Infused olive oils add a splash of extra flavor to any sautéed dish, salad dressing, meat marinade, or bread dipping sauce. The process is fun and simple, letting you choose your own adventure with spices and flavorings. Homemade infused olive oils are like cheat codes in the kitchen, instantly giving your food richer and deeper flavors.
Warm Olive Oil Infusion Technique
Similar to brewing tea, aromatic ingredients like spices can be steeped in hot olive oil to infuse flavors. The goal is not to deep fry the ingredients, so the oil temperature should be kept around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. A light frying is okay, as it can give your infusion a nice nutty flavor.
Once the oil is brought to temp, the aromatics are added, and everything is taken off the heat to infuse for up to half an hour. Once cooled to room temperature, the ingredients can be strained and the oil stored in an air-tight container. This infused oil can keep for up to a month when stored in a cool, dry place.
You can also add your flavoring ingredients to the bottle for decoration at the table. This is mostly for show as most of the flavor is drawn out during the steeping process.
Ingredients For Infused Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the ingredient of choice for this project. No need to break the bank, but great food is made with good ingredients. Choose an olive oil you enjoy on its own.
Flavoring choices are the fun part. Fresh herbs, alliums, chile peppers, citrus peel, and whole spices are popular choices for infused olive oil. A few favorite spices to try are whole peppercorns, pink peppercorns, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds. We have an entire collection of dried chile peppers to try, with Tien Tsin chiles and Chile de Arbol as popular choices.
There are no rules to flavor combinations. If you like the flavor of an herb, allium, or spice, chances are it will work well in your infused oil. Many cooks prefer to start out with only a few flavorings. This prevents you from over-seasoning your oil with too many competing flavors.
Be mindful when using ground spices as they can quickly over-season the oil or burn and make it taste bitter. If you wish to use ground spices, start with a small amount and add them when the oil is warm, but not hot. We recommend gently crushing whole spices to help release their flavor during infusion. You can use a mortar and pestle or the bottom of a sauté pan for this.
Easy Olive Oil Infusions
Many of our spice blends can be whisked right into olive oil for a quick infusion, without using the hot oil method. This is popular for making bread dipping oil to serve at the table. A few favorites for this are our Mediterranean Garlic & Herb Salt-Free Blend, Herbes de Provence, and Little Italy Herb Blend. Start by mixing one or two tablespoons of spice into one cup of oil. The all-time favorite blend for easy infusions is our classic Tuscan Olive Oil Seasoning. Whip it into some quality olive oil and you will watch bread disappear.
Infused Olive Oil Recipes
The best part about this cooking project is making it your own. Below you will find a couple of our test kitchen’s most recent flavor findings to inspire you. If you have your own infused olive oil recipe, let us know about it in the comments below.
Guajillo Cumin Infused Olive Oil