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Fresh extra virgin olive oil can range in flavor from buttery and mild to bold and grassy with a cough-inducing peppery finish. The variety of flavors and styles of olive oil opens a world of possibilities to a home cook but it can also be overwhelming. We put together a simple guide to demystify EVOO and help you choose the best olive oil to pair with your favorite foods.

Extra virgin olive oil generally falls into three categories: delicate, medium, or robust. There are a few factors that determine an olive oil’s flavor profile, and while weather and climate during the growing season play a role, the varietal of olive and harvest date are of most important. Here’s what you need to know about each style of EVOO.

How to Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Delicate Olive Oil

Delicate olive oil is made with olives harvested in the later stages of ripeness. The oil will have a smooth and buttery taste, you’ll notice a fruitiness in the nose, no bitterness at all, and a slightly peppery finish.

Delicate varietals – Arbosana, Picual, Mission can be delicate and buttery when harvested later.

How to Use Delicate Olive Oil

Delicate olive oils are ideal for baking or as a substitute for butter or mayonnaise.

Baking – Try a delicate extra virgin olive oil as a substitute for butter or vegetable oil in any of your favorite baked goods. It’s especially nice in cakes and muffins.

Recipe to try – Banana Oat Bran Muffins

Seafood – Because of the buttery flavor and richness of a delicate EVOO, they work well with shellfish and fish as a finishing oil or for cooking.

Recipe to try – Olive Oil Poached Salmon

As a butter swap – You can use our butter to olive oil conversion chart to swap out the butter in your favorite recipes, but you can even use delicate olive oil as a condiment.

Recipe to tryOlive Oil & Herb Popcorn

How to Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Medium Olive Oil

A medium EVOO is made with a combination of olives harvested in both the early and mid-stages of harvest. This oil offers a fruity taste, a grassy scent, and a peppery or spicy finish.

Medium varietals – olive oils made from Arbequina, Koroneiki, and Ascolano olives can be medium-intensity, depending on the harvest.

How to Use a Medium Olive Oil 

Medium olive oils are fantastic on vegetables and in vinaigrettes and make delicious bread dipping oils.

Salads – Fruit, medium-intensity olive oils work nicely on any greens, from mild butter lettuce to peppery arugula.

Recipe to try – One Vinaigrette, Four Ways

Roasted Veggies – Toss veggies with EVOO before roasting and then drizzle those tender, caramelized beauties with more olive oil to finish.

Recipe to try – Roasted Acorn Squash

Bread Dipper – Crusty bread, fresh EVOO, sea salt. Done.

Recipe to try – Bread Dipping Oil

How to Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Robust Olive Oil

Robust olive oil offers bold flavor, a balanced bitterness, and a very prominent peppery finish. You’ll also enjoy a fruity scent to the nose with this oil.

Robust varietals – Tuscan varietals like Frantoio and Leccino tend to be more robust.

How to Use a Robust Olive Oil 

In general, robust olive oils are best used for bold flavors: grilled or roasted meats, tomato dishes, and as a finishing oil.

Grilled Meat – Robust, peppery oils are a natural pairing for beef or lamb.

Recipe to try – Olive Oil Marinated Skirt Steak

To Finish – Intensely flavored oils are perfect drizzled on soups, roasted vegetables, and pasta to add a bold, punch of flavor.

Recipe to try – Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Chile, & Garlic

Tomato Dishes – Tomatoes and olive oil are a natural pairing and we especially love robust, grassy olive oil on our tomatoes.

Recipe to try – Savory Yogurt with Balsamic Tomatoes & Cucumbers


We have a simple method for putting together a delicious salad dressing recipe and once you learn it, you’ll be able to adapt it endlessly with your favorite olive oil, vinegar, herbs, and flavors. The most important thing is to let taste guide you. If you’re using a highly acidic vinegar or lemon juice, you’ll definitely want to add the honey for balance. If you’re using a sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, you probably don’t need any honey. You can also reduce the amount of vinegar or lemon and increase the olive oil, depending on your taste preferences.

Here are our general measurements to make about a half cup of salad dressing, which will serve 4.

  • 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  •  A few teaspoons of other stuff like herbs and spices
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste

To make it add all ingredients to a bowl or a mason jar and mix until well combined. If using a mason jar, you can simply put the lid on and shake the jar until well combined.

Check out our favorite variations below.

