Spice-Infused Oils

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    1 quart

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Pungent and finely ground spices can be quickly infused in oil by heating the spices in the oil until the spices sizzle; the mixture is then strained. Any of the spices used in Indian curry mixtures, or the mixtures themselves, can be infused into an inert-tasting oil such as French huile d’arachide, grapeseed oil, or good-quality safflower oil. If experimenting with an unknown spice or spice mixture, heat the spices in a small amount of oil so that if you accidentally overheat the spices you won’t waste a large amount of oil.


ground spices such as cardamom, cumin, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, or spice mixtures such as garam masala 1 cup 250 ml
inert-tasting oil such as grapeseed, safflower, or canola cups 1.1 L


  1. Combine the spices with 2 cups (500 milliliters) of the oil in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat, while stirring, over medium heat until the spices begin to sizzle. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, until the spices smell aromatic. Remove from the heat and let cool. Alternatively, to avoid overcooking, cook the spices and oil sous vide at 140°F (60°C) for 6 hours.
  2. Taste the oil to make sure it hasn’t burned (in which case it has to be thrown out) and that it tastes strongly of the spices. If it isn’t very spicy, repeat the heating and cooling until the oil is intensely flavored. (Remember, this oil-spice mixture will be diluted with the rest of the oil.)
  3. Combine with the remaining oil and strain first through a fine chinois, then again through a strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth or a carefully washed and rinsed kitchen towel.