With just two ingredients and a few minutes, you can make your own traditional Achiote Oil to use in all of your favorite Caribbean and Latin dishes! You’ll love its gorgeous color and peppery, earthy flavor.
Make Your Own Achiote Oil at Home!
Have you ever wondered how yellow rice gets its gorgeous color? What about pastelón dough? The answer is sometimes saffron, sometimes turmeric… but a favorite item in Caribbean and Latin cooking is definitely achiote, also known as annatto. This natural, plant-based ingredient is made from the seeds of the achiote tree, which is native to the tropical portions of the Americas, but has made its way across the world.
You’ll find annatto in cheeses, butter and margarine, rice dishes, chicken dishes, seasonings like sazón, and more. It’s easy to work with, especially if you infuse the flavor and color into your favorite oil. That’s what we’re doing today: making homemade achiote oil! It’s golden-red color and mild, earthy flavor are great to have on tap. Let’s do this!
If you love this Achiote Oil, I also have a great recipe for Achiote Paste!
What Are the Health Benefits of Annatto?
Actually, while it’s mostly known for its color, annatto is said to have all kinds of healthy properties, too! It contains quite a few different antioxidants, which help to stop the effects of harmful free radicals in the body. It may also have a preservative effect on the foods you cook with it, and may also have a natural anti-cancer effect, too. Annatto is also high in vitamin E.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
There are only two ingredients you need for this homemade achiote oil. So easy! Annatto seeds are usually available in the international foods aisle of the grocery store, but you can also order them online.
- Oil: A neutral cooking oil of your choice: vegetable oil, canola oil, avocado oil or even olive oil.
- Annatto Seeds: You can also use ground annatto powder.
How to Make It
As far as making your own condiments goes, this might just be the easiest one ever! Achiote oil only takes a few minutes to make, and the simplest equipment ever.
- Bring the Ingredients to a Simmer. Pour the oil into a saucepan, and add the annatto seeds. Turn the heat to medium and bring the oil to a low simmer.
- Simmer for a Few Minutes. Once the oil is simmering, cook the mixture for 4 or 5 minutes, until the oil begins to turn a dark orange color.
- Cool and Strain. At that point, take the saucepan off of the heat, and let it cool down before you strain it. Strain the seeds out by using a fine mesh strainer and discard seeds. (You could also use cheesecloth, but be aware that the oil will stain the cheesecloth.)
- Use and Store. Use the achiote oil as desired. Cool and store the rest for later use.
Want to know more? I’ve got ya covered! Keep reading for easy and helpful tips on working with achiote oil and seeds. Enjoy!
- Powder vs. Seeds: You may find that annatto powder is easier to source than whole seeds, and that’s okay! Powder works just fine. If you’re using ground annatto instead of whole seeds, you can skip the straining step and simply store the oil once it’s cool.
- Watch for Stains: Keep in mind that annatto is a natural dye, and annatto oil will stain clothing, fingers, plastic, etc. Once it is infused in the oil, be careful!
- Oil Options: The oil you use will affect the final taste and usability of your achiote oil. For that reason, many cooks prefer a neutral, versatile oil like vegetable or canola. You can technically use any oil though! Olive oil is also very popular, and avocado would be good as well.
What Is Achiote Oil Used for?
You can use your freshly-made achiote oil in almost any recipe you’d use the original oil for. So if you used olive oil, and you normally roast veggies with that, you can roast the veggies with achiote oil instead for additional color and flavor. Or maybe you just want to drizzle it or over soup, or use it to add color to your rice. No problem! Here are some more easy recipes that work well with achiote oil:
- Shrimp Tacos: Try cooking the shrimp for these Cajun Shrimp Tacos in achiote oil for a special color and additional flavor.
- Fajita Chicken: Substitute regular cooking oil for this colorful oil when cooking chicken. It’s especially great in a spicy, bold recipe like Chicken Fajita Salad.
- Flank Steak: This killer Juicy Flank Steak is that much more delicious and appealing when you use achiote oil!
Store your cooled achiote oil in an airtight container (I recommend a glass jar with a lid), at room temperature, for up to 5 days. For longer storage, refrigerate it for up to a month.
Achiote Oil (Annatto Oil)
- ½ cup oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons **whole annatto seeds
- Add the oil and annatto seeds to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat on to medium and bring to a low simmer.
- Once simmering, cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the oil begins to turn a dark orange color.
- Use oil as desired, or cool and store for later use.
More Must-Have Latin Food Recipes
- Easy Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)
- Authentic Guacamole Recipe
- Homemade Chorizo
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Chuleta Frita
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Authentic Mexican Rice
- Calabacitas Recipe
- Vaca Frita
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