This easy lemon olive oil is a quick infused oil made with lemon zest and fresh herbs, and it’s perfect in salad dressing. Freeze for later!
I love infused oils and vinegars.
That might be obvious, since I’ve shared recipes for quite a few on this site!
Infusing extra flavor into oil or vinegar is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to make your meal a little extra fabulous.
That said, as much as I love trying store-bought infused oils, the flavors can be hit and miss. And sometimes the ingredients are a little iffy.
Homemade infused oils are easy, with all of the flavor and none of the questionable ingredients.
This lemon olive oil is made with oil, lemon zest and fresh (or dried) herbs. I like to freeze it for later.
Ways to Use Lemon Olive Oil
My favorite way to use lemon olive oil is in an basic vinaigrette. The standard vinaigrette ratio is three parts fat (oil) to one part acid (vinegar), but I generally make mine a little more acidic.
Safety with Infused Oils
Olive oil on its own is safe at room temperature. Obviously.
We need to take care, however, when adding ingredients to the olive oil. If you add commercially dried ingredients, such as in this hot chili oil recipe, the oil is still considered safe at room temperature.
Ingredients that contain moisture (such as lemon peel and fresh herbs) will drastically lower the olive oil’s shelf life because the ingredients introduce water to the oil.
Olive oil infused with “wet” ingredients (like this lemon olive oil) should be stored in the fridge and used within two to three days or frozen for longer storage.
Yes, I am aware that there are lots and lots of lemon olive oil recipes out there that recommend storing the oil at room temperature for months. But when it comes to food safety, I like to side with science.
What’s the Best Olive Oil to Use?
I believe in buying quality olive oil, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.
Look for oil that lists a harvest date, not simply an expiration date. Olive oil tastes best within 18 months of harvesting, and yes, it can become rancid over time.
Exposure to sunlight will make the oil go bad more quickly, so look for bottles packaged in dark green glass or metal.
How to Make Lemon Olive Oil
Start by warming the oil in a saucepan. Heat it until it’s just starting to simmer, and then turn off the heat.
Add your lemon zest and herbs, cover the pot, and let the zest and herbs steep in the oil for about 10 minutes.
At this point, you’ve got options.
You can use the oil right away, or you can continue infusing the oil in the fridge. Or do both, use some right away and steep the rest for later.
How to Freeze Lemon Olive Oil
I don’t know about you, but I’m unlikely to use an entire batch of infused oil within three days.
Instead, I like to freeze part of my infused oil for later.
My favorite way to freeze oil is to pour it into a silicone ice cube tray. Simply freeze the oil in the ice cube tray, pop the frozen oil out and then store the oil cubes in a freezer bag.
Lemon Olive Oil
3 Days (Fridge), 3 Months (Freezer)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or rosemary, removed from stems Or use 2 teaspoons fragrant, dried herbs
- 2 lemons, zested organic lemons preferred
- Heat the oil until it's warm and just beginning to simmer. Do not bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat.Add the herbs and lemon zest. Allow the herbs and zest to steep covered for at least 10 minutes.
- If desired, use right away. For a more intense lemon flavor, add the oil, zest and herbs to a glass container and steep for at least 3 hours (or up to 3 days) in the fridge. The oil will harden in the fridge, so move it to room temperature about 30 minutes before using.
- Refrigerate oil: The infused oil will last for up to 3 days if kept refrigerated.Freeze oil: Leftover oil can be preserved longer if frozen within 2-3 days. For easy freezing, try pouring the oil into a portioned silicone mold (such as an ice cube tray), and then moving the frozen oil cubes to a freezer bag. Use frozen oil within 3 months for the best flavor. If frozen, oil should be used within two days of thawing.