This Affordable Olive Oil Is the Best Trader Joe's Buy Hands-Down (Sorry, Mandarin Orange Chicken)

There are some food products, like white sugar or baking soda, that don't vary a whole lot from producer to producer. And there are some, like chocolate bars or roasted peanuts, that do. But there is an elusive third category of products: Those that vary a lot from producer to producer, and make other categories of food taste better. Good olive oil falls into this third group—it's an ingredient with a wide gap between OK and stellar, one that can upgrade whatever it touches.

There's nothing quite like a good olive oil for enhancing pasta, beans, poached fish, and so many other dishes. Better still, there's nothing like a good olive oil that doesn't cost much. And this is where we need to discuss the Trader Joe's Sicilian Selezione Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a product that deserves a spot in the TJ's hall of fame.

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Why? Price. Quality. Range. Ability to make weeks, or even months, of eating better.

This olive oil isn't new. It has been regularly stocked for at least five years, "regularly" because it has been known to run out. When we shop, we tend to stick to our routines. We tend to take similar paths through grocery stores like TJ's, grabbing the same great products time after time. So I think it's worth giving this old-but-good olive oil a strong recommendation on the chance that you'll modify your routine and grab this bottle (if you haven't already). If you do, you'll likely be pleased and, better still, a repeat customer.

What Makes the Trader Joe's Sicilian Selezione Extra Virgin Olive Oil So Good?

First, it has a gorgeous golden color, like straw or pilsner. This color hints at the oil's quality and calls to mind the Mediterranean sun, which gave its olives life through silver olive tree leaves. The olives have been cold-pressed to free their liquids, a traditional means of extracting high-quality oil. The resulting oil is extra virgin; it has all of olive oil's health benefits.

In terms of flavor, the TJ's Sicilian Selezione olive oil has some richness and a little bit of welcome grassiness. It has some body, a little weight in the mouth, and a trace of the peppery finish that great olive oils tend to have. With many high-end olive oils, you get an almost spicy sizzle in your throat, a pleasant tingle from good-for-you compounds called oleocanthals. With this oil, that sizzle comes in faintly—something rare in an olive oil below $10.

As you know, olive oil has many uses. Good olive oils can go further than other olive oils, lifting dishes in ways that commodity olive oils can't. Ever drizzled a favorite olive oil into a bowl of savory yogurt? How about a rustic vegetable soup? Or at the last minute, over a bowl of bowl of simple pasta, through the cloud of rising steam?

While bringing all the benefits of a high-quality olive oil, this one is affordable enough that you can use it liberally without worrying much about costs. You can douse and drizzle freely, which is the way olive oil is meant to be used on food. You can even use it in preparations that call for a lot of olive oil, like oil-preserved vegetables or olive oil cake, elevating them.

As this TJ's product shows: A good olive oil is kitchen magic.