Essential Oils for Cooking

We routinely think about eating in healthy ways… whether we are trying to change our eating methods, or perhaps feeling guilty about our food choices. (though I don’t encourage food shame FYI) But, even if we use essential oils, that doesn’t mean we make any connection between essential oils and how we eat! This is one of the most underutilized ways to use essential oils and I want to peel back the curtain on this method!

Essential oils are a powerful, dynamic addition to your everyday cooking and food choices. You can safely incorporate fresh herbal, citrus or spicy flavors, without the potential fungal growth or deadened flavor of dried herbs.

When cooking with essential oils we have to remember that some are more potent than others, and it is very easy to over-do the essential oils. It is always better to start with less and increase slowly til you find your preferred flavor profile.

I usually recommend to dip a toothpick in your oil of choice and swirl it into your recipe. This ensures that you are only adding a little bit at a time. You can add even less by simply dipping the toothpick in the oil and then dipping (no swirling) in the recipe.

You can also put a drop on a spoon and then use a sharp knife to portion off a half drop or so at a time if you are needing a bit more than a toothpick dip.

Citrus oils can be used the most liberally, and often can be dropped straight from the bottle, but for anything else I tend to be very conservative. No one wants triple the cilantro in a recipe!!!

When adding the essential oil, make sure there is already a fatty substance in the recipe that will allow the oil to more evenly disperse, otherwise you could find yourself with interesting “hot spots” of oily flavor.

When baking, expect to use more essential oil than while cooking. The higher heat tends to create more oil flash off. For example, you may use two or three toothpick dips of a citrus oil in your dish, but need 2-3 full drops in that sweet cake you are making.

Generally if you are considering a direct substitution the following rules of thumb may apply:


1/2tsp dried herbs or 1.5tsp fresh herbs equals 2-3 toothpick swirls of the essential oil.

1 teaspoon of dried herbs or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs equals one drop of the essential oil.

1 tsp citrus extract equals 16 drops essential oil

1 tablespoon citrus zest equals 8 drops essential oil.


Some of my go to oils for cooking include the following:

  • Added to Chocolate: Peppermint, Cinnamon, Cassia, Cardamom, Lemon, Pepper, Tangerine, Wild Orange
  • Added to Tea: Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, Lemon, Peppermint, Spearmint, Wild Orange, On Guard
  • To sweet fruity drinks or desserts: Lemon, Lime, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Wild Orange, Slim and Sassy, Geranium, Lavender, Basil
  • For delicious spicy drinks or desserts: Cassia, Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cardamom
  • For Savory Dishes: Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Black Pepper, and Basil


As long as you start with small amounts, cooking with essential oils can be a simple and healthy way to get some beautiful new flavors in your dishes!

If you need support exploring ways to use essential oils in cooking or baking, please reach out anytime.