This bread dipping oil with olives, za'atar and spices will change your appetizer game! It’s a wonderfully easy, adaptable and delicious recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to make. Serve with fresh crusty sourdough, sliced baguette or ciabatta.
It’s funny to me how recipes take a life of their own on social media and become trendy. This bread dipping oil has been making the rounds on Instagram and TikTok for good reason. It’s delicious, easy to make and addictive.
If you’ve been to an Italian restaurant, chances are you were served bread with a small bowl of olive oil for dipping. Some family-style Italian restaurants in North America include both a bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar right at the table for you to enjoy.
The idea of dipping bread in oil is not new. Growing up, we would dip a small piece of pita in olive oil and then dip it in a bowl of za’atar. This is a very common breakfast or snack throughout the Middle East.
My recipe is a hybrid of sorts, bridging Middle Eastern flavors with other Mediterranean staples. It’s customizable (see the ingredient notes below) and comes together in less than 10 minutes! The recipe is inherently vegan.
Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I must say, there is no substitution for extra virgin olive oil. Unless you have an allergy, the good news is that there are many different types of olive oil to suit various tastes. Some are milder, others are spicier. Some are unfiltered while others are clear. If you were gifted a fancy bottle of extra virgin olive oil, now would be the time to use it!
- Balsamic oil: Balsamic adds a beautifully rich and sweet/sour flavor to this dip, but feel free to use any vinegar you have on hand like white wine, red wine or champagne vinegar. I suggest using a little less of these as they can be more pungent than balsamic.
- Olives: This recipe is very much Mediterranean inspired and olives would be a natural fit. If you have a jar of prepared olive tapenade, use that. If you are not a fan of olives, no problem, try substitution with capers or even sun-dried tomatoes.
- Za’atar: If you don’t have za’atar blend on hand, no problem. You can use a combination of fried thyme, oregano, and marjoram. You can also add some sumac and/or sesame seeds. This is where you get creative.
- Fresh herbs: My preference is to use fresh parsley and rosemary, but you can use whatever you like (basil, dill, or even mint will work well).
- Garlic: Ok, this might be a bit controversial, but raw garlic, in my opinion, is a must. If the taste of raw garlic is too much for you, you can use roasted or confit garlic instead. You can also use powdered garlic. You can also omit the garlic entirely.
- Pepper flakes: Highly recommend you include a pinch of red pepper flakes. Use as much or as little as you like. You can omit it too.
- Flaky salt (Optional): Flaky sea salt will add texture and crunch to the dip. You don’t need much (or any at all) as the olives can be quite salty on their own. Keep tasting and adjusting the seasoning as you go.
- Bread: I recommend using a crusty sourdough, baguette or ciabatta with this dip. You can also toast some slices of bread to make crostini or bruschetta.
This recipe is so incredibly adaptable you can make it according to all tastes and preferences.
How to Make Bread Dipping Oil
1. In a shallow bowl or rimmed plate add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
2. To the same bowl, add the za’atar (or dried herbs), fresh herbs, olives, garlic, pepper flakes and other flavorings of choice.
3. Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
4. Serve with crust bread and enjoy.
Make-ahead and storage
If you want to make this ahead and save yourself some time, keep the liquids (olive oil and balsamic vinegar) separate from the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything up before serving.
This olive oil bread dip recipe is so delicious I guarantee you won’t have any left over to store. If you did, I don’t recommend storing it long-term as the oil may oxidize depending on what’s in the dip.
Bread dipping oil is typically served with a loaf of bread, such as crusty sourdough, focaccia, or ciabatta. Simply slice the bread and arrange it on a platter. Pour the bread dipping oil into a small bowl, or individual ramekins, and place it in the center of the platter. Allow your guests to dip the bread into the oil and enjoy!
You can also serve bread dipping oil with other types of breads and crackers as well, such as crostini or bruschetta.
Make this dipping oil a part of your meze or appetizer spread. Serve it alongside hummus, Mutabal (eggplant dip), salsa, labneh balls, blistered shishitos, tomato and herb tart or tomato galette.
- Chop the ingredients as finely as possible so they can meld and mingle together nicely. I would avoid using a food processor but if you must, use the pulse function so you end up with evenly cut pieces and not a puree.
- Serve this bread oil dip at room temperature for best flavor.
- There aren’t many ingredients in this recipe so make sure to use the freshest and tastiest herbs, spices and flavorings. If you make this during the summer months, use homegrown herbs from the garden! Trust me, you and your guests will taste the difference.
- Use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate to serve it. It makes for much better presentation and will be easier for your guests to serve themselves.
Avoid using a food processor but if you must, use the pulse function so you end up with evenly cut pieces and not a puree.
The choice is entirely yours and we all have different tastes. Good quality extra virgin olive oil is the best option as it is rich, bold and slightly spicy.
If you make this Bread Dipping Oil or any other recipes on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more Urban Farm and Kitchen, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, visit the Urban Farm Shop, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Bread Dipping Oil
- ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup Olives - Chopped finely. Choose green, black or a mixture
- 2 teaspoon Za'atar - Or use a mixture of oregano, thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds and sumac
- 1 tablespoon Parsley - Chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon Rosemary - Chopped finely
- 1 Garlic clove - Finely minced
- ½ teaspoon Chili flakes
- Flaky salt - Optional (depends on how salty the olives are)
- Crusty bread, baguette or ciabatta for serving.
- In a shallow bowl or rimmed plate add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- To the same bowl, add the olives, za’atar (or dried herbs), fresh herbs, garlic and chili flakes (See the blog post above for substitutions).
- Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste. You might not need to add any salt.
- Serve with crust bread and enjoy.
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