The secret behind the beautiful and deliciously looking golden color of many Latin dishes comes from the achiote oil.
What is Achiote Oil?
Achiote oil is what you get when you infuse the oil with achiote. You can get achiote in 3 forms. You can get it as seeds, in a powder, or in a paste. To make the oil you can use seeds or powder. You can also use the paste and just add a little bit of oil but the only thing is that this paste usually comes with seasoning already added. I use the paste only to make specific recipes. If you are interested more in achiote you can read more in my post What is achiote?
Achiote oil is very popular in Puerto Rico and all Latin American countries. In many of those countries, achiote is the preferred food coloring they use for cooking along with sazón. The reason for this is because it is a natural food coloring that is very easy to make. There are many delicious recipes where achiote is used like in chicken achiote and in empanadas recipes to give the dough a perfect yellowish color.
Is Achiote and Annatto the same?
Yes, Achiote and Annatto are the same, and both words are used interchangeably. Both words are used to refer to the (bixa orellana) name of the achiote tree. But in different countries, they are called by different names. So remember that achiote oil and annatto oil are the same.
What does Achiote Oil taste like?
The achiote has a very unique flavor profile. For me, achiote oil has a nutty kind of smoky flavor. But when you mix the oil with food it is just amazing. I feel that achiote oil always elevates the flavor of the dish.
What is Annatto Oil used for?
Many people don’t know that this oil is used in many commercially made foods. Achiote oil is used in baked goods and even in ice cream. But is also widely used for makeup and beauty products.
Where can I buy achiote?
Many big supermarkets carry achiote in different forms and most of the time is in the spice section. But where you are most likely to find it is in many Latin stores. Nowadays you can buy almost anything online, just have to do a quick search and you will see how easily you can purchase it online.
Achiote seeds- For this recipe I used achiote seeds. You can also use achiote in powder and it will be as good as making it with the seeds.
Oil- In this recipe, I used vegetable oil because it has a neutral flavor. I suggest using a neutral flavor oil because it won’t mask the flavor. But if you don’t mind, you can use olive oil. You can also use vegetable shortening.
How to Make Achiote Oil From Seeds
1. In a medium size pot add your oil and seeds over high heat. You are going to notice that as soon as you add the seeds, the oil will start changing color. At first, you will notice that the oil gets to an orange color.
2. You then cook the seeds for 3 minutes. Make sure to stir while cooking. You will see that while the seeds cook, the oil will get darker. It will look like a deep red color.
3. Last, you need to strain the oil with a fine mesh strainer and store it. Make sure to wait for the oil to cool down.
How to Make Achiote Oil From Powder?
Not a lot of people know that you can make achiote oil from the powder. The process is a little bit different than if you were using seeds. To make achiote oil you need to heat your oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. You then want to add the powder. You don’t want to cook the powder because if it burns it will taste bad. You just want to infuse the oil with the powder.
What I like to do is wait for the powder to settle on the button of the pan. That takes about 15 minutes. Then pour my oil and leave the powder in my pan and discard it. It is up to you to decide if you want to leave it in the powder or not. Either way, you will have a great finished oil. You can make the oil with the powder but it is never as strong in flavor and fragrance as the oil you will get from the seeds. This is the reason why I prefer to make it with seeds.
Make sure that when making achiote oil you are aware of any spills. The reason for this is that it quickly stains. Make sure to quickly rinse your utensils because they can easily stain plastic or wood utensils. It will be a pain to remove it from any white surface after a long time has passed.
A very nice variation to make to achiote oil is to add herbs. I love adding thyme to my oil. The great thing is that it can be used on meats, soups, and rice and it will be delicious.
How to store?
I always suggest storing it in a glass jar or bottle. Store at room temperature preferably in a cool place, out of sunlight but not in your fridge. Best to keep it in a place like your cabinets.
How long does Achiote Oil last?
Achiote oil can last up to a year. I don’t know if it will last more because I have never kept it for that long.
Recipes that you can make with Annatto Oil?
There are many recipes that you can make with achiote oil. You can make beef stew, sancocho, and many other soups. You can make many typical Puerto Rican typical dishes like pasteles de arroz or alcapurrias. You can use it in any recipe that has oil to add color like in rice or chicken recipes. You can add it to rice with beans, pigeon peas rice, and even to stewed beans.
- 2 cups oil
- 1/2 cup achiote seeds
- In a small pan over high heat add your oil and achiote seeds.
- Cook for 3 minutes while constantly stirring. Once is safe to do so, drain the oil and discard the seeds. Transfer to a container with a lid.
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Hi! I’m Stephenie and I love to make food and share it with everyone. I make everyday recipes that are easy to follow and most importantly delicious! I hope that my recipes inspire you to cook.