What's Inside: A step-by-step guide on how to make achiote oil at home with seeds, plus ideas on how to use it in your daily cooking.
Achiote is a staple ingredient in Latin American, Caribbean, and Filipino cuisines. It comes in different presentations: oil, paste, and even powder. It's perfect for adding flavor and color to everything from rice and beans to meats, tamales, and vegetables.
Making annatto oil at home is easy and inexpensive; you can customize it and add extra flavors.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Click to read my policy and more about affiliate links.
What Is Achiote Oil?
Achiote oil, or annatto oil, is infused oil with annatto seeds. It is mainly used for color and flavor in Hispanic cooking.
It has a deep dark red color with an orange tint to it. For this reason, it provides rice and tamales with their color and gives a nutty flavor.
Commercial ones will have a bright red color, and this is because they have added powder achiote that is suspended in the oil.
❤️ Why Make Your Condiments At Home?
- Making your oil at home is cheaper than buying premade.
- You have control over the ingredients, avoiding fillers.
- It's highly customizable, allowing you to adjust the flavors.
📋 Ingredients & Substitutions
To make this recipe you'll need the following ingredients:
- Vegetable oil: you can use any mild flavored oil and one with a high smoke point. Try canola or avocado oil.
If using cheesecloth, use it exclusively for making the oil since it will stain.
Important note: Ensure you use utensils that you wouldn't worry about staining. Annatto seeds are an intense food coloring ingredient.
📝 How To Make Achiote Oil
This process will be quick, and all your utensils or equipment must be washed immediately after use to prevent getting stained.
Let's start this simple process of making this infused oil with annatto seeds:
- Add to the small saucepan your oil and your annatto seeds. Turn on the heat to low.
- Let it cook until the seed have released their color and are infused with the oil for about 5-10 minutes. You'll see small bubbles around the seeds. Swirl or stir the oil every so often to ensure nothing burns.
- Once the time is up, let it cool for about 5 minutes. Then strain it into the liquid measuring cup using your fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Once it has cooled completely, transfer it to a clean mason jar, cover it, and store it for later use.
Super easy to make, right?
Ensure the oil has cooled completely before covering to prevent condensation from forming, which can make the oil rancid.
It can be stored airtight container for about 2 weeks in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
💡If you notice any changes in color, odor, or texture, it's a sign that the achiote oil may have gone bad, and it's best to discard it.
I don't recommend freezing the annatto oil.
💡Tip: Remember to label your spice jar with its content and when you made it. So you can use it before it starts losing its flavor and save your money.
Ways to Use Achiote Oil
Use 1-2 teaspoons for cooking directly or 1-2 Tablespoons for marinating. This is a guide so you can adjust to your preference.
Marinate meats: use the oil as the base ingredient for marinating chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp. Perfect for infusing proteins with delicious flavor and giving a bright red color when cooking on the grill or baking.
Flavor rice and grains: add a drizzle of the oil to the cooked rice or grains or saute the rice before cooking to bring out the color and flavor like in arroz con pollo. You can cook the sofrito in the oil to boost flavor, then add the cooked beans or lentils.
Color tacos and tamales: Use it to add color and flavor to Panamanian tamales giving them their characteristic red color. Or enhance tacos al pastor, which is generally made with achiote paste.
Dress Salads: Mix achiote oil with vinegar or citrus juice to create a flavorful dressing.
👩🏽🍳 Recipe Tips
- Clean your cookware right away to prevent any staying. I recommend using a stainless steel pot; it's easier to clean and stain-resistant.
- I prefer doing it a little bit a time so that I can finish it faster and I don't run into it spoiling.
- The darker it gets, the more color and flavor of achiote it has. You can cook it for 10-15 minutes on low heat.
- Look for seeds that are vibrant red and not faded. If using the ground version instead of the seeds, there is no need to strain it. This version will have a potent coloring factor.
- Choose a high-quality oil that is neutral in flavor and has a high smoke point, like vegetable or grapeseed oil. This will ensure the oil doesn't develop a burnt taste while infusing.
- To prevent overheating, it is recommended to heat the oil slowly over low to medium heat. High heat should be avoided as it may cause the achiote seeds to burn and produce a bitter taste of the oil.
- To achieve the desired hue, closely monitor the oil color as annatto seeds infuse it. You will observe a gradual shift from pale yellow to vibrant orange-red.
- You can get annatto seeds in the Latin section of most supermarkets.
You can use as much or as little as you prefer. A great starting point is between 1-2 Tablespoons of marinating per 1 pound of meat or produce. And for cooking you can use it as any regular oil to saute something. Remember, this is for color and flavor, not for frying.
They mean the same and can be used interchangeably. It's mostly how it's known in different countries. They are the seeds of the Bixa Orellana tree used for color and flavor in cooking.
Yes, you can double the recipe by doubling the amounts of each ingredient. You may need an 8 oz mason jar to store it.
If you have tried the annatto oil recipe or any other recipe on Nashi Food, don't forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I love to hear about your cooking experience.
Achiote Oil (Annatto Oil)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon annatto seeds
- Small saucepan
- Mason jar with lid
- Add the vegetable oil and achiote seeds to a small saucepan over low heat.
- Cook until the seeds release their color and infuse the oil for about 5 minutes, mixing constantly. When you see little bubbles form around the annatto seeds, it is doing its thing.
- Let it cool completely, strain it into a glass jar and cover it.