Make Your Own Flavored Oils

by in 12 Days of Holiday Gifts, Healthy Recipes, December 12, 2010

flavored oils

We’ve served up 12 days worth of homemade holiday gifts! Catch up on the previous gifts here.

Instead of forking over tons of cash for fancy oils, make your own custom blends. Jazz up everything from salad dressings to late night snacks with these flavorful infusions — and get a dose of heart-healthy fats while you’re at it.

Nutrition Facts
Any type of oil has about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. Olive oil is higher in monounsaturated fat, while canola oil is higher in polyunsaturated fat. Both types are heart healthy and can help lower high cholesterol. Other healthy options include grapeseed oil and safflower. Various types of oil also contain different cell-protecting antioxidants, so it’s good to use different types when cooking.

3 Simple Steps
Flavoring oil only takes a few steps:

  1. Heat your oil of choice in a saucepan
  2. Add your desired flavorings and let steep for a few minutes (until the ingredients are fragrant)
  3. Cool, strain and store in an airtight container

A word of warning: Oils made with fresh ingredients like garlic, herbs and vegetables can support the growth of C. botulinum, a dangerous bacteria that can make you sick. To be on the safe side, always store flavored oils in the fridge and use within 10 days (so make small batches).

Drizzle on the Flavor
You can infuse oil with just about anything. Our top picks include fresh or dried herbs, spices, garlic, peppers, and citrus zest. Use olive oil if you want a hint of olive flavor or canola for something more neutral. Drizzle over sautéed greens, roasted meats, pasta dishes or mix into your favorite salad dressing recipe. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Shrimp stir-fry with ginger and lemongrass oil
  • Baked potatoes with chive oil
  • Popcorn with rosemary or cinnamon oil
  • Roasted fish with chili oil
  • Grilled lamb chops with mint oil
  • Grilled veggies with basil oil
  • Crostini with goat cheese, fresh thyme, and lemon oil

Recipes to Try:

TELL US: What’s your favorite way to use flavored oils?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (19)

  1. Food recipes says:

    Your comment on Clostridium Botulinums goes very well. Of course this bacterium produces neurotoxin in foods that are not processed or stored well and are harmful. It can cause a severe type of food poisoning so when you report at clinic or hospital with food poisoning, the first thing they regularly check is if there is presence of this bacterium. That is why food companies add anti bacteria agents to food so the growth of the bacteria is neutralized (a reason for preservatives which ironically also ironically tends to make food unwholesome or synthetic)

    The foods that commonly favor the growth of this bacterium when not processed well include pepper and olives.

    Back to the post, we gain so much if we make our own oils. We have more control over how we can customize the aroma and the taste to suit our unique meals. Of course when I make corned beef with chili, I will go for a commercial, off the shelf oil but the ability to make mine gives me so much pleasure. It makes the cooking or recipe more of my own.

    • beautyistruth says:

      Most of what you say is correct, however, botulism is not detectable until it is passed from the body in the stool, making the diagnosis of botulism poisoning difficult. Which is important because the antitoxin is best effective if used in the early stages. Garlic, herbs, anything that grows in dirt can have the bacterium. While heating can destroy the neurotoxin, the bacterium can survive in spore form. Botulism poisoning causes top-down paralysis, often starting with double vision and eye drooping. It can progress to respiratory failure, and death if advance life support is not available. Although there is an antitoxin available from the CDC, the symptoms can move faster than it takes to get the antitoxin authorized, released and shipped. The antitoxin does not cure you, it stops the toxin from doing more damage. Your body still must heal from what the toxin has already done, and it is a long process, even if you get the antitoxin in time and you will likely have health issues the rest of your life. I have seen articles from reputable scientists that recommend keeping homemade oils no more than 72 HOURS, even with refrigeration.

  2. Mahmoud El-Begearmi says:

    I love flavored oils, but I also concerned about C Bot, when we create an anaerobic environment and keep the flavored oil on the stove or close by as many people like to do. So, a number of years ago, I came up with alternative, flavored vinegar. I also make flavored oils in small quantities to use as I go.

