Home » Food Information » Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Olives: How Do They Differ?

Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Olives: How Do They Differ?

In this article, we’ll compare black olives vs. Kalamata olives to help you decide which one to use in your next recipe. Both olives have distinct appearances, flavors, and textures.

When it comes to olives, there are countless varieties available to choose from. Two of the most popular types are black olives and Kalamata olives. Black olives are commonly found on pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. Kalamata olives are a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.

Two dishes on the table filled with green and black olives.

What Are Black Olives?

Olives are the fruit of the olive tree. They are drupes, fleshy fruits with a single pit or seed inside. For this reason, they are also known as stone fruits.

Black olives are also known as California black olives. And they are what they sound like, generally. They are olives with a dark color – some are really black. But some are just dark in color, from deep purple to dark brown. After all, black olives are just ripe green olives. Are you confused yet?

The truth is that all olives start green and then turn dark once they ripen. So technically, all olives can be black olives. Black olives are simply ripe olives.

Because of this, the phrase “black olives” is an umbrella term for various ripe olives.

What Are Kalamata Olives?

One of the most famous varieties of black olives is the Kalamata olives. These olives hail from Greece and got their name from Kalamata, the city where people first grew them. For this reason, Kalamata olives also go by the term “Greek olives.”

Kalamata olives grow from trees with larger leaves than most olives. Larger leaves mean more access to sunlight. And this resource is crucial for producing Kalamata olives.

Known for their deep purple hues, Kalamata olives ripen on trees before people pick them. In some large orchards, people use machines to harvest olives from the trees. But some still do this task by hand to protect the skin of the olives.

Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Taste Comparison

Kalamata olives taste

Black olives and Kalamata olives share a common bitter taste when fresh and raw.

However, they develop unique flavors during their curing processes.

Kalamata olives have a distinctive and pronounced flavor. People often describe them as rich and slightly fruity.

They have a rich flavor due to their abundant natural oil content. This oil contributes to their unique taste and meaty texture as well.

Black olives taste

On the other hand, the taste of black olives can range from mild and slightly salty to tangy or sweet.

If you prefer a milder flavor, black olives are a good choice. The best kinds of olive for beginners are Gaeta and Ponentine black olives. These olives are relatively milder in taste than most black olives.

Apart from the natural flavor of the olives, what you put in the brine also affects their flavor. Some people like to add herbs and spices for better taste.

Garlic, lemon, lime, and rosemary are the most common additives to olive brines. Some like to add chili for a kick.

Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Olives Look Comparison

The difference between Kalamata olives and black olives is quite apparent.

Kalamata olives have a distinct deep purple color, making them unique. They are usually bigger, oblong, and almond-shaped.

In contrast, black olives come in various shapes but are typically rounded. And they are not always completely black like their name suggests. Sometimes, black olives can be deep chocolate brown, dark purple, or navy blue.

Kalamata olives are often available pitted. But they can also come with the pits still inside, so you should always inspect them before eating.

Olives Curing Process Comparison

As mentioned, all raw olives are bitter regardless of when you harvest them. That said, eating fresh olives is uncommon.

To make them taste good, people cure the olives to remove the astringent, bitter taste.

To cure olives, people can either use a brine or a lye solution. The length of the curing process depends on the olives’ ripeness and size.

Bigger olives need a longer time to cure than smaller ones. Unripe olives, or green olives, also cure slower than ripe ones.

The type of solution you use will also influence the curing process duration. If you use a brine solution, the process can take months. This solution is easy to make; you only need salt and water. Sometimes, people add red wine vinegar to help with the process.

Through this solution, you’ll allow the olives to oxidize naturally, so they’ll turn black if they aren’t already.

Conversely, using a lye solution, you can cure the olives in a matter of days. And you will preserve the color of the olives. For this reason, a lye solution is the most common choice to cure green olives.

Do note that lye is a powerful substance. It can cause burns, so you must be cautious when handling lye.

People use either of these processes for curing Kalamata olives and black olives. It all boils down to preference.

Of course, when buying olives from the store, opt for naturally-cured olives. Check the label to be sure.

Once you get home, slice an olive and observe the color. If the outer part of the olives is much darker than the insides, then producers probably used lye to cure them. Salt-cured olives tend to have a uniform color inside and out.

Black and Kalamata Olives Nutrition

They have a similar nutritional profile. The only major differences are their calories and healthy fat content.

Kalamata olives have almost twice the amount of calories and fat as black olives. But both contain monounsaturated fats. These fats are good fats that bring distinct health benefits.

Black and Kalamata olives are great sources of vitamin A and iron. And the good thing is that they are low in carbs and fiber. They are an excellent addition to a low-carb or keto diet.

