DIY Infused Oils

For the article contributor Deanna Ladret made curry oil at home. This is the finished product.

Admit it. You wish you possessed all the talents of a professional chef without having to put in the apprenticeship hours, endure endless burns and spend nights slaving over a sweltering grill while simultaneously fielding flack from your bosses and the front of house staff. I know I do.


In my opinion, one of the most impressive talents of great chefs is the ability to create flavour and a dazzling aesthetic from the simplest ingredients and combinations. Take, for instance, those aromatic jewel-green droplets of oil dotting a finished plate of salad, or a ramekin of deep golden garlic oil with a fresh baked baguette. Infused oils are something I’ve always admired as a diner, and something I’ve often wished to replicate. Finally, fed up with my mediocre knowledge, I went down to Fiamo Italian Kitchen on Yates St. to ask Executive Chef James Avila to teach me – and you – how to infuse gourmet flavoured oils at home.


Chef James Avila at Fiamo

According to Chef Avila, DIY flavoured oils are best divided into two categories: fresh emulsified and heat infused oils. Fresh emulsified oils contain added ingredients like citrus, herbs, etc., all raw, or if you like, quickly blanched first. Because of their water content, these oil mixtures need to be blended on maximum for approximately 60 seconds in order to prevent separation, then strained to remove the fibrous remnants. The action in the blender is what infuses and emulsifies the oil, which will hold together for about 7 days. Fresh oils should always be refrigerated and can be used for about a week or so. Remove it from the fridge at least 15 minutes before you need to use it, as olive oil in particular tends to congeal in cold temperatures. Give it a good shake prior to use and you’re all set.


curry can be added to a base oil and warmed in a small pot over LOW heat

Heat infused oils, as the name implies, use heat to release the essence and flavour of whatever ingredient has been introduced. Items like dried chili peppers, garlic, and curry can be added to a base oil (canola, olive, etc.) and warmed in a small pot over LOW heat – 1 or 2 on a conventional electric stovetop – for 20-30 minutes. “Engage all senses”, says Avila, tasting every few minutes and watching that the oil does not boil or spit, the colour doesn’t brown, and the scent evolves into a fragrant aroma rather than turning to a toasty or burning smell. “It can go from awesome to terrible in under a minute if you don’t keep your eye on it.” As with the fresh oils, heat infused oils will also need to be strained before they’re stored. Avila recommends a paper coffee filter, but since I use a Bodum at home I employed the (clean) toe of a dress sock stretched over a mason jar (shh – don’t tell my guests). If you don’t have a fancy oil bottle in your kitchen, you can make use of your holiday empties by storing your new collection of infused oils in clear beer bottles equipped with speed pours. Heat infused oils should also be kept in the fridge and will last quite a bit longer than fresh oils; a batch should be OK for a few weeks.


Chef Avila suggests the following ideas for infused oil combinations and accompanying food pairings, an enviable talent for which I’ll feign when I ‘casually’ present my Home Infused Curry Oil to friends and family. As you’ll see, the quantities aren’t specific as in a conventional recipe – it’s  all about improvisation and experimentation. If you find an oil too mild for your taste, throw in some more fresh herbs and re-blend/strain or re-heat with more seasoning. Likewise, if you’ve gone overboard with flavour you can always ‘water down’ by adding more oil.



Fresh Emulsified Oils (Blend, strain)


Caper & Dill Oil

Olive oil, preserved capers, fresh dill, lemon juice, and salt. Serve with salmon dishes.


Basil Oil

Canola or olive oil, fresh or blanched basil, parsley, salt to taste. Serve with Caprese salad.


Raw Chili, Cilantro & Lime Oil

Canola or olive oil, any variety of raw hot pepper, fresh cilantro, lime juice. Serve with pulled pork, Mexican dishes.


Heat Infused Oils (Cook on low, strain)


Garlic Oil

Canola or olive oil, 5 or 6 garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf. Heat on low until garlic is golden. Once finished, garlic cloves can be removed and used for other dishes such as pork shoulder. Use garlic oil as a dip for breads or to brush over a pizza shell.


Chili Oil

Canola oil, any dried chili pepper or chili flakes. Add paprika (or even smoked paprika) and garlic cloves if you like. Serve with sauteed prawns, avocado dishes, or southwest cuisine.


Curry Oil (as seen in photos)

Canola oil, cinnamon, star anise, turmeric, curry powder, 2-4 garlic cloves. Serve on mussels with fennel, onion, garlic, tomatoes and cream.



Fiamo Italian Kitchen

515 Yates Street  Victoria, BC V8W 2Z6

(250) 388-5824





Written By:

We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ...

Comments are closed.