This olive oil bread dip is the perfect accompaniment to any bread course or appetizer. It takes just 5 minutes to make, and the combination of tomato paste, garlic powder, oregano, basil, rosemary, and salt infuses the olive oil with a ton of flavor.
A drizzle of glossy aged balsamic vinegar adds a tangy sweetness that truly takes this quick and easy bread dip to the next level.
Try serving this olive oil bread dip with twisted ciabatta breadsticks, torn pieces of soft-baked ciabatta bread, thick slices of freshly baked crusty no knead bread, or thin and crispy Ligurian focaccia.
🥖 About This Bread Dip
I have big feelings and big opinions about what makes a good olive oil bread dip. At restaurants I often find the oil is under seasoned, the balsamic pour skimpy, and there's just never enough oil for the amount of bread I'm prepared to dip.
Since I've been testing a lot of homemade bread recipes lately, I decided it was time to develop my ideal olive oil bread dip along with them.
In my opinion, the best olive oil bread dips have a well balanced ratio of seasonings to oil, a light drizzle of of a thick balsamic vinegar, and are jam packed with umami goodness.
It should be impossible to dip a piece of bread in without coming away with herbs and seasonings clinging to the crumb.
The not-so-secret ingredient in this olive oil bread dip is a generous squeeze of double concentrated tomato paste whisked into the oil before the herbs are added. Not only does the tomato paste add a ton of flavor, it also helps the herbs cling to the bread each time you dip!
I tested about 8 different ratios of dried and fresh herbs, olive oil, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar to find what I consider the perfect ratio for a seasoned olive oil bread dip. I really hope you like it as much as I do!
🍅 Ingredient Notes
Here are the ingredients that you'll need to make this olive oil bread dip! See recipe card for quantities.
- Olive Oil - Use a high quality but mild flavored olive oil for this bread dip. Extra virgin olive oil tends to have a stronger flavor than regular olive oil, but either EVOO or regular olive oil will work here. I usually just use whatever I have on hand. But since the olive oil contributes a lot of flavor here, I recommend at least using one that has a taste you like.
- Tomato Paste - Double concentrated tomato paste, the type you get in the tube. It is extra concentrated and adds an amazing tomato flavor. I also tested this with a single concentrate sun dried tomato paste and it just didn't bring enough flavor!
- Dried Basil and Oregano - Dried basil and oregano work better here than fresh herbs.
- Garlic Powder - This gives the best garlic flavor and disperses easily in the oil without the pungent burn of raw garlic. I tested this with a small fresh garlic clove grated into the oil and found it was just too strong for me. But if you love that raw garlic flavor, go for it.
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different type of salt (e.g. fine sea salt, table salt, Himalayan salt, etc.) or even a different brand of kosher salt (e.g. Morton's), cut the amount of salt in half and add more only if you think it needs it. I don't recommend using Morton's salt for this recipe, the crystals are too dense and don't dissolve nicely.
- Rosemary - Fresh rosemary works best here, mince it very finely into almost a powder. Dried rosemary will work but it tends to have a slightly bitter taste to it, and the dried leaves are sharp and pointy — not pleasant!
- Traditional Balsamic Vinegar - I use a dark, aged "Denissimo" balsamic vinegar that I picked up at an olive oil and vinegar shop in North Conway, NH (you can order it online from them!). Aged balsamic vinegars are thick and glossy, slightly sweet and fruity, and more complex in flavor. If you can't find "Denissimo" specifically, look for a balsamic vinegar with a label that says "dark" or "aged" — 25 years at least!
In the case of balsamic vinegar, I really do recommend using the right type of balsamic vinegar — once you experience a thick, aged, dark, traditional balsamic vinegar there's no going back. The flavor and consistency are so much nicer and won't take over the whole dip.
🥣 How to Make Olive Oil Bread Dip
This olive oil bread dip is best mixed directly in the bowl you plan to serve it in. I like using a shallow, flat bottomed bowl or a plate with a vertical rim to keep everything contained.
If you're using a particularly shallow plate for serving the dip, you may find it easier to mix the tomato paste and olive oil in a separate bowl and then add them to the serving plate with the herbs.
Pictured here: RV Pottery's noodle bowl in the variation "Dalmatian." (Not sponsored, I just love their bowls.)
Whisk the tomato paste into the olive oil to break it up.
You're not making an emulsion here, you should see lots of little flakes of red tomato paste suspended in the oil.