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup We Olive Fresh Basil Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste

Chili Lime Vinaigrette

This salad dressing is delicious on slaw and other crunchy, shredded salads, and it’s also fantastic on roasted sweet potatoes and squash.

Rosemary Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette is beautiful on fall and winter salads, spooned over roast pork and chicken, and lovely on greens with fresh fruit and goat cheese.

Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette is our go-to for green salads that are loaded with fruit, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted nuts. It can also be adapted with different fruit vinegars and jams so use whatever you have in your pantry!

We Olive’s Champagne Mimosa Vinegar is a staff favorite! It’s made in San Luis Obispo County, CA and starts with ripe juicy citrus and is a true California Champagne vinegar. This blend has an effervescent, tangy flavor with a touch of citrus.

How to Use Champagne Mimosa Vinegar


The citrus elements in the vinegar make it a natural match for seafood. We love it drizzled on grilled shrimp or fish and it’s also delicious with Jalapeno Olive Oil on fish tacos!


Try marinating chicken in equal parts Champagne Mimosa Vinegar and your favorite olive oil for super flavorful grilled chicken. Our favorite pairing is Fresh Garlic Olive Oil, but you could also pair with our Organic Meyer Lemon Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil for a double dose of citrus flavor!


This is THE vinegar to brighten up your fruit salads. Sprinkle a little bit on cut fruit for a simple snack or pair it with Organic Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and chopped fresh mint for an elevated fruit salad.


Add a little bit of this vinegar to sparkling water for a refreshing boost of flavor without the added sugar or stir it into your favorite cocktails. We like to muddle fresh berries with a splash of this vinegar and top with ice and vodka for a skinny cocktail!


What is an elderberry?

Before we get into how to use Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar, let’s talk about elderberries! Elderberries have deep traditions in native cultures as a remedy for colds, flus and stomach aches. Modern studies indicate that the juice from these berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins C, A, B6, iron and beta carotene and may be effective at
boosting our immune systems. When ripe, these currant-sized berries turn a beautiful shade of black, blue or purple. They’re not overly sweet, but they have a super bright flavor and the perfect earthy and tart balance.

How does it taste?

We Olive’s Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar is a balsamic-based vinegar made with elderberry syrup. The syrup is made from sustainably-grown elderberries harvested in Monterey County, CA and produced in small batches in San Luis Obispo County, CA. The vinegar is sweet and tart with an earthy depth of flavor.

How to use Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar

Vinaigrettes and Salads – This vinegar is delicious in a vinaigrette and pairs well with any olive oil in the We Olive lineup. Try it with an EVOO like our Arbequina Blend and make this Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette for your next green salad. Or pair it with one of our flavored olive oils like Blood Orange, Organic Meyer Lemon, Basil or Jalapeno for a bold combination that works beautifully on fruit and vegetable salads.

Marinades – This tart, earthy vinegar is delicious in marinades for beef, chicken or game. Pair it with Fresh Garlic Olive Oil and your favorite herbs for great grilling flavor.

Grain Bowls – Try drizzling it on grain-based salads or bowls. We like using farro, bulgur or barley as a base for grilled or roasted veggies, chopped fresh herbs and some crumbled cheese like feta or goat cheese. The Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar adds earthy acidity to a hearty salad!

Beverages – Elderberry Balsamic makes a great addition to sparkling water and can also be used to create delicious cocktails. Swap out the Blackberry Balsamic for Elderberry in this Spritzer or make an Elderberry Old Fashioned using this recipe we created with our Fig Balsamic Vinegar swapping figs for your favorite fresh berry.

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We love experimenting with flavor combinations and this perfect pairing is a must for summer cooking! Our Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar and Fresh Basil Olive Oil are a match made in heaven. Learn more about these two tasty products and how to use them together.

Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar

This California balsamic vinegar is sweet and smooth with a pleasant tang.  Made with organic blackberries grown on the central coast of California, this balsamic vinegar is bursting with summertime freshness. 

How to use it

Use as a reduction and drizzle it on your favorite desserts, fruit salads, or cheese plates.  Throw a splash of our Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar into your favorite iced tea or lemonade recipes for a new summertime favorite.  Try this balsamic as a marinade for pork or chicken

Fresh Basil Olive Oil

Our Fresh Basil Olive Oil tastes and smells like a freshly picked bunch of basil. Try this drizzled on fresh tomatoes or white bean soup. Also try it over pasta, in sauces or pestos.  Made using hand-picked basil and prepared for infusion within hours. Made with certified extra virgin olive oil.

