By Linda Folken, RDN, CDN, CHC-ACE

While cooking methods often depend on diet and personal preferences, there are several benefits to using essential oils in cooking. Not only will essential oils provide any meal with a powerful flavor, but they also provide a natural way to flavor food and can offer convenience when fresh ingredients are not available. Here are some tip for using essential oils in your cooking:

  1. Choose essential oils that are safe for internal use. Choose therapeutic-grade essential oils in your cooking.
    Note: There are some essential oils that you should NEVER ingest.The essential oils that are not recommended for ingestion include arborvitae, birch, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, white fir and wintergreen.
  2. A small amount of essential oil can have a huge impact on the flavor of a dish. Keep in mind the following tips when using essential oils in your recipes:
    – Essential oils can be a great substitute for fresh herbs, citrus zest and juice, and spices such as oregano or lime juice.
    – Essential oils are potent! It’s recommended to use only 1-2 drops, at first, or use the toothpick method when cooking with essential oils. Dip a wooden toothpick into the bottle to absorb the oil, then swirl the toothpick through the wet ingredients. Taste the dish, and gradually add more flavor as needed.
    – When cooking with heat, add the essential oil at the end. Essential oils are sensitive to heat.

Some cooking applications for essential oils include:

  • Salad dressings
  • Marinades
  • Baking
  • Flavored vinegars
  • Oil infusions
  • Soups and stews
  • Rubs
  • In place of dry seasonings

Here’s a simple recipe for a rosemary garlic rub you can try.


  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 drops Rosemary oil
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, diced

Mix all ingredients together and use as a rub for chicken, steak or vegetables.

Just remember, essential oils can be beneficial and easy to use in cooking. But before using, it’s important to check and make sure the essential oil you are using is safe for internal use.




Linda Folken, RDN, CDN, CHC-ACE has practiced in the health care field as a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) for more than 30 years. She specializes in bariatric and medical weight management nutirition.