Whether you’re tired of the same old recipes or want to take advantage of the internal benefits essential oils have to offer, cooking with essential oils is a great way to make your meals more flavorful and interesting.
Because essential oils are so potent, it only takes a small amount of essential oil to add powerful flavor to any food or drink. When only one drop (or less) is required to create intense flavor, using essential oils for cooking becomes a smart, cost-effective solution.
Your essential oil bottle will last much longer than other ingredients that may only survive for a week in the fridge.
This also makes essential oils a convenient option for adding flavor to your food. When you realize you’re out of lemons or don’t have any fresh rosemary for your recipe, all you have to do is go to your essential oil collection for help.
Another benefit of using essential oils for cooking is that when used properly, you can have peace of mind about putting safe, natural ingredients into your food. You already know that many essential oils offer benefits to the body when consumed internally, so adding essential oils to your recipes may help you reap these benefits in a fun, delicious way.
Safety guidelines for cooking with essential oils
Before you begin cooking with essential oils, it’s important to know the safety and usage guidelines for each oil. Remember, not all essential oils are approved for internal use, so there are some essential oils you want to avoid putting in your food. See Chapter 3 for a list of single essential oils that shouldn’t be used internally—and always remember to read labels carefully before consuming any essential oil.
How do I know how much essential oil to add to my food?
When it comes to measuring essential oils for cooking, you’ll want to consider several factors. The amount of oil you add to your food will depend on the particular oil you plan to use; your own taste preferences; whether you plan to substitute the essential oil for raw, fresh, or dried ingredients; the amount of food you’re making; and more.
For example, if you’re making a large pot of soup, there are some cases where it would be appropriate to add an entire drop of oil. However, if you’re using an oil with a particularly strong flavor, one drop could be too much. When making smaller batches
of food—like homemade salad dressing, sauces, or dips—using an entire drop of oil could ruin the dish with overpowering flavor. So how do you know how much oil to add when cooking? Here are a few guidelines that can help.
The toothpick method
The best way to determine how much essential oil to add to your food is by starting small. You can start adding essential oils to a recipe using the toothpick method, which is done by placing the tip of a toothpick into the essential oil bottle and then mixing it into the batter, marinade, soup, sauce, or mixture of whatever you’re cooking. This is a simple way to add a small amount of oil without the risk of ruining your dish with too much flavor.
Adding one drop
If you’re using essential oils with a milder chemistry or cooking a large amount of food, it may be appropriate to use an entire drop of oil. It’s a good idea to use an oil dropper or place the oil drop on a spoon first rather than straight in the dish in order to avoid adding too much.
Adding several drops
It’s important to know that, when cooking with heat, much of the essential oil can evaporate or bake out. More than one drop of essential oil can be added to food when you’re cooking with heat or baking and want to preserve the flavor. Several drops may also be necessary if you’re cooking a large batch of food. It might be a good idea to add a drop of oil, do a taste test, and then decide if you need more oil.
Best practices for cooking with essential oils
Cooking with essential oils is easier than you think. When you’re ready to start using essential oils in the kitchen, here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you get the hang of it.
- Remember to only cook with essential oils that have been approved for internal use.
- Use stainless steel, ceramic, or glass cookware, as some essential oils can damage certain types of plastic.
- Because essential oils are affected by heat, you can add extra oil to a recipe before baking or boiling. However, in some cases, the flavor can still evaporate or cook out. If possible, add the oil at the end of your cooking to preserve the flavor.
- Remember to start small—only a small amount of oil will be needed for powerful flavor. You can always add more later, but you can’t take the flavor out once it has been added.
- Always use the toothpick method when adding essential oils with a strong chemistry such as Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Cumin, Thyme, or Oregano. These oils should also be properly diluted when added to beverages.
Now that you understand the basics, let’s go over 10 easy ways to use essential oils for cooking.
How to use essential oils for cooking
Add flavor to tea, hot chocolate, smoothies, cider, lemonade, and other beverages by mixing in a few drops of essential oil. Citrus, mint, and spice essential oils work best for this.
Consider changing up your meat and vegetable recipes by adding essential oils to your marinade. Spice and herb essential oils will work well for this.
Infuse a twist of flavor into your baked goods like cookies, cake, bread, scones, pies, and muffins by adding a few drops of essential oils to the dough or batter before baking. Try Cinnamon Bark, Basil, or Lavender.
Make your favorite dip or salsa more interesting with essential oils like Cilantro, Basil, or Lemon.
Create your own essential oil seasonings by combining essential oils with salt, pepper, and other dry seasonings. You can even make a sweet topping for oatmeal or toast by adding citrus or spice essential oils to sugar.
Essential oils can be combined with other ingredients (like olive oil and apple cider vinegar) to make salad dressing for a green salad. You can also add essential oils to vegetable, pasta, or chicken salad for added flavor.
Add essential oils to sauces to give your pasta and meat dishes an extra boost of flavor. Herbal essential oils like Rosemary and Basil work best.
Place a few drops of essential oil into a glass of water along with slices of fresh fruit (like lemon or lime) or fresh herbs (like basil o rosemary) for a refreshing drink.
Give your soup recipe a makeover by adding herbal or spicy essential oils to the soup—but do so near the end of the cooking process so that the flavor doesn’t cook out.
Essential oils can be added to everyday snacks like yogurt, oatmeal, peanut butter, apple sauce, and more. This is especially useful for getting your kids to try essential oils.