Annatto, also called onoto or achiote, is a spice made from the seeds of the South American achiote tree. It is commonly used as a food coloring agent, and it has the food additive number E160b
Annato seeds grow inside the spiky pod of the achiote tree and have a red color. The mature seeds are harvested, after which they can be dried and powdered, processed into a paste, or steeped in oil.
In addition to their vibrant color, annato seeds also have a mild peppery and musky flavor.
Due to its potency as a colorant, annato is frequently used in many foods to give them a yellow-orange color. Various cheeses, condiments, beverages, and snacks contain it. For example, annatto gives cheddar and red leicester their colour, and it helps tint butter and margarine yellow.
Ground annatto powder can be used like other powdered spices, sprinkled directly into the dish. The paste can be thinned with water before mixing into a dish, and the oil can be used when cooking foods or in marinades.
Annatto is widely used in Central/South American cuisines, as well as in those of the Caribbean and the Philippines. The traditional Venezuelan dishes hallaca and perico use annatto in their preparation.