Essential oils offer a unique and potent way to add flavor and aroma to baked goods. However, ensure that you use essential oils that are considered GRAS (Generally Safe for Human Consumption) by FDA and FEMA.

Essential oils offer several potential benefits for food formulators in bakery products, both for packaged goods and bakery-helping ingredients. Here are some key advantages to consider:

Flavor and Aroma

• Unique and complex profiles: Essential oils can add depth and intrigue to bakery products beyond traditional extracts or spices. Imagine lemon essential oil in pound cake for a bright citrus burst, or cinnamon bark oil for a warm, spicy note in cookies.

• Natural alternatives: Replace artificial flavors and fragrances with the authentic taste and aroma of essential oils, appealing to consumers seeking cleaner ingredient labels.

Functionality and Preservation

• Antimicrobial properties: Certain essential oils like cinnamon, thyme, and oregano possess antimicrobial properties, potentially extending shelf life by inhibiting mold and bacterial growth. This can be particularly beneficial in reducing the use of synthetic preservatives

• Antioxidant activity: Some essential oils, like rosemary and clove, exhibit antioxidant properties, helping to protect fats from oxidation and rancidity, thereby preserving freshness and extending shelf life.

• Texture enhancement: Specific oils, like peppermint or spearmint, can add a cooling sensation or subtle tingling effect to certain baked goods, creating a unique textural experience.

Marketing and Consumer Appeal

• Clean label trend: Consumers are increasingly drawn to products with fewer artificial ingredients and natural labels. Using essential oils aligns with this trend and promotes transparency.

• Sensory experience: The inherent aromas and flavors of essential oils can create a more immersive and multi-sensory eating experience for consumers.

• Storytelling opportunity: Highlighting the use of specific essential oils can provide a unique selling point and create a memorable backstory for your bakery products.

Challenges and Considerations

• Dosage and safety: Essential oils are highly concentrated and must be used in precise amounts to avoid overpowering flavors or potential safety concerns. Careful research and expert guidance are crucial.

• Flavor compatibility: Not all essential oils work well with every bakery recipe. Experimentation and understanding flavor profiles are essential to ensure a successful outcome.

• Regulation and legality: There are regulatory considerations and restrictions around the use of essential oils in food products. Consult with regulatory experts to ensure compliance.

Overall, while essential oils offer exciting possibilities for food formulators in the bakery industry, careful research, safety considerations, and responsible application are crucial. With proper knowledge and experimentation, essential oils can add unique flavor, enhance functionality, and appeal to consumers seeking natural and innovative bakery products.

Here are some popular essential oils commonly used as food ingredients in bakery


Citrus oils:

Lemon: Lemon essential oil adds a bright, zesty citrus flavor to cakes, cookies, frostings, and icings.

Orange: Orange essential oil brings a sweet, sunny citrus taste to cookies, muffins, breads, and marmalades.

Grapefruit: essential oil provides a tart, tangy citrus note to cakes, frostings, and sorbet.


Spice oils:

Cinnamon: Cinnamon essential oil packs a warm, spicy punch to cookies, breads, pies, and fillings

Peppermint: Peppermint essential oil adds a refreshing, minty coolness to cookies, candies, and chocolate.

Ginger: Ginger essential oil infuses a warm, spicy zing into cookies, cakes, and frostings.

Herbal oils:

Rosemary: Rosemary essential oil lends a savory, herbaceous aroma to breads, focaccia, and crackers.

Lavender: essential oil infuses a floral scent into sugar cookies, shortbread, and macarons.

Thyme: Thyme essential oil imparts a warm, herbal flavor to savory breads, focaccia, and crackers.


Tips for using essential oils in baking

  • Use only essential oils that are FDA or FEMA certified as Generally Safe for Consumption.
  • Essential oils are highly concentrated and can easily overpower the flavor of your baked goods. Start with a small amount in your formulations and gradually increase to the desired taste.
  • Mix essential oils with a carrier oil or fat. This helps to dilute the oil and prevent it from burning during baking. Common carrier oils used in baking include olive oil, and coconut oil. The carrier oils also add moisture to baked goods.
  •  In home preparations, add essential oils to the batter or dough at the end of mixing. This helps to preserve their delicate flavor and aroma.

Safety Statement re Food flavorings HBNO’s Food Grade Essential Oils are concentrated aromatic and flavor ingredients listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as “Generally Recognized as Safe for Human Consumption” which may be used in a mixture for food applications when used in a customary manner and safe quantity according to legal and FDA / FEMA GRAS guidelines.

 For home kitchens, a drop or two is often all that is required to impart the desired flavor. For industrial applications, it is the user’s responsibility to consult such professional sources as FEMA for guidance (expressed in parts-per-million) as to safe use of GRAS substances in their particular food formulations. FEMA: Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States. External link to:

All HBNO products listed as Food Flavoring Ingredients are processed and handled as a food ingredient, with our obsessive dedication to cleanliness and food safety, including testing of each lot of the product for quality, and adherence to FDA Current Good Manufacturing Practices for Food for Human Consumption.