Achiote or Annatto

Achiote, meaning scrub or small tree derived from word achiotl in Nahuatl, finds its origins from the Americas and has been cultivated in Southeast Asia since its introduction by the Spanish in the 17th century.

What is it?

Annato (sometimes called achiote, which is really the tree it comes from) are terracotta-colored seeds. They come from a scrub (Achiote tree) that bears pink flowers and bright red spiny fruits which contain these orange-red seeds. The fruits are dried and left to harden into brown capsules.

They have a light peppery almost nutmegy flavor. Best known for, however, giving foods a bright orangey-red color.


When purchasing annato, buy the most bright ones you find. This will ensure the freshest flavor.

Typical Dishes made with Achiote Annato:

        • stews
        • sauces
        • cochinita pibil
        • rice
        • chicken in achiote
        • caldo de olla
        • It is even used to add color to butter, cheese, popcorn, drinks, and breads.

Main Achiote growers:

        • Peru
        • Bolivia
        • Brazil
        • Colombia
        • Ecuador
        • India
        • Jamaica
        • Mexico
        • Puerto Rico
        • Dominican Republic