How to use it

Top your favorite pasta with Fresh Basil Olive Oil, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan cheese for a quick and easy dinner dish.  Roast or sauté veggies in Fresh Basil Olive Oil to intensify earthy, fresh flavors.

How to use Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar and Fresh Basil Olive Oil together

On tomatoes

There is something about this combination of olive oil and vinegar that is reminiscent of perfectly ripe tomatoes which makes it a delicious addition to in-season tomatoes. Drizzle it over sliced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper for a simple summer side dish or make it a Caprese salad by adding sliced fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.

In a cocktail

This Blackberry Basil Spritzer is a refreshing summer drink that will keep you hydrated. Seasonal blackberries and fresh basil pair perfectly with a hint of lime. We’ve also added some variations on this drink so you can experiment with other flavors or turn it into a cocktail!

As a marinade

This combo is the perfect marinade and salad dressing. Drench all of your favorite summer veggies in this before they go on the grill. Our favorites are zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, peppers and mushrooms. Marinate chicken or pork overnight in it before grilling. Or combine all of the above for flavorful kebabs!

On fruit

Whisk up equal parts of this vinegar and olive oil duo and drizzle it on your favorite summer fruits! We like to marinate berries in Blackberry Balsamic and Fresh Basil Olive Oil and put it on top of Greek yogurt for breakfast or ice cream for dessert. It’s delicious paired with olive oil cake or bundt cake!

No summer BBQ is complete without a good potato salad. Learn how to make potato salad without a recipe and find out our favorite variations on this summer classic.

Step 1: Boil Your Potatoes

Here’s what to keep in mind in terms of potatoes and quantity. You want around 1/4 lb to 1/2 pound of potatoes per person.  You can use any kind of potato you want, just stick to one kind for each salad. Different varieties of potatoes cook at different rates and you want them all to be the same texture and cooked evenly.  You can peel them (if you like) and cut them into bite-size pieces.

We follow the Epicurious method for cooking potatoes for salad: To cook potatoes, always start them in cold water. If you toss potatoes into hot water the outsides will overcook and the insides will undercook, and it’ll be a textural mess. So have a pot of cold water next to you as you peel (or don’t) and slice your potatoes, and put them directly into that water as you go, which will prevent the potatoes from oxidizing. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and a splash of vinegar to the water to season as well as help keep the potatoes from overcooking, and then bring it to a boil over medium heat. Turn it down to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 minutes to half an hour depending on the size and type of your potatoes.

This is the fun part. How are you going to dress your potatoes? You can go creamy with mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt based dressings. Or you can treat it more like a green or veggie salad and whip up a vinaigrette-style dressing.

We love the following ideas from Anna Stockwell and we’ve also included some of our favorites featuring We Olive products at the end of this post.

Making dressing for potato salad doesn’t need to be any different from making dressing for a salad. You start with a mix of oil and acid, then add something creamy if you want, then season and spice it up to taste. I love a mix of olive oilpickle juiceDijon, and mayonnaise—the pickle juice takes care of the acid as well as the seasoning all in one. Or sometimes I cook sliced bacon to add to the potato salad and then use the hot bacon fat as the base of a dressing whisked with grainy mustard and apple cider vinegar and balanced with a little honey and black pepperEVOOlemon juice, and just a touch of mustard whisked with finely chopped shallots and a pinch of red pepper flakes is especially nice on fingerling potatoes. Taste your dressing, add more salt or spices if desired, and you’re ready to go. Make more dressing than you think you’ll need—if you don’t use all of it on the potato salad you’ll use it for another salad soon enough.

Step 3: Dress Your Potatoes While They’re Warm

Warm potatoes will absorb more of the dressing than they would if they were cold, so drain your potatoes and get the dressing on there right away. If you plan to serve the dish cold, let it chill for a bit and then adjust the seasoning and add in any extras. If you’re serving it warm, taste, adjust the seasoning, add in your extras and serve. .

