International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Achiote (annatto) seeds

(Puerto Rican annatto oil)

Image Creative Commons by Rinaldo W.

Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

Achiote oil is used around the Caribbean to add a yellowish-orange color to dishes, especially arroz con pollo. It is known as rou-cou or huile de rou-cou in the French Caribbean. Filipinos refer to it as atsuete, or achute, oil.

Makes about 2 cups


  • Annatto seeds -- 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil -- 2 cups


  1. Mix the annatto seeds and oil together in a small saucepan. Heat over medium flame until the seeds start to bubble. Reduce heat to very low and let the seeds infuse in the oil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the oil takes on a deep reddish-orange color.
  2. Cool, strain out and discard the seeds, and store the achiote oil in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

Achiote (Annatto) Oil Substitutes

  • Substitute a little turmeric, paprika or saffron in a recipe if achiote is unavailable.


Achiote is one of the pillars of Puerto Rican cooking. The oil infuses a subtle flavor as well as contributing to the color of the dish. I had never seen where achiote seeds come from, thank you for including the picture. The recipe is just as I remembered when my mother made it. If memory serves me correctly, olive oil is best (not the first pressing) and you can refresh the oil by adding a few more seeds and bringing to a boil again - however, only after you have used up all the oil.