How to Make Your Own Achiote Oil in Minutes

This essential Latin American ingredient brings beautiful yellow-orange tint and subtle earthy flavor to all sorts of dishes.

Achiote (often called annatto) is the ruddy-colored seed of a tree native to Central and South America and an essential ingredient in Latin American cooking. (It's also used in Asian countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.) The seeds are covered in a waxy coating full of pigments. When pulverized to a powder, made into a paste, or infused into oil, achiote can bring subtle earthy flavor to all sorts of sauces, marinades, stews, rices, and spice rubs, all the while tinting food a beautiful yellowy orange.

For simplicity, we opted for the preground spice to make Puerto Rico's all-purpose dry seasoning sazón, which goes into the rub for our Grilled Chicken with Adobo and Sazón. But it couldn't be easier to make an infused oil with the whole seeds that you can use in a traditional application such as cooking a sofrito—or sub it for the oil in almost any sauté or stir-fry or even use it for sous vide to jazz up color and add a little extra flavor.

To make achiote oil:  Heat 1 cup vegetable oil and ¼ cup achiote seeds in small saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles rise from seeds, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Transfer oil to glass container and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Note: The oil stains—so protect your clothing and make sure to wipe up spills promptly.

Achiote oil tints food and adds subtle flavor.

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