL bottle), at the time of this tasting. We also looked at past taste tests and consulted with Nancy Ash, president of Strictly Olive Oil, longtime member of the California Olive Oil Council Taste Panel, and a ​​U.S. International Olive Oil Competition judge, to round out the selection.

Before we break down the day’s events, we also need to talk about the bottles themselves: Most grocery store olive oils come in either glass or plastic bottles, with varying degrees of darkness. Between the two, Nancy recommends EVOO in dark glass bottles because they better protect the quality of the oil. “Plastic packaging is porous on a microscopic level,” she says, “so it allows a certain amount of oxygen to pass into the bottle.” (Think about opening a bag of chips and how easily they can go stale.)

If you are #TeamPlasticBottle, consider how frequently you go through a bottle before your next restock. “​You’re not going to notice much change in the flavor profile,” Nancy says, “if you’re using up a bottle of oil in a month.” Three months, however, is a different story. 

Now, let’s get into the results from this epic afternoon of slurping and tallying — we even surprised ourselves with this taste test.

We held a blind taste test with eight different bottles of extra virgin olive oils found in national grocery stores and recruited nine EVOO enthusiasts (so you know they’re qualified) who work in our office to participate in an epic afternoon of tasting. Each taster was given a “How to Taste Olive Oil” guide, provided by Nancy.

Each olive oil was also assigned a letter to conceal the brands’ identities. Prior to the tasting, Maya, our Studio Assistant, poured each of the olive oils into unmarked sample-size paper cups. To get a baseline, all tasters started by sampling an unknown olive oil from a popular national brand that doesn’t include a harvest date on its bottles. After that, they were instructed to sample the olive oils in random order to avoid giving any one entrant an advantage. We also had sliced green apples, pieces of crusty bread, and a pitcher of cold water on hand for palate cleansing. 

Tasters rated each of the extra virgin olive oils on a scale of one to five (1 = No, thanks; 2 = Meh; 3 = Pretty good; 4 = Really like; 5 = Yes, Please!) across four criteria — look, smell, texture, and flavor — and included any specific observations, tasting notes, and general opinions worth mentioning. They were also asked to answer, arguably, the most important question of all: Would you buy this olive oil?

This was a blind taste test, which means tasters had no knowledge of the brands being evaluated ahead of or at the time of the tasting. It was held over one day and tasters were instructed to sample the ranch dressing in random order (to stave off palate fatigue and not give any one bar an unfair advantage). The group of tasters included a mix of food professionals and some very enthusiastic extra virgin olive oils fans who work at The Kitchn. All participated in the taste test voluntarily, and we thank them for being so generous with their time and feedback. 

Speaking of, each taster filled out a score sheet (without discussion or influence) ranking the olive oils across several criteria (listed above). The results were also tabulated without any visibility into the brands. Only after the numbers were finalized, did we reveal which brands corresponded to the winners.

Did your favorite ranch dressing make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top