Have you ever been to Carrabba’s Italian Restaurant? They have some great things on the menu, but if we are being honest, I could go just for the olive oil bread dip, fresh bread and a glass of wine and be a perfectly happy camper.
What is bread dipping oil?
It can be many things, but in this case it is just a basic blend of dried herbs with a quality olive oil and a crusty bread for dipping. It is honestly one of the easiest and also most popular recipes I make. It is a wildly easy recipe and perfect for quick appetizer.
A nice crusty bread, Italian, French or even crostini are also delicious to pair with this garlic herb combo. Some folks even like it with chopped vegetables like carrot sticks, celery and bell pepper strips.
What Else Can I Use It For?
The herb mixture isn’t just for breads either. The spice blend will brighten up any pasta dish, especially plain white or Alfredo sauce.
It can be sprinkled on a salad coupled with a few dashes of red wine vinegar or used to season chicken, beef or pork. Blend it with cream cheese or sour cream for a lovely spread or sauce.
You can even use it as a marinade or baste is on grilled vegetables. Clearly, these aren’t just bread dipping spices, they are really an all-purpose Italian blend of deliciousness. Homemade Italian seasoning!
Carrabba’s clearly uses dried spices, but you can also use a variety of finely minced fresh herbs and spices. Mine includes:
- crushed red pepper flakes
- freshly cracked black pepper
- dried oregano
- dried basil
- dried parsley
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- dried rosemary
- coarse sea salt (or Kosher salt)
- fresh crushed garlic
- olive oil, the star of the show!
You can even mix and match fresh with dried and add a few of your own, like thyme or a dash of dried minced onion or garlic for more texture and crunch. A dash of balsamic vinegar or a few grates of fresh parmesan cheese are also great.
If you choose to use fresh herbs, the ratio is 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs for every 1 teaspoon of dried chopped herbs.
The way you slice your garlic makes a world of difference. More garlic flavor comes with severing more of the fibers. For less intense flavor use whole, roast garlic or garlic slices. For the maximum amount of flavor, minced or use a garlic press.
In fact, so many people have contacted me to tell this isn’t the right recipe, but they all claim to work there and have differing stories on how the real olive oil bread dip. Some people also say it is similar to the Macaroni Grill version, but I’ve never had that one, so I can attest. What I can say is that it seems every location makes is a little different, so adapt accordingly.
Best Olive Oil For Bread Dip
I do get asked quite frequently about the best olive oil to use for bread dip. The number one thing you want is an extra virgin olive oil, meaning it is the first press. From there you want a quality product, but what does that even mean?
You might be surprised to know that many imported olive oil touted to be “authentic” are a blend of olive oil and either vegetable oil or canola oil. It is tough for the US to verify the validity of “pure olive oil” when it is already imported.
For this reason, I generally buy my quality olive oil domestically, from California, in fact. This one is my favorite.
Good, first press olive oil is what you want for drizzling and bread dips. It will be dark in color and a little tangy when you taste it. Of course, if you’ve just taken a trip to the Mediterranean or can guarantee the authenticity of the oil, go ahead and use it.
Light virgin olive oil will be a little less pungent because it comes from the second or third press. This makes it better for using in recipes where the flavor of the oil isn’t the main focus or for frying. In fact, olive oil has a fairly high smoke point, so while it is more expensive, it is perfect for pan frying.
Flavored oils, like garlic oil or herb infused oils are also fun and add another layer of flavor sophistication.
Best Bread for Dipping
What is the best bread for dipping? What bread can’t you dip should be the answer! For this type of dip, aim for something that is hearty enough to tear and sop up the spices and olive oil. Above all, make sure it is something you like, your favorite bread! These are my favorites:
- Italian bread (loaf)
- Sourdough bread
- Classic crusty white bread
- Toasted dinner rolls- white or whole wheat
- French bread
- Olive bread
- Naan, pita or flatbread
- Check out all of our bread recipes!
What can I dip besides bread? I like to serve mine with a whole crudite platter including:
- Sliced cucumbers
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Roasted tomatoes
- Marinated artichokes
- Marinated cheese
- Diced cheese
- See my tips on building the ultimate cheese board!
Restaurant style olive oil bread dip is also one of my favorite DIY gift ideas, much like my other infused olive oils. Buy cute little glass containers or mason jars at the local craft store and decorate them with fun and colorful string or silk flowers.
I like to use festive twine to attach a gourmet bottle of olive oil and voila, you have the perfect hostess gift straight from your kitchen! Label it as Bread Dipping Oil or Olive Oil Bread Dip and everyone will know what you mean.
See notes below on using fresh garlic when given as a gift.
Shelf Life & Storage
Dry mix can be made ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container and the shelf life is good for several weeks. The salt is a natural preservative.
If you know it won’t be used for a long time, omit the fresh garlic and add a teaspoon of garlic powder instead. Or you can include a cute note asking to “just add fresh garlic to serve”.
Also beware that there is a difference between garlic powder and granulated garlic. Granulated garlic is larger and has a grainy texture. Make sure to use garlic powder, which is fine and will dissolve in leaving only flavor and not a funny texture.
Commonly Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this bread dip in advance. Mix your Italian seasonings and just add olive oil when you are ready to serve.
I make a VERY large batch when I make this recipe. Salt will preserve the fresh garlic. Keep it in a dry, cool place, like the pantry, in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Check it to make sure the moisture in the fresh garlic doesn’t make mold. Again, salt should prevent this as it is a natural preservative.
It sure can. Olive oil can go rancid and the actual spice blend, when fresh garlic is used, can go bad if not stored properly. If you just make a dry spice blend, the spices themselves can lose flavor and potency, however they won’t be at the same risk for food contamination.
Pair with our Italian Recipes:
Get our FREE 8 Day E-Course on How to Be a Better Home Cook. Sign up HERE!
Copycat Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 3 cloves garlic , freshly crushed or minced
- extra virgin olive oil
- Combine the crushed red pepper, black pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, sea salt and crush garlic. Mix well.
- If serving immediately, place the spice mixture in a shallow plate. Drizzle the desired amount of extra virgin olive oil over, serve. Wait to combine extra virgin olive oil and dry spices until right before serving.
- If you've made this recipe at home, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!