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Flavored Oils For Cooking

Updated on March 19, 2015

Italian Olive Oil


How to Make a Flavored Oil.

It is no secret to anyone who loves cooking that oils flavored with herbs, fruit, garlic, etc add complexity to many dishes. I have seen it in the menus of many fancy restaurants offering Sauteed Shrimp with ginger oil, apple donughts in vanilla oil, and so on.

Discovering Infused Oils

Personally, I hadn't used many flavoured oils for cooking at home apart from the bottle of oilve oil infused with herbs and spices that you usually find in the Pizzerias and supermarkets It never really crossed my mind using flavoured oils for cooking, until one lazy afternoon when I was chatting with my French neighbour, over the garden fence, and she told me that instead of cooking her crepes with butter or ordinary oil she generally cooks them with a Vanilla infused oil to add aroma to her crepes and a at the same time perfume her whole house while cooking. Needless to say that curious as I am I had to ask her where does she buy Vanilla Infused Oil. I should have had guessed her answer... She makes it herself "bien sur".

When I asked her how does she infused oil with vanilla, she looked at me amazed, as if I had asked her how to make a cup of tea! After she recovered from her surprise, she proceeded to explain to me step by step that infused oils need to be made with good quality oils, in "two times and three steps" to allow the spices to deliver their flavours.

Making your flavored oil step by step:

You will need a good knife, a jar with an airtight top, a sieve and coffee filters. The first step only takes about 10 minutes if you have all the ingredients and a good knife. The second step actually just involves leaving the oil to macerate for about 3 weeks. The third step is simply using your oil in the next 6 months before the flavour starts to fade.

Don’t be fooled, there is not ONE recipe for flavoring oil. Every spice, herb and oil has its own recipe and use. Here are some that my patient neighbour was so kind to share with me.

Fresh Ginger Root

Ginger or ginger root.  Young ginger is juicy and fleshy with a mild taste.
Ginger or ginger root. Young ginger is juicy and fleshy with a mild taste. | Source

Ginger Oil.

To make ginger oil you will need:

  • 50cl of vegetable oil.
  • 15gr of fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 slice of untreated lemon

To make the oil you peel the ginger and cut it very finely with your old heirloom knife (apparently every good cook has one!). Put the cut ginger in a previously boiled and dry airtight jar, add the garlic and the slice of lemon. Fill the jar with oil. Close hermetically and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks in a cool dark place.

After the three weeks have passed you can filter your oil to a bottle ready for use.

This oil is a perfect seasoning for fish and seafood. You can also sprinkle it over cooked broccoli to add zest to your greens. Also recommended to stir fry rice.

Apparently, daily doses of ginger in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis also allays inflammation and painful symptoms. You can use it for seasoning your meals and you can also try this oil as a massage oil (avoid the garlic) to fight inflammation and relieve pain of arthritis and sore muscles.

Vanilla oil

To make this delicate aromatic oil, you will need:

  • 60cl of olive oil
  • 2 pods of vanilla
  • 10 grains of black pepper

Now this is a very delicate operation. You need to cut the vanilla pods lengthwise (my neighbour showed me this operation as it is of the upmost importance that you get the right length and width and angle of your knife to get the flavours to perfume your oil properly) I haven’t tried this alone, but I wonder if I would have the same effect if I just unceremoniously cut my vanilla pods?

Anyway, once you have worked the magic cuts on your vanilla pods, you must put them in an airtight previously boiled and dry jar. Add the pepper and cover with the oil. Close the jar hermetically and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks in a cool dry place. Once ready, filter and put in a bottle ready to use.

This delicate oil is used with fine fish like turbot or Saint Pierre. Vanilla oil can also be used for adding perfume to green salads or for a gazpacho. It is also a great seasoning for roasted vegetables specially for roasted sweet potatoes with toasted almonds.

How to Use a Vanilla Pod

Vanilla Infused Oil Variation

For a more versatile Vanilla Oil, you can replace Olive Oil with Grapeseed oil which is a pretty light tasting oil. This way you can use your Vanilla oil for all your sweet recipes that require oil or use it instead of butter for cooking crepes and pancakes. Your desserts will benefit from an extra vanilla aroma.

Rosemary Infused Oil

Rosemary Infused Oil
Rosemary Infused Oil | Source

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

For this strong flavoured oil you will need patience, olive oil and rosemary. Start carefully washing and drying 6 branches of rosemary. I prefer to use fresh Rosemary from my garden as I am sure it is 100% organic. Once the Rosemary has been washed and dried take the pins off one by one and spread them over a dry dish. Leave to dry for about 24 hours in a cool dry place. After the 24 hours have passed, you can put the rosemary in a previously boiled dry jar, cover with 50cl olive oil and leave to macerate for about 3 weeks.

This oil awakens the taste and gives life to all type of lamb dishes and barbecues. The rosemary leaves add a bitter, astringent taste to the olive oil and it smells highly aromatic.

You can follow the same instructions to make basilic oil which is best to accompany tomatoes, pasta and soups.

Flavored Oils: 50 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils

Flavored Oils: 50 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils
Flavored Oils: 50 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils

simple and clear recipes (the Garlic Smashed Potatoes are particularly tempting) in which plain olive oil can be substituted for the jazzier variations.


Why Make your own Flavoured Oils.

If you make your own flavoured oils you are sure that you are using the best quality oils available. Prefereably use oils with a low amount of saturated fats, and higher levels of unsaturated (preferably monounsaturated) fats like olive oil, avocado, corn and sunflower, which are generally healthier.

Flavored oils make healthful alternatives to mayonnaises and sauces in everything from marinades and vinaigrettes to appetizers and entrees.

Cooking with Flavored Oils

Have you ever cooked with Infused Oils?

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Flavoured oils for Cooking

5 stars from 2 ratings of Flavored Oils

Which Oil to Use When Cooking


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    • healthy meals profile imageAUTHOR

      healthy meals 

      3 years ago from Europe

      DebMartin: That's right, the possibilities are endless

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      So many possibilities. I love cooking with infused olive oil. I've been playing with fruit lately. Blueberries are lovely.

    • healthy meals profile imageAUTHOR

      healthy meals 

      4 years ago from Europe

      Thank you for the votes up and for sharing, Phyllis. I don't know about a raspberry infused salad oil for cooking but sometimes I like to use a "Raspberry vinaigrette" made with oil, raspberry vinegar, shallots and mustard. It is great for seasoning a simple green salad.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thank you so much for sharing these recipes, which I will be making for sure. I am happy to see you recommend grape seed oil for a lighter taste and sweetness. I have used grape seed oil for years, but never thought about infusing it with herbs -- olive oil I have infused with herbs since forever. I wonder, sometimes I purchase a raspberry infused salad oil for cooking -- I bet that would be good with the grape seed oil. How would I do that? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

      Voted up and sharing.

      PS edit: I am bookmarking and sending the link to this hub to my daughter and son, both excellent and creative cooks (they take after me, of course, hahha) Thanks again for adding to my culinary arts.

    • healthy meals profile imageAUTHOR

      healthy meals 

      4 years ago from Europe

      Thanks for the support Patsybell, I am sure that you will love the vanilla flavored oil it works wonders on sweet recipes.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 

      4 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      What a delight. Lots of good information. Herb vinegar and flavored oils are my favorite salad dressing. You introduced me to vanilla oil and ginger oil. Voted up, useful, and Pin.


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