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Achiote Paste
“Mayan Condiment"

The achiote is a seed of a bush from the tropical areas of America. This seed is very appreciated in the cuisine for its coloring power and for its usage as a spice or condiment. It is a basic ingredient in the preparation of numerous dishes of the Mexican cuisine as it is used to season traditional recipes like the cochinita pibil, the tacos al pastor , ball tamales and many more dishes...

The achiote paste gives to the dishes a flavor that is elaborated, strong, peppery, spicy, slightly smoky, sweetish and with nutty notes. As we have mentioned it is also a
natural colorant , because all what it touches turns to a reddish color.

This recipe is typical of Yucatan, it is used in various typical Yucatecan dishes and it is has been associated as Yucatan’s flavor. Although this condiment goes further back in history as it is of Mayan origins and it was widely used in their kitchen and painting.

This paste is also known as “red recado" and in Yucatan is very easy to get it because it is sold at any stall, where they are arranged in columns and they look like little bricks.

About the Recipe

  • Making the achiote paste is easy but laborious.
  • The preparation of this paste requires a good spice grinder. The spices are a very important part of the seasoning that we get in the final result.
  • The achiote paste is prepare with bitter orange, if you don’t get it you can substitute it for 1/4 cup of sweet orange mixed with 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
  • The texture of this paste must be thick, just a little softer than a plasticine block.
  • The achiote is soaked for 1 day and then the preparation takes .
  • The recipe is for 1 cup.


  • 2 tablespoons of Achiote seeds
  • 2 Habanero Peppers (1 oz)
  • 1 Lime (1 oz)
  • 1 Bitter Orange (7 oz)
  • 4 Garlic cloves (.7 oz)
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of Coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of Cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of whole Allspice Berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Oregano
  • 1/2 cup of White Vinegar (4.2 fl oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt

  • Cookware

  • 1 Blender
  • 1 Spice Grinder
  • 1 Bowl
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Knife
  • 2 Paper Towels
  • 1 Orange Squeezer (optional)
  • 1 Lime Squeezer (optional)

  • Directions

    Soak the Achiote Seeds

    1. Put in a bowl 2 tablespoons of achiote seeds and cover them with boiling water.
    2. Leave the achiote seeds soaking for 24 hours, so they soften.

    The Next Day...

    1. Verify that the achiote seeds that were left soaking are soft, if not leave the soaking for a longer time.
    2. Transfer from the bowl to a strainer the achiote seeds that were soaked and remove the water excess.
    3. Transfer from the strainer to some paper towels the achiote seeds that were soaked and dry them very well.
    4. Transfer from the paper towels to a spice grinder the achiote seeds that were dried.
    5. Also incorporate in the spice grinder:
    • 4 Cloves.
    • 1 teaspoon of Coriander seeds.
    • 1 teaspoon of Cumin seeds.
    • 1 teaspoon of whole Allspice Berries.

    1. Grind very well all the spices, until having the consistency of a fine powder; then set aside.

    Blend All the Ingredients

    1. Remove the seeds and the veins of 2 habanero peppers.
    2. Put in a blender the 2 habanero peppers with the ones you worked.
    3. Also add in the blender:
    • The Powder that was obtained from grinding the spices.
    • The juice of 1 Lime.
    • The juice of 1 Bitter Orange.
    • 4 Garlic cloves.
    • 1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg.
    • 1/2 teaspoon of Oregano.
    • 1/2 cup of White Vinegar.
    • 1/2 teaspoon of Pepper.
    • 1 teaspoon of Salt.

    1. Blend very well the ingredients.

    If the paste comes out too thick, you can add more bitter orange juice and white vinegar in the same quantities, until achieving the desired consistency.

    Season Your Favorite

    The Achiote Paste and some ingredients that are used in its preparation

    Tip: If you have some achiote seeds left you can put one cup of oil (olive or vegetable) in a skillet over low heat, add the achiote seeds that were left and leave them frying for about 5 minutes. Then strain the oil and you will have a delicious achiote oil that will give a great seasoning to any dish.

    Variations: We remind you that what you just prepared is the red recado and there is also the steak recado and the black recado.

    Did you like the Achiote Paste?

    Experiment cooking an Appetizer with Achiote Paste.
    Know the Mexican Food Colors.
    Enjoy a Mexican Drink.

    Additional Info

    To make the achiote paste you need a good spice grinder like the KRUPS. This grinder is fast, powerful, easy to clean and the best is that it grinds uniformly.

    If you need achiote seeds these are fresh and of very good quality.

    For this recipe you also need a good blender and the Ninja is excellent.

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