How To Pick The Best Olive Oil For Dipping Bread

There are a few things that can make a fresh, warm hunk of your favorite bread taste even better, and one of them is olive oil. But it's important to make sure you have the right liquid gold for the job. When it comes to the best olive oil for dipping bread, you're ultimately looking for something that will enhance the experience and add flavor to the doughy delight.

If flavor is key, then extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) will be your best pick. That's because EVOO is the freshest, most minimally processed type of olive oil. It's an unrefined, first cold pressed olive oil, so the fruit's strongest and boldest flavors are able to shine.

EVOO has quintessentially bright, grassy, and even peppery notes, and often a slightly fruity aroma, making it perfect for dipping something like bread into where it can soak up all the flavors. Not to mention it pairs well with Parmesan cheese or herbs if you want to amplify it even further. Once you know that EVOO is the best pick, it all comes down to choosing which flavor profile you prefer.

Choosing a type of EVOO for bread dipping

Extra virgin olive oil is in a world of its own, offering a wide array of flavors and tasting notes, but there are different kinds to choose from. Your three main choices will be EVOO that's either delicate, medium, or intense. These flavor profiles are largely a result of when the olives were harvested — younger olives will carry a more robust, intense flavor, while olives harvested later in the season will have mellowed out.

Since delicate EVOO is typically made with olives that have been harvested later on, this type of olive oil will still come with that slightly peppery finish, but have an overall smoother, milder taste. Intense EVOO, on the other hand, will come with the boldest flavor profile, giving more grassy, peppery notes and even a bitter aftertaste.

As you may have guessed, medium EVOO strikes a middle ground between the two. Its tasting notes are often a bit fruitier but still peppery and complex, and it's usually made with a blend of olives harvested at different stages.

Olive oil dipping sauce ideas

Once you've found the best bread for dipping in olive oil, and have a luxurious EVOO to dip it in, you can get creative and consider blending your oil with other ingredients to make delicious dipping sauces.

There are lots of directions you can take it, whether you want something herby, spice-filled, cheesy, sweet, or savory. For an herb-forward dipping oil, try mixing EVOO and garlic with herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. For spices or bolder flavors to complement the oil, you can add anything from red pepper flakes to smoked paprika to truffle salt.

If you want something with cheese or added texture, mix in some grated Parmesan or chopped olives. To balance the olive oil with a slightly sweet note, try a bit of balsamic vinegar. Citrus zest from a lemon or orange can also bring more brightness. Even consider adding oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes or marinated artichokes to pile on extra savory flavor.