7 Best Achiote Paste Substitutes | With Best Homemade Recipe

Achiote paste is a common ingredient in Latin American cuisine Central American and Caribbean cuisines. It is popular for flavoring meat by rubbing and key ingredient for Cochinita Pibil or addition to stews and soups.

In case you don’t have any achiote paste on hand, there are several alternative ingredients that you can use as an achiote paste substitute.

From Sambal oelek, cumin, and paprika to homemade Annatto paste, how to place these instead of achiote- All of these benefits are added into the later section.

No matter which alternative you choose, the key is to add it slowly and taste as you go so that you don’t end up with a dish that is too spicy or flavorless. With a little experimentation, you’re sure to find the perfect substitute for achiote paste in your favorite recipes.

What is Achiote Paste? What is achiote paste made of?

Achiote paste is a condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree. It has a pungent, earthy flavor and is used as a coloring agent in many cuisines.

Achiote paste is also known as annatto paste or bija paste. It is typically used to add bright yellow color and rich flavor to dishes. Some of the most popular uses for achiote paste include adding it to stews, soups, and braised meats.

Also, it can be utilized as a rub on roasts or poultry. Achiote paste is traditionally made by grinding seeds with other spices like garlic, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and cloves.

What does achiote paste taste like?

Achiote paste tastes earthy, smoky, and slightly sweet. It is often used to flavor dishes in Latin American cuisine. Some of the most popular dishes that use achiote paste include tacos, tamales, and enchiladas. It is also used as a marinade for meats such as chicken or pork.

What can you use instead of achiote paste?

If you can’t find achiote paste, you can substitute another annatto-based product, such as annatto seeds or powder, or use paprika as a more widely available alternative. Or you can use Sambal Oelek, Guajillo chili, harissa, cumin +paprika, Paprika powder, Tex Mex paste, and a Homemade version.

Achiote Paste Substitutes

1. SAMBAL OELEK- Best Substitute for Achiote paste

Sambal oelek is popular food condiment in Indonesia. It has a spicy taste and can be found easily in grocery shops or supermarkets. Sambal oelek is made from red chilies, salt, water, and sugar or palm sugar. There are many ways to make sambal oelek; it depends on the person who makes it.

Substitute sambal oelek for achiote paste to give your dishes some extra heat. Sambal oelek is a spicy chili sauce produced from red jalapeño chilies, vinegar, and salt.

substitute sambal oelek for achiote paste to give your dishes some extra heat

It can be seen in the international division of many grocery stores or online specialty cooking stores. Because it is so spicy, a little bit goes a long way.

To use, simply add the sambal oelek to any dish that calls for ground annatto seeds or achiote paste. The sauce will add an extra layer of heat and flavor to your foods and make them much more lively and exciting to eat! Sambal oelek is also a great substitute for massaman curry paste.

If you love spicy food, you will definitely want to keep a jar of sambal oelek on hand. It is the ideal way to add some extra heat and flavor to your favorite dishes. So go forward and give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.

2. GUAJILLO CHILI- A good Alternative to Annatto Paste

Hey! Why not try Guajillo chili instead of achiote paste. This chili is native to Mexico and has a mild, smoky flavor that can add depth to your dish. To use it as a replacement for achiote paste, simply grind it into a powder and use it in the same proportions as the achiote.

GUAJILLO CHILI is  A good Alternative to Annatto Paste

The guajillo chili pepper is one of the most common chili peppers used in Mexican cuisine. It’s also utilized as an ingredient in some kinds of mole sauce and different dishes.

The flavor of guajillo chili peppers is quite unique, with a sweet and slightly smoky taste. They pair well with other Mexican ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, and cumin.

Guajillo chili peppers are long and thin and typically measure between 2 and 4 inches in length. They have smooth, shiny skin that ranges in color from deep green to bright red. The peppers are typically quite mild, with a Scoville rating of 1,500-2,500.

Guajillo chili peppers can be used in a number of different ways in Mexican cuisine. They can be chopped up and added to stews or soups, or they can be roasted, peeled, and ground into a powder that can be used to season dishes. They are also often dried and crushed into flakes or added whole to sauces such as mole sauce. Check the best substitute for Guajillo chili.

