DIY

I Tried Making DIY Infused Cooking Oils And The Results Were Ridiculously Delicious

by Kim Wong-Shing

If regular cooking oil is just not quite exciting enough for you, boy do I have good news. Herb-infused cooking oils are incredibly easy to DIY, and they’re way easier to make than they look. How do I know? Because I’m cooking-illiterate, and I made three DIY infused cooking oils successfully, and they’re delicious. True story.

You can use these infused oils for cooking, marinades, and salad dressings. If you’re cooking-illiterate like me, you might think that you don’t have any use for fancy herb-a-licious oils, and that’s where you’re wrong. Those of us who do not cook tend to be very enthusiastic about low-effort meals, such as “stuff on bread” and “bread dipped into things.” And infused oils are perfect for dipping.

Also, infused olive oil looks super fancy, which makes it a great gift.

There are a few ways to infuse your own cooking oils, and you’ll find a million different recipes online. You can use fresh herbs, dried herbs, or preserved herbs. You can heat the oil to help the infusion process along or simply leave the herbs and oil in a jar to cold-infuse.

With so many options, how do you know where to begin?

For starters, most recipes call for extra-virgin olive oil, because it’s a healthy all-purpose oil that’s light enough to absorb whichever flavors you’re adding.

As for herbs, you can use any herb that you would normally use for cooking or seasoning. Popular choices include basil, garlic, rosemary, chili pepper, and oregano. The world is your oyster. Go wild.

As for technique, that depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. For me, that amount is “almost none.”

I figured out how to make infused cooking oil safely and easily. Seriously, so easily. Here’s the process, from beginning to end.

Don't Sweat the Technique

Don't Sweat the Technique
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OK, maybe do sweat the technique a little bit.

When you research homemade infused oil, you will very quickly come across the word “botulism” a bunch of times. Botulism is a deadly toxin that spreads through contaminated foods, and it’s always a concern when you’re canning, preserving, or bottling foods.

Soaking herbs in oil and putting them in a bottle is a lot more dangerous than it sounds, apparently.

Naturally, I proceeded to dive deep into ways to avoid botulism. I’ll spare you the nasty details.

What I decided to do, to minimize time and effort while also not dying a terrible death, is cold-infuse my herbs, refrigerate the oils, and use them within a week or so.

As long as you refrigerate the oil and use it quickly, you don’t need to worry too much about all of the concerns that go along with properly preserving food — like proper sterilization, sealing, and lack of moisture. Who has the time?! Not me.

With that settled, I moved on to picking out my herbs.

 

Picking Herbs

Picking Herbs
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Dry herbs are a great choice for infusion, but I had a bunch of fresh herbs that needed to be harvested, so I decided to go ahead and use those. I fully endorse using whatever the hell you have lying around your kitchen rather than spending a ton of money on herbs.

While you can definitely infuse two to three herbs into one oil, many people prefer infusing one herb at a time so the flavor is more defined. For a cooking-illiterate person like me, keeping it simple sounded wise.

I wanted to make three oils, so I picked out three simple flavors.

First up: basil. A ton of it.

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Then I picked some sprigs of lemon thyme, which tastes exactly how it sounds — like a citrusy version of thyme. It smells amazing.

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Last, I plucked some garlic and red pepper flakes from my cabinet.

Now I needed to prepare my jars.

Prepping Your Glassware

Prepping Your Glassware
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I picked up these tiny glass jars from Michael’s for under $10 total. The tall one is 2 ounces. The others aren’t labeled, but I’d guess that they’re about 4 ounces.

Now, whenever you’re using glassware, you should thoroughly clean it and dry it before you add your yummy stuff. You can sterilize glassware by boiling it, running it through the dishwasher, or putting it in the microwave.

(If you plan to preserve something for any length of time, definitely follow proper sterilization techniques and choose a container with a tight seal — aka, not the simple corks that I used.)

Infusing the Oil

Infusing the Oil
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What follows next is so easy, you’re going to laugh.

I filled each bottle with one herb. I didn’t measure it. I just followed my ~instincts~.

A few sprigs of lemon thyme in one.

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A couple handfuls of basil leaves in another.

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And five cloves of garlic and a teaspoon-ish of red pepper flakes.

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Then I filled each container with oil, almost to the top.

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That is it.

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Really.

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Just put it in the fridge, take it out of the fridge, and enjoy.

Repeat every day for a week until it’s all gone.

I used my oil in a salad dressing (that someone else made), in a marinade for salmon, and on fancy French bread.

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Each one was delicious. 5/5 stars, would do again!