So, you know how you go to an Italian restaurant and as soon as you sit down, you can’t wait for the olive oil dip and crusty bread (similar to my olive bread) to be placed on your table. It’s restaurant-style at its best (I’m looking at you Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bertucci’s, California Pizza Kitchen, and Romano Macaroni Grill.) That is this recipe!
With the right mix of bread dipping seasoning and the best olive oil you can find, you can make restaurant-style food in your home kitchen. It serves as the perfect appetizer for those get-togethers with family and friends. And with the right adjustments, I found a way to make it enjoyable throughout the year.
Who knew bread and olive oil could taste so good?!
The best tasting olive oil for dipping bread
Before we dive deep into the bread dipping spices, let’s talk about the most important ingredient of the recipe: Olive Oil.
There are so many olive oils on supermarket shelves these days, it’s hard to know which one is the best olive oil for dipping bread. A general rule of thumb is to purchase a cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from one supplier or country. These are the fruitiest and most flavorful. Avoid olive oil blends or refined versions.
And remember, above all else, taste trumps all, so go with your favorite. My favorites include Bertolli (affiliate link), California Olive Ranch (affiliate link), and Carapelli (affiliate link). If you happen to have a local Italian market or gourmet market, they will usually let you taste the olive oils and help you find what you’re looking for – all you have to do is ask!
Olive oil dipping spices
Dried spice or fresh herbs
You can use both depending on the season and what you have on hand. Personally, I prefer the fresh herb recipe, but this offers you a nice variation and the best of both worlds.
Dried Spices – Convenient and easy to have stored in your pantry so you can make this recipe year-round.
- Dried Basil
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Rosemary
Fresh Herbs – Great for making this seasoned olive oil during the spring and summer months, especially if you are growing your own herbs. Note that the measurements for fresh herbs are just about the same (or less) as compared to the dried spices. This is because fresh herbs pack so much more flavor, so if we use too much, they can become overpowering.
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Oregano
- Fresh Thyme
- Fresh Rosemary
Garlic is a big flavor provider and enhancer. When mixed with the spices (or fresh herbs) it infuses the oil with additional Mediterranean flavors.
However, it is also such a delicate ingredient. Use this list as a guide depending on how strong you want the garlic flavor when whipping up your own garlic bread cheese dip.
- Minced Fresh Garlic – This will provide a strong, raw garlic flavor. I recommend using this version the moment you are going to serve. Note that when raw garlic sits in oil for an extended period of time, foodborne illness can occur since garlic produces botulism in anaerobic environments.
- Minced Lightly Sauteed Garlic – This will provide a strong garlic flavor, but a bit more on the mellow side, since the bite of raw garlic has been cooked out. Use the moment you are going to serve.
- Oven Roasted Garlic – Roasted garlic oil bread dip is my absolute favorite! When you roast garlic, it brings out a natural, caramel sweetness that is simply divine. Once the garlic cloves are roasted, you should be able to easily mash with a fork and mix in. Use the moment you are going to serve.
- Garlic Powder – A good substitute if you want to make olive oil dip ahead. Use 1 teaspoon garlic powder to replace the fresh.
Acid gives it a fresh flavor and adds a new dimension, so don’t skip it!
My favorite is freshly squeezed lemon juice. But you can make olive oil and balsamic vinegar bread dip with balsamic vinegar as well. If you decide to go with balsamic vinegar, simply use a tablespoon of balsamic in place of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
A traditional olive oil dipping dish is made with grated Parmesan cheese. But I recommend changing it up from time to time to keep things interesting. Grated Pecorino Romano, cubed feta, or those small mozzarella balls known as bocconcini can be chopped up and mixed in for fresh, cheesy flavor.
Salt and pepper
I know it may seem a bit basic, but the salt and pepper you use make all the difference. Avoid table salt and pre-ground black pepper. Use sea salt or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
How to make olive oil bread dip
This olive oil dipping sauce for bread comes together quickly and easily.
All you have to do is to mix all the ingredients together in a shallow bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld together nicely. Then dip your favorite bread in oil and enjoy it!
Can I make the bread dipping oil recipe ahead?
Yes! The simple olive oil bread dip can be made 1-2 days in advance. But it all depends on whether you use dried or fresh herbs.
Dried Version: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, except the garlic*, lemon juice and cheese. On the day you are going to serve, mix in the remaining ingredients and enjoy!
Fresh Version: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, except the fresh basil, garlic*, lemon juice and cheese. The basil tends to turn black if left in the oil for too long. On the day you are going to serve, mix in the remaining ingredients and enjoy!
*Note that if you are using garlic powder as the garlic component, you can add this into the mix when preparing the olive oil sauce ahead. When ready to serve, simply add the remaining ingredients!
Olive oil dipping dish for everyone in the family
This easy bread dip is perfect to serve to family and friends, especially during the holiday season. To adjust the recipe for children, omit the red pepper flakes and use less of the overpowering dried herbs like rosemary and thyme. Since fresh herbs are milder than dried, it is best to leave the fresh herb dipping oil recipe as is. Both kids and adults enjoy the fresh flavor!
Best bread for dipping
Some of my favorite breads to dip into the Italian bread dipping oil are Olive Bread, No-Knead Bread, French Bread, or Crusty Ciabatta Rolls.
A little tip – if you let the bread sit in the oil for a good minute or two, it absorbs even more of it’s delicious flavor!
A little tip – if you let the bread sit in the oil for a good minute or two, it absorbs even more of its delicious flavor!
How to serve Italian olive oil bread dip recipe
Honestly, all this olive oil herb dip for bread needs is, well, bread. A warm, crusty bread!
If looking to serve this at your next holiday party, it would go perfectly next to a cheese and meat platter, too. And if you want to amp up your weeknight dinner, try drizzling it on fish before roasting in the oven.
Needless to say, it is perfect with a glass of wine!
Olive Oil Bread Dip
If Using Dried Spices:
- ½ tablespoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
If Using Fresh Herbs:
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme chopped finely
- ¼ teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped finely
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil please read the post for my favorite supermarket brands
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper
- Place all the spices/herbs in a bowl. Pour in the olive oil. Give it a mix.
- Add in the garlic, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Give it a stir and serve with crusty bread.