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Jun 7, 2013 01:44 PM

Annatto paste?

This is an ingredient for a recipe that I am looking forward to trying, but I haven't had any luck finding annatto paste. I've never used it before, so I'm not sure how important it is in this recipe. Is there anything I can substitute for this? If not, I thought maybe someone here would have enough experience with it to know if I could leave it out without drastically changing the final dish. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of annatto paste to about 2 lbs of beef along with broth, peppers, onions,herbs, and several spices. Sorry if this is a topic that has been addressed before. I tried searching and couldn't find anything about it on here. Thanks!

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  1. I buy annatto seeds and crush them for a coarse achiote powder. The paste aspect is unimportant. A small bag of Badia annatto seeds is cheap.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      In Latin America it is common to gently fry some of the seeds in oil (or lard) until they lend their color to the oil. This oil is then used to cook and color items. The Yucatan is about the only place that uses achiote in large enough quantities to lend a flavor to their food. The paste, made ground achiote and spices, is usually sold in rectangular blocks.

      1. re: paulj

        I used to gather wild annatto pods and seeds in Quintana Roo, whatever I needed. Lots of other goodies in the jungle, also.

    2. Is this achiote maybe? It's a mix of ground annatto seed, garlic, and other spices that's used a lot in Yucatecan cuisine as a marinade. It imparts color and flavor, but if the recipe only calls for one teaspoon of it then I would think it's more for color than flavor.

      1. You can get it on-line at

        3 Replies
        1. re: penthouse pup

          For the record, the achiote paste made by El Mexicano and sold by Mexgrocer has a horrible metallic aftertaste. I used it once and ended up throwing away my pork dish.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            What one do you use please? Or do you make your own, which seems pretty easy.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              The El Yucateco brand is quite good.

          2. You can just omit it since it is such a small quantity

            1. It's achiote paste - same thing. Hispanic supermarkets stock it, though often not with the spices. Tends to be with the chile sauces, canned chipotles, etc...

              2 Replies
              1. re: sbp

                Thanks. They're the same thing. And I also found it where you mention, not with the spices. I think the paste is better used than the seeds.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Absolutely easier to work with. I use it as a rub on chicken and pork, for example.