Should you spend a bit more and use premium extra-virgin olive oil in your kitchen? We tasted more than a dozen products to find out.
Published Aug. 2, 2023.
We love premium extra-virgin olive oil to dress salads and grains or to finish dishes—including pasta, grilled steak, fish, vegetables, beans, hummus, soup, pizza, and even ice cream—with a drizzle of flavor-enhancing goodness. While supermarket extra-virgin olive oil can do all of those things, we think it’s worth getting your hands on a bottle of premium extra-virgin olive oil, because it offers exponentially fuller, fresher, more delightful flavor.
We can make that claim because we tested it.
We bought and anonymously tasted nearly three dozen premium and supermarket extra-virgin olive oils. While we liked supermarket oils, we loved the premium versions. Our tasters repeatedly described premium extra-virgin olive oils as significantly more aromatic and flavorful, enthusiastically ranking them higher with comments such as “vibrant,” “rounded and smooth, rich-bodied,” “sweet and buttery at first sip, then opens up to be grassy and fruity and pungent. Really delightful!” “It leaves such a nice aftertaste as I reach for more.” One taster just raved: “Holy cow, that is delicious!”
If you haven’t yet explored the world of premium olive oil, or maybe you’ve tried some once and didn’t like it much, maybe it’s time for another look. If you’ve been led to believe that all premium extra-virgin olive oil is a huge pungent, peppery flavor explosion, we can help you find a wide range of oils at every flavor intensity, including the mildest, most delicate, buttery, nutty oils and delicious medium-fruity, bright, sweet-tasting oils that will wow you. (And if you love those big peppery oils, we’ve also got you covered.)
All that extra flavor comes at a price. Compared to mass-produced supermarket versions, premium extra-virgin olive oils in our lineup averaged about $1.78 per ounce, over twice as much as the average supermarket extra-virgin olive oils we tasted, which averaged about $0.67 per ounce.
It’s not about fancy labels and marketing hype: Premium extra-virgin olive oil is a fresh, seasonal product specifically crafted to offer a huge range of distinctive flavors and characteristics that set each individual oil apart.
More labor-intensive to produce than supermarket olive oil, premium olive oil is made in comparatively small batches, under the expert curation of an olive-oil maker who supervises the olives’ cultivation on a single estate or from a group of cooperative farms and selects the optimal time and method for processing them. While there are nearly 1,500 olive cultivars to choose from, even the same olives when picked early and green create o...
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Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.