• An orange-red dye obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit, used for coloring foods and fabric. 
  • The tropical American tree that yields the fruit from which annatto is obtained.

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Example Sentences

“The recipe calls for ground annatto, but I only have annatto seeds.” 

“You can use annatto as a natural option for a bright orange dye.”

“Annatto is a tropical plant, but it has gained many usages worldwide.”

Word Origin

Carib, early 17th century

Why this word?

While annatto may seem like an unusual ingredient, only found in the pantries of the most skilled chefs, it’s likely in your refrigerator right now. Yellow and orange cheese, such as cheddar and colby, owe their coloring to the bright orange dye of the annatto seed. In larger amounts, it has a slightly sweet, peppery (sometimes described as musky) flavor. Ground annatto or annatto seeds can be found at most well-stocked grocery stores, and it’s sometimes used interchangeably with achiote, a similarly hued spice.

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