3. HARISSA- Suitable Replacement for Achiote Paste

If you are using achiote paste, substitute harissa for achiote paste. Harissa is a chili pepper paste that originates from North Africa. Harissa is a staple of Tunisian, Algerian, Libyan, and Moroccan cuisine. In Tunisia, harissa is used as a condiment on nearly everything, from eggs to soup.

HARISSA is a Suitable Replacement for Achiote Paste

It is made from various chili peppers, including bell peppers, and has a smoky, fiery flavor. To make the harissa, combine the chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until soft.

Add harissa paste to the chicken while it cooks. When the chicken is finished cooking, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately with rice and grilled vegetables, if desired.

Harissa can be utilized as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking. It is often used to flavor stews, soups, and couscous. It can also be used to season meats and vegetables.

There are many different variations of harissa, depending on the country or region it is made in. Some variations include ground chilies rather than whole, different types of peppers, additional spices such as coriander or caraway seeds, and even ingredients like mint or rose water.

Despite the many variations, harissa is always a very flavorful and spicy condiment that adds a delicious kick to any dish!

4. PAPRIKA PASTE- Suitable Annatto Paste Substitute

The paprika powder can be used as a substitute for achiote paste. Paprika is made from dried and ground red peppers, and it imparts a bright red color to food.

The paprika powder can be used as a substitute for achiote paste.

Substituting paprika for achiote may not result in the same flavor as achiote paste, but it will still add color and depth of flavor to your meal. One tip for using paprika as a substitute is to start with a small amount and next add more as needed until you reach the desired color and flavor. This can be done in any recipe that calls for achiote paste, so feel free to experiment with this versatile spice.

If you’re searching for an alternative to paprika powder, you can also consider using saffron instead. Saffron is a popular spice that adds bright yellow color and wonderful flavor to foods.

Like paprika, it is made from crushed or ground dried stigmas of the crocus flower, which are hand-picked in the fall season. Though more expensive than paprika, a little saffron goes a long way in terms of flavor. Simply add a pinch or two of saffron to your recipe to achieve the desired flavor and color.

5.TEX MEX PASTE- Perfect Replacement for Achiote paste

If you cannot find achiote paste at your local grocery store, you can Substitute Tex-Mex Paste, which is made with similar ingredients and has a similar flavor.

Tex Mex Paste is popular in Southwestern cuisine and can be used as a rub for meats or to make a flavorful taco filling. This paste is made with ancho chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and other spices.

You can use tex mex paste as a replacement for  achiote paste

To use this paste as a meat rub, simply mix it with some olive oil and massage it into the meat. Let it sit for a minimum of a few hours before cooking it. The paste will help infuse the meat with flavor while also helping to tenderize it, so your end dish will be delicious and moist.

To use this paste as a filling for tacos, simply mix it with some ground beef or other type of protein. You can also add a bit of taco seasoning to give it a bit more flavor. Once the filling is cooked, you can spoon it into tortillas and complete it with your favorite taco toppings, such as sour cream, cheese, salsa, or guacamole.

6. Substitute CUMIN+PAPRIKA PASTE Instead of Annatto Paste


• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (coarsely ground)

• ½ teaspoon Spanish paprika or regular paprika powder. If you’re using powder, add a bit of oil to mix it in properly.

• 2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Mix well all the ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Use this paste with chicken, fish, or pork for marination purposes, or mix in a sauce for extra flavor and color, especially if you’re making barbacoa-inspired dishes like tacos.

Homemade Achiote paste from Annatto seeds


  • 2 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. In a small pan, toast the annatto seeds over medium heat until they begin to smoke. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. In a blender, combine the annatto seeds, water, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour the combination into a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

4. Release from the heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

5. To make achiote paste for cooking, combine 1-2 tablespoons of the paste with other ingredients as needed, such as oil, chicken or beef stock, and seasonings like cumin and chili powder. Use this mixture to marinate meat, add flavor to soups and stews, or give rice and beans a boost of flavor. Enjoy!

