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Best Gourmet Olive Oil: Top 11 Brands

Gourmet olive oil is a great thing to buy for yourself or as a gift. Open your tastes to a world of new flavors with these great brands of gourmet olive oil. Whether you are the head chef or you know a great chef. These brands are the very best gourmet olive oil the world has to offer.

Price: $ – $
11 Listed Items

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

First, let me clarify what I mean when I say "olive oil." I mean extra virgin olive oil. What I buy -- and what's listed below -- is an oil that is from the first cold pressing of raw, untreated olives. When you look at the labels or descriptions of extra virgin olive oils, some may prominently display "cold-pressed" or "first pressing." That's kinda redundant because that's inherently what all extra virgin olive oil is.

Science & Taste

On the science side of things, extra virgin olive oil has to contain 0.8 percent or less (per 100 grams) of free fatty acids. (The main FFA in olive oil is oleic acid.) More on science -- including the health benefits of olive oil -- at the bottom of the list.

On the taste side of things, extra virgin olive oil should taste fresh. It should taste fruity (olives are a fruit, btw). It might be spicy...but that usually hits the back of the throat toward the end of the taste.

One of the key elements to getting a good extra virgin olive oil is getting one that has been packaged very close to the time it was harvested. Unlike wine, olive oil does not improve with age. All the oils in this list are packaged right after extraction.


Some Final Notes on Making This List

As a professional eater, I have had many of the oils listed. While my taste buds are important to me, I realize that you may want something a little more objective (and less close to my tongue). Therefore, the oils listed have some or all of the following:

  • Certified by an organization (like the International Olive Oil Council, the North American Olive Oil Association, the Olive Oil Commission of California, and more).
  • Single source harvest. Most of the oils listed are from an identifiable place (maybe more than one) rather than oils from different places (separate countries, even) that are mixed together (a common practice even among some extra virgin olive oil producers).
  • Packaged and marketed as close as possible to harvest and extraction.

You'll notice that, with one exception, all the oils are packaged in either dark glass or tins. That's no coincidence: extra virgin olive oil shouldn't be exposed to light.

Can you cook with extra virgin olive oil? Heck yes. Do you always want to -- especially if it's expensive? That's your and your wallet's decision. I have two kinds of olive oil in my house: everyday olive oil I use for everything...and expensive olive oil for drizzling or (trying) to show off for guests.

Gourmet Olive Oil = Good For You

According to the American Heart Association, lowering your intake of saturated fat (dairy, red meats, etc., generally speaking) and replacing it with polyunsaturated fats (oils from fish, nuts, seeds, etc.) and monounsaturated fats (which includes olive oil) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by around 30 percent. You can read the study's abstract here at AHAJournals.org.

Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2018, compared three control groups that were each following a specific diet:

  • A Mediterranean diet (less emphasis on meat and more emphasis on plant foods) with additional olive oil
  • A Mediterranean diet supplemented with additional nuts
  • A diet with proscribed reductions in specific dietary fats

The control group that had the additional olive oil fared the best.

"In this study involving persons at high cardiovascular risk, the incidence of major cardiovascular events was lower among those assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts than among those assigned to a reduced-fat diet," according to the report.