Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana), which grows in tropical regions in South and Central America.
It has several other names, including achiote, achiotillo, bija, urucum, and atsuete.
It’s most commonly used as a natural food coloring, as it imparts a bright color that ranges from yellow to deep orange-red, similar to saffron and turmeric.
Its color comes from compounds called carotenoids, which are pigments that are found in the seed’s outer layer and many other fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and tomatoes.
Additionally, annatto is used as a condiment to enhance the flavor of dishes due to its slightly sweet and peppery taste. Its aroma is best described as nutty, peppery, and floral.