The High-Quality Olive Oil Ina Garten Swears By

If you want to cook or throw a dinner party like Ina Garten, it's helpful to stock your pantry with the Barefoot Contessa's favorite products to use when she whips up some of our favorite recipes from her cookbooks. One kitchen essential that Garten keeps on hand is extra virgin olive oil. This healthy fat is a go-to when creating a bright and punchy vinaigrette for a salad and a pasta dish like the professional chef's Spaghetti Aglio E Olio. But Garten is pretty particular about the type of olive oil she uses, and it might surprise her fans to learn it doesn't originate in Italy.

Garten's favorite extra virgin olive oil to have her cupboards lined with actually a high-quality variety that hails from the Golden State. In an interview with Bon Appétit, Garten stated, "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. I use it for everything. I use it for sautéing. I use it for dipping. I use it for finishing a salad. 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."

What makes it so special?

 Two decades of use is quite an endorsement, but what makes Olio Santo Ina Garten's go-to extra virgin olive oil? According to Garten's website, she likes the taste of this olive oil which she describes as "flavorful, fruity and not heavy." It also is free of any type of bitter aftertaste that you might experience with some olive oils. 

The brand, whose name translates to "sacred oil," has built up quite a reputation since its humble beginnings in 1997. It has even won awards. Sourced from the Central Valley region of Napa, this extra virgin olive oil is cold-pressed, meaning no heat or chemicals have been added to create the oil.  But if Olio Santo EVOO is out of your price range (because it can be pricey) don't stress. Garten says you should buy the best oil that you can budget for — it doesn't need to be the most expensive one in the store.