Olive oil is one of the healthiest cupboard basics of all time.
You probably don’t think about it as a supplement, but just because it’s great on a salad doesn’t mean there aren’t powerful biologically active compounds in it. Olive oil is great for heart health, fighting inflammation, and even keeping your skin and hair healthy.
Worried about whether your olive oil is legit? We tracked down the best brands so you don’t have to worry about adulterated or impure olive oil masquerading as “extra virgin.”
Last updated: April 12, 2023
Olive oils considered: 23
Hours of research: 40
Experts reviewed: 6
Scientific papers referenced: 28
1. Ellora Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The best olive oil out there comes in a metal tin and is produced at a single-source farm in Greece. The label bears a PDO certification, which stands for Protected Designation of Origin: Crete, the region of Greece in which Ellora Farms is located, lays a special claim on its olive oils.
Just like real champagne is legally required to be produced in the Champagne region of France, according to specific procedures, so too is Ellora’s specific type of olive oil. Ellora Farms’ oil is great for cooking or for supplement-style uses, like blending into a smoothie; you can’t go wrong with this one.
2. Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zoe is a Spanish brand of olive oil that’s a rarity among imported olive oils because it carries the North American Olive Oil Association seal for inspected and certified extra virgin olive oil.
This means it’s a lot more likely to actually live up to the claims of purity on the tin. This is definitely a foodie’s olive oil; the product is specially blended with several olive varieties to give it a distinctive, spicy taste. It’d be a bit of a waste to toss an artisan product like this into a smoothie; save that for the bulk brands.
3. Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Can you imagine that Kirkland Signature, the humble purveyor of inexpensive bulk food items, could turn out a pure, reliable extra virgin olive oil? Well, it’s the truth!
In the infamous University of California study that uncovered numerous major store brands that were peddling olive oil that didn’t actually meet the standards of “Extra Virgin,” Kirkland Signature passed the tests with flying colors. Your impression of quality olive oils might be tiny, dark glass bottles with exotic labels, but Kirkland Signature shows that this isn’t always the case.
4. Corto Olive Co. 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Corto is one of the best bulk buys on the market; you might think of it as the olive oil equivalent of great boxed wine. The olive oil comes in a large three liter bladder inside a cardboard box.
It’s nothing fancy, and you might guess that its quality would be subpar because of this, but it was one of the popular brands that actually passed the Olive Institute’s testing back in 2015. It’s a good-quality olive oil that flies under the radar, but if you go through a lot of olive oil, it’s a fantastic choice.
5. California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
California Olive is another big brand that does quite well in purity certifications, historically speaking. As a domestically produced olive oil, inspections and quality standards are likely up to a higher bar.
The “Chef Size” comes in a 1.4 liter bottle that’s great if you go through a lot of olive oil, but still don’t want to opt for something truly huge, or that comes in a bag instead of a bottle.
6. PJ Kabos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you are going for an award-winner, this is the olive oil to pick. PJ Kabos is a perennial ribbon-winner at olive oil competitions, so if you trust the experts, it’s the boutique pick to go with.
The downside is that you don’t actually get a whole lot of olive oil: just 16.9 fluid ounces per tin, nor does it bear any special purity certifications. You’ve got to figure, though, that a major award-winning boutique brand like PJ Kabos wouldn’t be cutting corners, seeing how it could affect their reputation.
7. Sky Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sky Organics produces a gourmet olive oil in Greece and imports it into the United States. As such, its production methods and purity are certified, but by Greek associations, not the usual North American one.
It comes in a small, 17 ounce bottle, and though it’s entered (and often done well) in gourmet olive oil competitions, the company also touts its ability to be used as a homemade cosmetic too. It’s perhaps not the best if you go through a lot of olive oil on a regular basis, but if you are looking for an everyday olive oil from the region of the world where it was invented, go for Sky Organics.
8. La Tourangelle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
La Tourangelle is a Spanish brand that’s artisan-made from organic olives. It’s excellent for gourmet cooking and has a great, balanced taste.
The only downside is the relatively small 500 mL package, which makes it not the best choice for heavy users. This might be a great olive oil for fancy cooking, but your “daily driver” should be something else in most cases.
9. Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Colavita is a big seller, and although it failed the Olive Institute’s purity testing back in 2015, Colavita has (allegedly, at least) shaped up: its bottles now bear the label of the North American Olive Oil Association, which is supposed to certify and inspect olive oil for purity and quality standards.
Still, you’ve got to view the brand with a little lingering suspicion given its history. It’s a good bulk buy, to its credit, but not the best.
10. Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is another popular brand that was caught up in the sub-par olive oil scandal a few years back. Pompeian, like many of the other major brands out there, have cleaned up their act, and are now certified by the North American Olive Oil Association, or NAOOA.
It’s a popular buy and it comes in a fairly large bottle, though it is an import, not a domestic olive oil (domestic oils have a better track record when it comes to purity and quality). If you want top quality, you’ll have to look higher up in the rankings.
Best olive oil overall: Ellora Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ellora Farms is cold-processed, PDO-certified, and traceable right to the very farm that grows the olives. Whether you’re cooking, baking, or just adding a boost of healthy oils to a protein shake, Ellora should be your first choice if you want a top-notch olive oil.
Best olive oil for skin care: Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For cosmetic purposes, it’s hard to beat Kirkland—it’s pure, reliable, and easy to use, allowing you to use the nourishing and moisturizing properties of olive oil to make your skin softer, smoother, and more radiant.
