Q&A – Can You Cook with Essential Oils?

A bottle of oil on a wooden table

 The answer of course is yes. Essential oils have been used as flavoring agents for years, so the idea of cooking with essential oils or incorporating them into your kitchen is nothing new. The important thing is to do it safely and to know the difference between a whole herb or spice and its essential oil. Some oils are good choices for cooking and some are not. Sometimes oils have too much of a certain chemical constituent that makes it less than ideal for cooking or even unsafe in certain quantities. With proper use and dilution cooking with essential oils can be safe and fun and add it can also add incredible dimension to your recipes. They can be a natural way to flavor your food. 

Cooking with essential oils can make cooking easier & more flavorful. Sometimes it is easier to add a drop or two of oil instead of chopping fresh herbs. Also the right essential oil can take the place of a recipes’ artificial ingredient. When cooking with essential oils you will need to learn that oils should be converted, diluted, delayed.

CONVERT- A good basic rule of thumb is that a drop will replace a teaspoon and NEVER use more than a drop or two for a full recipe. Another good rule is the toothpick method – If an oil is really strong don’t add drops, dip a toothpick in the oil and stir that into your recipe, than taste test. Remember you can always add more but you can’t fix it if you’ve added too much

DILUTE- Another thing to remember is that essential oils should be diluted into a lipid first. This ensures the oil and its flavor are dispersed throughout the food. Olive oil, coconut oil, honey or syrups are good examples

DELAY- For hot recipes wait until the end of the cooking process to add essential oils, remember they are volatile.

Here are some ideas for essential oils and their cooking uses:

  • LAVANDER in dessert.
  • PEPPERMINTS in tea, lemonade, candy, chocolate, desserts.
  • CITRUS – since they are derived from the peel they have that test we are all familiar with and can substitute for the zest in a recipe, in drinks, stir fry, dips, baking.
  • CORIANDER/CILANTRO in sauces, marinades, veggies, pickling.
  • CINNAMON/CARDAMON – chia flavor.
  • GINGER- ginger snaps, gingerbread, spiced drinks, stir fry, marinades.
  • THYME-soups, stews, sauces. ANISE-cookies, treats, biscotti, marinades, soups, to be used cautiously 1 or 2 drops at a time

Searching the internet can bring you to several sites with numerous recipes that use essential oils and are a good place to start before experimenting with your own recipes. Here are some links that anyone interested in cooking with essential oils may find interesting:

Some inspiring recipes might be: Chewy Ginger Cookies, Glazes Cranberry Orange Muffins, Peppermint Brownie Bites, and Pumpkin Bread


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