Can You Use Essential Oils in Instant Pot Recipes?
If you’re not cooking with essential oils, it’s time to start! And I’d love to share how and why to use essential oils in Instant Pot recipes — complete with what the best type of oils are and how to substitute essential oils for herbs, spices, and extracts in Instant Pot recipes that don’t already have essential oils.
Want to learn more about cooking with essential oils?
Download our FREE Guide To Cooking With Essential Oils!
Cooking with essential oils… ever tried it?
If not, it’s surprisingly fun. 😉
(Ok, ok. Kitchen nerd here. Totally admitting it.)
But, for real, you can add pops of flavor that taste real — not fake like many extracts — in your Real Food recipes.
Real flavor in Real Food recipes… what a concept! LOL
In my 30-something years of cooking, I’ve done a lot of weird stuff.
I’ve turned cauliflower into everything from a dairy-free cream substitute to chocolate pudding; I’ve made faux peanut butter out of toasted coconut; and I’ve harvested dandelion greens from my yard and frozen them into ice cubes.
I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything particularly weird in my Instant Pot, however.
(Don’t have an Instant Pot yet? Here’s why you need one.)
Using Essential Oils In Cooking
I don’t find using essential oils in cooking particularly weird. But you might. I can respect that.
Hear me out, ok?
I have reasons for using essential oils in cooking. And, I’ve got reasons for using essential oils in Instant Pot recipes.
Wait… Can you use essential oils in Instant Pot recipes???
Hold your horses a minute. We’ll get there.
First, I want to tell you why I looooooove using essential oils in cooking.
#1 — They taste REAL. I have tossed out all extracts, except vanilla, to use essential oils in place of extracts because they taste more real to me than extracts do.
Like, I think peppermint extract tastes fake like a candy cane. But peppermint essential oil? Herbaceous, cooling, and so real tasting!
Same goes for lemon, lime, and orange. The only extract I keep in my pantry is vanilla. Period.
Or, how about getting a flavor pop of basil in hummus or marinara sauce? Use basil essential oil. This trick works especially well if your herbs are old and lack flavor. (Hint: herbs lose their oomph after about 6 months, less time if they’re stored near a heat source or not in airtight containers.)
#3 — Convenience. I keep a pretty stocked essential oil supply. So, for me, essential oils are convenient.
Case in point: I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had some almost-not-good avocados to use, so I decide to make guacamole… only to find that I’m totally out of fresh limes.
Momma, you can’t make guac without lime. It just doesn’t work. So, I bust out my bottle of lime essential oil, and it not only saves me a trip to the store, it also adds a big ol’ pop of lime flavor, per #2.
I don’t always have fresh basil, fresh oregano, or fresh rosemary, but I do always have those essential oils.
Also, have you seen the price of fresh herbs at the store lately? Holy moly. You practically have to refinance your house to afford a little, 1-ounce container — that will most likely spoil before you get a chance to use it!
And sometimes, the essential oil tastes better than my dried herbs because dried herbs get old — per #1.
So, now that you know why I love using essential oils in cooking… let’s talk about using them in Instant Pot recipes.
Can you use essential oils in Instant Pot recipes?
Yep, you sure can! 🙂
You knew that was coming, didn’t you?
Here’s the deal, though…
I find it best to add whatever essential oils you’re going to add AFTER cooking.
For instance, if a recipe calls for a teaspoon of cinnamon or the zest and juice of a lemon or some dried thyme — and you’re planning to sub cinnamon essential oil or lemon essential oil or thyme essential oil — just don’t add them in before you put the lid on, seal the vent, and cook.
Wait until it’s time to release the pressure and finish the recipe. That’s when you add them in.
I do this because I think cooking certain ingredients — like stevia, vanilla, and essential oils — can result in a bitter aftertaste in some pressure cooker recipes. So, I always add those things in AFTER pressure cooking, to finish the recipe.
So, you can use essential oils in Instant Pot recipes — just not during the cooking. Make sense?
Is it safe to cook with essential oils?
I mean, my answer to this is obviously yes… right?
But, it’s still a good question and one I think deserves a complete answer.
