Cooking with Achiote Paste

About Achiote Paste

Achiote/annatto is a brick-red condiment native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. It is typically added to food to give it a yellowish-orange tinge, which might be surprising given its red color. It has a slightly nutty flavor with a hint of pepper and sweetness and an aroma reminiscent of nutmeg and pepper.

Achiote paste is made by grinding annatto seeds and mixed with cumin, pepper, coriander, oregano, cloves, and garlic. It is widely used as a cooking ingredient in Latin American regions as well as in Jamaica, Belize, Austronesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Use achiote paste as a sauce, marinade, or rub and add it to your favorite recipes. Here are some recipe ideas to help you.

Baked Pulled Pork with Achiote Paste

Prep Time: 1 hour 60 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours 20 minutes


  • lb. boned and tied pork shoulder or leg
  • 3 bulbs red onions, large, finely chopped
  • 150 mL orange juice
  • 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 100g achiote paste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Fresh habanero chilies
  • Soft and moist bread buns for serving


  1. In a large bowl, mix the orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, achiote paste, cumin, and oregano. Use a hand mixer to mix completely and remove all lumps.
  2. Prepare the pork by stabbing the meat with a small, sharp knife. This will let the marinade seep into the pork.
  3. Place the pork in an oven dish covered with foil or in a Dutch oven.
  4. Pour the marinade onto the meat and gently massage the meat to spread the marinade and cover it entirely. Use gloves to avoid staining your hands.
  5. Mix in 2/3 of the onions and add to the meat.
  6. If using a baking pan, cover the meat with the foil. Fold the foil over and seal the edges to close if off completely.
  7. Let the meat rest inside the fridge overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 320oF for 30 minutes. Bake the meat for 5 to 6 hours.
  9. Take it out of the oven. Open the foil/cover and scoop out a little bit of intact fat from the top. Discard.
  10. Without closing the lid, put back in the oven. Increase the temperature to about 400oF and continue baking for 20 minutes to let it caramelize for a little bit.
  11. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes more.
  12. Take the remaining onions and place in a small bowl. Chop the habanero peppers and mix it in. Squeeze the lime over the peppers and onions.
  13. Use a fork to pull bits of the meat.
  14. Serve the pulled pork in the buns. Sprinkle with the onions and peppers. You can also add some more oregano.

This recipe serves 6.

Chicken and Rice with Achiote Paste

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 3 lb. chicken breasts and thighs, skin removed
  • 1 cup rice, long-grained, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp. achiote paste
  • 3 bulbs red onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cut into big strips
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/3 cup manzanilla olives, halved
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups water


  1. Mix the mayonnaise and achiote paste thoroughly in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, add half of the mayo-paste mixture to the chicken and coat the chicken well. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, cook the chicken on medium-high heat until each side is evenly-browned. Remove chicken from skillet and discard drippings. Cover to keep warm.
  4. Using the same skillet, add the rice, onions, garlic, and the remaining mayo-paste mixture. Cook on low heat for 3 minutes with constant stirring.
  5. Add water and chicken bouillon. Stir the rice and add the chicken. Bring it to a boil and cover.
  6. Continue cooking the rice on low heat for about 25 minutes or until the rice is sufficiently cooked, all the liquid is absorbed, and the chicken is done.
  7. Top with olives and cilantro if desired. Serve.

This recipe serves 8.

This content is sponsored by Jim Bevin.

Photo: Shutterstock

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