Annatto Seed Whole

[ 1492 ]
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Whole annatto seed has a flavor and aroma reminiscent of a cross between saffron and paprika. The spice also gives color and fragrance to seasoning blends, like the popular Sazon found in most supermarkets.

kosher certificate information

quick look

information at a glance

approximate cups to one pound3
active compoundsCarotenoid coloring is found in the seed pulp of the fruit.
plant part usedseeds
why buy whole annatto seed?Annatto seed offers a mildly sweet, nutty flavor and lends great color to foods and cosmetics.

buying & keeping

general guidelines and tips

storage tipsStore in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
appearance & aromaCoral red in color, slight peppery aroma when heated.
good vs badWill keep for several months, longer if stored in the refrigerator.


try something new

cosmeticOils infused with annatto seeds can be used to make lotions, creams and salves.
decorativeWhole seeds add interesting color and texture to floral crafts and potpourri mixtures.
culinaryInfuse in oil for dipping, frying or as a finishing drizzle for soups. Excellent in Latin American and Caribbean rice dishes and stews.
householdAnnatto seed produces a natural salmon colored dye for textiles.
aromaticAnnatto seed has a mild woody scent.
wellnessThe spice is rich in carotenoids and antioxidant compounds called tocotrienols, which are chemically similar to vitamin E.
industrialAnnatto seed is used in the food industry to add color to foods, most notably cheese. In the U.S. it is usually listed on labels as annatto color and in Europe as E160b.

some recommendations

other products to love

[ powdered cumin seed ]

[ tip: Pair annatto seed with cumin seed powder in your favorite Latin American, Indian and Asian dishes.  ~ from Monterey Bay Herb Company ]

Pair annatto seed with cumin seed powder in your favorite Latin American, Indian and Asian dishes.

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[ buckwheat hulls ]

Combine annatto seed with buckwheat hulls in potpourri and other floral displays for color and textural contrast.

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flavor profile

whole annatto seed

Slightly sweet, nutty and a bit peppery.

culinary companions

Pairs well with chili pepper, cumin, bay leaf, garlic, onion, lemongrass, citrus and tomato.

what else you should know

whole annatto seed

Annatto seed is commonly referred to as “poor man’s saffron.” In fact, it is often used as a substitute for saffron to achieve similar color, fragrance and taste in traditional Caribbean and Latin foods, such as the yellow rice in arroz con pollo and arroz con gandules. Annatto is also paired with lemongrass, star anise and coconut milk in Asian stews and curries. There is evidence that the ancient Aztecs made a hot beverage that combined annatto seed with chocolate.

The use of annatto as a coloring agent for cheese is widely accepted today, but the practice had less than honorable beginnings. It was first initiated by 16th century cheese makers in Gloucestershire, who added the spice to their milk to lend a golden hue to their cheese. This was done because, at the time, it was believed that the best cheese was made from milk produced by livestock grazing on carotene-rich grasses, and a slightly orange color was considered a marker of superior product. Although this standard doesn’t actually hold true today, the addition of annatto to cheese back then was a device with which to fool customers into buying an inferior product.

Annatto has a long history of use as a dye for textiles as well as body paint. Mexican manuscript dating to the 16th century are decorated with inscriptions and drawings made with annatto. In India today, annatto is used to produce a powdered cosmetic called sindooram, which is worn by women along the hairline or as a dot on the forehead to indicate their married status.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.