Preserve any leftover paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

best achiote paste (from amazon)

How to Use Achiote paste in a recipes

In many Latin American and Caribbean dishes, achiote paste is used to add a distinctive flavor and color. The paste is produced from the seeds of the achiote tree and has a slightly earthy, nutty flavor. It can be utilized in both savory and sweet dishes and is particularly common in Puerto Rican cuisine.

There’re a few other ways to use achiote paste in your recipes. You can mix it with other herbs and spices or use it to create marinades that add richness and depth of flavor. It can also be incorporated into sauces, soups, or stews for extra flavor, especially if you want to make the recipe more colorful.

When using achiote paste in recipes, be sure to start with a small amount and add more to the taste. It can be quite strong, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. You can always add more if you find that the dish needs it, but you can’t take it away once it’s been added.

Another alternative is to mix the paste with oil and use it as a coating for meat, fish, or vegetables. The flavor of the paste combines well with citrus flavors like lemon or lime juice, so using these ingredients will help balance out the earthiness of the achiote.

If you want to try your hand at making achiote paste yourself, there are a few easy steps you can follow. Simply grind up the seeds of the achiote tree and combine them with other ingredients like salt, cumin, black pepper, and oregano. You can then add some olive oil to help hydrate the mixture and make it easier to spread on food. Once you’ve made the paste, it will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

So there you have it, some suggestions on using achiote paste in your recipes. Be sure to experiment and see what flavors you can create. You might be amazed at how nicely this versatile ingredient can elevate your dishes.​

FAQs Related to Achiote paste & Its Alternatives

Q1. Is paprika the same as achiote?

No, paprika is a spice made from red peppers and used in many dishes. Achiote, also known as annatto, is a bright yellow-orange seed that has a bitter flavor when ingested but an intense natural color that is often used as food coloring or dye.

Both paprika and annatto are popular spices in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. While these spices are similar, they have some major differences that distinguish them from one another.

Paprika is made from red peppers and has a mild, sweet flavor. It can be used as a seasoning or to add color to dishes such as stews and soups. Achiote, also known as annatto, is a seed that comes from the tropical annatto tree. It has a bright yellow-orange color when ground and can be used to add flavor to dishes or as a dye or food coloring.

Some similarities between paprika and achiote include their use in Latin American and Caribbean cuisine. Besides, both spices have been shown to have health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. While these spices may share some similarities in their use and health benefits, they are ultimately absolutely distinct from one another in terms of taste, color, and appearance.

So while paprika and achiote may be similar in certain ways, they are distinct enough to be considered separate spices. Individually, they have their own special flavor and purpose in cooking, so be sure to use them accordingly in your next dish!

Q2. What is Mexican achiote?

Mexican achiote, also known as annatto or bixa Orellana, is a tropical shrub native to South America. It has bright red seeds that are used to add color and flavor to many different types of food. The seeds have a peppery flavor and a slightly sour taste.

Mexican achiote is commonly used in Latin American cuisine. It is also gaining publicity in other parts of the world.

Achiote seeds are most commonly ground into a powder and used as a spice or seasoning. They can also be utilized, completed, or crushed. Achiote paste is made by combining ground seeds with water, oil, and vinegar. This paste is used in many different types of dishes, including soups, stews, rice dishes, and sauces.

Some people also use achiote as a natural coloring agent for foods. The seeds are often mixed into white rice or other types of food to give them a bright red color. Some popular Mexican dishes that use achiote include arroz con pollo, puebla-style enchiladas, and cochinita pibil.

Q3. What is achiote paste in English?

Annatto paste

Q4. Is Sazon Goya the same as achiote paste?

Achiote paste is a key ingredient in Sazon Goya, a popular Latin seasoning blend. While Sazon Goya does contain achiote paste, it also includes several other spices, herbs, and seasonings that give it its distinctive flavor. So while achiote paste may be an important part of the Sazon Goya recipe, it is not the only flavor component.

Q5. Achiote paste, where to buy?

Achiote paste can be seen in most Latin American food markets or online. It is a key ingredient in many traditional dishes, such as cochinita pibil and pollo pibil.

Achiote paste imparts a beautiful red color to food, as well as a unique flavor that is both earthy and slightly fruity. Try it in your next Mexican or Latin American-inspired dish!

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