DIY Infused Olive Oils

I’m really excited about Christmas this year. We’re going up to see Dan’s family again, which is always fun, but even more exciting — the cousins are doing a Kris Kringle gift swap!

The only other time I’ve been part of a gift swap/Secret Santa exchange was freshman year of college, and I remember it being a lot of fun.

There’s something really exhilarating about sneaking around behind someone’s back, gathering data and trying to figure out what they want for Christmas…

The only problem with being Secret Santa for Dan’s cousins is that I don’t know all of them that well. Over the years I’ve tended to have more interactions with some than others — nothing personal, just a timing/geography thing.

And, wouldn’t you know it, I ended up picking one of the less familiar cousins out of the Kris Kringle hat.


What do I get for someone I’ve met only a handful of times?

Obviously, my first reaction = panic, but after some further thought and a few deep breathing exercises, I realized that this was actually a great chance for me to get to know said cousin better. Plus, like I said: reconnaissance is fun.

So, I reached out to Dan’s mom, who poked around for me and came back with a list of possible gifts that told me two important things: (1) the cousin likes to cook; and (2) he/she is into the whole “eco-friendly” thing. Awesome!

The first thing that came to mind was homemade infused olive oils. I’d infused alcohol before, but never cooking oil. Same concept, though. So, I headed to FoodGawker for some ideas, and came away with 4 flavors to try: garlic, rosemary, chili, and lemon.

All simple to make, delicious, and incredibly versatile — any of the 4 infused oils can be used for salads, sandwiches or any other kind of cooking. And, the bottles came out really pretty, don’t you think?

I can’t wait to see how Dan’s cousin reacts when he/she opens his/her present! Let’s just hope that no one in Dan’s extended family reads this blog.

“On the 8th day of Christmas, my kitchen gives to youuuuuu…”

PLEASE NOTE: There can be a risk of botulism in infused oils if they are not made/stored properly. For more information on this, here is a link to an article from the University of Maine that you may find useful: There is also some information in the comments section below.

DIY Infused Olive Oils
Lemon-Infused Olive Oil
  • 2 whole lemons
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 4-oz glass bottle with cork
Rosemary-Infused Olive Oil
  • 3-4 sprigs rosemary
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 4-oz glass bottle with cork
Chili-Infused Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp red chili flakes
  • 1 to 2 whole, dried Thai chilies (Optional -- I wanted to add these for additional flavor/visual appeal, but my grocery store was out.)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 4-oz glass bottle with cork
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
  • ½ to ¾ cup whole, peeled garlic cloves *
  • Juice from ¼ lime
  • 1 to 2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 4-oz glass bottles with cork
To make the lemon-infused olive oil:
  1. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, carefully strip one lemon of its zest. Try to keep each strip long and wide, and avoid getting any of the bitter white pith underneath. Stuff zest strips into your bottle. Set aside.
  2. Zest your second lemon, and set aside. (It's not as important to make the zesting pretty with this lemon. Just make sure you're only getting the zest, and not the pith.)
  3. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil until a few small bubbles start forming. (If your oil starts smoking, take it off the stove and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.)
  4. Scoop zest from second lemon into the warm olive oil. Let it steep for about 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully pour the lemony oil into your bottle over the uncooked strips of lemon zest, making sure not to get any of the cooked lemon zest get in. Don't overfill.
  6. Cork the bottle and store in the refrigerator.
  7. Serve drizzled over salads, or in everyday cooking. (Use and/or throw out within 10-14 days.)
To make the rosemary-infused olive oil:
  1. Stuff rosemary sprigs into your glass bottle. Set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil until a few small bubbles start forming. (If your oil starts smoking, take it off the stove and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.)
  3. Carefully pour warm oil into the bottle over rosemary. Don't overfill.
  4. Cork the bottle and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve with bread, drizzled over salads, or in everyday cooking. (Use and/or throw out within 10-14 days.)
To make the chili-infused olive oil:
  1. Pour chili flakes into your glass bottle. Set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil until a few small bubbles start forming. (If your oil starts smoking, take it off the stove and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.)
  3. Carefully pour warm oil into the bottle over the chili flakes. Don't overfill.
  4. Cork the bottle and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve with bread, drizzled over salads, or in everyday cooking.
To make the garlic-infused olive oil:
  1. Put the cloves in a bowl with the lime juice. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. Reserving the juice for later, drain the lime juice from the cloves.
  4. Spread out the garlic cloves in one layer in a small baking dish.
  5. Pour enough olive oil over the garlic so that the cloves are completely immersed.
  6. Roast in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cloves will darken as they cool. Scoop the cloves from the oil into a bowl using a slotted spoon.
  8. Pour the reserved lime juice over the cloves with ½ cup your oil and stir to combine.
  9. Pack garlic cloves in an airtight container. Pour enough of the oil over the roasted cloves to cover. Refrigerate until you need to use roasted garlic in other recipes. (I like it smeared on bread)
  10. Strain the remaining oil into your (clean, sterilized) glass bottle and use as garlic infused olive oil.

