Annatto oil is made from annatto seeds which come from Achiote trees. It can be used in all sorts of cooking to impart a beautiful, deep golden-red color, subtle peppery flavor and earthy aroma into foods.
What is Annatto Oil?
Sometimes called Achiote Oil, Annato oil is made from annatto seeds and oil. Any cooking oil can be used, and the oil is typically used in cooking to enhance the appeal of dishes with its gorgeous color.
The oil can range from a deep yellow to dark red, depending on how long the seeds steep in it.
What are Annatto Seeds?
- A brick red color, Annatto seeds are derived from the fruit of the Achiote tree, which is native to Brazil and Mexico.
- Annatto seeds are also used to make Achiote paste which comes in small blocks with vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cloves added to it. It's very flavorful.
- You can buy annatto seeds or powder.
- Annatto seeds are also said to have many health benefits. You can learn about them here.
What does Annatto taste like?
Annatto seeds have a very mild, sweet and peppery flavor, and are typically used as a natural food coloring. Used in moderation, they barely change the flavor of foods— but drastically change the color.
- If you don't want to cook a whole dish in Annatto oil, you can drizzle just a bit to add a touch of color. (It's gorgeous to drizzle on top of soups!)
- Since Annatto is a natural dye, be careful as it will also dye your clothes.
Cooking with Annatto Oil
Cook with Annatto oil as you would cook with the oil you made it with.
The roasted cauliflower pictured below is one of my favorite Annatto recipes, and a great example of how the oil adds beautiful color.
To make it, drizzle a thin layer of Annatto oil on a sheet pan. Dredge both sides of cauliflower slices in the oil, season with salt and pepper and then roast in 450°F oven until it begins to brown and is tender, about 15 minutes per side.
Annatto Oil Substitutes
- orange food coloring
- ground turmeric
Recipes with Annatto Oil:
- Baked Coconut Mango Chicken
- Pumpkin Almond Cookies
- Annatto Rice with Tomato and Sausage
Recipes with Achiote Paste:
Annatto Oil Recipe
- 1 tablespoon Annatto seeds
- 1 cup olive oil
- Add the oil and Annatto seeds to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring it to a strong simmer, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting for 2 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit until the desired color has been reached. (The longer it sits, the deeper the color will be.)
- Strain the seeds over a bowl. Then pour the oil into a jar to store. Keep it in a cool dark place.
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Gorgeous red colour! It reminds me of homemade chilli oil. I need to get some annatto seeds to try.
How cool is this? I have seen this added in butter, and now I know what it is! Thanks, Valentina!
How interesting and educational. I use Goya's Sazón seasoning (con culantro y achiote) in beans, rice dishes, chicken, and on veggies, but I've never used Annatto in an oil. I must give this a try.
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop
This is fascinating! I've never even heard of annatoo seeds before, but now I am so intrigued! I can't wait to try this out!
John / Kitchen Riffs
Neat post! It's been a long time since I've used either Annatto seeds or oil. Been thinking about making some Cuban dishes again (been a long time since I've made those, too!), so your timing is perfect. Thanks!
Ben | Havocinthekitchen
How interesting! I'm not familiar with Annatto seeds, but I should definitely look into that oil because of its gorgeous colour!