This post will teach you how easy it is to make Annatto Oil (Achoite Oil or as we say in Spanish, Aceite de Achiote) at home as well as many of it uses! Once you have learned how easy it is to make this beautiful food color condiment, you will be able to have it readily available to make such foods as pasteles, empanadillas, alcapurrias or even to color your soups, stews, rice, beans and meats.
What is Annatto (Achiote)?
Before we continue with all the wonderful uses and benefits of Annatto, lets start with the most basic!
What is Annatto?
Annatto is the extract derived from the seeds of the Achiote tree and is indigenous to Central and South America.
The Achiote tree produces fruit pods that are covered in spiky hairs. As these pods mature, they open to display beautiful reddish brown seeds.
These seeds have been used for hundreds of years in multiple ways but are heavily known in Latin cooking to add an attractive color to rice, soups, stews, pasteles, empanadillas, empanadas, beef, pork, chicken, fish and so much more.
Annatto, produces a beautiful hue that can be described somewhere between a vibrant yellow, deep orange or red.
Its flavor is earthy and slightly peppery.
It is often considered the poor mans saffron as it is so inexpensive to purchase the seeds.
How is Annatto (Achiote) Used in Latin Cooking?
Annatto seeds must first be ground into a powder, formed into a paste or infused into oil in order to be used in Latin cooking.
You can easily make your own achiote for cooking in any of these forms at home or choose to buy it already made.
Surely, if you have been around the blog long enough, then you may have noticed that I use Sazón with Coriander & Annatto (Sazon con Culantro y Achiote) packets (Goya Brand) a lot in my Puerto Rican cooking.
Some delicious dishes I use Sazón with Annatto packets are:
For a full list of all the dishes I use Achiote (Annatto) in, click on → Puerto Rican Recipes
If you choose to buy annatto already prepared in powder, paste or oil, please note that depending on were you live, it may be readily available or not. You will usually find this condiment in the Latin section of your supermarket or other local Hispanic market. You can also order it online.
If you prefer to make your own, buy a pack or bottle of the inexpensive seeds (usually no more than $2.00) and prepare your own, hence this post!
With only two ingredients to make Achiote oil, it is super easy to make at home and a pack of seeds lasts forever!
Annatto Used in Other Popular Dishes
Cheddar, Muenster and Colby cheese all have annatto added to them to give them that pretty yellow hue.
Gloucester cheese, which has been made since the 16th century has traditionally used annatto for coloring.
You will also find annatto used in bakery products, desserts, ice creams, butters and margarines.
Medicinal Uses of Annatto/Achiote
Achiote has been known to help in diabetes, fevers, heartburn, malaria, hepatitis just to mention a few.
It has also been known to treat burns and used as an antioxidant.
Ingredients to Make Annatto Oil (Achiote Oil)
You will only need two ingredients to make aceite de achiote (annatto oil)
1 cup Canola oil or Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp achiote (annatto) seeds
How to Make Infused Annatto Oil (Achiote Oil)
Over medium heat, add two tablespoons of annatto seeds to 1 cup of oil.
Cook over heat until you start to see tiny bubbles rising up from the seeds. DO NOT LET OIL HEAT TOO HIGH or the oil will turn bitter!! You are looking for a simmer of heat forming from the oil.
Once you see small bubbles forming, usually around 10 minutes, turn heat off.
Allow oil and seeds to rest on stove top for an hour. (The seeds will continue to release their natural hue and color)
Allow oil to fully cool.
Once oil as cooled, strain the seeds and add the oil to an airtight bottle or container.
Storing Aceite de Achiote (Achiote Oil)
Keep oil on counter top out of direct sunlight for up to a week.
For longer storage, refrigerate the oil.
Annatto Oil (Achoite Oil) Aceite de Achiote
- 1 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp achiote seeds found in the Latin section of supermarket
- Over medium heat, add two tablespoons of annatto seeds to 1 cup of oil.
- Cook over heat until you start to see tiny bubbles rising up from the seeds. DO NOT LET OIL HEAT TOO HIGH or the oil will turn bitter!! You are looking for a simmer of heat forming from the oil.
- Once you see small bubbles forming, usually around 10 minutes, turn heat off.
- Allow oil and seeds to rest on stove top for an hour. (The seeds will continue to release their natural hue and color)
- Allow oil to fully cool.Once oil as cooled, strain the seeds and add the oil to an airtight bottle or container.