How to Make Annatto Oil

Several years ago, I was not accustomed to using annatto oil in cooking and always cooked with regular cooking oils. However, when I started to pay attention to the appearance of my dishes, I realized that it is irreplaceable in some recipes such as Vietnamese beef noodle (bun bo) or Quang Noodle (Mi Quang), beef/chicken jerky, or sausage. It contributes a vibrant orange to red color to the dishes, making them not only delicious but also visually appealing. Additionally, it is believed to have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, promoting heart health, and improving the immune system. Since it’s not always available in nearby Asian food stores, let’s explore how to make annatto oil at home.

What is Annatto Oil?

how to make annatto oil

Annatto oil, also known as annatto seed oil or achiote oil, is a cooking oil infused with annatto seeds. It is prized for its vibrant red-orange color that it imparts to dishes. By frying annatto seeds in a type of cooking oil, you can transform the ordinary yellow oil into an orange-to-red oil suitable for use in numerous recipes.

The primary purpose of this oil is to provide a natural reddish-orange hue to dishes. This color is nearly the same with the color of paprika oil; however, it can also contribute a mild, slightly peppery, and nutty flavor, which enhances the taste of various dishes. Annatto oil finds common usage in many Latin American, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian cuisines.

What is Annatto Seeds

how to make annatto oil

Let’s delve deeper into annatto seeds to better understand annatto oil. Annatto seeds, scientifically known as Bixa orellana, are the seeds of the annatto tree, native to tropical regions of Central and South America but now also cultivated in other parts of the world. Annatto seeds are renowned for their vibrant red-orange color and have been utilized for centuries as a natural coloring agent, spice, and food flavoring. The natural pigment in annatto seeds is annatto or bixin. Moreover, they offer some health benefits, including:

  • Antioxidant Properties: Annatto seeds contain antioxidants, including carotenoids like bixin and norbixin. These antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Some research suggests that annatto seeds may possess anti-inflammatory properties due to their antioxidant content. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues, so reducing inflammation can be beneficial.
  • Potential Skin Health: Annatto extract is sometimes incorporated into cosmetic and skincare products due to its natural colorant properties. Some people believe it may have skin-soothing and anti-aging benefits when applied topically.
  • Nutrient Content: Annatto seeds also contain essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B-complex (like niacin and riboflavin), iron, calcium, and phosphorus, although the concentrations are relatively low.

In short, annatto doesn’t just add a vibrant reddish-orange color to your dishes but also offers health benefits. After learning all about annatto seeds, I became a big fan of it and always have a bottle of homemade oil in my kitchen, ready for various culinary uses.

How to make annatto oil

The total process will only take you 10-20 minutes, depending on the amount of oil you make. Follow these steps:

Step 1. Preparation

  • Estimate the amount of cooking oil and annatto seeds needed to make the oil. Typically, you can fry 300g (1 ¼ cups) of annatto seeds per 1 liter of cooking oil. You can use any neutral oil from canola, sunflower to peanut oil. However, avoid using olive oil, as it has its own flavor and fragrance which shouldn’t be mixed with annatto seeds. Divide the amount of oil into two parts: one part equal to 2/3 and another part equal to 1/3 of the total amount of oil.

Step 2. Frying the annatto seeds

  • Fry the annatto seeds with the larger part of the oil. Add all the seeds into the oil pan and set the heat to medium. Once the oil starts to boil, stir the seeds in the boiling oil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and continue stirring the seeds for 1 more minute. Drain the hot oil into a glass jar, leaving the fried seeds in the pan. Then, pour the remaining cooking oil into the pan and repeat the steps.
how to make annatto oil
  • In case you are in a hurry and would like to save time instead of frying the seeds twice, you can simply add all the cooking oil and annatto seeds to a pan and heat them up. Once boiling, stir the seeds until half of them in the boiling oil turn brown, then turn off the heat and drain the oil into a clean glass jar.
how to make annatto oil

Step 3. Storing

  • You should store annatto oil in a glass jar or bottle with the lid closed. The red color of this oil is difficult to clean if it spills on a plastic container or bowl, so remember not to use plastic containers to store the oil. You can either store the oil at room temperature or in the fridge. It’s best to use it within 3 months.

Dishes Using Annatto Oil

There are some recipes in which annatto oil as a compulsory ingredient, such as some Vietnamese dishes below:

Besides, there are many dishes that you can use this oil as an option for a better looking, for example some of my recipes below:

Try them!

how to make annatto oil

How to make Annatto Oil

Yield: 1L
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Annatto oil contributes a vibrant orange to red color to the dishes, making them not only delicious but also good looking.

Ingredients

Instructions

The total process will take you only 10-20 minutes, depend on the amount of oil you make. Follow these steps:

Step 1. Preparation

  • Estimate the amount of cooking oil and annatto seeds needed to make the oil. Typically, you can fry 300g (1 ¼ cups) of annatto seeds per 1 liter of cooking oil. You can use any neutral oil from canola, sunflower to peanut oil. However, avoid using olive oil, as it has its own flavor and fragrance which shouldn’t be mixed with annatto seeds. Divide the amount of oil into two parts: one part equal to 2/3 and another part equal to 1/3 of the total amount of oil.how to make annatto oil

Step 2. Fry annatto seeds

  • Fry the annatto seeds with the larger part of the oil. Add all the seeds into the oil pan and set the heat to medium. Once the oil starts to boil, stir the seeds in the boiling oil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and continue stirring the seeds for 1 more minute. Drain the hot oil into a glass jar, leaving the fried seeds in the pan. Then, pour the remaining cooking oil into the pan and repeat the steps. how to make annatto oilBefore heating uphow to make annatto oilAfter the oil boils
  • In case you are in a hurry and would like to save time instead of frying the seeds twice, you can simply add all the cooking oil and annatto seeds to a pan and heat them up. Once boiling, stir the seeds until half of them in the boiling oil turn brown, then turn off the heat and drain the oil into a clean glass jar. how to make annatto oil

Step 3. Storing

  • You should store annatto oil in a glass jar or bottle with the lid closed. The red color of this oil is difficult to clean if it spills on a plastic container or bowl, so remember not to use plastic containers to store the oil. You can either store the oil at room temperature or in the fridge. It's best to use it within 3 months. how to make annatto oil

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 50 Serving Size: 20ml
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 20g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to Recipe