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I used to buy so many infused oils. My pantry shelves would be loaded up with them. You’d be able to find just about any infusion you could possibly think of, from herbs to chilies, and even chocolate.
These fancy ingredients were so much fun to play with, but they started to make a dent in my wallet…
That is, until I learned to make them at home.
That’s right. You can totally make a replica of those expensive bottled versions that you see in the store right in your own home, for just the cost of buying the ingredients.
It might be easier to plop down your credit card, but you’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to make these. They’re great for spicing up your meals with a little added flavor, and they make excellent gifts as well.
Herb-infused olive oil is ideal for using in salad dressings, adding to pasta, drizzling on pizza, or even for dipping delicious artisan bread as an appetizer. You can make it for yourself, but you can also make a big batch for easy homemade gifts for your friends and family.
Even if you are the laziest cook, you can totally make these at home.
All you need is a good amount of fresh herbs and oil. The instructions are easy – blend, cook, strain, strain again, and let rest.
That’s all it takes.
It does take some time for the infusion to rest in the final step, but you’re only looking at about 15 minutes of active time total. You can even double or triple the recipe to make a large batch for gifts.
I have a few tips for you, to make the best infused oil you possibly can:
- Make sure you are buying the best ingredients possible. You want to use the freshest herbs and the right kind of olive oil. Growing fresh herbs in your own garden? Even better!
- The olive oil you use should be pure and light in flavor. Extra virgin has a stronger flavor, so a lighter one is generally better for this purpose. If you like, you can even use canola, or another type of vegetable oil altogether.
- You can experiment with the flavors as you get more experienced with the recipe. Try combining basil and oregano leaves for an Italian spin, or rosemary and thyme for a wintery combo.
This is a particularly good recipe to hang onto for when your backyard garden is thriving and jam-packed with aromatic ingredients. It’s a great way to preserve your harvest, and use up your favorites if you have a bumper crop. Maybe it’ll even inspire you to plant some different types next year, to use specifically to make this recipe.
Whether you want to drizzle a little extra herbaceous flavor over salads, baked potatoes, or scrambled eggs, this homemade ingredient flavored with fresh herbs picked at the peak of freshness is what you want to have on hand.
You can use it with roasted vegetables, or on grilled chicken. It can easily be incorporated into a marinade, or a variety of sauces.
Giving mini bottles (or full-sized bottles) of your handcrafted infusions as holiday gifts? Write out some serving suggestions and make tags to tie onto the neck of each bottle with ribbon, so the happy recipient can get started with a little inspiration straight from the chef.
For packaging ideas, check out my words of advice towards the end of this article.Print
Want to take your favorite fresh herbs and create something with truly spectacular flavor? Make easy herb-infused olive oil at home with these easy to follow instructions.
For Soft Herbs like Basil, Cilantro, and Parsley:
- 2 cups pure olive oil
- 1 cup fresh herb leaves, stems removed
For Woody Herbs like Rosemary, Winter Savory, and Thyme:
- 2 cups pure olive oil
- 4 cups fresh herb leaves, stems removed
- Add herb leaves and oil to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Add mixture to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 45 seconds.
- Strain into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer or chinois without pushing down on the mixture.
- Strain again through a paper coffee filter into a medium-sized bowl. Let the filtered oil settle for a few hours, then pour it off the dark liquid in the bottom of the bowl, if there is any.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and use within 1 week.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes
- Category: Flavored Oil
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Condiments
Keywords: flavored oil, infused olive oil, herb-infused oil, olive oil, herbs
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
If you are using soft herbs like basil or parsley, remove the stems and measure out 1 cup fresh herb leaves.
If you are using woody herbs like rosemary or thyme, measure out 4 cups of fresh herb leaves.
You can get creative with your combinations of herbs, just note that you will need to use less of the soft herbs versus the woody herbs because the soft herbs will overpower the resulting flavor.
If you will be mixing soft and woody herbs, the ratio I recommend is 1/2 cup soft herb leaves like basil, and 2 cups woody herb leaves like rosemary.
Organic herbs grown without pesticides are always my preferred choice. Choose healthy, “perfect” specimens that are free of broken, bruised, or damaged portions. Be sure to clean them well. I rinse them in a colander so I don’t lose any down the drain, and then dry them well in a salad spinner.
A Note on Food Safety
Keep in mind that infused oils made with fresh herbs are highly perishable, and should ideally be used within about a week, though versions made with dried ingredients will last longer.
According to Jason Bolton, Assistant Extension Professor and Food Safety Specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, infused or flavored cooking oils can pose potential food safety risks since they are typically made with low-acid ingredients. Fresh herbs (and fruits, and vegetables) may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) spores, which can cause botulism. And the water found in fresh produce can help this bacteria to grow.
This is one advantage that commercially made products have over the homemade variety. Since they are made with acidified ingredients, they have a better shelf life and can be stored at room temperature without worry.
To cut out the potential for allowing C. bot to thrive entirely, make your flavored oils only with dried herbs. Otherwise, be sure to store your DIY creations in the refrigerator, and use them up quickly.
Vinegar can also be added to lower the pH of blends made with fresh ingredients, but that method is beyond the scope of this article.
Measure out 2 cups of pure olive oil. You can also use a different type of lighter oil like canola, if you prefer.
Step 2 – Blend
Place the herbs and oil in a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 45 seconds.
Step 3 – Strain
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or chinois. Make sure not to push down the mixture or it will become bitter, because the forced oils from the leaves will alter the flavor.
Let the liquid naturally drip through the strainer or chinois, lightly tapping it against the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Strain again through a paper coffee filter into a medium bowl. Setting the filter into a jar or a funnel will help to stabilize it, or you could use a flat-bottomed filter set over a strainer with a bowl beneath it.
Step 4 – Let Rest
Let the filtered oil settle for a few hours.
Pour oil off the top into an airtight glass container such as a mason jar, without pouring in the dark liquid at the bottom of the bowl.
These are the little bits that might have gotten through the filter and you don’t want to store these in your flavored oil, but you might not run into this. If yours is clear without any dark sediment that settled at the bottom, you’re good to go!
Store in the refrigerator for up to one week if you are using fresh ingredients. Flavored oil made with dried ingredients may be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
As an alternative method using dried ingredients, you may elect to keep the herbs whole and infuse them that way, for a pretty presentation. Here’s how:
Skip the blending, straining, and resting steps. Heat your oil to 180°F, as indicated on a cooking thermometer. Gently stuff the stems and sprigs into your chosen glass vessels, then pour oil over the top through a funnel, and fill to the top. Allow to cool completely before replacing the lids and storing in a cool, dry place. Oils flavored this way will require about 1 month to steep before using, to get the best flavor.
Homemade Flavored Oil for Cooking and Gifting
For storing your infusions, you want to use a glass container that has an airtight seal. I usually use mason jars for this, but when I am gifting these, I like to get a little more fancy with swing-top glass bottles with rubber gasket seals. These are available on Amazon.
Get creative and make a fun label for your jars as well. You can even hand draw the labels if you choose, or write with a permanent marker directly on the glass container.
Looking for even more inspiration for homemade gift ideas to surprise the foodie in your life? Here are some of our favorites:
- Mulled Wine Mulling Spice Mix
- Easy Chocolate Candy Bark
- How To Make Your Own Baking Mix
- Caramel Candies
- Hot Chocolate Mix
What kind of will you make first? Tell us in the comments below, and come back to rate the recipe after you try it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Bormioli Rocco. Originally published on November 15, 2014. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.