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Best olive oil for general cooking

What's the best but not too expensive? I am looking for something for pasta, sauces, etc. Nothing too complicated but delicious. Any reccs?

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  1. I just always go with colivita (in the tin). I think it's probably the best of the easily accessable brands. Of course I'm sure someone is going to chime in with a recommendation from Trader Joe's / Costco. Those names pop up in just about every thread. I speak from envy as I have neither of those stores near me.

    4 Replies
      1. re: cafesimile

        I'll third these choices-- I like all three options. Which is in my kitchen depends on where I was shopping when I needed Olive Oil. I'll add Whole foods 365 house brand Italian. I've used that too.

        1. re: cafesimile

          I'm curious whether you're talking about the Colavita in the liter and 3 liter cans or the liimited pressing in the round 750ml can? I use the latter, but not for cooking because I find it looses too much flavor.

          For cooking I use any brand of "light" olive oil because it has been filtered and therefore has a higher smoke point. But that also makes it much milder in flavor, so if I want the stronger olive oil flavor I simply add some of the Colavita 2007 Harvest Limited Pressing. It has a very fruity flavor. I have several olive oils I use for various purposes but the "light" is the only one I use for cooking because the flavor of unfiltered oils is so heavily modified by heat.

          1. re: Caroline1

            I think the size of the bottle isn't as important as the fact that it's Pure Olive Oil instead of Extra Virgin for sauteing. Colavita Pure is a popular cooking olive oil. Tiger Pure is also great because it doesn't overpower the flavor of whatever you're cooking.

        2. Goya brand (in the "ethnic" section) of most supermarkets. Great value and perfectly fine for most cooking.

          1. I don't know where you are, but if you're in the midwest, the store brand olive oil from Hy-Vee is actually quite good. When you heat it, it develops this wonderful fruity aroma.

            1. I am actually in Philadelphia. I have access to both goya and colavita (why is tin better?).
              I also have access to costco, trader joes and whole foods if that helps. But I don't want a super large bottle of oil olive if that's all costco has!

              7 Replies
              1. re: saturninus

                I am guessing tin is better because it protects the oil from light. Heat and light destroys the oil. Olive oil does not last very long. Think of it as a fruit juice.

                1. re: mimolette

                  From about.com:
                  "Olive oil storage
                  Store olive oil in a cool, dark place for up to six months or in the refrigerator up to a year."

                  1. re: jenniferdines

                    oooo i can refrigerate? great! i live alone and if it makes it last longer i will do it!

                    1. re: saturninus

                      Just remember when you refrigerate the oil it gets cloudy looking. For best results use at room temperature. As long as you don't have it in sunshine or above your stove it should be good for a full six months.

                2. re: saturninus

                  Actually, the large bottle of the Kirkland extra virgin olive oil at Costo is about half the size of the one at sames (well, maybe 2/3), so don't be afraid to try that if you see it. Just keep it in a dark cabinet or corner, since light is your principal enemy here. I used to love Goya olive oil on salads, but use way to much to deal with the little bottle I find in the grocery store. I had forgotten how good that tastes.

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    I have not tried this Kirkland; the other day at Costco I saw 2 new kinds: and extra virgin from Provence and another from Sicily. I wanted both; bought neither. Are you familiar with these? (The Costco was in Daly City, just outside SF, CA.)

                    1. re: walker

                      There's no Costco in Daly City, I believe you mean South San Francisco :)

                3. For cooking (not drizzling or garnishing) many restaurants use "pomace". This is very cheap olive oil blended with a touch of Extra Virgin for flavour. Very good and economical for cooking. Many brands are available.

                  1. I used to use Colavita, but then I discovered Whole foods' 365 brand Extra Virgin Olive oil in the 3-liter tin for $20. It's the best value for the money I've found. The oil tastes MUCH better than it costs. If you're anywhere near a Whole Foods, I'd give it a try. They sell it in smaller bottles, as well, so you don't have to buy a lot to check it out.

                    1. I heartily second Whole Foods' 365 Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for regular everyday use. I've used it for about 2 years. It has a light, balanced flavor that works well raw in vinaigrettes and cooked in nearly everything else. Of course, the better the olive oil in certain dishes, the better the dish will be, but I long ago stopped believing that ONLY olive oils that cost over $30 a bottle are acceptable. That's just silly.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Tom Steele

                        wonderful. sounds worth a try. i will pick it up!

