The Cook’s Guide to Using Essential Oils for Flavoring

Wait, aren’t essential oils for aromatherapy and massage?  Most people think of essential oils as being used only in this way, but a number of these natural plant essences can also be food grade and are commonly used for flavoring purposes as well. 

Are essential oils edible?

When used sparingly, many essential oils are safe to consume and are suitable for use as a flavoring.  In fact, you’ve probably been ingesting essential oils all along and didn’t realize it. Have you ever eaten a peppermint candy cane? Or applied a natural mint lip balm to your lips?   If so, that minty flavor was most likely from natural peppermint essential oil.

The essential oils that LorAnn Oils labels as food grade are approved by a regulation of the FDA (a classification known as GRAS) or appear on the industry approved register of safe ingredients for the flavor industry.  LorAnn Oils is independently certified as a Safe Quality Foods (SQF) manufacturer.

How are food grade essential oils used?

Essential oils are VERY concentrated, and therefore should be used in small amounts and never ingested undiluted or directly from the bottle.  Many essential oils such as lemon, anise, and orange are often used to flavor desserts, candies, and chocolates. Artisan candy makers and pastry chefs are increasingly using floral essential oils, like lavender, and even savory oils, such as rosemary, to create uniquely flavored confections.

lavender-oil

How are food grade essential oils used in baking and candy making?

  • Natural essential oils are about 3 to 4 times stronger than typical baking extracts. To substitute food grade essential oils for an extract, start by using ¼ teaspoon essential oil in place of 1 teaspoon of an extract.
  • All essential oils are soluble in oil and therefore ideal for flavoring chocolate and candy wafers.
  • Some essential oils such as clove and peppermint are particularly potent. We recommend starting with less and adding more to taste.
  • Other essential oils, like lavender, eucalyptus or bergamot, need only be added in minute amounts. For oils like these, it’s more about delivering a hint of aroma than adding strong flavor.  The easiest way to incorporate these oils into your candy and baked goods is to dip the end of a toothpick into the bottle and swirl into your batter, chocolate, frosting, etc.

rosemary

How are food grade essential oils used in savory cooking?

  • For most oils, one drop replaces a teaspoon of dried herb or spice.
  • For bolder tasting herb oils such as thyme, oregano (origanum), rosemary and marjoram, dip a toothpick into the bottle and stir into your recipe just before serving. Stronger flavored oils can be simmered at length in soups and stews to produce a milder flavor.
  • For milder herb oils use 1 – 2 drops at the end of cooking, or just before serving.

lemon-essential-oil

Can citrus essential oils be used in place of citrus zest?

Yes!  No more grated knuckles! This is an easy way to add a punch of citrus flavor to glazes, toppings, sauces – even piecrust.

  • In recipes calling for grated citrus zest or peel start with 1/8 teaspoon essential oil in place of 1 tablespoon of zest.
  • Substitute lemon oil for lemon zest, lime oil for lime zest, orange oil for orange zest, and tangerine oil for tangerine zest.

Visit the Learn page on LorAnn Oils’ website to discover more about using and enjoying essential oils.

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12 Comments

  1. I use LorAnn Oils Rosemary, Lemon, Orange and Ginger essential oils in my cooking. I love ginger and it’s a pain to peel and slice so I used one drop of the essential oil in my dishes. I use the rosemary in my pasta sauce, orange in my stir fry and the lemon whenever I can. I am working on a Kombucha recipe that I can incorporate the Lavender EO in. I highly recommend LorAnn Oils essential oils for cooking.

  2. I want to use the juice from “squeezed” raspberries. Do you know if that would work or not in a hard candy recipe? Also do you know how much I should use? Should i boil the down the juice first so its more concentrated?

  3. I just started making hard candy using your products. I’m enjoying the learning process. I noticed that some flavorings like peach do not seem the strong enough. I use a dram for the following recipe: 2 cups sugar, 3/4 water and 2/3 light corn syrup. Am I correct in only using 1dram? How do I strengthen that flavor?
    I realize that some flavors like peppermint are already strong.

    1. Hi Rima – All of our flavors are concentrated, however some flavors, like our peppermint and cinnamon are a bit more potent. If you desire a stronger flavor than what the 1 dram (1 tsp) is giving, simply add more to your recipe (typically an additional 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.)

  4. I have been making this candy every year since I was 15 – for 40 years now! Everyone loves it and I make probably 20 batches every year. I have always used 2 drams of the oils. Today I started making the candy and the 3 batches that I made were flavorless – strawberry – grape and watermelon. I bought the oils new this year and they have an expiration date of July 2021. I have made no changes to anything, and I wait for all bubbling to stop before adding oil. I have never had this problem before. I am quite stumped as to what is causing this. Please advise…..thank you.

    1. Hi Lori – Based on what you are reporting, I am stumped too! Please call our customer service department at 800-862-8620 M-F, 9 – 5 EST. for further help with your issue. If you still have the bottles, the lot code printed on the label will be helpful. Thank you.

  5. Hi! I recenyl tried putting about a tablespoon of essential oils in a batch of hard candy and it seemed like the high heat of the candy (300Degrees F) may have burned odd the flavor. Is that possible??? I would have thought that would be enough oil for an intense flavor. Especially with lemon and ginger that I used.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi – If you are using a recipe for hard candy that calls for 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon would be too much to add. We recommend adding 1 teaspoon total. Too much flavoring will tend to impart a bitter flavor. Hope this helps!

      1. Hi! Thanks so much for the reply! My problem is that there is almost no flavor despite the large amount. I’m using 2 cups of sugar and 2/3 of a cup of corn syrup. But still I though 1 tbsp would be more than enough. It’s been suggested that I let the candy cool a bit before adding the oil but then I run the risk of not being able to pour it, right?

      2. We do recommend waiting until the syrup has stopped the boiling action before adding the flavoring. Are you using LorAnn lemon oil and ginger oil?

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