The Olive Oil Brand Ina Garten Can't Stop Using

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Ina Garten, widely known as the Barefoot Contessa thanks to her popular long-running Food Network cooking show, has won the hearts of home cooks over her many years in the business. She's become a trusted source not only for her tried-and-true recipes and her helpful cooking tips, but also for the food brands that fill her pantry.

People look to her for good reason; Garten has an impressive resume. In October, Garten published "Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook," one of more than a dozen cookbooks featuring her recipes (per the Barefoot Contessa website). And anyone with that many cookbooks is no stranger to good olive oil.

You'll notice "good olive oil" in Garten's list of ingredients on many of her recipes, from her Perfect Roast Chicken to her Weeknight Bolognese. So, what makes for a "good olive oil" in the Barefoot Contessa's eyes? For Garten, it all comes down to flavor.

The olive oil Ina Garten's been using for over 20 years

There's one brand of olive oil that's good enough for Ina Garten: Olio Santo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It's so good, in fact, that she's been using it for at least 20 years, she told Bon Appétit in 2018. She's been pouring, drizzling, and sopping up this house favorite as long as she's been writing cookbooks, if not longer.

"I like California olive oil better than I like Italian. It's fruiter. It doesn't have that little turpentine-y edge, or bitterness from the olives," Garten said to the magazine. "My favorite one is Olio Santo. I would say I've been using it for the 20 years that I've been writing cookbooks, but probably long before that too."

According to Stonehouse Olive Oil, Olio Santo is "the one that started the California extra virgin olive oil movement" in 1996. So Garten's been onto something all of these years. Olio Santo Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a smooth and buttery cold-pressed California olive oil, currently running for around $51 for two 16.9-ounce bottles on Amazon.

"I use it for everything," Garten said to Bon Appétit of the olive oil. "I use it for sautéing. I use it for dipping. I use it for finishing a salad." It's a versatile choice that's perfect for someone who has as many recipes in their arsenal as she does.

What does 'good olive oil' actually entail?

Buying olive oil can be tricky — you have to know what to look for and what common misconceptions to avoid. Some pro tips, according to Bon Appétit's Claire Saffitz: Always go extra virgin, make sure it's in a dark or opaque bottle, and look for olive oil that comes from only one farm, collective, or country. A good olive oil is all about purity, bottling, and sourcing, which leads to good quality, and in turn, good flavor.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the highest-quality olive oil on the market and is made from cold-pressed olives, explains the Olive Oil Times. (Of course, the fact that it's the highest quality also means it's more expensive than other types of olive oil.) The outlet also notes that EVOO is evaluated by its "fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency."

Whether you go for a California-produced olive oil, as Ina Garten does, or one from Europe or Spain, you'll be getting the best quality if you spring for EVOO.