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Test Kitchen Approved

Annatto Marinade

Recipe By Adapted from Andy Klein

Prep Time

35 Minutes

Recipe By Adapted from Andy Klein

This recipe comes to us via Puerto Rico, where annatto seeds (or achiote) can be found growing locally on backyard trees. Annatto seeds soaked then blended with citrus juices and cumin make a bright and tangy marinade for lean protein like fish and chicken.

Serving Suggestions

Yields enough marinade for 4 to 6 lbs. of protein. Great for white fish (tilapia, cod, halibut); marinate fish for no more than 2 hours. Delicious on chicken breasts or thighs; marinate chicken for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. For a great presentation, wrap individual fish or chicken servings in banana leaves, brush leaves with oil, and grill over medium-high or bake at 350 degrees for 5 min. (fish) to 10 min. (chicken) or until protein feels firm through the leaf. Also works well for pork shoulder; cut pork into cubes and marinate overnight before slow cooking with any remaining marinade. Marinade also freezes well.

Recipe Notes

Try not to use plastic containers with this recipe as annatto seeds can stain plastic. Glass containers are best.


5 Tbsp. Annatto Seeds

¼ cups hot water

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Juice of 1 grapefruit

Juice and zest of 1 orange

Juice and zest of 2 limes

Savory Spice ingredients in this recipe


In a glass bowl, soak annatto seeds in the hot water for about 30 min. Place soaked seeds (along with any remaining water) in a blender with cumin seeds and salt. Add remaining ingredients and blend for about 1 min. until mixture is a smooth as possible. (It will be a bit grainy from the seeds; that’s okay.) Transfer to marinating container.