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Citrus Oils

How do these bottled oils taste compared to using fresh citrus?

Published Jan. 15, 2005. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 2: Two French Tarts

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What You Need To Know

Pure citrus oils are not extracts or flavorings—citrus fruit rinds are squeezed to remove the oil, which is then bottled. The question is, how do these oils taste when used as substitutes for fresh zest and juice?

To find out, we bought lemon, lime, and orange oils and tested them in our recipes for pound cake, sugar cookies, and biscotti. While some tasters enjoyed the oils' strong flavor punch, most consistently found the citrus flavor distasteful, describing it as "artificial," "assertively floral," and "bitter." Several tasters independently compared them to Fruit Loops! A second negative was the lack of a standard conversion formula—the oils tasted differently depending on cooking time as well as the presence of other strong flavors, such as almond extract. The oils also need to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity. In the end, we preferred the real thing.

Everything We Tested

*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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