Healthy and multi-layered in taste – extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality is one of the most popular edible oils in Germany. Do cheap private labels from discounters and supermarkets offer reasonable quality? Can you get more enjoyment for more money? And is it worth buying organic oil?
The test by Stiftung Warentest clarifies these questions: 13 of the 19 tested products perform well overall, including some inexpensive oils. However, four organic oils are deficient. They were all rancid, and two also contained very high levels of health-critical mineral oil components. Use the test results to find your favorite.
Why the olive oil test is worthwhile for you
- test results. Our table shows ratings for 19 olive oils, ranging in quality from Good to Poor. Represented in the test are cheap brands from Aldi, Lidl and Co, well-selling brands such as Bertolli as well as organic olive oils and a high-priced oil from the delicatessen trade.
- The best olive oil for you. Using the filter functions, you can use a few clicks to find the price-performance winner of the test, the sensorially best oils or the best organic oils – or simply the test winner.
- Background. We explain which pollutants some olive oils are contaminated with in the test and what health consequences could result from this. We also show how the quality of olive oil has developed since 2017.
- Magazine article as PDF. After activation, in addition to the current test results, you will have access to all olive oil test reports from test magazine since 2019.
For special occasions or everyday cooking
The prices for olive oil are sometimes far apart. The products in the test cost between 5.75 euros and 36 euros per liter. If you want to spend a little more money: The most expensive product in the test is the only one that tastes “very well balanced” and also “like green almonds” and “like green apples”. This oil is for special occasions and refines cold dishes such as salads and antipasti.
For many people, a cheaper standard oil should be sufficient for everyday cooking – also because the fine olive oil aromas evaporate when heated. In the test you will find a selection of oils for less than 10 euros per liter that taste good and do not put too much strain on the household budget.
Tip: Even before unlocking, you can see which olive oils are included in the test without paying.
Organic olive oil sustainable, but not always good
Twelve oils in the test carry the organic seal, including some that are recommended. Anyone who buys them supports organic olive cultivation and thus sustainable agriculture. Chemical-synthetic pesticides are taboo there, specially planted shrubs and flowers provide a home for beneficial insects and improve the soil quality.
However, the use of organic olives does not necessarily lead to a top olive oil. The Stiftung Warentest advises against two organic oils. They contained pollutants that could have come from the manufacturing process. Pleasing: No olive oil was conspicuous in the pesticide test.
Test results for 19 olive oils
Olive oil tested for adulteration
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most adulterated foods in the EU. We therefore checked whether other vegetable oils or poor quality oils were mixed into the products and whether indications of origin for specific countries were correct, for example for Italian olive oil. The EU olive oil regulation makes many specifications to prevent adulteration. Central to extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality: the sensory properties have to be right.
Olive oil should smell and taste fruity, bitter and pungent. It must not have any sensory defects such as pungent, lacty, rancid – otherwise it may no longer be sold as “extra virgin”. The regulation stipulates an officially recognized panel with specially trained tasters for the sensory test. We also commissioned such a panel to evaluate the products. By the way: If an olive oil says “cold pressed”, it must not be heated above 27 degrees Celsius during extraction.
Empty supermarket shelves – shopping in times of crisis
Because we couldn’t get enough olive oil in shops, we bought a number of oils directly from the suppliers as an exception. As usual, we were only able to buy 4 of a total of 26 test candidates in stores. The suppliers made the other 22 oils available to us. To ensure that they are of comparable quality to the oils sold in stores, we later compared them to selected parameters with oils that we had bought later. In seven cases there was evidence that the quality differed. We therefore only gave a test quality rating for 19 oils, 7 received none.
Olive oil is healthy and suitable for frying
Olive oil consists of about 70 percent oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid can reduce unfavorable blood cholesterol in humans. The polyphenols in olive oil are also of health interest. For these secondary plant substances, which protect olives from predators in nature, the EU allows an advertising claim: “Olive oil polyphenols help to protect blood lipids from oxidative stress.” Prerequisite: 20 grams of olive oil provide at least 5 milligrams of the polyphenol hydroxytyrosol and related compounds.
The oleic acid is the reason why extra virgin olive oil heats up well. It can even be used for roasting and deep-frying – on one condition: the smoke point must not be exceeded. Depending on the olive oil, it is between 130 and 175 degrees Celsius. This can be seen from the fact that the oil begins to smoke.
Tip: You can find more information and cooking tips on extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil and other types of oil in our Cooking Oil FAQ. You can find suitable fried food in our tests Bratwurst and veggie alternatives, veggie burger patties and nuggets plus plant-based counterparts.