Step 4: Add in Some Extras

There are a lot of ways to add flavor, color, and texture to your dressed potatoes. We love the addition of chopped fresh herbs to potato salad. If you love onions, try diced red onion or minced shallot. If you want a little crunch, celery is a classic addition, but we also like to blanch crisp veggies like broccoli or green beans and add them in for texture. Olives, capers, and tapenade offer an extra dose of flavor, just go easy on the salt in the dressing if you’re adding them in. We also love topping a potato salad with crumbled bacon and toasted nuts.

We Olive Favorites

Classic Flavors

We Olive Arbequina Blend EVOO + Olivas de Oro Dill Pickle Dijon + Mayonnaise

Add-in: Chopped chives and crumbled bacon

Provençal Style

We Olive Fresh Garlic Olive Oil + White Wine Vinegar + Dijon Mustard + Black Olive Tapenade

Add-in: Chopped fresh parsley and minced shallots

Garden Fresh

We Olive Fresh Basil Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Basil Pesto

Add-in: Minced sundried tomatoes and arugula



Hot dogs are a staple of summer grilling and we have a host of tasty hot dog topping ideas to inspire your next cookout. Set up a variety of toppings for a hot dog bar or pick one or two for a weeknight dinner.

Custom Ketchup

Whip up a smoky, sweet ketchup with a kick. Add Smoked Brown Sugar and our Ghost Pepper Salt for an inventive twist on a classic condiment.

Quick-Pickled Onions or Veggies

You can pickle sliced onions in about 30 minutes and they make a FANTASTIC topping for hotdogs and sausages. You can also thinly slice any veggie and turn it into a pickle. Our favorites include carrots, cucumber, radishes and peppers. We use this recipe which calls for Apple Cider Vinegar, but you can make it with any We Olive vinegar!

Mouth-watering Mustard

Mustard and hot dogs are an obvious choice, but We Olive mustards offer a lot more flavor than your average yellow mustard. Pair our Wasabi Sake Mustard with pickled ginger and sliced cabbage, try our Sweet Balsamic Mustard with arugula and blue cheese and use Olivas de Oro’s Dill Pickle Mustard with potato chips and pickled peppers. Trust us.

Spice it Up!

Our Jalapeno Olive Oil adds a fresh peppery kick to everything it touches. It’s perfect drizzled on a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with pico de gallo and guacamole.

Go to the Mediterranean

Top your dog or sausage with our Black Olive Tapenade or Spicy Green Olive Tapenade (or both!) and add chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion and freshly chopped parsley. Bonus: add some crumbled feta and a drizzle of EVOO! Find more fun ways to use tapenade here.

Caprese Dog

Our absolute favor summer salad is a classic Caprese and we have no qualms about putting it right on top of a hot dog or Italian sausage. Cut cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, cut cubes of fresh mozzarella, slice up some fresh basil and then drizzle it all with Fresh Basil Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar. Boom! Best hot dog ever.

Get Figgy with It

Take your favorite dog or sausage, smother it in our Balsamic Fig Almond Spread, top with sliced onions (bonus points for pickled onions!) and add arugula and some shredded gruyere. Delish!

We are huge fans of tapenade, the robustly flavored olive condiment born in Southern France. So much so that we created three different tapenades each with a unique flavor profile. Tapenade is not just a dip or a spread, it is incredibly versatile as a flavoring ingredient, you’ll want to keep a jar of it in your fridge at all times. We’ve compiled a list of 18 ways to use tapenade for you here.

