The Best Sesame Oil Substitutes for Every Recipe

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Sesame oil may be difficult to get depending on where you live, or you may be unable to use it if you are sensitive to sesame seeds. It is also more costly than other kinds of cooking oils, and since certain meals only need a little amount of sesame oil, a substitution may be a better alternative.

While there are a variety of sesame oil substitutes available, the ideal sesame oil alternative is one that you can easily produce yourself using a neutral oil, such as canola or light olive oil, and pan roasted sesame seeds.

Exactly What is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil is derived from sesame seeds on the Sesamum indicum DC plant, a herb in the Pedaliaceae family. It is extensively used in cuisines, notably in Asia, India, and Korea, where it frequently compliments other seasonings such as soy sauce.

Sesame oil’s distinctive nutty scent and flavor shine through in meat marinades, stir fries, curries, and a variety of other recipes. It may also be used to flavor salad dressings and dips, as well as pastries like cakes and cookies.

Sesame oil is also utilized in Ayurveda medicine and cosmetics, and it is frequently referred to as the “Queen of Oilseeds” due to its wide range of applications.

Sesame oil is accessible in major grocery shops, as well as specialist or Asian stores, and there is a considerable selection of sesame oils available online. Sesame oil is sometimes more costly than conventional oils since it requires the processing of many sesame seeds to extract the oil, however depending on what you’re cooking, you may only need a little quantity, which helps balance the additional expense.

What Are the Different Types of Sesame Oil?

There are two varieties of sesame oil: light and roasted (also known as dark sesame oil), and the smoke point ranges between 350F and 410F.

Sesame seeds that have not been roasted are used to make light sesame oil. This oil has a mild or neutral taste and a light gold hue, making it suitable for grilling, frying, and other types of cooking.

A light oil might be unrefined sesame oil, which has a more powerful taste profile and is best saved for marinades or salads. Unrefined sesame oil is often cold pressed, which means that the oil is extracted from the seeds without the use of heat or chemicals. Unrefined oil retains more of the nutritional value of the sesame seed, and extra virgin oil refers to the first-pressed batch of oil.

A refined light sesame oil with a higher smoke point is better for cooking. The seeds used to make refined oil may be pressed numerous times, and they can also be pressed using heat or chemicals. While refined oil may not retain as much nourishment as unprocessed oil, it does have a more neutral taste and a higher smoke point.

Toasted sesame oil is derived from roasted seeds, giving the oil a stronger and toastier taste that shines through when used for drizzling or in dips. Toasted or black sesame oil should not be used for cooking, but a little may be added at the end of cooking to wok stir fries, noodle dishes, and soups for additional flavor. The color of toasted sesame oils may vary from golden to deeper brown, and the darker the color, the greater the taste.

The simplest approach to remember which oil to use is to begin your cooking with light oil and conclude with dark oil! If you add dark oil too soon, it will lose its taste.

How Should I Choose A Substitute for Sesame Oil?

The sesame oil alternative you choose is determined not only by what you have in your pantry, but also by the recipe and how the sesame oil is utilized.

If you’re accustomed to using sesame oil, consider what it adds to the food, such as scent or taste, since this can assist you find the ideal alternative for that specific recipe.

In the next part, I’ll go through my favorite sesame oil replacements, which can all be utilized in some capacity in any dish that calls for sesame oil.

Sesame Oil Substitutes

Substitute 1: Homemade Sesame Oil

You may use a simple homemade sesame oil to finish meals instead of toasted sesame oil, but keep in mind that this must be produced ahead of time so it has time to infuse before using. All you need are a few minutes, a neutral oil, and some raw sesame seeds.

Toast the sesame seeds in a pan or wok over low heat, turning regularly to prevent them from burning. While the seeds are gently toasted and aromatic, pour in a cup of sunflower oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or light olive oil for every quarter cup of sesame seeds. Let the oil to gently boil for a few minutes before taking it off the heat. After cold, transfer it to a jar, either strained or unstrained, or combine it in a food processor and keep it in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Use half a teaspoon of homemade oil for every tablespoon of sesame oil called for in the recipe. It’s simple to add additional if necessary.

When it’s time to utilize your own oil, you may sift the seeds out or leave them in for additional sesame flavor. This handmade sesame oil is perfect for stir fries and marinades.

If you just require toasted sesame oil as a garnish or in baked products, use the roasted seeds instead of the oil. Since roasted sesame seeds have a strong taste, just a tiny quantity should be used. If you add them while cooking, taste them first and then add a few more seeds if necessary.

While homemade sesame oil may not taste precisely like store-bought sesame oil, it will provide most of the nuttiness and sesame flavor that the recipe requires.

Substitute 2: Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)

Tahini is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus, as well as in Mediterranean, North African, East Asian, and other cuisines. Tahini is often creamy and delicious, with a moderate nuttiness and bitterness, and it may be used as a marinade, cooking sauce, or even salad dressing.

Tahini sold in stores is often produced from white sesame seeds that have been hulled, roasted, or left raw before being crushed to a thin paste. This gives tahini its light color and silky consistency, and it also has the same nutritional value as raw sesame seeds. Tahini prepared from unhulled seeds has a deeper, more bitter taste.

While tahini is an oily paste, it is better toasted, used in sauces, or added to raw dishes as a condiment or dressing rather than attempting to use it like sesame oil, however it may be diluted with neutral oil to make it more liquid-y.

Substitute 3: Peanut Oil

A refined peanut oil with a high smoke point of 450F and a nutty flavor is a good alternative for light sesame oil and may be used in wok cooking, curries, or as a finishing oil. Peanut oil, like sesame oil, is utilized in Asian cuisine and has a similar nutritional profile in terms of calories and fat content. Peanut oil is often less expensive than sesame oil.

If you don’t have any peanut oil, replace it with a neutral cooking oil and add some roasted peanuts, whole or split, to the dish for nuttiness.

Substitute 4: Perilla Oil

Perilla oil is an unique oil that is used in Korean and Chinese cookery, particularly for sautéing vegetables and dressing Korean salads.

Perilla or perilla seed oil is derived from the roasted seeds of the perilla plant, which is a member of the mint family. Perilla, which is grown in Korea, China, and Japan, is linked to shiso, a prominent herb in Japanese cuisine. Perilla oil has some of the nutty flavor of sesame oil, but it may also have an earthy flavor.

Perilla oil is also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which some chefs believe gives it fishy undertones. As a result, perilla oil is best used in lieu of toasted sesame oil in dishes where the other tastes are strong enough to mask any fishiness from the oil.

Perilla oil is best ingested in modest doses since it may act as an anticoagulant in the body, and those who are pregnant or nursing should see their doctor before drinking perilla oil. Perilla plants, sometimes known as the beefsteak plant because to its enormous crimson leaves, have grown naturalized in portions of the southern United States. Perilla may be hazardous to cattle who feed on its leaves.

(Image credit: Alexas Fotos through

Perilla oil is tough to come by, but an Asian specialty shop is typically the best place to look.

Substitute 5: Walnut Oil

Walnut oil, another nut oil, may be used in place of toasted sesame oil in salads, raw sauces, and marinades, particularly for fish.

Its rich walnut taste makes it suitable for recipes that need a nut flavor and is made from shelled walnuts that are normally roasted before being crushed into paste and then filtered. Walnut oil, a more expensive oil, should be used sparingly and never in high-heat cooking since the taste of walnut oil may change fast and become unpleasant.

Walnut oil, like other nut oils, may become rancid rapidly and should always be stored in the refrigerator after opening.

Substitute 6: Olive Oil

In cooking, you may substitute light olive oil with light sesame oil in a 1:1 ratio. Since olive oil has a little stronger taste, use bigger amounts with care, but otherwise, light olive oil with a higher smoke point of roughly 465F is suitable for a variety of meals. To add a bit extra sesame flavor, you may always add a few toasted sesame seeds to the mixture.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) adds more of a fresh olive taste to the food, so depending on what you’re making, this may not be the greatest option. EVOO also has a lower smoke point of 325F to 375F, making it unsuitable for high-heat cooking.

Substitute 7: Grapeseed Oil

While grapeseed oil lacks the nuttiness of sesame oil, its smoke point of 390F makes it ideal for high heat cooking such as stir fries. Sesame seed oil may also be utilized in various applications such as skin and hair treatment. Unlike sesame oil, grapeseed oil is often offered in bigger, more affordable bottles.

To add some sesame nuttiness to the meal, add some toasted sesame seeds or finish with a little tahini paste.

Substitute 8: Canola Oil

Canola oil, a low-cost oil with a high smoke point of 400°F and a neutral taste similar to light sesame oil, is perfect for replacing sesame oil in high-heat cooking such as fried rice and stir-fry meals. Since canola oil lacks nutty characteristics, you might also season the meal with toasted sesame seeds or tahini paste before serving.

Canola oil’s neutral taste also makes it suitable for use as a foundation for homemade sesame oil, along with toasted sesame seeds, and since it is inexpensive and flexible, many of us keep it on hand for deep frying.

Substitute 9: Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil, another high smoke point oil, may be used in lieu of light sesame oil in higher heat cooking such as stir frying and deep frying. It’s also a neutral-flavored oil, so it won’t lend any nuttiness to the meal, but it may be used as the oil foundation for handmade sesame oil, or even with some roasted sesame seeds for a toasted sesame seed oil taste.

Substitute 10: Avocado Oil

While it lacks the taste of sesame oil, the smoothness of avocado oil allows it to be used for high heat cooking as well as in marinades and salad dressings in lieu of a light sesame oil.

Avocado has grassy and earthy aromas, but they are diminished when avocado oil is cooked. Finishing the meal with toasted sesame seeds or tahini, as with other non-nut oils, will immediately impart sesame flavor.

Summing Up Sesame Oil Substitutes

If you have sesame seeds, the best sesame oil alternative is usually a handmade oil prepared from roasted sesame seeds and a neutral oil like canola or light olive oil.

Using toasted sesame seeds in conjunction with other oils provides the advantage of high heat cooking as well as nutty tastes; alternatively, a nut oil such as peanut or walnut oil will lend nutty overtones to the meal. A little tahini or sesame seed paste diluted in a neutral oil may provide some sesame flavor to marinades and sauces, but since tahini is a paste, it is not necessarily as suited for cooking.


What is better than sesame oil?

Olive oil, on the other hand, has more nutritious components than sesame oil. Antioxidants in olive oil may help protect against free radical damage. It also contains vitamin E, iron, potassium, vitamin K, phenol chemicals, and other nutrients.

How important is sesame oil in a recipe?

Sesame oil has become a cult favorite among cooks because it adds a unique nutty flavor to every meal. It’s often used in salad dressings and marinades, as well as stir-fries, Korean bibimbap, and Korean-style tacos.

What does sesame oil do to a dish?

In South Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine, both light and roasted sesame oil are used to flavor sautéing, stir-frying, and flavoring anything from rice to salads.

Is olive oil better than sesame oil for cooking?

Sesame oil has a greater smoke point than olive oil, although the smoke point of toasted sesame oil is not the same as the smoke point of sesame oil. This indicates it is more suitable for frying. Extra virgin olive oil is not as excellent as sesame oil for frying since it has a lower smoke point and will burn.

What oil is most similar to sesame oil?

As a 1:1 equivalent for sesame oil, try grapeseed oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil. If possible, go for organic versions of these oils. They all have a neutral taste and may be used in place of regular sesame oil.

Which is better coconut oil or sesame oil for cooking?

Coconut oil meets your daily Saturated Fat requirements 341% better than sesame oil. Sesame oil has 25 times the amount of polyunsaturated fat as coconut oil. Although sesame oil has 41.7g of polyunsaturated fat, coconut oil only has 1.702g. Sesame oil has a reduced Saturated Fat content.

Does sesame oil make a difference in food?

Sesame oil, a fundamental element in Asian cuisine, is one of the most distinctive, aromatic, and flavorful oils you can have in your cupboard. Its somewhat sweet, nutty flavor gives depth to steamed vegetables, toasty tones to salads and vinaigrettes, and curiosity to popcorn or ice cream.

Should you refrigerate sesame oil?

After opening, the sesame oil does not need to be refrigerated, but we recommend keeping it in a cold, dark cabinet or pantry.

Why do Chinese use sesame oil?

What Is the Purpose of Sesame Oil? Toasted sesame oil is used as a flavoring rather than a cooking oil in Asian cookery because chefs respect its taste and smell. It is not only pricey to cook with, but it also has a very strong taste, making it unsuitable as an all-purpose cooking oil.

Do Chinese restaurants cook with sesame oil?

Sesame oil is widely utilized in Asian cuisine and may often be found at the core of your favorite Chinese recipes.

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