10 Olive Oils for Cooking, Dressing, Dipping and Everything In Between

Zoe ranked best for “all-purpose use” among top 12 Olive Oils for Cooking, Dressing, Dipping and Everything In Between

Your guide to what kind of olive oil to use when.

By Alexis Pisciotta for Food Network Kitchen

With all the options in the market right now, choosing an olive oil can be overwhelming. Arbequina? Kalamata? Dark green in color or golden like straw? The good news is, there are lots of good quality oils out there, with all different flavor profiles, at many different price points. Once you know what to look for, with a few rules of thumb, the rest is simple.

How to Buy and Store Olive Oil

Freshness is the most important factor. The volatile compounds that make olive oil so delicious are also really sensitive to heat, air and light. You’ll want to store your oils in a cool, dark place. That’s why the bottles themselves are often, but not always, dark in color, or in an opaque tin. Oil stays fresh in a sealed container for up to two years tops, but is best for only one year, provided it hasn’t been improperly stored and handled. Look for “best-by” dates to help you with this. If you open a bottle of oil, it should smell fresh and fruity. If it smells musty or like damp cardboard, it’s gone off and belongs in the trash. Even cooking with it will transfer those flavors to your food. Once a container is open, it can spoil within a few months, so it might not make sense to buy the big tin of oil to save money if you aren’t going to use it that often.

What Are the Different Kinds of Olive Oil?

For the different types of oil, extra virgin is the least refined, and extra light is the most refined. A more refined oil will have less flavor and a higher smoke point, and extra virgin retains the most character of the fruit. Classic olive oils, pure olive oils and others are in between, and there isn’t a consistent system categorizing them. A common misconception, though, is that you can’t cook with extra virgin olive oil because of its lower smoke point, but you actually can, you just need to pair the right oil with its task. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to use a really expensive oil for cooking as many of the compounds that give it nuanced, complex flavors are destroyed when heating.

Finally, olive oils can have all sorts of flavor profiles. Some are spicy, fruity, bitter or nutty. If you know spicy isn’t your thing, then that’s okay! Here are 10 oils we like and some ideas to get you started.

This article has been reviewed since its original publish date for accuracy, pricing and availability. We stand by our list of top olive oil picks.

$21.97 (2 pack) 

There are other reasons that Zoe is a great all-purpose oil to have around than the fact that it comes in large tins at a good price. It’s buttery and fruity, with nice body, and works in a wide range of uses from making focaccia, to aioli, to sweating mirepoix for stew.

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