      1. Toss tapenade with boiled new potatoes, blanched green beans, and shallots.  Chill.  Add a few tomato slices, hard-boiled egg, and tuna for a Niçoise-esque potato salad.
      2. Add a dollop to your morning avocado toast.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Fried egg highly encouraged.
      3. Thin the tapenade out with more olive oil and add a touch more lemon juice.  Bam!–Olive Vinaigrette for salads!
      4. And speaking of salads, think green salad, pasta salad, potato salad — just before you dress it, stir some tapenade into the dressing, whether it’s mayo or a vinaigrette.
      5. If you’ve ever had a muffuletta, you know that olives are great on sandwiches. Mixing some tapenade in with mayonnaise is a simple way of having a muffuletta-style experience without having to travel to its native New Orleans.
      6. Take that tapenade mayo and put it on a burger. Even better, make it a lamb burger.
      7. Swirl it into a simple soup.
      8. Dress a bowl of pasta.  Use a little pasta water to loosen it up.  Shower with parmesan and fresh mint and/or parsley.  Yum.
      9. Another pasta idea? Stir some tapenade into your red sauce (the plainer, the better, so the flavors of the tapenade aren’t lost) and toss with hot noodles.
      10. Rub it under the skin of your next roast chicken.  Roast some potatoes in the same pan to catch the olive-y drippings.
      11. Mix the tapenade into softened butter and spread on grilled sweet corn.  Sprinkle with chives.  This move will change your life.
      12. Take some of that softened tapenade butter and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment and roll it out into a 1- to 2-inch thick log and chill to harden. Cut slices to set on top of grilled or seared meats or fish. The heat from the meat will melt the butter, creating a delicious sauce as it mixes with the juices from the meat.
      13. Stir it into hummus, make a cucumber salad, and grab a bag of pita chips on your way to the park.  Picnic!  Don’t forget a bottle of wine.
      14. Grill steaks or fish and smear a spoonful over the top.
      15. Pizza. This may sound crazy, but, trust me, it’s delicious. Especially if you’re making homemade pizza, just spread some tomato sauce over the dough, spoon some tapenade over and sprinkle with julienned red onions.
      16. Add it to sandwich salads, like tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, they’d all benefit from a spoonful of tapenade stirred in. Or, save yourself the trouble and use the tapenade mayo from above when you make the salad in the first place.
      17. Eggs! Tapenade and eggs are a great combo in just about any form. Just remember that the tapenade is so powerful, a little goes a long way. Smear some across the interior side of your omelet just before folding or stir it into your eggs before scrambling. For over-easy eggs, just after you crack your egg into the pan, spoon a little tapenade into the still liquid whites. When you flip the egg, the tapenade gets cooked in.
      18. And don’t forget deviled eggs. Tapenade is a terrific topper for deviled eggs.

    Thanks to The Strawberry Plum for tapenade ideas and inspiration.

Shop Tapenade Online


It’s time to fire up the grill and we have a host of easy grilling marinades to kick off your summer. Check out our favorite ways to flavor meat, poultry, seafood and veggies using We Olive olive oils, balsamic vinegars and your favorite pantry staples.

Garlic Rosemary Balsamic Marinade

This simple marinade is delicious on flank or skirt steak but really works for anything you plan to grill: pork, chicken, even veggies will benefit from a soak in this sauce!


Jalapeno-Lime Marinade

This Jalapeno-Lime Marinade is our favorite marinade for steak or chicken, especially if it’s going to end up in a taco! You can also use it on pork, seafood and even veggies.


Lemon Herb Marinade

This lemon herb marinade is our go-to for summer grilling. It’s the perfect seafood marinade but it also works beautifully on chicken and vegetables. We used fresh oregano and parsley in this version, but you can swap out any fresh herbs you have on hand. If you don’t have Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, use regular extra virgin olive oil and the zest of a couple of lemons instead.


Blackberry Basil Marinade

The combination of our Fresh Basil Olive Oil and our Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar is somehow reminiscent of perfectly ripe tomatoes. Drench all of your favorite summer veggies in this before they go on the grill. Our favorites are zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, peppers and mushrooms!

Smoky Citrus Marinade

The flavors in this marinade are bold and make for a delicious Spanish-inspired meal from the grill. We Olive’s fruity and aromatic Blood Orange Olive Oil is paired with oregano, garlic and smoked paprika and works equally well on both meats and vegetables. Try it with this recipe for Spanish Blood Orange Pork Kebabs.

The weather is warming up and we’ve added some new seasonal items and brought back some customer favorites to our wine bar menu! Come into a We Olive & Wine Bar near you to enjoy our Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad, back by popular demand, along with these new sandwiches, salads and bites!


We Olive Seasonal Summer Salad

We serve this fresh and flavorful summer salad in our wine bar during the warmer months. It’s a delicious starter or side salad but it makes a light summer meal when topped with grilled chicken or shrimp.

Burrata Bowl

This simple burrata bowl is one of our most popular wine bar menu items. Creamy burrata cheese is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with Coconut Curry Nut Crumbs, which add great flavor and texture. Serve this simple appetizer with toasted baguette and a glass of wine.

Hummus Sandwich

This hummus sandwich is a new addition to our wine bar menu and it is loaded with fresh, healthy toppings that will fill you up but won’t weigh you down. Use this recipe as a guideline for creating your own version with all your favorite things!


Find more wine bar recipes here!