Our 5 Favorite California Olive Oils

Brightland's Awake is one of our favorites, read on for the rest.

California Olive Oils
Photo: 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. In 2021, Golden State olive oils made up 5% of American olive oil consumption, and that number is expected to keep growing.

That year, 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. We considered each olive oil for flavor, types of olives used, and whether the oil is better suited for cooking and baking or added to salads and to finish dishes. Brightland’s Awake is one of our favorites; read on for the rest.

According to our taste test, these are the best California olive oils.

The Disrupter

Brightland’s Awake is made with handpicked early-harvest Arbequina olives grown on California’s Central Coast. The oil has a peppery kick that makes it great drizzled into sauces and for finishing stews. With a 410-degree smoke point, this extra-virgin olive oil is also excellent for baking and cooking. The olives are cold-pressed within 90 minutes of harvest for freshness, and the oil is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten- and nut-free.

We also love the sleek, UV-proof packaging. The attractive glass bottle protects the oil from light, heat, and air. You can purchase bottles of Awake individually or by subscription.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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