Benefits of Cooking With Essential Oils
You probably know that essential oils can be used in hundreds of different ways. But few people realize it’s possible to safely and confidently use essential oils in your household kitchen. Cooking with essential oils can unlock a healthful and delicious experience that most people never consider.
In fact; the American food and beverage industry has been using essential oils in recipes for well over 100 years with delightful results. Consumers like you can also enjoy a world of delightful possibilities by using flavorful and aromatic essential oils in cooking and drinks.
Let’s take a look at what the benefits are of adding essential oils into your cooking and how you can start incorporating them into your own recipes.
Why Use Essential Oils In Food/Drinks?
Adding essential oils to food and drinks opens up a realm of culinary possibilities. Imagine adding a drop of Lemon essential oil on your steak, or Ginger, Peppermint or Rose oil to plain old Vanilla ice cream! These concentrated sources of aromatic and healthful compounds add flavor and therapeutic benefits to your plate.
For example, ginger is a great carminative that helps promote stomach acid production and keep the GI tract healthy and moving. Additionally, ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory that provides antioxidant benefits as well. Each essential oil has a unique flavor and health benefits that you can experiment with in your kitchen.
Dishes get instantly transformed and you don’t have to go out of your way to make it happen. You can create unique and interesting flavors like chocolate orange, chocolate peppermint, and chocolate tangerine by adding the respective essential oils to chocolate.
So, as you can see, using essential oils in cooking is simple, adds a unique nutritional aspect to your food and drinks, while also expanding your flavor possibilities to whole new level.
Apart from that, certain essential oils can actually extend the shelf life of your food due to antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.
The Benefits of Cooking With Essential Oils
Let me introduce you to the key benefits of cooking with essential oils:
- Essential oils such as garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil are effective in controlling bacterial growth on food products (1).
- Many essential oils like Lavender oil and Lime oil are known to control fungal infections in food. Therefore, the quality of lipid containing foods can be extended and preserved through storage and cooking by adding these oils that have strong antioxidant properties (2).
- The flavor and fragrance of essential oils like Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon help to prime your body for digestion through the olfactory system. This primes your digestive tract to begin releasing enzymes and HCl to improve digestion.
- Modern scientific studies and historical data have shown essential oils like Ginger, Peppermint, Lavender, and Lemon are safe and beneficial botanical products when consumed at low levels.
- Ingesting certain aromatherapy oils may potentially aid in weight loss (3). This is not a direct effect of taking essential oils internally; rather it is a combination of healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise. That said, since essential oils boost and uplift the mood, they can actively alleviate binge eating and unhealthy cravings.
Essential Oil Infused Beverages
When using essential oils internally, it is best to start with 1-2 drops first. Some people directly add the oils to liquids like water or milk and drink it. However, a much safer way to ingest essential oils is through Gelatin or Enteric coated gelatin capsules, in a teaspoonful of honey, or in a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
These methods will help to protect your mouth and throat from any sensitivity you may have to certain oils. However, if you want to mix the essential oils in your beverages, then simply follow certain precautions:
- Start small with 1 drop at a time and go from there. For most people 1-3 drops is plenty to derive the taste and health benefits.
- If you experience any burning, digestive issues or cramps etc., discontinue use.
- After a week of taking a single drop of oil in your drinks, without experiencing any adverse effects; then you can up the quantity 2 drops. If you experience any unwanted discomfort, move back to 1 drop.
- NEVER give essential oils to babies and toddlers for internal use.
Essential Oil Cooking Tips
It is very important that you use certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils and not fragrance oils for cooking. Fragrance essential oils can be toxic and must never be ingested. Also, not all pure or true essential oils can be used for cooking and in drinks. For example, essential oils like Tea Tree oil are dangerous and even a single drop of pure tea tree oil can be toxic and very possibly cause a trip to the ER.
While buying essential oils for cooking or for internal use, always purchase only those edible essential oil brands that have been thoroughly tested for purity. Impure or low quality essential oils could contain fillers, chemicals and other harmful substances which can be extremely toxic. Brands like dōTERRA will list on the bottle whether or not an oil is safe for internal consumption or not so pay attention to this!
Finally, there are some simple concepts to keep in mind when cooking with essential oils:
- They are very concentrated, 1-2 drops is typically all that is needed
- Dilute them in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, mct oil, or butter before adding to a meal
- Add after cooking, these oils are sensitive to high heat so add them after the heating of the meal is done
Ideas To Get You Started
After you have validated the safety of your essential oils, you can use them for cooking. Start by adding them to marinades, sauces and salad dressings. Adding essential oil to your baking recipes can generate some wonderful flavors and also enhance the taste. Always use your discretion when adding essential oils to recipes: 1-2 drops of pure oil per serving is considered the ideal quantity.
If a recipe makes 5 servings, you can add up to 10 drops of essential oils to it. Also, culinary oils like Coconut oil and Olive oils are best for mixing with edible essential oils. Together they create good quality aromatic culinary oils.