I believe it’s safe to ingest and cook with essential oils if…
- You’re mindful of how much you’re ingesting, keeping it to no more than 3 drops total per day.
- You’re doing your research and not ingesting or cooking with oils that aren’t safe to use during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, with children under certain ages, or while taking certain medications.
- Use high quality oils for your cooking just like you use for your natural remedies. Cheap oils have synthetic fragrance, phthalates, and other crap that is carcinogenic. If you wouldn’t put it on your body, don’t put it in your food.
- And, you’re aware of how oils affect your microbiome and take steps to keep your gut in balance — like regularly consuming bone broth and ferments, and taking a high quality probiotic supplement at least 2 hours away from ingestion of any RAW oils.
I am not, however, in the camp that says it’s cool to add multiple drops of essential oils to your water and sip on them all the live-long day, every day.
One more thing to remember…
Essential oils are very sensitive to heat. So, using essential oils in Instant Pot recipes effectively means the oil’s health properties are lost due to the fact that you’re adding them to heated food.
How to know much essential oil to use in Instant Pot recipes?
First, remember to start small.
You can always add more if you want more flavor, but once it’s in there, it’s in there, ya know?
Second, you might not find a lot of Instant Pot recipes that actually call for essential oils.
Maybe that’ll be the next big thing in the Instant Pot world; I have no clue.
Just in case you want to try out essential oils in Instant Pot recipes, here are some tips:
- For every teaspoon of ground spice, like cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, coriander, cardamom, etc., use 1 to 2 drops of the corresponding essential oil.
- For every teaspoon of dried herb, like basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, cilantro, etc., dip a toothpick into the essential oil bottle and stir the toothpick into the recipe. Then, wait a couple of minutes and taste. If you want more, dip another toothpick, stir, wait, taste. Those herbaceous oils can be reeeeeaaaaalllllly strong, so sometimes you need less than a drop.
- Citrus essential oils — grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine — generally require more than a few drops, so experiment a drop at a time until you reach your desired level of flavor.
Best Essential Oils to Use in Cooking?
All those mouth-watering recipes up there? Made with essential oils and made in my Instant Pot!
Just because you’re destroying the health properties of the oils by using them in Instant Pot recipes doesn’t mean you should use cheap oils.
Most of the brands of oils you can buy off the shelf at your health food store aren’t the greatest quality.
Now, there’s no governing body who makes up the rules for quality of essential oils. And don’t believe any company who tells you otherwise.
Still, if you’re comparing prices and brands of essential oils, and the price of one brand seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s probably a lower quality oil.
If you’re not into MLMs (I’m not either), and don’t want to sell your fourth child to afford high quality oils — for cooking or not — my preferred source is Spark Naturals.
Their oils are sustainably sourced and verified to be pure. Because they’re not paying 5 people down the line, the prices are lower than the multi-level marketing companies’ prices — but, in my opinion, the quality is just as high. I’ve been using Spark’s oils for years and have never been disappointed.
You can save 10% on any Spark Naturals order with my readers-only discount code NOURISHING10 AND get free shipping on all orders over $25!
My Top 10 Favorite Essential Oils for Cooking
I’ll list these in the order that I use them in cooking the most, not necessarily by favorite. I can’t pick one favorite essential oil…
- Lemon Essential Oil — like in my Blender Batter Lemon Blueberry Bread
- Orange Essential Oil — like in this Instant Pot Sesame Orange Chicken or these Paleo Orange Muffins
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Lime Essential Oil
- Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
- Nutmeg Essential Oil
- Ginger Essential Oil
- Basil Essential Oil
- Thyme Essential Oil
- Clove Essential Oil
Don’t forget: You can save 10% off all my favorite Spark Naturals oils, diffusers, spice blends, accessories and more when you use my readers-only discount code NOURISHING10! And you get FREE shipping on all orders over $25!
In conclusion, I personally don’t think it’s weird or unsafe or even wasteful to use essential oils in Instant Pot recipes or any recipe, for that matter.
You can really pump up the flavor of your food and save yourself a trip to the store for fresh basil or cilantro or those goll-dang limes. 😉