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Why Is Olive Oil Bitter? And How To Fix It

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First time when I noticed that olive oil could be bitter shocked me. I was adding it to my salad as I regularly do, and the taste was way too bitter, and I couldn’t find what makes it that way.

Later I found out that my olive oil was bitter, but the thing is that it wasn’t like that from the beginning, which means that something changed its taste.

I want to make this article explain in more detail what can make olive oil taste bitter and help you understand if this is a natural process or something you should worry about because I was for sure worried about it.

bitter olive oil

Why is my olive oil bitter?

The bitter taste in olive oil comes from oleuropein, which is an antioxidant polyphenol, which naturally is present in olives and, therefore, in olive oil as well.

Depending on the olive oil you had, the bitter taste might be natural due to the taste of raw olives, which are actually pretty bitter before they are brined. We are used to olives being salty, but that is not their actual taste.

So bitter olive oil is not a bad thing if this is the taste it is supposed to have. However, we are used to olive oil that is processed more, and the bitter taste was neutralized in the process, and the number of polyphenols is lower, so it doesn’t have a bitter taste.

In this case, if you are 100% sure that the olive oil wasn’t bitter in the beginning and now it has a bitter taste, it is due to mixing it too much in your food since it can get bitter if you agitate it too much as I said in this article about bitter tasting pesto. Or the olive oil is too old and is already rancid, which can alter its taste.

When it comes to the bitter taste in cooking with olive oil, it might be because it is burned since the smoking point of olive oil is much lower than the regular oil we use for cooking. I have an entire article about frying with olive oil here

How to fix bitter olive oil?

An interesting fact about bitter-tasting olive oil is that the polyphenols which are responsible for the bitter taste are water-soluble. So, the most efficient way, according to Seriouseats is to try to dissolve those in boiling water.

oil and water

All you have to do is to add boiling water to a heatproof bowl and put the oil that you want to debitter on top, mix them for about a minute and then let them cool for 30 to 60 minutes for the oil to come on top.

After that comes the fun part of trying to spoon the debittered olive oil from the water, which can be time-consuming, so make sure you really want to do that.

Before trying to fix the bitter taste in olive oil, you must make sure that the olive oil doesn’t taste bitter because it is rancid.

How to know if it’s rancid or bad?

Extra virgin olive oil will last for a very long time, anywhere between 18-24 months, but it can go bad or rancid, so it is better to check if you have had it for a while.

Also, you don’t know the conditions it was stored in the store you bought it from, which can affect how fast it is going bad.

The time is not that important since a properly stored olive oil can still be good to use even after the expiration date, this is not recommended, but it can be the case.

I will let you know a few things you should check before using olive oil to make sure it is not bad.

-The color. Rancid olive oil will have a greener color that will not be as clear as regular olive oil is; it will be more cloudy.

-The taste. You will feel the difference between the regular bitter taste that olive oil can have and its bitter taste when it is rancid. One more thing to know is that when it is rancid, it will not have its regular sweet, fresh herb taste anymore.

-The smell. The smell is one the most important things to check regarding rancid olive oil. It is like fermented fruit, which is hard to miss since it is quite off-putting. So, if you smell the olive oil and you are not sure if it’s good or not, you should not use it anymore because good fresh olive oil will have a nice, fresh smell.

Read Also: Why Is Eggplant Bitter?


The bitter taste in virgin or extra virgin olive oil is usually quite normal. It should not be way too bitter, though.

Check your olive oil before using it to ensure it is still good and is not bitter because it’s rancid.

You should try to fix bitter olive oil only if you need it in a large quantity otherwise is not worth losing the time, and most likely, you will not feel the bitter taste in a recipe if you only add a bit of olive oil.

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