If you are looking for a new way to spice up the flavors you are using in your baking journey, the next step is to try out anise oil!
This is an extremely flavorful oil made from 100% anise herb. This ingredient will add a delicious and refreshing licorice-like flavor to your goodies that will immediately elevate their status.
But, how do you use this oil and where can you buy it? This essential oil is very easy to use and can be incorporated into your recipes the same way essences and extracts are. But, you will definitely use less than those. This oil is the most concentrated form of the ingredient, so use it sparingly.
And, we have included some incredible anise oils that can all be conveniently found on Amazon. But, you can also find it at your pharmacy or local health store.
Furthermore, in this article, we will be covering exactly what anise oil is so you know which products to look out for.
We will also explain the differences between anise, aniseed, and star anise. And finally, we’ll cover exactly how to use anise oil in baked goods and how to make substitutes too.
What Are The Differences Between Anise, Star Anise, And Aniseed?
Before we dive deep into this article, we felt that it is important to clarify the differences between these three popular terms. While many people believe that they are the same thing, surprisingly, they are not.
Anise and aniseed are the same ingredients. The reason they have different names is because of the different countries they can be found in. It is exactly the same as eggplant and aubergine, or zucchini or baby marrow.
Aniseed (aka anise) comes from the Umbelliferae plant family and is found in a herb form. The baking oil (or essential oils) are then extracted from the leaves and packaged to be sold.
Star anise on the other hand is a completely different ingredient. This ingredient is more of a dry spice than a herb. It even belongs to an entirely different plant family called the Schisandraceae plant family.
Why The Confusion?
The reason that people often confuse anise (aniseed) and star anise is that they have very similar flavors. It’s the same! However, when you look at the actual ingredient, there is a very noticeable difference.
Star anise has a brownish color and a star-like shape, hence the name. Aniseed is a fine dried herb that has a light greenish-brown color to it.
What Is Pure Anise Oil?
Now that we have cleared up some terminology, let’s get to what actual pure anise oil is. Anise oil is extracted from a flowering plant called Pimpinella anisum.
It is considered to be an essential oil and has a delicious licorice-like flavor profile and aroma. This is why so many people love using it in their baked goods.
The essential oil is extracted from the anise plants’ leaves and packaged.
The “pure” part means that the oil hasn’t been diluted with any other ingredients like water, vegetable oil, or alcohol. Pure anise oil has a very prominent and concentrated flavor that has a “clean” taste to it.
Adding dried herbs in baked goods isn’t a common practice because of how it will affect the texture and appearance of the item. For that reason, pure anise oil is an excellent liquid substitute.
What’s The Difference Between Anise Oil And Anise Extract?
This is important to know when choosing a product for baking. Both are a type of flavoring, but their composition is what differs.
Anise oil is a flavoring oil that has been directly extracted from the anise plants’ leaves. It has an extremely strong flavor and aroma.
This concentrated flavor means that you don’t have to use much to get a big effect. It also has an oil-like consistency that will affect some dessert recipes, but generally not baked ones.
Now, anise extract has been made by extracting the flavor of an ingredient and infusing it into a base liquid. It isn’t pure flavor, but rather diluted. This base liquid can be alcohol, sugar syrup, glycerine, or water plain water.
An extract has a less prominent flavor than pure anise oil. But, it is still more flavorful than an essence.
So, if you are looking for an intense flavor profile, always use anise oil. But, if you only want a subtle hint of anise flavor, you can use an extract.
How To Use Anise Oil Baking
Anise oil is extremely easy to use in baking. You can substitute the vanilla essence or extract (or another type of flavoring oil) with the anise or aniseed oil. It will work in exactly the same way.
If your recipe doesn’t already have an essence or extract, you can add the oil along with the liquid ingredients, like butter, eggs, or milk.
When adding it to liquids, it becomes more evenly dispersed than when mixing it in with the dried ones.
The only adjustment you need to make is to reduce the amount you add. With these essential baking oils, you sometimes only need to add a droplet or two of oil.
If you use a teaspoon or even half a teaspoon, it might become extremely overpowering and ruin the entire product.
You can use anise oil in any baked item including cakes, cupcakes, muffins, pastries, and biscuits. It is a fantastic way to add that refreshing licorice flavor without having to add dried ingredients or spices.
Can You Make Your Own Anise Oil For Baking?
If you cannot find anise oil anywhere, you can also make an easy substitute. Now, it won’t be pure anise oil and more like an oil-based anise extract or an anise-flavored oil.
First, finely grind about 1 ounce (30 grams) of dried anise (aniseed). Then, toast the dried herb in a pan until it becomes aromatic.
Heat ½ cup neutrally flavored oil (canola oil or sunflower oil) and the toasted ground anise in a small pot over medium heat. Allow it to heat for about 10 minutes before removing it completely and allowing it to cool.
Only once the anise-flavored oil has been completely cooled should you place and store it in a glass jar. You can keep this oil at room temperature or in the fridge.
The Best Anise Oils
Anise oil is an extremely specialized ingredient that isn’t always easy to find, especially ones that can be used for baking.
Baking essential oils have to first be processed to enable them to handle the high heating temperatures in the oven without denaturing.
So, always make sure that your oil specifically states that it can be used for baking and cooking. Now, we have also listed some fantastic baking anise oils down below to make your search so much easier!
1. Pure Anise Oil From Olive Nation
Olive Nation is known for its incredibly high-quality products. This anise oil is perfect to use in cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats like chocolates, hard candies, and frostings.
And, you can even use it in savory dishes too!
What makes this product range so great is that they also sell the essential oil in different sizes. So, you can buy a testing bottle or an entire 8-pound batch!
2. Anise Essential Cooking Oil By RV Essentials
This is another fantastic pure anise oil that doesn’t contain any preservatives or additives.
The flavor is rich and very concentrated, so you will only need to use a droplet or to in your baked goods.
Despite being an excellent cooking oil, this oil can also be used for aromatherapy, steaming, and in lotions.
3. LorAnn Super Strength Natural Oil
Last but certainly not least, we have an essential baking oil from LorAnn, another great producer of oils.
This product is made to be used in baking and they even supply you with a ton of instructions on how to use it and how much to use for specific items.
The anise oil is certified gluten-free and kosher, which even further re-iterates the purity of this product.
Now that we’ve gone over the best anise oils for baking, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
Is anise oil toxic?
Anise oil is to a certain extent controversial when it comes to the topic of using it in cooking. This is because it contains anethole.
There is a large debate whether or not it is extremely hazardous for humans to consume. However, up until this point, there is not enough evidence to support either side of the argument.
Can you substitute anise oil for anise extract?
Yes, you can and it is very easy to do so. Simply use half the amount of anise oil that the recipe calls for when using extract.
Are anise and fennel the same thing?
Anise (or aniseed) and fennel are also two different ingredients. Fennel is a type of seed whereas anise is a type of herb. But, again, the confusion comes in because they both have similar flavors (licorice).