Our Favorite Types of Olives to Eat

Olives are something that you either love or hate. If you are a lover of olives, then you will probably like them with everything.

Different types of marinated olives

On pizza, in a salad, on a cocktail stick on their own, if you like olives, then they taste great no matter how they are served.

Even if you don’t like to eat table olives, you probably enjoy olive oil in a wide variety of dishes!

In a lot of cases, people gravitate towards the same type of olive every single time. Due to this, many people do not realize just how many types of olives there are – not just green olives and black olives. All over the world, different types of olives are produced, all with unique flavors, sizes, and shapes. 

It can be easy to stick with eating the type of olive that you know and love. But if you do this, then you will be really missing out. In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best types of olives which you have to try. So keep on reading to find out more. 

Mission Olives

Let’s kick this off with one of the few American varieties of olive that exist, and this is Mission olives.

mission olives

While this style of olive did not originate in the USA, it is thought that they were brought by missionaries from Spain in the late 1700s, they are now grown in California and are widely popular.

By comparison to some other olives, mission olives are actually very small, and this is because they are harvested when they are green. But, if you want to try these green olives, you will have to be quick, as they are considered to be endangered. 

Gaeta Olives

Speaking of olives that are harvested when green, next up we have Gaeta olives.

Gaeta Olives

These green olives are found in Italy, and they are immensely popular in this country. Just like mission olives, these olives are also incredibly small.

But while they are green when harvested, Gaetas will not be green when they are enjoyed. Gaeta olives are often considered black olives when they are salt-cured, and this makes them wrinkly.

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Alternatively, you might prefer to enjoy these olives brine-cured, which gives them a lilac color. Either way, these olives are incredibly delicious. 

Barnea Olives

As you will notice, different types of olives have been claimed by different countries across the world. Barnea olives have been claimed by Israel, and they are widely enjoyed there.

barnea olives on vine

In Israel, Barnea olives are pickled to be eaten. But, Israel isn’t the only country that produces Barnea olives, in fact, these olives are also grown in Australia and Argentina.

However, in these countries, these olives are not grown to be pickled and eaten. Instead, they are grown with the intention of making olive oil. 

Beldi Olives

This next style of olive is often mistaken for raisins because they look very similar. Beldi olives are produced in Morocco, and they are dry-cured in salt to give them a wrinkled appearance.

beldi olives

They are dark black in color, very chewy and extremely strong in flavor. This is because they are dried before eating.

When we speak of the strong flavor of Beldi olives, the main thing that you taste is salt. After all, these black olives are dried using salt, and this does make for an overpowering flavor.

But, in small amounts, Beldi olives are very yummy. 

Gordal Olives

So far, the majority of the olives that we have looked at have been very small in size, but Gordal olives are the complete opposite.

gordal olives in a bowl

In fact, these green olives are often referred to as jumbo olives because of their large size.

If you have ever seen stuffed olives listed on a restaurant’s menu, then these olives will be Gordals.

Their large size makes them perfect for stuffing with things like meat and cheese, and this is a practice that has occurred in Spain for many years. 

Leccino Olives

Leccino olives are produced in Tuscany, and they will take you by surprise.

Leccino Olives
Leccino Olives

The fruit of the leccino tree is purple-black, although it is best picked while it is purple green. The oil yield is smaller than that of other varieties, and the flavor is delicate. The olive oil from these black olives has a light fruity flavor to it and is usually combined with oil from other varieties.

When you bite into an olive, you will have an idea of what flavors you should expect, but Leccino olives are completely different.

These olives combine both sweet and spicy flavors to create something truly unique, so they are something that you have to try. 

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Castelvetrano Olives

In terms of appearance, Castelvetrano olives are very similar to Leccino olives.

Castelvetrano Olives

They are small and light green/brown in color, and they are perfect for snacking upon. But, these Italian olives have one main difference, and that is their flavor.

Where Leccino olives are spicy, Castelvetrano olives have a mild flavor and meaty flesh. These green olives are perfect for fussy eaters.

Picholine Olives

The majority of the time, you will expect olives to have a nutty flavor, and this is true of Picholine olives.

Picholine Olives
Picholine Olives

Just like many olives, Picholines originated in mainland Europe, being originally grown in France. But, throughout the years, the popularity of Picholine olives has led to them being grown all across the world.

Picholine olives are small and green, and they are pretty much what you expect when you think of olives. With Picholine olives, what you see is what you get, and this is what has made them so popular all around the globe. 

Kalamata Olives

In contrast to the green/brown olives that you usually picture when you think of these snacks, Kalamata olives are dark purple in appearance.

Kalamata Olives

These olives are Greece’s most popular olive, and it is the type that they are most famous for across the world. The color of these olives is unique, and that is because these olives are preserved in red wine.

When you look at Kalamata olives, it is easy to mistake them for grapes because they are a similar shape, and once preserved they are a similar color too.

These purple olives are incredibly delicious as table olives or on charcuterie boards, but they are also very filling, which is why most people only eat a couple at a time. 

Manzanilla Olives

Finally, let’s wrap this up with Manzanilla olives. These olives come from Spain, but they are popular all around the world, and it is easy to see why.

Manzanilla Spanish olives

‘Manzanilla’ translates to ‘little apple’, and these olives come in black and green varieties. They are Spain’s most popular olive, and this is because they contain pimento inside them.

While these olives are grown in Spain, they are heavily exported. So, if you are a lover of olives, it is highly likely that you have eaten these olives before.

In fact, you will probably find them in your local grocery store, so why not treat yourself to this Spanish delicacy

Types of Olives

  1. Mission Olives
  2. Gaeta Olives
  3. Barnea Olives
  4. Beldi Olives
  5. Gordal Olives
  6. Leccino Olives
  7. Castelvetrano Olives
  8. Picholine Olives
  9. Kalamata Olives
  10. Manzanilla Olives
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How many varieties of olives are there?

There are over 100 olive varieties today, including both green and black olives. Many olives grown are used for olive oil production, but many are eaten and enjoyed for their salty flavor.

Which is healthier black or green olives?

Both black and green olives contain healthy fats, dietary fiber, and vitamins. Different types of black olives and green olives differ in health, but generally green olives are higher in sodium and calories.

What are the most expensive olives to eat?

The most expensive olives are French olives called lucque olives. They cost about $20 per pound and have a buttery texture that is less salty than other olive varieties.

Is an olive a vegetable or a fruit?

Olives are technically a fruit! They grow on olive trees. Olive trees produce fruit called drupes, which are fruits with a fleshy outer and a hard seed inside, like olives.

What’s Your Favorite Type of Olive?

Try the olives on this list and tell us which is your favorite!

You can also check out the best olives to use in martinis.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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