Achiote Oil

[Photo: Max Falkowitz]

Note: Olive oil can be used, but for a more annato-forward flavor, use a neutral oil like corn or canola.

About the author: Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

Achiote Oil

About This Recipe

Yield:makes about 1 cup
Active time:5 minutes
Total time:5 minutes
This recipe appears in: Spice Hunting: Annato Seeds (Achiote)


  • 1/4 cup annato seeds
  • 2 chiles de arbol
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup oil (see note above)


  1. 1

    Toast annato, chiles, and bay leaf in a small saucepan on medium heat until spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add oil and let it heat through until annato seeds begin to bubble and fry.

  2. 2

    Reduce heat to low and cook until oil turns a dark, ruddy red, about 4 minutes (spices should continue to very gently sizzle the whole time). Remove from heat and strain into a glass jar or plastic squeeze bottle. Store in a dark place at room temperature for up to three months (oil will continue to be edible but will lose some flavor after this time).


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