achiote paste with lime and garlic

One could argue that spices make the meal — they can level up an average recipe by enhancing it with flavors that knock your socks off. The Caribbean, Central American, and Mexican cultures are known for maximizing flavors with an array of spices, so it’s no wonder that achiote paste is a common addition to many Latin and Caribbean dishes.

Gather the ingredients for homemade achiote paste

achiote ingredients

To make this recipe you’ll need a collection of spices, as you might imagine. The main ingredient is annatto seeds which give this paste a nutty, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor while also providing a vibrant red color. "Annatto seeds may be tricky to find in stores," Hahn says, "but they can easily be found online." The other spices you’ll need are oregano, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, whole cloves, salt, and coriander. From the produce department, pick up some fresh garlic, an orange, and a lime. To finish things off, grab some white vinegar.

Grind the spices

spices in small food processor

The first step is to break down all of the spices that aren’t finely ground. You can use a small food processor or a spice grinder for this. Go ahead and put the annatto seeds, oregano, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves in the spice grinder or the food processor. Grind them until they’re completely ground. If you are using a spice grinder, this should only take about 10 seconds, but if you are using a small food processor it may take a few minutes to do the job.

Prepare the citrus

orange and lime being juiced

To prep the citrus, grab a small bowl. Squeeze the lime and orange to extract the juice. If you aren’t using an orange squeezer to capture the seeds, just fish them out with a spoon. "We definitely want to make sure there aren’t any stray seeds in our mixture as that can add bitterness and ruin the batch," Hahn remarks.

Combine the ingredients and use or store the paste

achiote paste in food processor

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor. Blend the mixture until a thick paste forms. The achiote paste is now ready to serve. Hahn says, "I like to store this in a small jar with a lid. The paste will last for up to a month in the fridge. Use it generously, as the deep red color of the annatto seeds is an indication of the high antioxidant count," Hahn says. Who knew that such delicious flavor could be so healthy?

Homemade Achiote Paste Recipe

Spice up your next meat or vegetable dish with this homemade recipe for achiote paste. Not only is it easy to make and delicious to eat, it’s healthy, too!





Total time: 10 minutes


  • ¼ cup annatto seeds
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar


  1. Put the annatto seeds, oregano, cumin seeds, peppercorns, and cloves in a small food processor or spice grinder. Grind until all of the spices are broken down into a fine powder.
  2. Squeeze the juice of half the orange and the lime into a small bowl. Remove any seeds from the bowl.
  3. Add the orange juice, lime juice, garlic cloves, salt, coriander, and white vinegar to the food processor. Add the ground seeds as well. Blend until a thick paste forms. The achiote paste is ready to serve.