Lemon, Garlic & Herb Dipping Oil

published Nov 8, 2022
Dipping Oil Recipe

This dipping oil is dressed up with crushed spices for texture, lemon and herbs for flavor and decoration, and a mix of alliums and pepper for a spicy kick.

Serves6 to 8

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

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someone dipping oil in bread
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

For fans of dipping bread into oil and vinegar, here’s a slightly showier option. All you need are some aromatics and oil. Yes, it’s a simple combination, but one of oil’s greatest traits is that it carries flavor. When it’s warmed with other ingredients, it will grow those ingredients’ wingspans, infusing the oil with layers of deep flavor.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

A Choose-Your-Own Adventure Dipping Oil

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s extremely customizable. You can make it with just a few ingredients or load it up with a mix of spices, herbs, and other zesty stuff. Crushed spices add texture, lemon peel and whole sprigs of hard-stemmed herbs add color and flavor (although obviously should be avoided when eating), and a mix of alliums and chiles adds some bite. When you’re making the oil, the key is to not let the oil get too hot, so nothing gets bitter. If you start to see bubbles, just turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse from the residual heat. Dip into the oil with crusty or soft bread, then switch up the aromatics for your next batch (because there will likely be another batch).

How to Serve This Dipping Oil

The oil and pile of bread makes a great appetizer or cocktail-hour snack. You can strain the oil into a bowl before serving or you can leave the goodies in the oil for a pretty look and also to give your guests a little flavor preview. I’m also fond of serving the oil straight from the small cast iron skillet I make it in. It looks great on the table and means one fewer dish to wash.

Dipping Oil Recipe

This dipping oil is dressed up with crushed spices for texture, lemon and herbs for flavor and decoration, and a mix of alliums and pepper for a spicy kick.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the aromatics (choose one or a mix):

  • 1 teaspoon

    whole spices, such as coriander, fennel, or cumin

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 4

    cloves garlic, or 4 medium scallions

  • 2

    bay leaves or fresh rosemary, oregano, or thyme sprigs

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes, 2 small dried whole chiles, 1 halved jalapeño or serrano pepper, or 1 teaspoon black, mixed, or Szechuan peppercorns

For the dipping oil:

  • 1 cup

    extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Crusty or soft bread, such as baguette, sourdough, focaccia, or ciabatta, for serving

Instructions

Prepare the aromatics (choose one or a mix):

    • Coarsely crush 1 teaspoon whole spices in a mortar and pestle or with a heavy skillet.
    • Remove the peel of 1 medium lemon in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, or thinly slice 1/2 the lemon and remove the seeds.
    • Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves, or thinly slice 4 medium scallions.
    • Use 2 bay leaves or fresh rosemary, oregano, or thyme sprigs.
    • For a spicy kick, use 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 2 small dried whole chiles, 1 halved jalapeño or serrano pepper, or coarsely crush 1 teaspoon black, mixed, or Szechuan peppercorns.

Make the dipping oil:

  1. Place the flavorings in a small skillet or saucepan. Add 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place over low heat and warm until the oil is fragrant and flavorful, 5 to 10 minutes depending on your aromatics. Do not let the oil come to a boil.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for up to 2 hours (it will only grow stronger with time). Strain out the solids if desired. Eat with crusty or soft bread for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The oil can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature or rewarm over low heat before serving.