Olive oil has been around for ages, ever since the ancient Greeks. It's one of the best salad dressings and can be used in many dishes. The beauty of olive oil is just as present in infused olive oil and makes any dish even more special. The best part? Making infused olive oil is super easy and is a great gift for your friends.

The process of making infused olive oil is very similar to infusing any other oil in that you want to get the most neutral-flavored oil possible to let your ingredients shine through. For olive oil this is light olive oil, which is a more refined oil with a lighter flavor and higher smoke point. Basically, get the cheapest olive oil you can buy at the store (aka, it's not extra virgin olive oil).

Once you have your ingredients for your infused olive oil you have to prep them. You'll generally need 2 tablespoons for every cup of oil you use. When you prep your ingredients, you want to make sure that none of them have any water or moisture on them.

Please note: If you make your infused olive oils with ingredients that haven't been properly prepped, then botulism bacteria can grow. This can also occur if you don't store them properly. And no one wants that.

Herb Infused Olive Oil

olive oil, herb, tea, oil, rosemary
Jessica Kelly

The biggest rule of thumb for herbs is to use fresh ones rather than dry ones. The flavor of fresh herbs is more potent and true to the herb than dried (plus they give your olive oil a vibrant color, definitely an Insta-worthy bonus). There are two types of herbs that you can use: soft and woody.

If you use soft herbs you will need to blanch and shock them first─find out how to do that here. Blanching the herbs gives your infused olive oil a more vibrant and bright color. After you've finished blanching you drain the herbs and blend them together with the oil before heating. 

basil, oregano, vegetable, herb
Jeanne Kessira

If you use dried woody herbs, place them into a bottle and pour the olive oil over them. If you're using fresh woody herbs, you can heat them directly in the olive oil. After this, the infusion method is the same.

Warm the herbs and oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the oil is lightly bubbling. Remove from heat and let the oil cool completely then strain the infused olive oil into the bottle(s). If you used soft herbs be sure to strain without pressing on the solid matter. This prevents cloudiness.

#SpoonTip: If you keep the herbs for a pretty presentation this will make it cloudier.

Spice Infused Olive Oil

oil, beer, tea
Susanna Mostaghim

In addition to herbs, You can use either whole or ground spices to infuse your olive oil. There are two ways to infuse spices into oil: stovetop (which is exactly the same as how to infuse with herbs) and in-oven. After you infuse you─once again─strain and bottle.

#SpoonTip: If you're going to use ground spices buy them whole and grind them at home to get the most pungent flavor.

For the in-oven method place your olive oil and spices in an oven-safe bowl (or a small pot) on a baking sheet in a 300°F oven. After about 40 minutes remove from oven and cool completely before straining. Anyone else sensing a trend here?

#SpoonTip: use a large ramekin just to be sure you're using something oven-safe. Don't want anything melting on you.

Vegetable Infused Olive Oil

Susanna Mostaghim

For vegetable infused olive oil you want to use aromatic veggies─fun fact: garlic is a vegetable, which is why it's filed under this section. The first step is obvious: vigorously wash and dry your vegetables─even if you've peeled them. You want to remove all dirt and other impurities.

Large items like onions can be cut into rings or halved. If you're using smaller items (garlic for instance), you can leave them whole or cut them to increase surface area. These require the stove-top method, which is the same as the last two sections.

milk, coffee, tea
Susanna Mostaghim

Unlike herbs, if you leave your veggies in the oil after bottling it won't make your infused olive oil cloudy. However, they will continue to infuse in the oil and their flavors will become stronger over time.

#SpoonTip: If you roast your veggies before you heat them in the oil you can release more flavor into your infusion. To do this, cook them at 350°F for 20-30 minutes (until lightly golden).

Nut Infused Olive Oil

coffee, milk, sweet, tea
Susanna Mostaghim

Start with nuts that are raw and unsalted (which you should be eating anyway, come on people). If you want to save on time buy nuts that have already been skinned or blanched. Nuts give your oil a roasted flavor, but remember that your infused oil will taste different from actual nut oils.

You will use the stovetop method mentioned in every single type of infused oil before this. However, if you leave the nuts in the oil it will not result in any cloudiness. In fact, it adds a pretty contrast of colors to your finished product.

Citrus Infused Olive Oil

herb, water, wine, tea
Susanna Mostaghim

Citrus is one of the few types of fruit you'll use to infuse olive oil. When you add different citrus zests to oil, you can create a bright, tangy flavor that can't be replicated. One of the easiest ways to remove zest is with a veggie peeler. Per usual, wash and dry your fruit before you start. Do your best not to remove the white pith with the zest.

#SpoonTip: Even though it's more expensive use organic citrus in order to avoid pesticides being introduced into your oil.

Once you've removed the zest from your citrus fruit, heat it in the oil using the stovetop method. Again. If you remove the strips of zest while the oil is cooling you get a delicate flavor and clearer oil. If you strain the pieces out while bottling (after cooling), you'll get a stronger flavor but cloudier oil.

Infused Olive Oil Blends

champagne, juice, grape, mead, beer, liquor, alcohol, wine
Susanna Mostaghim

It's easy to make a compound infused olive oil. When you're using your ingredients and they require the same method you can heat them at the same time. Take lemon and rosemary, for example. You can heat both of those together to save time.

If you are making an oil that involves a variety of techniques, you will need to do it in stages. A great example is basil and garlic. To do that you would need to blanch, shock, drain, and blend the basil before heating it with the garlic.

So, it's actually super easy to make your own infused olive oil─even compound ones. They instantly elevate the taste of your food and are great for bread-dipping. And if you make them at home, you can choose exactly how strong they'll be.