Similarly, the olive oil that comes from pressed olives is nutritious. People often use extra virgin olive oil as an alternative to other oils.

However, all olives, including black and Kalamata olives, are often high in sodium. After all, they undergo a brining process. They might not be best for people watching their sodium intake.

Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Culinary Uses


Olives add a salty and tangy flavor to salads. In that way, they provide a nice contrast to the fresh vegetables. Both black and Kalamata olives work well in salads. But if you are in the mood for some Greek salad, Kalamata olives are your best bet because of their stronger flavor.


One of the most common dishes where you’ll spot olives is in a pizza. And yes, black olives are the most popular type people and restaurants use in this Italian dish. Their mild taste complements the other toppings on the pizza, after all.

But if you make your own supreme pizza, you may also use Kalamata olives. You must choose your other pizza toppings well to ensure they meld with the olives.


Olives can bring an extra depth of flavor to the pasta. The milder taste of black olives makes them versatile. They complement a wide range of pasta flavors.

For instance, black olives are perfect for pesto because they are mild. They allow the herbal flavors to come through.

On the other hand, Kalamata olives work best for Mediterranean-style pasta dishes. Their richer taste works well with feta cheese and the other ingredients in this pasta.


You can make a tapenade by blending olives with other ingredients, creating a spread. Kalamata olives are an excellent choice for tapenade with pitta bread. The taste of the bread balances out the strong flavor of these olives.

For tapenades with more complex flavors, opt for black olives. They will not clash with your other ingredients.


Both black and Kalamata olives are great appetizers. Serving the olives whole is common, but you may also crush them to bring out their flavors.

You may also crush or chop them and combine them with other ingredients. For instance, add them to Bruschetta.

Both Kalamata and black olives will taste great in this dish. If you are going with Kalamata, use a slightly smaller amount.

Sandwiches and Wraps

Olives can provide a distinctive taste to sandwiches and wraps. For example, Kalamata olives can add a nice punch to bland spreads.

But black olives are a safe bet that will work well with a wide range of fillings.

Cheese and Olive Crackers

Olives can add a burst of flavor to crackers. They make a great addition to a cheese platter or charcuterie board. Black olives provide a milder taste that won’t overpower the other flavors on the board.

But Kalamata olives are a good choice for those who want something strong on their platter.

Black Olives Vs. Kalamata Olives Cost Comparison

Regarding price, there are some differences between Kalamata olives and black olives.

Kalamata olives tend to be more expensive than black olives.

It also follows that the cost of Kalamata olive oil is higher than that of black olive oil. After all, Kalamata olive oil is PDO-protected. This designation means it can only come from a specific region in Greece.

And they have to meet certain standards. The cost of importation also plays a role in the higher price of Kalamata olives and their products.

Kalamata olives range from $6 to $30 at the grocery store. The price changes if you buy them fresh, pickled, or vacuum sealed.

On the other hand, the price of black olives is generally lower. Depending on the type and brand, these olives range from $2 to $7.

Can I Substitute Kalamata Olives For Black Olives?

Yes. In fact, you can use Kalamata and black olives interchangeably in most recipes. Do note that Kalamata olives have a stronger flavor than black olives. That said, you might experience a shift in flavor if you use them to replace black olives. You can reduce the amount of Kalamata olives you’ll use for a better flavor match.

What Makes Kalamata Olives Different?

Kalamata olives are the most well-liked olives worldwide. They have a dense texture. Plus, they have a unique, distinct flavor that sets them apart from other olive varieties. And their purple hue adds appeal to your dishes. On top of that, these olives are nutritious. Kalamata olives are rich in health-promoting nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They also have antioxidant properties.

Which Olives Are Healthiest?

People consider Kalamata olives as the healthiest type of olives. And not only that, health buffs hail them as one of the most nutritious foods in general. They are a good source of healthy fats and natural antioxidants. And they don’t fall short of providing vitamins and minerals such as iron and vitamin A.


When you compare black olives vs. Kalamata olives, you’ll see that they differ in taste, appearance, and culinary uses. Black olives are ripe olives that you’ll see in pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. On the other hand, Kalamata olives are a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Greek or Kalamata olives have a pronounced flavor that is rich and slightly fruity. And black olives have a mild, salty, tangy, or sweet taste.

Kalamata olives are typically bigger and oblong with a deep purple hue. Black olives come in a variety of shapes and colors. They’re mostly rounded, and colors include deep brown, dark purple, or navy blue. Ultimately, the choice between black olives and Kalamata olives comes down to personal preference.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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