Citrus essential oils like Lemon, Tangerine, Yuzu, Grapefruit and Bergamot are excellent on salads. You can combine these with Ginger, Spearmint, Basil, Sweet Marjoram and Lavender. Add 1-2 drops of any of these oils (or combinations thereof) to an ounce of salad oil. Shake the mixture well and allow the oils to infuse for 2-3 hours prior to use.
You can also infuse Vinegars with essential oils to use on salads. Go for 1-2 drops of oils per 2 fl. oz. of vinegar. Fragrant vinegars combined with essential oils generally store well. Always shake them well before use.
Tasty Cooking Combinations
- Add 5-7 drops of Lemon or Lavender essential oil to cakes or muffins. Make sure you don’t use any other extracts or essences which could cancel or overwhelm the oil’s delicate fragrance.
- Grapefruit and Lemon essential oils go rather well with fish.
- Mixing Lemon essential oil with soy sauce or coconut aminos gives it a nice tangy aroma and makes an excellent dip for sushi, fish and vegetables.
- You can replace lemon juice with Lemon essential oil. If the recipe calls for 1/2 to 1 tsp lemon juice, use 4-5 drops of essential oil. The same goes for Ginger, Grapefruit and other herbs, spices and citrus fruits.
- Transform store bought ice cream into heavenly dessert with Ginger and Lime, Spearmint and Geranium, or Rose and Bergamot. Likewise, convert a boring plain steak into a gastronomic delight by adding a few drops of Lemon, Bergamot or Thyme to the marinade.
- Meat and fish dishes combine well with Basil, Sweet Fennel, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme. Lamb goes great with Spearmint.
- In desserts, Almond oil mixed with Lavender, Rose, Geranium, Ylang Ylang and Neroli goes well.
- For spicy dishes, ideal cooking essential oils are Cardamom, Coriander seed, Black Pepper, Ginger and Nutmeg. Turmeric, Cinnamon and Sweet Orange are also great.
- Rose, Bergamot, Geranium and Coriander infused vinegars are ideal as dips, salad dressings, vinaigrette and sauces.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Just get creative and follow your senses until you come up with something that blows your taste buds away. Here are four of my favorite recipes featuring essential oils.
My Top 4 Recipes
1. Garlic Lime Dip
This dip is a favorite and my family loves it.
- 1-2 drops of Lime/Lemon essential oil
- 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 8 tbsp Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
Mix the garlic with oil and let it infuse. Combine the mayo with all the other ingredients.
2. Buttery Sauce
Use this buttery sauce on veggies, potatoes, or meat. You can also store it for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
- ½ cup butter (melted)
- 1-2 drops of essential oil (rosemary, thyme, oregano etc.)
Mix the ingredients well in a bowl.
3. Tangy Carrot Soup
- 1 oz butter
- Grated carrot – 1 lb
- One medium onion finely chopped
- 1 potato shredded/grated
- Seasoning to taste
- 2 ½ cups stock (chicken/vegetable)
- 1-2 drops of Citrus (lime/lemon/orange) essential oil
In a large pot, melt the butter. Add carrots, onion, potato and season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Now add the essential oil and simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot.
4. Lemony Minty Potato Salad
- 2 lb new potatoes
- 4 tbsp Avocado Oil Mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- One small onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp dill pickle (optional)
- 2 drops Lemon essential oil
- 1 drop Spearmint essential oil
Boil the potatoes and cool them completely. Mix all other ingredients with a whisk. Add them to the potatoes. Chill before serving.
Enjoy the Benefits of Cooking with EOs
Pure essential oils when used in cooking can impart numerous health benefits.
All you need is a bit of practice and soon you will be able to incorporate them in every aspect of your lifestyle including your baking recipes, salads and even your detox juices.
Not only will these produce wonderful flavors and aroma to your recipes; they also support your overall health and wellbeing.
Additionally, there are a ton of other great ways to use essential oils around the house and for your health. Having these powerful plant extracts around can enhance your life in endless ways.
Jill is a full-time resident on the exotic island of Bali, Indonesia. When she’s not free-diving in the Indian Ocean, Jill spends time researching and writing about the medicinal and practical uses for essential oils and other natural oils at https://purewildoils.com. She is a committed advocate of discovering and using Mother Nature’s alternative solutions over potentially harmful man-made products.
Sources For This Cooking Article Include:
1. Nazzaro, F., Fratianni, F., De Martino, L., Coppola, R., & De Feo, V. (2013). Effect of essential oils on pathogenic bacteria. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 6(12), 1451–74. PMID: 24287491
2. Krisch, J., Tserennadmid, R., & Vágvölgyi, C. (2011). Essential oils against yeasts and moulds causing food spoilage. Science against Microbial Pathogens: Communicating Current Research and Technological Advances, 1135–1142. (LINK)
3. Asnaashari, S., Delazar, A., Habibi, B., Vasfi, R., Nahar, L., Hamedeyazdan, S., & Sarker, S. D. (2010). Essential Oil from Citrus aurantifolia prevents ketotifen-induced weight-gain in mice. Phytotherapy Research, 24(12), 1893–1897. PMID: 20623616
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