Did you know that many essential oils can be used in recipes in place of the fruit, seed, or plant the essential oil is derived from?
For example, rosemary and oregano essential oils can be used in dishes to replace fresh or dried herbs. A drop or two of lavender essential oil can enhance the flavor of many baked goods. Citrus essential oils such as lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit can be delicious substitutes for the juice and/or zest called for in a recipe.
This can be a great time saver too and often save a trip to the grocery store. After all, it’s certainly easier to keep a bottle of lemon essential oil on hand than it is to always have fresh lemons in the house. You may be surprised to learn it takes around 75 lemons to create one 15ml bottle of good quality lemon essential oil − so just one tiny bottle contains a lot of lemony goodness!
How Much Essential Oil Should You Use in Recipes?
When using essential oils in cooking, a general rule of thumb is to substitute 1 drop of essential oil for 1–2 tablespoons of fresh herbs & spices, and 1 drop of oil for 1-2 teaspoons of dried spices.
For citrus essential oils, 1 drop of oil can generally substitute for 1 teaspoon of zest or 2 tablespoons of juice. If your recipe calls for the zest of the entire fruit, this works out to between 7-15 drops of its essential oil counterpart.
Tip: If your recipe calls for less than 1 tablespoon of dried spice, zest, or juice and you don’t know how to get less than a drop of essential oil out of the bottle… place some oil on a clean toothpick and swirl that into your dish. Do a taste test and repeat as necessary to achieve the desired flavor intensity.
Using Citrus Essential Oils in Smoothies
One super easy way to incorporate essential oils into your cooking (and one of my favorites), is when making smoothies. I’ve included 3 recipes down below to get you started − but the options truly are endless. Feel free too to play around with different citrus essential oils and combinations of oils to see what you like best. Adding a drop or 2 of citrus essential oil to your fresh juices is another way to use your essential oils.
A word of caution: Keep in mind that not all essential oils are created equal! Essential oils that are readily found in drug stores, supermarkets, and even health food stores are usually not organic. Even if they are, they may contain fillers.
Oils that are not labeled organic may also have been expelled using hexane, which is a chemical with known toxic exposure effects. According to PubChem, “Chronic (long-term) exposure to hexane in air is associated with polyneuropathy in humans, with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed. Neurotoxic effects have also been exhibited in rats.” I don’t know about you, but I want any essential oils I’m putting in or on my body to be the safest and best quality possible!
One other note of caution regarding grapefruit essential oil: Because grapefruit is known to react with many medications, the same extends to grapefruit essential oil. Please don’t use grapefruit oil without checking with your health care provider if you’re taking a medication that is contraindicated for grapefruit.