Garlicky, Herby Dipping Oil for Bread

published Nov 14, 2021
Dipping Oil for Bread Recipe

Wow your guests with this garlicky, herby dipping oil that comes together in less than 5 minutes.

Serves6 to 8

Makesabout 1 cup

Prep5 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Drew Aichele

I couldn’t afford many sit-down restaurant meals when I was in college, but I did eat a few times at an Italian restaurant in the nicer stretch of town for a fancy treat. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant and doubt it’s even still there, but I do remember that the bread was served with a garlicky, herby olive oil that was so delicious I’ve never forgotten it.

The oil was so good that I made a copycat version for an end-of-the-year banquet; all my friends dipped and swirled their French bread into the tasty blend. And although it sounds fancy, this dipping oil uses only pantry ingredients and can be thrown together in less than five minutes. Fair warning: It just might outshine any other food you serve it with.

What’s the Best Olive Oil for Dipping Bread?

The base of this dipping oil is extra-virgin olive oil, and this is when you want to use something higher-quality than what you would normally sauté or cook with. I like a fairly fresh but not-too-grassy olive oil — one that has complex flavors but isn’t too spicy — but go with whatever EVOO you’re happy dipping bread straight into. My favorite is the house blend from local company Stonehouse, and California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Oil is great, too. Don’t use vegetable oil here, as it doesn’t have enough flavor to be interesting eaten this way.

Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Drew Aichele

How Do I Make Dipping Oil?

To make the oil, mince some fresh garlic (I promise it’s the only chopping you have to do), then stir it into the olive oil with some dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Let it sit for a little bit before serving, which gives the dried herbs a chance to let off their flavors and the garlic time to mellow. You can also add a few spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese for a salty, nutty bite.

When serving the oil, I like to spoon it into shallow individual serving bowls, making sure to scoop up some garlic and herbs along the way. That way, each person can double dip to their heart’s delight. If you’re refilling bowls (which I’m pretty sure you will), give the oil a stir each time to redistribute the yummy bits.

What Type of Bread Is Best for Dipping into Oil?

Any type of fresh, preferably crusty, bread is great to serve with dipping oil. I would go with something not too flavored or complex so you’re really tasting the flavors in the oil instead. Here are some of my favorite breads to use.

  • Baguette
  • Crusty sourdough
  • Focaccia
  • Ciabatta
  • French or Italian bread

How to Use Leftover Dipping Oil

Brush leftover oil onto bread and toast it for the quickest garlic bread you’ve ever made. Sheela also recommends frying eggs in this dipping oil or serving it with crudités, similar to Italian pinzimonio. A jar of this stuff in the fridge won’t last long, I promise, which is a good thing since it doesn’t have a super-long shelf life due to the fresh garlic.

Dipping Oil for Bread Recipe

Wow your guests with this garlicky, herby dipping oil that comes together in less than 5 minutes.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 2 tablespoons

    grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • 1 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    dried rosemary

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • Bread, such as crusty sourdough, Italian bread, or ciabatta, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Mince 2 garlic cloves until you have 1 teaspoon. If using, finely grate until you have 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

  2. Place the garlic, cheese, 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 red pepper flakes depending on heat preference, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

  3. Let sit at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours for the flavors to meld. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Serve with bread for dipping, stirring again before serving.

Recipe Notes

Olive oil: Since this dip isn't cooked, use a good-quality olive oil but not one that is too spicy or grassy. We like the house blend extra-virgin olive oil from Stonehouse or California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Oil.

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature and stir before using.