                      2. im on bionaturae's one now. i love the flavor. however, i do indeed only use it for drizzling, and NOT in heated applications.

                        1. For cooking, you want a good quality EVOO that does not have a strong flavor. I have to second the OP's recommendation for COLAVITA EVOO. It is one of the only commercial brands made in Italy from Italian olives. I buy a 1 liter bottle for $11.99. It is great for marinades, sauteeing by itself, or with butter.

                          I use it for cooking. I use a much more expensive EVOO from Tuscany, and one from Puglia for drizzling, vinaigrettes etc.

                          1 Reply
                          1. i use whole food's 365 also, but if you live near a middle eastern/meditteranean markets, look for extra virgin olive oil there, in big tins. i usually try to find first cold pressed. these tend to be very green and intense, which i like, even for everyday cooking. and definitely store in a cool dark place.

                            1. "Think of it as a fruit juice."

                              WHAT?! (That would have been 4x as big if I could've changed font size.)

                              Olive oil is actually among the longer lived vegetable oils.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MikeG

                                better read up on olive oil before you poo poo someones statement.. YES, IT IS FRUIT JUICE. olives ARE a FRUIT

                                "Remember - Olives are fruit; olive oil is a fruit juice. "

                              2. Citations aside - olives are harvested and pressed once a year. The not innumerous olive oil cultures did not go without for the other 360 days of the year, when the oil went bad after 5 days or so. And this was long before modernly hygienic pressing practices, mechanical refrigeration or airtight storage containers...

                                1. Personally, I don't cook (as in when the oil is going to be very hot) with EVOO b/c it ruins the flavour so it's a total waste. Regular OO has a higher flash point and is better for cooking. I buy the regular OO for cooking (in a tin and aliquot it into a smaller 500ml container to keep on hand - I keep the rest in a cool , dark cupboard for a year and it is just fine) and keep a good, small bottle of EVOO for vinagrettes and for finishing dishes - this way I can buy excellent EVOO b/c I use so little at a time.

                                  1. olive oil has a lower smoking point than other oils, so deep-frying is tricky, but roman fried artichokes wouldn't be the same in canola oil. i don't believe cooking ruins the taste of evoo, but it does change it. i certainly wouldn't cook with expensive oil, but i think the taste of good oil is imparted into whatever you're sauteeing, searing, etc.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ndl


                                      I am looking for Evoo olive oil in Montreal, not easy to find :(

                                    2. Too many people get out of control with EVOO. If you are planning to cook with olive oil (rather than use it in a salad dressing where you might actually taste it), I doubt that anyone can really taste what kind you used. There is a place for cheap oil and a place for the most coddled and rarified extra virgin.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ECB

                                        i disagree. you need a certain level of quality to make a dish taste good. colavita all the way for cooking, not the cheapest but not at all the most expensive.
                                        using a substandard oil or one with a very strong taste, as some of the cheaper middle-eastern oils have (btw most are not regulated and can be anything mixed in especialy if you're going to a med deli) will leave you with not as good of a result.

                                      2. I prefer Sanso. It's a Spanish Olive Oil made from Andalusian Olives. Although I can get it at Whole Foods, it has the Whole Foods price. Fortunately, I have a little mom and pop grocery that carries it. My recommendation: if you really dig cooking, browse around the web. See what brand Cooking Institutes / chefs are using. I saw that the Culinary Institute of America had Sanso as their featured Olive Oil...so I bought it and I've been a loyal follower ever since. If you find a great olive oil in your journey, would love to hear about it! Always looking to trying something new.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. That heating destroys the flavor of olive oil is a bit of a myth. Heating destroys the flavor of olive oil once it has passed its prime. We are conditioned to view the peppery burn at the back of our throats as a sign of quality. It's actually a sign of age, and back inventories of olive oil get exported while current harvests are more generally consumed in Europe. This is most common in Italian and some Spanish oils. Still, it's a matter of personal preference.

                                          That said, I don't know what qualifies as inexpensive, but for my personal and professional use I choose Da Morgada Extra Virgin from Portugal. They also produce an excellent organic oil, but it is cost prohibitive. Da Morgada is available at Whole Foods.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: almansa

                                            Will give it a shot. Thanks for the recommendation.

