The best cheap olive oils for cooking and the ones you shouldn’t buy

It’s nice to have a bottle of intense, aromatic, artisanal (read: expensive) extra-virgin olive oil on hand for finishing dishes and drizzling over salads. But for everyday cooking, we like to cook with an extra-virgin that’s on the lighter side, something with more delicate flavor, something, well, cheaper.

To figure out which easy-to-find brand of olive oil is the best, we headed to the Epi Test Kitchen for a taste test.

All of the brand-name olive oils we tested cost less than $12 for 500 milliliters on FreshDirect, which, if I’m being honest, is a little pricey they can all be found for less than $10 per 500 milliters at other outlets. Since we we specifically wanted to evaluate how each oil held up in cooking, we tasted batches of caramelized onions made with each one.

Here are the results:

The Best of the Best

California Olive Ranch Everyday Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

$10.79/500 milliliters or $17.99/liter

This is the Epi Test Kitchen favorite. Food director Rhoda Boone praised its “rich, buttery, smooth” texture and my coworker Kat Sacks liked that the flavor was “neutral with just enough olive” to make it stand out.

O-Live & Co. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

$9.99/500 milliliters

Another pleasantly neutral choice, this brand of Chilean oil offers an EVOO that has a bit of an artichoke-y undertone. Kat S. thought it was “slightly sweet” and called it “a great basic oil.”

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