How Do I Substitute Peppermint Oil for Peppermint Extract?

Have you ever wondered what's the difference in peppermint extract versus oil in baking? Be sure to understand how they differ before you substitute for peppermint extract.

Generally, you should use one-fourth the amount in the recipe when you use essential oil to substitute for peppermint extract.
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Generally, you should use one-fourth the amount in the recipe when you use essential oil to substitute for peppermint extract.

Peppermint Extract vs Oil

Understanding the differences between extracts and essential oils can help you substitute for peppermint extract without changing the taste of your dish. Both the extract and the oil come from the same plant. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the scientific name for the peppermint plant is Mentha ×piperita L.

This perennial herb is native to North America and grows so abundantly that it can sometimes become an invasive plant. So what exactly is the difference in using peppermint extract versus oil? Manufacturers use different methods to get the flavor and scent from this plant when making extracts or essential oils. This leads to the main difference of peppermint extract versus oil: differing levels of concentration.

Manufacturers use liquid bases, typically alcohol, to make extracts. However, essential oils come from squeezing the plant until the oils come out. Since extracts are diluted in alcohol and essential oils are not, peppermint oil is much more concentrated than the extract that many recipes call for. That's also why the oil is often used for its aroma.

Read more: What Are the Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract?

Substitute Peppermint Oil for Cooking

If you have ever started making a recipe only to find out that you are missing one of the ingredients, you know how frustrating the experience can be. If you're lucky, you can make a substitution and end up with a great dish. For example, if you discover you don't have peppermint extract, you can use peppermint oil for cooking.

Read more: Easy 2-Minute Dessert Recipes to Make for the Holidays

If you're the kind of person who loves essential oils for aroma therapy or health benefits, you may have peppermint oil lying around. After all, it is one of the best essential oils for your health. So, if you're making a peppermint dessert, you can consider using your oil to substitute for peppermint extract.

Use about one-fourth the amount of extract the recipe calls for when you use peppermint oil for cooking. For example, if the recipe asks for 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract, just use 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint oil. This small amount will give your treat plenty peppermint flavor.

Before you start cooking with essential oils, be sure you take all of the proper precautions. While peppermint can provide several health benefits, there are also risks in using some essential oils. According to the National Capital Poison Center, a variety of peppermint oil called "pennyroyal oil" can cause liver problems.

Read more: The Dangers of Peppermint Herbal Tea

Peppermint oil can be safe in these small amounts. However, the U.S. National Library of Medicine warns about overdosing on this concentrated oil. Consuming more than the regular amount of peppermint oil can cause problems with breathing, digestion and kidney function.

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