Best olive oil for tanning: Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil has been used for tanning going all the way back to ancient times. Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil is perfect for soaking up the sun without drying out your skin, thanks to its purity and large, easy to use bottle.
Best olive oil for face care: California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For keeping your face clear and moisturized, California Olive is a great option. It’s a smaller, boutique olive oil, but facial care only requires a small amount of olive oil, so you can take advantage of the exceptionally high quality of the oil.
Best olive oil for hair: Corto Olive Co. 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This simple boxed olive oil is perfect for hair care. Unlike glass bottles, it won’t shatter if you drop it in the bathroom, and it’s economically sized to make things easy even if you have lots of voluminous hair to moisturize.
Best olive oil for cooking: Ellora Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ellora Farms is a single-origin olive oil that’s stored in a tin that keeps sunlight and oxygen from damaging the antioxidants. Even if you only use it occasionally, it’s the perfect olive oil for cooking.
Who should buy olive oil?
Pretty much everyone should use olive oil. It’s hard to make a case for anybody not to buy olive oil, given its wide benefits for health and the fact that it’s easy to incorporate into pretty much any kind of diet.
Olive oil is particularly important if you’re at risk for heart disease. Including olive oil as a part of your typical routine is particularly important if you have risk factors for heart disease or metabolic disease, like obesity, high cholesterol or blood lipids. Even so, people who are very healthy should still make sure they’re getting a sufficient amount of olive oil in their diet on a regular basis.
Older adults should also take a lot of olive oil. Olive oil not only reduces the risk of common diseases of aging, like heart disease and metabolic syndrome, but also helps preserve cognitive function as you get older. This makes olive oil a particularly good addition for older adults.
How we ranked
Olive oil’s popularity also means there are a ton of options on the market. We applied strict criteria to determine which olive oils deserved to be in our top rankings.
Extra virgin olive oil only. When it comes to olive oil, quality matters most: since many of the health benefits of olive oil can be traced to the antioxidant properties that are contained by its unsaturated fats and related compounds, we only considered extra virgin olive oils.
These oils contain the highest amount of antioxidants and the lowest amount of oxidized fats, as they are minimally processed compared to other plant and vegetable oils.
Third-party data to verify olive oil purity. Comparisons of the best olive oils on the market were completely turned on their heads following a 2015 report by the Olive Center at the University of California-Davis, which uncovered widespread impurities and failure to meet standards among major importers of olive oil sold in the United States (1).
We used data from the Olive Center’s report to inform our rankings, as well as organizations such as the North American Olive Oil Association and Protected Designation of Origin trademarks, which are good benchmarks for purity.
Protective packaging that prevents oxidative damage. As secondary evaluation criteria, we also looked at the construction of the container, as that influences how well olive oil will last on your shelf after being opened.
Opaque containers, or containers that were tinted to reduce the effects of sunlight, both got bonus points in the rankings for helping to preserve the antioxidant properties of the olive oil within.
Thanks to this combination of independent verification of purity and high-quality storage containers, we’re confident that the olive oils in our rankings are your best shot at maximizing the health benefits of olive oil.
Q: What is the healthiest olive oil?
A: Because the benefits of olive oil are linked, at least in part, to its antioxidant properties, you want the purest and least-processed type of olive oil possible.
That means extra virgin olive oil: search for a product that has a certification from an independent agency such as the North American Olive Oil Association, which ensures that products meet official standards for what constitutes “extra virgin.”
As long as your olive oil meets these standards (as do all of the products on our rankings of the best olive oils of the year), it’s hard to go wrong.
Q: Can you cook with olive oil?
A: Yes, olive oil is a good option for cooking, because it does not oxidize quickly under heat. Though uncooked olive oil has the highest possible concentration of antioxidants, cooking with olive oil is far better than cooking with unhealthy fats.
Q: Are there benefits to drinking olive oil before bed?
A: As far as our research team has been able to tell, no scientific studies have directly studied taking olive oil right before bed (as opposed to some other time of day), though we did uncover some fascinating research connecting a Mediterranean diet pattern with better sleep quality (28).
In that study, older adults who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had better sleep quality, and had a lower risk of changes in sleep patterns over time, compared to adults who did not stick to a Mediterranean diet.
Since olive oil is a main constituent of the Mediterranean diet, it’s not hard to see why olive oil might improve sleep quality. However, whether it matters when you take it is still an open question.
Q: What is extra virgin olive oil?
A: “Extra virgin” is a classification of olive oil that applies to products that meet certain criteria for purity. The details are quite technical: they have to do with the levels of molecular indicators of oxidation and freshness, but for a long time, these standards were not enforced.
After the eye-opening study in 2015 from the University of California-Davis that showed that the majority of products labeled “extra virgin” did not actually meet these criteria, olive oil companies have been much more careful to adhere to the labeling requirements.
Even so, it’s still worth getting an extra virgin olive oil that is certified by an independent agency.
The pure and simple version of extra virgin olive oil is a great investment for supporting your health. The health benefits include protecting you from cardiovascular disease, helping improve liver health, and even protect your brain as you get older.
While there’s no upper limit to the amount of olive oil that you should consume, a good minimum is around 40 to 50 mL per day. This is the minimum amount used in most intervention studies and has been demonstrated to generate positive health benefits.
That being said, the most cutting-edge research is encouraging substantially more olive oil consumption (even going as far as providing participating families with a full liter of olive oil for free, every single week).
Based on all of this evidence, olive oil should definitely be a staple in your pantry and as a part of your daily cooking routine.
For BodyNutrition’s #1 olive oil recommendation, click here.