Mayan Red Spice Paste, Recado Colorado

Chile pastes, often with annatto, are common in the Yucatan region of Mexico, providing a complex base, potent marinade, or vibrant accent flavor. Mayan Red Spice Paste, Recado Colorado, is popular, both for its beautiful vibrant red hue, and warm tangy flavor. Rich in color, and fall flavors, our non-traditional take on Recado Colorado streamlines the preparation process. Recado Colorado is excellent for making red rice, a great base for barbecue sauces, a go-to rub for meats, on burgers, and a potent flavor boost for chilis and other soups. Stay tuned for two fantastic recipes using our Mayan Red Spice Paste coming up in the weeks ahead.

You may have noticed that we have a fondness for spice pastes here at The Hungry Hounds. If you too have caught the flavor paste obsession, check out our two other potent pastes: Smokey Mexican Chile Paste, Chilmole, and Garlic Ancho Chile Paste. This recipe is inspired by Daniel Hoyer's excellent Mayan Cuisine.

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Yield: about 1 cup


  • 1/2 cup annatto seeds
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 24 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Combine the annatto seeds and vinegar in a small bowl, stir to mix, cover, and set aside for 2 hours to soak.
  2.  On a hot grill, or dry hot pan on the stove, roast the garlic until well colored and beginning to blacken. This will take 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill/stove. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a small non-stick pan, combine all the spices (Mexican oregano, pepper, cumin, coriander, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon). Toast the spices over medium heat until fragrant. This will take about 1 minute. Watch for smoke, and remove from heat if the spices begin to burn.
  4. Combine all ingredients (annatto and vinegar mixture, roasted garlic, toasted spices, and salt) in a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. Blend until the mixture comes together in a smooth paste.
  5. Prepared Recado Colorado can be used immediately, or tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month (or 6 months in the freezer).