    Mahmoud El-Begearmi, PhD
    Professor Emeritus, Nutrition/Food Safety,
    University of Maine.
    55 Williams St. Unit 703,
    Taunton, MA 02780
    Phone/Fax: 508-823-3298

  3. Avon Shields says:

    Some years ago there was a butter-flavored oil on the market for a while. I loved it. They must not have had a market for it because it soon disappeared from the shelves. I have tried to make my own and have had little success. Any suggestions?

  4. Ethel Patterson says:

    For the flavored vinegar I use the same method. Heat the vinegar, in a bottle add whatever herbs, etc. you want to flavor the vinegar. I then let the bottle set for 3-4 days then strain vinegar and remove the herbs, etc. I like white wine or white champagne vinegar for infusing. I have done several different herb vinegars and last year added blackberries to a basil, rosemary, chive mix. I use the vinegars not only on tomatoes and salad but even add to potato salad, spaghetti sauce, grilled veggies, etc.

    • Mahmoud El-Begearmi says:

      Hi All,
      I did not expect the heated discussion, but I am so glad that it did. This in fact the best forum for the discussion because we all aim to further the knowledge of the readers as well as our own. I off course agree with the description of Clostridium Botulinums and how toxic and difficult to deal with in the medical community. In fact, ounce for ounce, the botultlinium toxin is the most toxin substance known to man, but by the grace of God, it will be destroyed by heat. Now, my concern only for making a large quantity and stoning it at room temperature for extended period of time. Many of us understand the danger that we are talking about, but, many of the readers may not, and here is the problem. I agree with the recommendation of not to keeping home mad flavored oil for more than 3-4 days even refrigerated, this is for both quality and safety. The same recommendation applies to most mixed food. Many of the recipes mentioned for home made flavored oil could be used for flavored vinegar, replacing oil with vinegar. As someone mentioned, the flavored vinegar is safer because of the acidity.

      Mahmoud El-Begearmi

  5. angie says:

    i am so glad i read this article….
    i slice up fresh garlic and add it to my olive oil …it sits right next to my stove.
    thanx for the info.

  6. Adrienne M Johnson says:

    What about the oils with the tarragon and herbs still in the tall lovely bottles? Wyhat is the shelf life or should we be avoiding these? How do we know how long the have been sitting on the shelves or exposed to heat and cold?

    • danawhite says:

      Hi Adrienne –
      Those pretty bottles you mentioned make gorgeous decorations on a window ledge or kitchen counter. If the herbs are fresh and the oil is made for consumption, than you should store in the fridge and use within 10 days – check the labeling on the product for specific manufacturer's instructions.

  7. doris says:

    This is my favorite so i like it.

  8. Lee Anne says:

    Here is how I make my own garlic oil: I put some chopped garlic in a glass measuring cup and put about 1/2 cup of olive oil in and put it in the microwave for about a minute. The oil boils and gets all infused with the garlic. It smells wonderful when I open the microwave door! I then strain it and pour it into a bottle and store it in the fridge and use it within a week. I read a long time ago about the dangers of botulism with homemade garlic oil. That's why I only make half a cup at a time….it gets used quickly.

    However, I have always wondered if making it the way I do renders the oil relatively harmless because of the heat I use in making it? I would appreciate and feedback on this. Thanks so much.

  9. Debbi says:

    I buy garlic in bulk..peel & chop it and keep it stored in an old-fashioned Smucker's jelly jar in my fridge. I use the garlic and oil (sometimes together, sometimes separate) regularly, but it sits in the fridge for more than a week. I have never had any trouble and I have been doing this for quite awhile.

  10. Jeff says:

    Wow! All this info.. When I was in college in california I worked for a small company that bottled flavored olive oils. We would start with evoo and heat it up to just under boiling point, I think it was about 150 degrees. Then we would add the fresh basil, or rosemary, or garlic, or sd tomatoes and cook it for about 10 minutes while stirring and then it would be strained into the the bottling machine, capped, and shrink wrappped. It was in grocery stores all over the usa and he never poisoned anyone! It was a legal, registered food manufacturer. RizOli Olive oil co.
    So, was this totally wrong or since he heated the oil and strained it completely it was ok??

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