Learn how to prepare annatto oil from scratch with just 3 ingredients! This oil is perfect for adding a vibrant orange color to your favorite dishes!
📘 What is Annatto Oil
It is a natural food coloring prepared from annatto seeds. It is often used in Vietnam, The Philippines, or Latin countries to give dishes a beautiful orange color.
Those small red seeds, that come from the achiote tree, release a natural coloring once fried in oil.
🥣 How to Make Annatto Oil
You only need 3 ingredients and 15 minutes to prepare this colorful oil. Here is what you will need:
- Annatto seeds – These small seeds are sold dried. You can order annatto seeds online or find them in most Asian stores. Make sure you are buying the seeds, not the powder.
- Oil – A neutral oil like canola or grape-seed oil. You could use coconut oil, but it will obviously firm up at room temperature.
- Garlic – Optional, but it adds flavor to the oil and covers the smell of annatto seeds which can be overpowering.
Start by heating the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the annatto seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes or until the oil has a vibrant orange color.
Next, remove from heat and add a crushed clove of garlic. Let the oil cool for 15-20 minutes. This will allow it to get a deeper color.
Finally, strain the oil through a fine-sieve mesh and discard the annatto seeds and garlic. Transfer to a clean jar. The oil is now ready to use!
🍜 Where to Use Annatto Oil
It is an amazing condiment if you want to bring color to your favorite dishes and make them more appetizing! It can be used to add color to:
- Curries – Sauté your aromatics in annatto oil. Your curry will have a vibrant orange color.
- Noodle sauces – If you want to add that red hue without having to use a ton of chili!
- Stir-fries – This oil is perfect for making char siu dishes! No need to rely on those char siu packages loaded with artificial coloring.
- Vegan butter – If you are familiar with my Vegan Butter recipe, you know it requires carrot juice to add a light yellow color. You can replace it with 1/2 tsp of this homemade oil.
- Marinades – Use in your tofu, tempeh, or seitan marinades!
- Saté – Saté is a Vietnamese chili oil that relies on annatto for a deep red color. It is also used in this Vietnamese beef soup called Bún Bò Huế.
Use a ratio of 3 parts oil for one part of annatto seeds. For example, 1/3 cup of seeds per cup of oil. You can obviously use less seeds if you want a lighter color.
Yes, however, you will have to place the powder in a tea bag if you want the oil to stay clear. I highly recommend using seeds instead of powder. It’s easier and yields better results.
It has a subtle nutty smell, but it won’t add any flavor to dishes.
Keep it at room temperature in a glass container.
It will keep for up to 1 month at room temperature.
- If you have marble or quartz countertops, be very careful as the oil stains everything (clothes included!).
- Keep an eye on the seeds. You don’t want them to burn. Otherwise, the oil will have a bitter aftertaste.
This homemade oil will quickly become your secret ingredient for vibrant and mouth-watering dishes!
Let me know in the comments, and feel free to leave a rating if you try this recipe!
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- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 tbsp annatto seeds
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once hot, add the annatto seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes or until the oil turns orange. Keep an eye on the seeds so they don't burn.
- Once the oil has turned orange/red, remove from heat and add the crushed garlic. Let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Using a fine-sieve mesh, strain the oil and discard the seeds and garlic. Transfer the oil to a clean glass jar and store it at room temperature for up to 1 month. Use to add color to stir-fries, marinades, curries, etc!
About the Author
Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.