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Olive Varieties

Fresh olives and olive oil.

Olives are food with a wide range of different varieties. Some are black, some are green, and some are somewhere in between. You can eat them alone or use them in different recipes. You might not like olives, but with so many different types, there is bound to be a variety of olives that you will enjoy!

Normally, you only see two different types of olives at your everyday store. Green and black olives are the most common types of olives found globally. But what most people don’t know is that almost all olives start out green and slowly turn darker, from light brown, to red, to finally black, when they are fully mature.

Whether you like snacking on olives or adding olive oil to your recipes, there is an olive that you will fall in love with and enjoy. There are hundreds of more varieties of olives worldwide, but today we will look at just some of them.

Varieties of Olives

Niçoise Olives

Niçoise Olives come from Nice in France. When these olives are ripe and mature, they have a dark purplish-brown appearance and are small in size. They have a slightly sour flavor and are great for dressing vegetables or to use in a tapenade! The French olives are usually brined with other oils and herbs.

Agrinion Olives

The Agrinion olives, as the name suggests, come from the Agrinion region of Greece. They are the most popular of the Greek varieties of olives. They grow on some of the oldest olive trees on earth and come in different shapes and sizes.

You can find these olives in both green and black, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Agrinion olives have a fruity and sharp flavor.

Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives on a wooden bowl.

Kalamata Olives are also native to Greece.  You will typically find them preserved in red wine or olive oil for a fruity and smoky flavor. These greenish-black Greek olives are used in all kinds of dishes, like salads, stews, and of course tapenades, due to their rich, fruity, and smoky flavors.

Picual Olives

Picual olives hanging from their branch.

Hailing from Spain, Picual olives are used to make about one-third of the whole world’s olive oil production! These olives are mostly harvested in their native Andalusian region of Spain but can now be found growing in different regions worldwide in California, Egypt, and New Zealand. They are particularly good for oils as they have a very high oil content.

Castelvetrano Olives

Native to the Sicilian regions of Italy, this type of olive is getting very popular worldwide for its buttery, sweet, and nutty flavor. These bright green yummy olives are often referred to as ‘dolce,’ which is ‘sweet’ in Italian.

Hojiblanca Olives

Hojiblanca olives are used to produce both olive oil and table olives. The olives are very symmetrical in shape and are of a medium to large size. When Hojiblanca olives are fully ripe, they have a violet red color.

They taste slightly spicy and sweet and smell kind of like a mix of almonds, fruits, and fresh-cut grass. They are actively cultivated in the provinces of Cordoba, Sevilla, and Malaga in Spain.

Cornicabra Olives

Cornicabra olives originate from the Town of Mora de Toledo, Spain. They have been cultivated for centuries and have many other names depending on the location it is growing in.

These olives are known for their elongated and pointed shape. When fully mature, these olives have a vinous red color, and their taste is slightly bitter and spicy.

Peranzana Olives

This Italian variety of olives is violet in color when fully ripe. They are symmetrical and round in shape. Their taste is well-balanced and sweet. They are usually preserved in brine and remain firm and tasty for up to 3 years.

Carolea Olives

Carolea olives originate from Italy and are of larger than average size. These olives are elliptical-shaped and have a pronounced nipple on them. Carolea olives are black to violet in color when ripe and are mostly used to make olive oil. Carolea olive oil tastes slightly fruity with a spicy and bitter intensity.

Picholine Olives

Picholine olives on a wooden background.

Picholine olives originate from France, and you must have already seen them as they are the olives usually used in martinis. They are your typical green olives with their citrusy and crispy flavor. Usually found brined, they are also used to make oil that is light and mild.

Alfonso Olives

Alfonso olives originate from Chile. They have an intense dark purple color when fully ripe and have a sharp and tangy taste. Their Chilean producers typically brine these olives in red wine or vinegar. Alfonso olives work well in many dishes, especially on a cheese platter.

Mission Olives

Mission olives are an olive variety that comes from the United States of America. They are the only olive variety from America to be recognized by the International Olive Council. Brought into America in the late 18th century, these olives are used both as table olives or to produce olive oil.

They are small, green, and firm. When they aren’t turned into olive oil, they are either brined while green or oil-cured when black and make a great snacking olive.

Cerignola Olives

Also known as Bella di Cerignola, these olives also originate from Italy. They are usually brine-cured and have a mild lemony apple flavor! They are slightly larger in size and work perfectly on a cheeseboard.

Nyon Olives

Nyon olives are authentic French olives and are the most popular French variety. They are mostly small and black in color when ripe. You usually find these olives either dry-cured or oil-cured, and they have a mildly bitter flavor with a chewy texture.

Cobrançosa Olives

Cobrançosa olives are native to Portugal. They are Portugal’s most popular varietals of olives. These olives are medium-sized and have a bitter and spicy flavor. Cobrançosas are mostly used to produce olive oil.

Manzanilla Olives

A bunch of Manzanilla olives, close up shot.

The Manzanilla olive is the most widely consumed variety of olive that is consumed in the USA. Originating from Spain, they are usually found brine-cured or stuffed with pimentos. Used for both olive oil and as a table olive, they are medium-sized and can be found in markets all over America.

Gaeta Olives

Native to the Puglia region of Italy, these olives have wrinkly, soft, and purplish-brown skin. Gaeta olives taste citrusy and are very soft. You can find these olives usually brine-cured, which makes them plump and juicy, or dry-cured, which makes them chewy and shriveled. They are a great type of olive to snack on!


Olives are a major food of the Mediterranean diet and are known for their many health benefits.

They are low carb but a high healthy-fat content, savory and flavorful snack. Olives are said to be beneficial to heart health and also cancer prevention.

We hope reading our article makes you go out and try new and different types of olives and also find an olive that you start incorporating into your routine diet.