In moderation, some essential oils like lemon are safe to use in cooking, but it’s wise to exercise caution.

Essential oils, which are extracted from plants, are best known for their use in aromatherapy, a complementary health practice that involves inhaling scents or mixing the oils into lotion or massage oil. However, there is a growing interest in other uses of these oils, especially for cooking. Some essential oils are marketed as edibles, and many blogs and social media influencers have suggested that using essential oils can boost flavor and nutrition in recipes.

Essential oils are concentrated sources of flavor and aroma, so you don’t have to chop up a bunch of herbs or peel a bunch of lemon zest to get the flavor you want in a particular recipe. .

But adding touches of essential oils to your dishes without precaution and advice can be a bad idea. Essential oils can be extracted from the roots, stems, leaves, flowers or fruits of plants. But just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re safe. It takes a lot of plant matter to get some oil. This is why essential oils are very concentrated and can have a powerful effect on us.

Also, their name does not mean that they are essential to your diet. Rather, it is the compounds that affect odor, or “essence”L

So, should you cook with essential oils or stick to inhaling them? Read on to find out.

Are essential oils safe to consume?

Direct consumption of essential oils is generally considered inadvisable. Essential oils are fat soluble and can therefore be dangerous if you ingest them directly from the bottle or if you mix them with water, as they attach to tissues and damage the mouth and esophagus. Nevertheless, it can be interesting to combine essential oils with other substances. If you mix essential oils with a fatty substance like olive oil or milk, they will be better distributed and diluted, so they won’t damage tissue as much when ingested. Thus, essential oils can be used safely in the kitchen, with a few conditions.

Which essential oils are generally safe to cook with?

When buying essential oils for use in cooking, try to find a product that contains the following information:

the Latin name of the plants used to create the essential oil
The name of the country in which the plants were grown
A statement of purity (100% essential oil or altered or mixed with something else).
From there, you can stick with the herb, fruit, and spice essential oils you normally use in cooking.

Here are some good options, along with their potential health benefits (although you may not be able to get these benefits in the amounts used in cooking):

Lemon (Citrus Limon)

Lemon oil imparts a light, fresh flavor to many dishes, including fish, chicken, baked goods, pastas, and sauces. With its lively and uplifting scent, lemon essential oil can improve mood and promote relaxation. A study in 82 people found that inhaling lemon essential oil for 30 minutes decreased anxiety following orthopedic surgery. Lemon oil is also an effective antifungal: A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found lemon essential oil to be effective in fighting athlete’s foot, thrush, and yeast infections.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis L.)

Rosemary is an herb commonly used to add an earthy flavor to soups, stews, and cooked meals. Research suggests that rosemary essential oil can also boost mental clarity and focus. In a small study, prolonged inhalation of rosemary essential oil was associated with better performance in visual processing tasks and serial subtraction tests. Another study of 53 high school students showed that they remembered pictures and numbers better when the testing room was sprayed with rosemary essential oil.

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita L.)

Peppermint oil can add an invigorating, minty flavor to baked goods and chilled desserts like ice cream. It is also commonly used to calm muscle aches, treat coughs and colds, increase alertness and relieve headaches.

Lavender (Lavandula Officinalis Chaix.)

Lavender essential oil gives a soft floral profile that is nice in ice creams and baked goods. It also has calming effects, making it a popular choice for relaxation. In fact, a review and meta-analysis published in 2019, which assessed 90 studies, concluded that inhaling or ingesting lavender oil can significantly reduce anxiety.

What are the potential risks of consuming essential oils?

In addition to irritating and burning the tissues of the mouth and esophagus, direct consumption of essential oils can cause seizures, hallucinations, and coma. Some can even be toxic. A 2019 study published in The Medical Journal of Australia states that toxicity from ingesting essential oils is on the rise, and “increasing frequency and severity of essential oil poisonings have been reported in Europe and the United States. United “.

Essential oils can also interact with medications. Some essential oils use the same receptor sites as drugs, which can reduce the effectiveness of drugs. They can also increase the amounts of drugs circulating in our body and lead to toxicity. For example, research in mice showed that anise essential oil enhanced the effects of drugs that act on the central nervous system, such as codeine (an opioid painkiller) and fluoxetine (an antidepressant).

Due to their small size and immaturity of their digestive systems, children may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of consuming essential oils.

Avoid Using These Essential Oils

Some essential oils have been linked to adverse effects when ingested, even in very small amounts.

Here are the essential oils that you should avoid consuming at all costs:

eucalyptus oil

Although a common ingredient in over-the-counter cough and cold products to relieve congestion, eucalyptus oil can be dangerous if ingested in its pure form. There are very clear cases of people experiencing toxic effects from ingesting eucalyptus oil in very small amounts. Eucalyptus oil can in particular cause epileptic seizures if ingested

sage oil

Sage oil has a pleasant earthy aroma and antiseptic properties, according to research. However, sage oil can also cause seizures in children.

wintergreen oil

Wintergreen oil is used as a food flavoring in trace amounts, but it can be dangerous or even fatal if ingested in minute amounts. Ingesting oil of wintergreen is equivalent to ingesting several adult aspirins. It is especially dangerous for children.

How to cook with essential oils?

If you still want to experiment with essential oils in your kitchen, here are some tips to follow to make sure you do so safely.

Have a light hand

You may be surprised to learn that all it takes is a drop or two of essential oil to create a strong flavor and aroma. A single drop of basil essential oil in a large pot of sauce, for example, will produce a powerful aroma. Once you’ve added an essential oil, it’s hard to undo. So start with the smallest amount possible and taste the recipe before adding more.


Mix the essential oil with a fat such as olive oil, honey or chicken broth before adding it to the dish. Diluting essential oils in a greasy substance helps distribute them evenly, which can help prevent irritation of the soft tissues of the mouth, throat, and intestines.

Find recipes

Before experimenting with essential oils on your own, find a recipe from a reputable source that incorporates the essential oil you want to test. Experimentation can be fun, but you risk wasting food or essential oils if they turn out not to be edible. Once you have an idea of ​​what kind of flavor profile an essential oil creates and how much to use, you can start creating your recipes.


While essential oils are traditionally inhaled or applied topically in massage oil, they can also be used to add flavor and aroma in cooking. To do this safely, stick to essential oils known to be safe for culinary purposes, follow a recipe from a reputable source, and limit yourself to one or more drops. Never ingest essential oils in their pure form, as this can have adverse health effects.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.