Seasoned Olive Oil for Dipping Bread

How do you feel when you’re served complimentary bread at a restaurant soon after sitting down?

Unadulterated joy? Complete happiness? Sudden relief? Total nirvana? ALL of the feels?!

Seriously… what could be better?

There is, of course, the dip accompaniment that transforms an already blissful situation into pure perfection.

Vertical top-down image of a shallow bowl filled with an herb, garlic, and parmesan spread on top of a tan towel next to cubes of sourdough, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Over the years of eating out at restaurants, many of us have enjoyed compound herb butters, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth honey spice butters, or whipped butters piped into various shapes like rosettes in a ramekin.

Even a foil-wrapped individual pat of butter, still cold and solid from the restaurant’s walk-in cooler, will bring smiles to our faces!

You might not think there is anything better than chowing down on more than your fair share of bread and butter at a restaurant… but I’ll give it a shot with this recipe:

Vertical close-up image of a shallow bowl filled with an herb, cheese, and garlic spread on a tan towel next to cubes of sourdough.

Seeking inspiration from some Italian-themed restaurants, and what I like to serve in my own home, offering a plate of extra virgin olive oil often surpasses a spreadable butter.

Light, fruity, and peppery, a good-quality olive oil is a dynamic companion for crusty bread, an impressive – and effortlessly elegant – choice for a dinner party.

And while presenting a dish of a plain, yet stellar, condiment would make a bold statement with its pure simplicity, I do enjoy adding a few touches of other ingredients to enhance the eating experience.

Vertical image of a cube of sourdough resting in a garlic, herb, and cheese spread in a shallow bowl on top of a tan towel.

Flaky salt and freshly cracked pepper are the essential components to lay down the flavor foundation for the remaining additions.

Minced raw garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar bring punches of bold pungency, balanced and subdued by the fatty oil.

Vertical image of a shallow white bowl filled with a flavored olive oil on top of a tan towel next to cubes of sourdough.

Grated parmesan offers sharpness and nuttiness. Dried oregano carries its herbaceous charm into the mix, while a pinch of red pepper flakes holds a subtly spicy edge.

A quick stir to lightly combine everything is all that’s required for bringing the ingredients together – just slice some crusty Italian bread and dip away!

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Horizontal image of a shallow white bowl, resting on a tan towel, filled with flavored dip and a cube of sourdough resting in it.

Seasoned Olive Oil for Dipping Bread

  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


With herbs, garlic, cheese, and vinegar, our seasoned olive oil is a savory accompaniment for dipping slices of bread.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • Crusty bread, for serving


  1. Pour the olive oil into a small serving dish. Add the remaining ingredients, and gently mix with a fork or small whisk for a few seconds to lightly combine everything.
  2. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: olive oil, dip, seasoned

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

If you haven’t made any plans for what bread you will use to dip, now is the time!

Horizontal image of mini white bowls filled with measured ingredients on a black table.

You can try your hand at baking bread completely from scratch – we suggest our recipes for parmesan focaccia, homemade sourdough, or pain paillasse.

For a flavored option that will complement the ingredients in this dip, you’ll love our olive oregano bread, baked in a Dutch oven.

Bread – done! Now, let’s move on.

Measure out the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Finely mince the garlic, or use a garlic press.

We recommend freshly grating a good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano for this recipe, but if you’re in a bind, we won’t be persnickety if you need to use a pre-grated option.

Freshly crack the black peppercorns. For the boldest and freshest of flavors, crack the peppercorns directly before making this recipe.

Step 2 – Combine Ingredients Together

Pour the olive oil into a small serving dish – the best options would be either a shallow bowl or a small plate with high edges.

Horizontal image of piles of ingredients on top of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a small, shallow dish on a black table.

Add the remaining ingredients, in no particular order.

Gently swirl with a fork or a small whisk for just a few seconds until everything is lightly combined.

Horizontal top-down image of an olive oil spread flavored with herbs, garlic, and cheese on a tan towel next to cubes of sourdough.

In this rustic dip, you aren’t emulsifying the ingredients as you would for a dressing or vinaigrette, so the ingredients will naturally stay separated from the liquid fat.

Step 3 – Serve

Serve your dip immediately at room temperature with your choice of bread for a casual and easygoing appetizer.

Horizontal image of an olive oil spread flavored with herbs, garlic, and cheese on a tan towel next to cubes of sourdough.

You can choose to slice the loaf with a serrated knife directly before serving into clean, individual slices or cubes. For a more rustic and communal serving approach, allow your guests to rip off chunks from the loaf.


Change the Flavors to Fit the Season

This recipe is intentionally designed as a dip that’s suitable for any season, using ingredients that can be easily purchased at the grocery store throughout the entire year.

However, that’s not to say the ingredients aren’t customizable!

For some summer seasonal flair, replace the oregano with the same amount of classic pesto.

You can also use a mix of finely chopped fresh herbs instead, fresh from the garden or farmers market! Take your pick from our preferred choices of thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and parsley.

Horizontal image of a shallow white bowl, resting on a tan towel, filled with flavored dip and a cube of sourdough resting in it.

Do you have any other ideas to modify the ingredients? Leave a comment below with your tasty suggestions.

While it’s fun to mix up the herbs, there’s nothing like the zing and pep of balsamic vinegar! Be the star of your next party by incorporating the bold flavors of balsamic vinegar into other dishes. Try these next:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 20, 2015 by Jennifer Swartvagher. Last updated on November 10, 2023.

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 Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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