We taste-tested 11 new California olive oils—here are the ones we loved the most.

By Nina Friend
March 23, 2020
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California Olive Oils
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

The vast majority of olive oil in the U.S. is imported from Europe, but California-grown varieties are revolutionizing the industry in both taste and style. Since California’s soil is so versatile, nearly any kind of olive can grow there; this makes the blending options nearly boundless and the finished products diverse and unique. Golden State olive oils now make up 5% of American olive oil consumption, and that number is expected to keep growing. We turned to Nicholas Coleman, cofounder of the premium olive oil subscription service Grove and Vine and previously the chief oleologist at Eataly, to help us evaluate 11 new California olive oils. Here the five we loved the most.

The Disrupter

Brightland’s Awake, an olive oil made with handpicked heirloom Coratina olives, has a peppery kick—great drizzled into sauces and to finish stews. We also love the sleek, UV-proof packaging. ($37, brightland.co)

The Finisher

The robustness of Enzo’s bold olive oil, with its peppery, vegetal flavor and nose of arugula, makes it the ultimate choice for a salad dressing. We also reach for this oil to finish roasted vegetables, soups, and grilled bread. ($13, enzostable.com)

The Go-To Gift

Pineapple Collaborative’s oil is made with a blend of Koroneiki, Arbequina, and Arbosana olives, giving this product a fresh, clean flavor that works just as well in zesty pesto as it does sugary cakes. The white, salmon-, and mustard-colored tins 
are perfect for gifting or leaving out on your kitchen counter. ($28, pineapple

The Workhorse

Cobram Estate has olive groves on two hemispheres, in California and Australia, which allows them to harvest olives twice a year, yielding the freshest oil possible. Cobram Estate California Select is decadent and balanced, with a hint of mint on the tongue. It has great flavor at a great price and is versatile enough to be used for everything from cooking to baking to finishing a dish. ($13, cobramestate.com)

The Standard-Bearer

The McEvoy family has been honing their craft since 1990, and McEvoy Ranch’s Traditional Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made with seven Italian olive varieties. To us, it smells like freshly cut grass—sweet and herbaceous—and tastes buttery and rich. This oil is best used in a setting that allows its sharp flavor to shine: drizzled over pasta, topping a pizza, or as a flavor booster for crudités. ($30, mcevoyranch.com)