The Dish: Infused Oils

Flavor infused oils make a great gift for the holidays or any time of year. They’re perfect for a house warming party when you don’t feel like giving yet another bottle of wine.

Use a plain olive oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil for making infusions. They’re flavorless, keep for a long time, and heat well so they won’t hinder or mask the flavors you’re trying to create. Extra virgin olive oil is best for salad dressings or for dipping and should be used within a few days.

For a great sight with tips on infusing oils check out this page on The Accidental Scientist, The Science of Cooking.

Here are three great basic recipes for homemade infused oils. Mix and match herbs and spices to create more interesting flavors. See below the recipes for custom designed gift labels.


Lemon Oil

Great for salad dressings and marinades. Works best poured into small decorative bottles with a stopper. Can be kept on the shelf out of sunlight for up to 2 months. For longer use keep in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups or 4 portions of 1/2 cup

2 cups canola oil or olive oil

the peel of 2 medium sized lemons

Peel lemon being careful not to include any pith. A vegetable peeler works well. In a medium heavy sauce pan over low heat combine oil and lemon peel. Cook uncovered until aromatic, about 1 hour. Do not let oil boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. Remove lemon peel and pour into containers.

Can be kept cool for up to 2 months. Bring to room temp before using.


 Chili Oil

A great gift for anyone obsessed with Sriracha! Chili oil works best gifted in a small jar so it can be stirred before using. Best kept in the refrigerator and will last for several months.

Makes about 4 portions of 1/4 cup

1 cup peanut oil

1-4 Tbs. chili flakes depending on how spicy you want to go

Heat oil with red-pepper flakes in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirling pan occasionally, until red-pepper flakes begin to sizzle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Stir before using.

Oil keeps, covered and chilled, 3 months. Bring to room temperature before using.


Rosemary Oil

Wonderful for drizzling over a dish as a finishing touch. Basil, chive or thyme also make for great infusions. Looks best when gifted in small bottles with a stopper. If you’re planning on keeping a spring in the bottle it is best to keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Makes about 2 cups or 4 1/2 cup portions

2 cups vegetable oil

2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary

Pour rosemary and half the oil into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Heat on medium until herbs just start to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Do not boil the oil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Taste the oil to make sure it hasn’t burned and the flavor is to your liking. Add the remaining oil and strain into jars or bottles.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Bring to room temp before using.


Print sheets on card stock or a heavier weight paper for best results. Cut out around edge and punch hole. Tie labels to bottles and jars with a festive ribbon and write your holiday greeting on the back.