(Lemon-Infused Olive Oil adapted from Simply Gluten Free’s recipe; Garlic-Infused Olive Oil from MJ’s Kitchen)


  1. Maia Campbell says

    Looks delicious! Be careful with garlic-infused oil though. I don’t know if pouring warm oil over whole garlic cloves cooks the garlic enough to reduce the risk of botulism. Garlic stored in oil at room temperature (even in the fridge for long periods of time) can become unsafe to eat. Botulism is type of food poisoning that can be real serious (even fatal). Symptoms include blurred or double vision, speech and breathing difficulty and progressive paralysis.

    • justputzing says

      Thank you for letting me know! I’m actually going to re-do the garlic and rosemary-infused oils just to be safe. And, I’m definitely going to store them in the fridge this time! :)

  2. says

    What a fantastic idea for holiday gifts and definitely something I would LOVE to receive! Your bottle, bottling and packaging look wonderful. Thanks for linking back to my garlic infused olive oil!!! I’m going to give your lemon infused oil a try. I’ve never had that nor even heard of it for that matter, so it appeals to me. Great post!!!

    • justputzing says

      Thanks! I’ve never tried lemon-infused olive oil either before this post, but if it tastes as amazing as it smells, it’s definitely going to be a hit!

  3. kdd says

    Please be careful with your oils, not only garlic. Botulism can grow where any water is present. Garlic (more common) lemon peel, and any fresh herbs are at risk. To avoid any chance, refrigerate and use within a week. Other methods are using dried OR preserved herbs/garlic (vinegar or brine) and just adding oil (or heating oil) together.

    • mery says

      Hi! Thanks for this, I had no idea about the risk of raw olive oil with raw garlics. I cant eat garlic and I read about garlic infused oil so I just put some cloves in a glass olive oil bottle. I kept them 6 days at room temperature and mostly cooked with it (so I guess heat reduced risks?) but also used it raw a couple of times. After reading this of course I’ve thrown it away, but do you think it might have been harmful? Thank you.

      • justputzing says

        I can’t say for sure if your batch was harmful or not, but there are definitely risks any time you have raw vegetation hanging out for extended periods of time, you know? Degradation, mold, etc. are all issues to be aware of. I think throwing your oil away was probably a good call!

  4. Linda says

    Quick question, what if you were to do this with Coconut oil? Would it have the same effect? or would there be a difference? would you know by any chance?

    • justputzing says

      I’m sorry, but I never work with coconut oil so I really don’t know. If I had to guess, I would say that it should be the same, but I’m not sure. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

  5. Deanna says

    Do you think you could do this with other things? Like Lavender or rose petals? For your skin? I know you can use olive oil on your skin but maybe something lighter like avocado or apricot oil? (I wouldnt use coconut oil – because im aware of the forests it comes from and the death and destruction caused (not trying to get all activist on you all) and im allergic to coconut ). Perhaps something to look at trying too?

    • justputzing says

      You know, I’m not sure but I think it’s a great idea. I bet rose petal-infused oils could be kind of amazing. I would try avocado or apricot oil…I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around putting the stuff I use to cook with on my skin!

  6. Jessica says

    I would like to do this as a gift, but I am possitive the recipiant wouldn’t use all of it within a week.

    Is it possible to infuse the oil for a couple of days then remove the garlic or rosemary so you are able to store the oil in the pantry for an extended amount of time normally? Or would you still be at risk of becoming unsafe to consume?

    • justputzing says

      I think if you infuse the oil, keep it refrigerated, and then remove the herbs/garlic you should be fine. I believe the risk comes from the possibility of the plants/vegetables decomposing.

  7. Connie says

    I think I did something wrong. I made the rosemary olive oil like you said but my olive oil
    Is cloudy. Do you have any idea what happen.

  8. Rebecca says

    You said to use or throw out the lemon infused olive oil within 10-14 days. How long do you suggest the others will keep?


    • justputzing says

      Anything with actual plant matter in it won’t keep too long. I can’t give you an exact date, but I think if you refrigerate all the oils, they will last longer. They will prob last even longer if you take the rosemary/garlic/whatever out of the oil after a day or two of infusing. The link to the originating garlic-infused oil recipe might have a more exact time frame for that one.

  9. N says

    Hey i am making the lemon infused oil, but the lemon is burning and it smells really bad… What can i do about this?

  10. Alice Nancy Bosoni says

    OMG Why do you heat the oil!? This is so wrong. It just alters the good properties of the oil.

    In Italy we just infuse things in the oil using dark glass bottles and storing them in a cool and dark place like a cupboard.

  11. Allie says

    I noticed the comment about using within 10-14 days for the first recipe but not the rest. Is the lemon oil the only one that needs to be used quickly or should they all be used within that timeframe?
    Ps. love this ides, very cute and practical!

