Using olive oil infused with herbs like thyme, garlic or basil is a fantastic way to elevate any recipe, whether it's dressing up crusty crostini or adding an extra kick to caprese salad. For a sweeter infusion, vanilla bean, Meyer lemon or rosemary can all add a rich twist to your favorite baked goods.
Though you can often find these delicious infusions at speciality stores and supermarkets, it's just as easy to make them at home (and you'll probably end up saving yourself a few bucks, too).
How to DIY Your Own Infused Olive Oil
When infusing at home, it's important to use the highest-quality olive oil—stay away vegetable or other cooking oils—and herbs you can find. It's generally better to use dried herbs (as opposed to fresh), because anything containing moisture can cause bacterial growth. However, if you really want to use fresh herbs, there is an effective way to do so, which we cover below. Here's everything you need to know about infusing olive oil at home.
① Infuse olive oil on the stovetop.
This is probably the quickest and safest infusion method, because the heat will kill any bacteria. Add your whole or ground flavoring agent to a saucepan and heat over low-to-medium heat. Be careful not to let the liquid boil, since it will cook the additives rather than just extract their flavors. Let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it from the stove and, once the oil is completely cooled, strain and pour the mixture into a container or bottle and close it tightly.
② Infuse olive oil with fresh herbs in the refrigerator.
If you prefer your infusion with whole fresh herbs, make sure to wash and thoroughly dry your ingredients before mixing them into the oil. Once they are completely dry, add them to a clean, dry container or bottle that can be tightly sealed. Then, pour the oil into the bottle, make sure the top is screwed on tight and place it in the fridge for up to a week. If you're using ground herbs, you can either strain the fragments out after they have steeped for a few days or leave them in the bottle. This process will take a little longer, but the flavor will intensify over time.
Storing Homemade Infused Olive Oil
Olive oil infused with dried ingredients over low-to-medium heat will last between a few weeks and a month, depending on the additives used. It doesn't need to be refrigerated, but we recommend storing it in a cool, dry place. Oil infused with fresh herbs will last up to a week and must be refrigerated the entire time for maximum shelf life.
What to Make with Infused Olive Oil
There are countless ways to utilize infused olive oil. It can be incorporated into marinades and dressings, used to make cakes and breads, or drizzled onto a plate of pasta, fish or chicken for a tasty finish. It also makes a wonderful party gift alternative if you're looking for something other than wine.
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