                                          2. I've tried a variety of olive oils, and I've come to this conclusion. A GOOD extra-virgin olive oil should only be used for finishing/drizzling. For sauteeing/cooking I enjoy either a cheap extra-virgin or regular. For a finishing touch I like Colavita, Columela (Spanish, available at my local Fresh Market), or Lucini. For cooking I like Bertoli, Filipo Berio, or Da Vinci. Mind you, these are choices based on what's available in my area (a medium sized town in Georgia)

                                            1. I think that it is interesting that practically everybody on this board has confined their comments to extra virgin olive oil. I concur. I have never much cared for the taste of the plain old stuff. (It usually tastes rancid to me.) So like most people on this board, I cook with EVOO or, for larger volume projects or where I think that the taste of EVOO would be intrusive, I abandon olive oil all together and cook with peanut oil, corn oil, or something else. I live in Florida and for relatively inexpensive EVOO for plain frying, I like Vigo, a Tampa-based importer with its own brand line, or Publix's house brand (Publix is a supermarket chain) but I think that these brands are probably confined to Florida or just the Southeast. I like Colavita a lot, but it is not cheap--$17.99 for a 750 ml bottle, according to Cook's Illustrated.

                                              Cook's Illustrated, by the way, has an article on its website, written in July 2008 or 2007 (I've forgotten which), rating EVOO. The top rated ones are far more expensive than what has been requested by Saturninus, but here they are: (1) Columela--$36/liter; (2) Lucini Italia Premium Select--$40/liter; (3) Colavita--$17.99/750ml; (4) Bertolli; and (5) Filippo Berio. However, they really did not think much of Bertolli or Berio. Colavita seems to be the best compromise between cost and flavor--certainly good enough for cooking.

                                              Interestingly, the top rated "supermarket" EVOO from last year, Davinci, was rated as "Unacceptable" this year, which goes to show you how olive oils can change from year to year.

                                              1. I use Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil - first cold press only.

                                                1. I like the Fairway brand. They usually have a whole 'tasting' section of their store brand olive oils, and the cheese guys usually know a thing or two about the oils.

                                                  1. It's funny, I've been doing some olive oil comparisons of late myself. If I'm just cooking in oil and don't want the flavor I use my gallon of Kirland (Costco) olive oil. However, when the flavor counts, I've been using the Colavita. I found two tins of it on an Amazon lightning deal for $18. Tonight ,I sauteed up some sliced portabello with a little drizzled balsamic and truffle salt. So simple, so easy and so good! I definitely use the Colavita in that case. I find the Kirkland brand does not measure up with such a simple dish. I like the Colavita better than the Trader Joes as well as it has a stronger olive flavor - but that's all a matter of taste, not necessarily quality.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Hapgood

                                                      For those of you who have been regular users of Costco's Italian Cold Pressed olive oil, have you noticed a difference lately ? The oil we bought a month ago has this weird after taste to it. Have they changed their supplier maybe ? And do you reckon WF 365 Brand is a good alternative, in case we want to try something different ?


                                                    2. only evoo --- kirkland from costco, "star" brand (spanish), bertolli, whatever good artisanal one is on sale at harris teeter.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Hi all, new to forum as well as olive oil I've tried a few now always extra virgin olive oil I grab the ones in the tinted bottles because they say don’t expose to the light. But no matter which one I buy and sample they all have a bitter acidic aftertaste does that mean they are spoiled or what? The latest I picked up is Filippo Berio organic extra virgin got it home crack the top and tried a teaspoon same thing lite taste to start followed by acidic aftertaste.

                                                        1. re: klevinj

                                                          Try the Sicilian olive oil from Trader Joe. I use that one for cooking and Lucini for salads (I can find it at Whole Foods -- I think I heard that this is what Mario Batali uses.).

                                                          1. re: walker

                                                            im curious as to what the 'good' olive oil is. I wa watching Inas show on foodnetwork awhile back and she was adding solive oil into her beff mixtuer (burgers), and said to make sure you use the 'good' olive oil. To a novice like myself, what is 'good' olive oil...

                                                            1. re: tribeoffyve

                                                              I can't figure out what she uses; I've heard her say it's California Olive Oil.