    • justputzing says

      Thanks! They should all be used in that time frame. I think basically any time you have live plant matter inside your oil (and will eventually decay), it doesn’t keep long.

  12. Wendy says

    HI,I have just been reading your site and I need to know, was Dan’s cousin pleased with your gift ? I am off to try some now .thanks for great ideas.

  13. WANDALB says


  14. Christina Gillis says

    Your bottles look great! This year for Christmas, I’m doing a vanilla theme. I’ve got extract in the making and I’m going to make vanilla sugar and salt. I was wondering if you ever tried making vanilla oil?

  15. Christina Gillis says

    You can use vanilla oil in any baked good that calls for oil. You can use it with meats (vanilla and pork is really good), seafood, vegetables and fruits..from what I’ve read, it’s pretty versatile. Vanilla is really good in sweet food, but it’s really awesome in savory dishes as well. I just can’t seem to find a good recipe for it. Some say heat it up, some say don’t. I’m not sure what the “right” way of doing it is. I guess I’ll try it both ways and see which is better. Sorry for the novel I just wrote :-)

  16. Heidi says

    Hi! I am planning on trying this soon. I was just wondering if the oil solidifies in the refrigerator. Awhile ago I made a pesto lemon dressing with olive oil and it solidified. Can these be left out of the fridge?

    • justputzing says

      You should definitely keep the oils refrigerated for safety reasons. The oils will solidify in the cold, but if you take them out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you want to use them, they will being liquid again as they come to room temp. Hope that helps!

  17. says

    I thank you for taking the time to blog about these infused oils, I myself are making flavored oils this year as gifts but I am affraid of causing someone to get sick with Botulism so I altered my recipe. I am using all dry herbs, (No water in these) I know it is not as pretty but when you shake it it looks really tasty and it is. Remember if you use dry herbs it does not need to be refridgerated and will last longer. Or you could give the gift of oil and the Herbs on the side in a sachet so they can use it for Bread dipping.

  18. Mara says

    I just made the rosemary infused oil and mine became cloudy. I saw someone else had the same problem
    But no one responded to their post. I have a feeling it was because I used fresh rosemary instead of dry but the recipe sis not specify and I’m not well versed in all this DIY stuff. Ha! Is that what I did wrong?

    • justputzing says

      Hmm I used fresh rosemary but that didn’t happen for me so I’m not sure what’s going on with that…Dried rosemary would probably be a perfectly good substitute if you want to give that a try instead, and may even allow the oil to last longer!

  19. Christina says

    I’ve made infused oils before, mostly using light olive oil. It was something one of the chef masters at my culinary academy love doing.

    Your recipes all call for 1-2 cups of oil and one 4 oz bottle. 1 cup is 8 oz, 2 is 16. You lose some oil in the process but not that much.

    I also agree Ms. Bosoni regarding not heating the oil, using dark bottles and storing in a cool, dark place.

    I do butters the same way: 8 oz butter, softened, blend with dry herbs to taste, save in a small dish, covered with plastic..

    If you’re going to use in gravies add equal amount of flour and blend with your hands, roll into a log and slice crosswise in 8 pieces. Roll up in a log shape and pop in your freezer. Because each flour granule is surrounded by butter, your gravy is silky. I call them my magic gravy tablets.

    .All the best to everyone!

  20. Joanna attilana lovato says

    I made herb infused vinegars and olive oils for gifts in 2001. Everyone loved them and used them and no one died of Botulism! However I also entered them in the Los Alamos,N.M. COUNTY FAIR and the judges disqualified the oils, due to possible risk of Botulism! The Herbed Vinegars got Blue ribbons tho! So here it is 14 years later and the question still persists? Italian restaurants serve these all the time and the health departments don’t seem to object. I would like to hear an official, scientific answer. Thanks.

    • justputzing says

      Thanks for your comment, Joanna! I’m not a scientist, so I can’t provide you with an official scientific answer to your question re: botulism. My understanding only extends as far as saying that there can be a risk of botulism in infused oils, etc. depending on how it is made/stored. Here is a link to an article from the University of Maine that you may find useful:

      Hope this helps!

  21. doug fisher says

    You and your readers should take a careful look at the issue of botulism with regard to olive oil infused with garlic. From what I have read from the comments and replies, some have little understanding of the danger involved. Most of the commercial products are made by chemically flavoured products, produced by labs specializing in this stuff. Take care.

  22. Evadne Staddon says

    i read somewhere it is dangerous to leave garlic cloves in olive oil for any length of time. Apparently this can cause the oil to spontaneously combust. Please check this is safe, my understanding is that you should infuse the oil and remove the garlic cloves before storing.

    • justputzing says

      I’m not sure about spontaneous combustion, but botulism definitely can be a concern. I think if you treat/handle the garlic appropriately before infusion it’s OK to leave the cloves in the oil for a few days (making sure to refrigerate the infused oil during that time, of course).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *