The send email action lets you use a workflow variable. When I have the recipient set to a variable with my email address and try to run the workflow I get the message:
BadRequest to ../_vti_bin/client.svc/sp.utilities.utility.SendEmail
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In SharePoint 2013, In email recipient, if you are not using a "person or group column", then you have to use login name for the recipient or valid SharePoint user email address . Because internally SharePoint 2013 will try to resolve the principal of the mentioned user. As a part of security validation this has been introduced in SharePoint 2013.
SPUtility.SendEmail - This method supports sending email messages only to valid SharePoint user email addresses.