                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                Ina Garten uses Olio Santo which is available at Williams-Sonoma and IMO is pricey but it sure makes everything I cook with it taste soooo much better! I had a gift care for Xmas this past December and the bottle I bought was $28...can't remember the size but it's what I would describe as medium. Ina is one smart cook and everything I make from her cookbooks is a "keeper" in our family :)

                                                          2. re: klevinj

                                                            Hi Kelvinj, I think you encountered rancid oil. There is a distinct similarity between rancid olive oil and rancid pine nuts. Neither keeps well for many months or in temperatures above 70F. Once you have encountered the bitterness of either, you will recognize the problem in the other. A surprising amount of olive oil on supermarket shelves is rancid. Butter can go rancid, also, but the taste similarity is best experienced in the nuts and the oil. Approach it as you would buying gasoline: don't buy from low-volume stores, or from low-volume brands, no matter how big the store. Take back rancid oil, or the store will think it is OK to keep that junk on the shelves. The worst I got from a chain store was an Australian oil with a red label; returned it. Olive oil shipped from overseas comes in containers which will destroy the oil if they are not climate-controlled, or shipped in favorable weather and related conditions. Ask to taste the oil before you buy it. That will not happen in a Costco. It will happen in a small store specializing in the regional produce. I am fortunate to be near an Italian bakery/deli, which sells Olio Grezzo Naturale; comes in one of those European snap-cap bottles. They are happy to open a liter jug for the tasting; I buy the jug if it is OK, and it is always OK, because that is what they use for cooking in the store. I prefer unfiltered EVOO. It has a wonderful fruity olive flavor, and I have left behind the rancid supermarket stuff. A little goes a long way when using it to cook scrambled eggs, for instance. It is great as the oil to use when making fresh basil pesto, or for the crostini to use with bruschetta.

                                                        2. Cook's Illustrated, as a result of taste tests, recommends the following:

                                                          For plain olive oil (not extra virgin) in order

                                                          For Extra Virgin Olive Oil in order
                                                          Lucini Premium Select

                                                          1. It's funny a lot of people on this thread are recommending Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) for cooking, but the truth is, while EVOO has great flavor, it doesn't work well for sauteing or cooking at medium-high heat. My local Italian market here in Seattle's Pike Place market recommended using a Pure Olive Oil like Tiger Pure (everyday cooking), Colivita Pure (buttery), or San Guiliano (sweet)--also, unless you work in an Italian restaurant, buy it in small bottles so it get used up sooner after it's opened (so i doesn't turn).

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: lattetown

                                                              I think EVOO works well for most Italian cooking. Yes, it will smoke and burn at a certain temperature, but if you saute garlic at that temperature it will be black in 20 seconds.

                                                            2. There's so much myth and pomp surrounding olive oil that it's hard to say. There are several rather cheap California EVOOs that have a much fresher, purer olive flavor than the expensive Italian bottles. I think another poster's point that we've be conditioned to think that peppery, grassy olive oils are good is an interesting one. It's questionable whether those kinds of flavors are desirable in most cooking.

                                                              The only thing I'd trust is blind taste tests among foodies.

                                                              1. My favorite "swiss army knife" olive oil is Trader Joe's Kalamata Olive oil, not their brand but the other one they carry with a green label (Martini's? I can never remember). It's cheap enough at $7 a litre that I don't feel guilty sauteeing and frying with it, but it's tasty enough to use raw on salads, in lieu of butter, and the like. It's got a nice green color and a fresh, grassy taste with some black pepper notes.

                                                                1. You shouldn't grill with EVOO because of its intolerance to high heat. I like Trader Joe's for cooking/grilling. It's a blend of refined and EVOO. and you can't beat the price... $6.99/liter. For EVOO needs, I like their 100% Kalamata ($8.99).

                                                                  1. Pure or pomace-whatever is on sale

                                                                    1. Consumer Reports noted that many "extra virgin" olive oils are not cold pressings, but cheap ground oils. They rated the "Star" brand, sold in tins at Costco, as one of the ten best. It's also an amazing bargain for a true, extra virgin oil.

                                                                      1. I have a friend with an olive oil ranch in the Santa Ynez valley. She makes award winning olive oil, Rancho Olivos. She said the "low flash point" for olive oil isn't really the case, unless it's an oil that has a lot of preservatives. The New York Times did an article not too long ago about the olive oil we import from Italy. We think it's top notch, and we pay top price, but it's really often outsourced from somewhere else and the exporters slap an "Italian" label on it. (not that you can't buy good oil from other places....but you should know what your'e buying) It's put in a cheap bottle (you want a dark one, so the light doesn't affect it as quickly) and it sits on a dock forever. Preservatives are added to keep it from
                                                                        becoming rancid. So...you are, in many cases, getting a diluted and inferior product. I only buy local, artisanal olive oil now. It may be a bit more expensive, but it lasts longer, tastes better and I know what I'm getting.