Anise Oil for Baking: A Guide to Usage and Selection

Anise oil for baking: How to use and what to buy

Anise oil is a versatile ingredient that can add a unique and refreshing flavor to your baked goods. Derived from the anise herb, this concentrated oil imparts a licorice-like flavor that can elevate the flavor profile of your desserts. In this article, we will explore the uses of anise oil in baking and provide recommendations for purchasing quality products.

The differences between anise, star anise, and aniseed

Anise, star anise, and aniseed are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct ingredients with subtle differences. Anise and aniseed refer to the same herb, scientifically known as Pimpinella anisum. Although they have different names in different countries, they both belong to the Umbelliferae plant family. On the other hand, star anise, scientifically known as Illicium verum, is a separate ingredient belonging to the Schisandraceae plant family. Star anise has a distinct star-like shape and brownish color, while aniseed is a fine dried herb with a light greenish-brown color.

Understanding Pure Anise Oil

Pure anise oil is extracted from the leaves of the anise plant, Pimpinella anisum. It is considered an essential oil and has a concentrated licorice-like flavor and aroma. Unlike other flavorings, pure anise oil is not diluted with water, vegetable oil or alcohol, resulting in a distinct and clean flavor. Because of its concentrated nature, only a small amount of anise oil is needed to achieve a robust flavor in your baked goods.

Anise Oil vs. Anise Extract

Anise oil and anise extract are both flavorings, but they differ in composition. Anise oil is extracted directly from anise leaves and has a strong and concentrated flavor. It has an oily consistency that may affect some dessert recipes, but is generally suitable for baking. Anise extract, on the other hand, is made by infusing the flavor of anise into a base liquid such as alcohol, sugar syrup, glycerin, or water. Anise extract has a milder flavor than pure anise oil, but is still more flavorful than an essence. The choice between anise oil and anise extract depends on the desired intensity of flavor in your baked goods.

Using anise oil in baking

Anise oil is easy to incorporate into your baking recipes. It can be substituted for vanilla essence or extract, or any other flavoring oil, in equal parts. If your recipe does not call for another essence or extract, you can add anise oil to liquid ingredients such as butter, eggs, or milk. When added to liquids, anise oil disperses more evenly than when mixed with dried ingredients. It is important to use anise oil sparingly, as its concentrated flavor can overpower the entire product. Generally, one or two drops of anise oil is enough to achieve the desired flavor.

Make your own anise oil substitute

If you cannot find anise oil, you can make a substitute at home. While it will not be pure anise oil, it can serve as an oil-based anise extract. To make this substitute, finely grind about 1 ounce (30 grams) of dried anise (aniseed). Toast the dried herb in a skillet until aromatic. Heat ½ cup of neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or sunflower, along with the toasted ground anise in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to heat for about 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, transfer the anise-flavored oil to a glass jar for storage.

Recommended anise oils for baking

Finding quality anise oil for baking can be a challenge. Ensuring that the oil can withstand the high temperatures of the oven without denaturing is critical. Here are three highly recommended anise oils for baking:

  1. Pure Anise Oil from Olive Nation: Known for its exceptional quality, this anise oil is perfect for use in cookies, cakes, chocolates, and frostings. It is available in different sizes so you can choose according to your needs.
  2. Anise Essential Cooking Oil from RV Essentials: This pure anise oil is free of preservatives and additives. It offers a rich and concentrated flavor that requires only a small amount to enhance your baked goods. It can also be used for aromatherapy, steaming, and lotions.
  3. LorAnn Super Strength Natural Oil: LorAnn produces an essential baking oil specially formulated for use in baking. This certified gluten-free and kosher anise oil comes with detailed instructions on the package for incorporating it into your recipes. It is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Bottom line

Anise oil is a delightful addition to your baking endeavors, adding a distinct licorice-like flavor to your creations. Understanding the differences between anise, star anise, and aniseed is essential to choosing the right ingredient. Pure anise oil offers a concentrated and clean flavor, while anise extract offers a milder flavor. Incorporating anise oil into your recipes is easy, and a little goes a long way. If you cannot find anise oil, you can make a substitute at home using dried anise and a neutral flavored oil. Finally, choosing high-quality anise oils from reputable brands will ensure the best results in your baked goods. Experiment with anise oil in your baking and discover the wonderful flavors it can bring to your favorite treats.


Can anise oil be used to replace other flavor extracts?

Yes, anise oil can be used to replace other flavor extracts, such as vanilla or almond, in the same amounts. However, keep in mind that anise oil has a strong and distinct flavor, so it may significantly alter the flavor profile of your baked goods.

Where can I buy anise oil for baking?

Anise oil can be purchased from a number of sources. You can find it online on platforms like Amazon or at specialty baking supply stores. In addition, some local pharmacies and health food stores may carry anise oil.

How should I store anise oil?

It is recommended to store anise oil in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Make sure the container is tightly closed to prevent oxidation and maintain the freshness of the oil. Proper storage conditions can help extend the shelf life of anise oil.

Is anise oil safe to consume?

Yes, anise oil is safe for consumption when used in appropriate amounts in culinary applications. However, it is important to note that anise oil is highly concentrated and should be used sparingly. Excessive consumption may cause digestive upset or allergic reactions in some individuals.

Can I make my own anise oil at home?

While it is not possible to extract pure anise oil at home, you can make an anise-flavored oil by infusing dried anise (aniseed) with a neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or sunflower oil. This homemade substitute can provide a similar flavor profile to anise oil and can be used in your baking recipes.

Are there alternatives to anise oil for baking?

If you do not have access to anise oil, you may consider using anise extract or ground anise (aniseed) as an alternative. Anise extract has a milder flavor than anise oil, but can still provide a hint of anise flavor. Ground anise can be used in small amounts to impart a similar flavor, although the intensity may vary. Experimentation is the key to finding the right balance in your recipes.