Then add the garlic powder, salt, dried basil and oregano, and fresh rosemary.
Adding the herbs second helps them incorporate into the oil evenly instead of getting stuck in the tomato paste.
Whisk everything together. Add more oil if needed (depending on the size and shape of your bowl).
If the bowl is particularly shallow, aim for oil about ¼" deep.
Immediately before serving, add a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.
Less is more with these thicker balsamic vinegars — you can always add more later if needed!
For best results let the olive oil with the tomato paste and herbs sit for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour before adding the balsamic and serving. This gives the flavors time to infuse and intensify.
5 star reader review
“I just made this recipe for the first time and it is PERFECT! I followed the recipe and added some red pepper flakes and even bought a high quality vinegar as recommended (and it was worth the splurge)! ”—Amy
📖 Substitutions and Variations
There are a lot of ways you can customize this olive oil bread dip recipe to make it your own! Here's some ideas to get you started:
- Herbs - Use 1 teaspoon of a salt-free Italian seasoning blend in place of the oregano, basil, and fresh rosemary. (Or if your favorite blend has salt in it, omit or reduce the amount of salt in the recipe).
- Spicy - Add ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Add ¼ teaspoon if you really want to bring a lot of heat to the table.
- Cheesy - Add 1 tablespoon finely grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Roasted Garlic - Mash two or three cloves of roasted garlic into a paste in the bottom of the bowl, then add the tomato paste and whisk into the olive oil.
- Raw Garlic - If you're going to use raw garlic, I recommend picking a smaller clove and serving it in one of these bowls with a textured garlic-grater built into the bottom. Grate the garlic clove against the bottom. Whisk the olive oil and tomato paste together in a separate bowl, then add it to the plate with the herbs.
📋 Making a Big Batch Version (Shelf Stable)
If you want to make a big batch of this bread dipping oil dried herb mix so you can have the herb blend ready whenever the mood strikes, I recommend using dried rosemary instead of fresh. Dried rosemary will make the herb blend shelf stable so you can store it at room temperature easily.
Olive Oil Bread Dip With Dried Rosemary (Yield: 1⅛ cups)
Use 1½ teaspoons per ¼ cup olive oil.
- ¼ cup dried basil
- ¼ cup garlic powder
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- ¼ cup diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of any other type of salt)
- ⅛ cup dried rosemary (crush the sharp leaves with a rolling pin or in a spice grinder first)
Note: If you want to use fresh rosemary as the original recipe calls for, use 1¼ teaspoons of the dried herb blend, and add ¼ teaspoon fresh minced rosemary when you make the olive oil bread dip.
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips and Recipe Notes
- Food Safety: As this is a cold infused olive oil with a fresh herb in it (or raw garlic, depending on how you prepare it), it is not meant to be saved or stored for later. Discard any leftovers when you're done.
- This recipe was partially inspired by the olive oil bread dip that Bravo! Cucina restaurants served in the 2000s and 2010s. I believe they used a sun dried tomato paste instead of the double concentrated tomato paste, but I just couldn't find a store bought version that brought enough flavor.
- For more of a sun-dried tomato flavor, replace half the tomato paste with a super finely minced sun-dried tomato (the kind that's not packed in oil).
You can but I don't recommend it. Dried herbs have no moisture in them, allowing the oil to saturate and rehydrate them. Fresh herbs have moisture in them, they're not interested in absorbing the oil. Dried herbs are also more potent than fresh, meaning you need less of them for a strong flavor. You'd have to use 2X the amount of fresh herbs, which would make for a chunkier dip! If you feel strongly about using fresh herbs, go for it, it's your dip. But my recommendation is to use a majority of dried herbs.
5-Minute Olive Oil Bread Dip
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste (double concentrate)
- ½ teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of any other brand or type of salt)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar (Denissimo/Dark/Aged Balsamic vinegar NOT balsamic vinegar glaze)
- In the bowl you plan to serve the olive oil bread dip in, whisk together olive oil and tomato paste until the tomato paste breaks up. Stir in garlic powder and herbs. For optimal flavor, let sit for 15 minutes to infuse before serving.
- Immediately before serving, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
- Add additional oil and balsamic vinegar as needed to the dip.
- For a more intense flavor, let the dip sit for 15 minutes before serving.
- Drizzle in the balsamic vinegar immediately before serving.
- If using dried rosemary, pinch and crush the sharp leaves before adding to the dip.