Sesame Oil Substitutes

Sesame oil has long been a staple in many cuisines around the world, most notably in Asian, Middle Eastern, and African dishes. It boasts a unique, robust flavor profile, as well as an array of health benefits. However, if you find yourself without sesame oil at hand or are looking for alternatives due to dietary restrictions or personal preferences, there are several substitutes that can take its place in your cooking.

Understanding the diverse substitutes for sesame oil is essential for anyone looking to branch out in their culinary adventures, whether as a professional chef or home cook. This article explores the various sesame oil substitutes, their benefits, and how to incorporate them into your recipes, while still maintaining the desired flavor and nutrient content.

Key Takeaways

  • Several substitutes, such as olive oil and grapeseed oil, can replace sesame oil in your dishes.
  • Emphasize understanding each substitute’s unique flavor profile for successful culinary results.
  • When using a sesame oil substitute, consider the dish’s original flavor and nutritional properties.
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Understanding Sesame Oil

Sesame oil, derived from sesame seeds, is a flavorful kitchen staple offering a nutty flavor that enhances many dishes. It comes in two main varieties: toasted sesame oil and light sesame oil.

Toasted sesame oil is made from roasted seeds, providing a rich, deep flavor that is perfect for adding depth to your dishes. On the other hand, light sesame oil is made from raw seeds and has a more delicate flavor. It works well when you want a subtler sesame note in your recipes.

An important aspect to consider when using sesame oil is its smoke point. With a high smoke point,(light) sesame oil can be safely employed for cooking techniques like frying and sautéing without compromising the oil’s quality or producing unhealthy byproducts. However, keep in mind that toasted sesame oil has a lower smoking point and should be used primarily as a finishing oil to avoid burning or altering its distinctive flavor.

In summary:

  • Sesame oil is derived from sesame seeds and offers a distinct nutty flavor.
  • There are two main varieties: toasted sesame oil (from roasted seeds) and light sesame oil (from raw seeds).
  • Light sesame oil has a high smoke point, making it suitable for frying and sautéing.
  • Toasted sesame oil has a lower smoke point and should be used as a finishing oil.

Overall, sesame oil is a versatile and flavorful addition to your culinary repertoire. With a basic understanding of its properties and uses, you can easily incorporate it into your recipes and enjoy its unique taste.

Substitutes for Sesame Oil

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is an excellent substitute for sesame oil in recipes. With a high smoke point, this oil is suitable for frying and sautéing. Its neutral flavor won’t overpower your dishes, and its consistency is similar to sesame oil. Additionally, peanut oil offers a healthy dose of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is a versatile alternative to sesame oil. While it has a lower smoke point than some other options, it works well in salad dressings and low-heat dishes. Its flavor isn’t as neutral, but it’s rich in monounsaturated fats and lends a delicious Mediterranean touch to your recipes.

Avocado Oil

For a unique and nutritious substitute, try avocado oil. It boasts a high smoke point and a neutral taste, making it appropriate for a wide range of dishes. Avocado oil is rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, contributing to its popularity as a healthy oil option.

Canola Oil

Canola oil offers a neutral flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for sesame oil. This affordable option is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and boasts a healthy balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Perilla Oil

Perilla oil is another nutty-tasting option derived from the seeds of the perilla plant. With a high smoke point and the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a healthy choice for your dishes. Be aware that its bold flavor might not be suitable for all recipes.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil presents a light taste and is an ideal choice for dressings, marinades, and low-heat cooking. Rich in polyunsaturated fat, it’s a good addition to your cooking repertoire.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil also presents a neutral taste and high smoke point. It is an excellent choice for frying and sautéing. With a rich supply of polyunsaturated fats, sunflower oil is a beneficial option for your health.

Almond oil

Almond oil has a nutty taste and works well in recipes that call for sesame oil. It’s a lower smoke point oil mostly used for salad dressings and drizzling over prepared dishes. It contains monounsaturated fats, promoting heart health..

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Its low smoke point makes it more suitable for cold preparations like salad dressings. Keep in mind, it has a distinct flavor and might not work well for all recipes.

Fish Oil

While fish oil is typically not used for cooking, it can be added to your dishes as a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is best used as a supplement combined with another oil or added to smoothies and protein shakes.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil offers a nutty flavor and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. With a low smoke point, it’s advisable to use hemp seed oil in cold dishes like dressings and drizzles.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil has a distinct flavor and a low smoke point. While it may not be ideal for cooking, it is a healthy option rich in polyunsaturated fats and can be used in dressings or drizzled over prepared dishes.

Safflower Oil

Safflower oil has a neutral taste and high smoke point. It is a versatile option for frying, sautéing, and baking. Rich in monounsaturated fats, it’s a heart-healthy choice.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a saturated fat with a low smoke point and a distinct flavor. While suitable for some recipes, it may not be the ideal substitute for sesame oil in dishes requiring a neutral flavor or high heat.

Walnut Oil

Walnut oil offers a nutty taste and low smoke point, making it suitable for dressings or finishing dishes. It contains polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, contributing to its heart-healthy reputation.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a common, neutral-tasting substitute for sesame oil. It boasts a high smoke point, suitable for high-heat cooking. Its composition includes a blend of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.


While not an oil, butter can be used as a substitute for sesame oil in certain recipes. It has a low smoke point and distinct flavor but can add richness to your dishes. Keep in mind, butter contains saturated fats and may not be the healthiest choice for every meal.

Sesame Oil in Cuisine

Sesame oil is a staple ingredient in many Asian and Korean dishes. With its rich, nutty flavor and aroma, it enhances the taste of various recipes, from stir-fries to sauces. In this section, we will discuss its role in Asian and Korean cuisine and identify suitable sesame oil substitutes.

Asian Cuisine

In Asian cuisine, sesame oil is commonly used as a condiment, adding a distinct flavor to dishes like stir-fries, salads, and noodle dishes. You will often find it as a component in sauces and salad dressings, where it adds depth to the overall taste. Some popular Asian recipes that utilize sesame oil include:

  • Stir-fries: Add sesame oil to your stir-fry dishes to give a rich, nutty flavor to the mix of vegetables and protein.
  • Sauces: Incorporate sesame oil into sauces to provide a smooth, distinctive taste when paired with soy sauce, rice vinegar, or other Asian condiments.
  • Salad dressings: Mix sesame oil with other flavorful ingredients such as rice vinegar and soy sauce to create your own Asian-inspired salad dressings.

Korean Cuisine

Sesame oil holds a special place in Korean cuisine, where it is considered an essential ingredient. You will find it in a variety of Korean recipes, serving not just as a flavor enhancer but also playing a functional role. Some ways sesame oil is used in Korean dishes include:

  • Marinating: Use sesame oil in marinades to provide a complex, savory touch to meats and vegetables.
  • Seasoning: Drizzle sesame oil over dishes or mix with salt and spices to finish and add depth to their taste.
  • Condiment: In Korean cuisine, sesame oil is sometimes served as a dipping sauce for meats or vegetables, bringing out their natural flavors.

If you’re out of sesame oil and need a substitute, consider using vegetable oils with a similar consistency, such as peanut oil or sunflower oil. Another option is to use DIY sesame oil, which you can make by lightly toasting sesame seeds and blending them with a neutral oil like grapeseed or canola. This will provide the familiar sesame flavor in your dishes while maintaining a similar texture.

Nutritional Value of Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is a popular choice in various cuisines due to its unique flavor and numerous health benefits. When incorporating sesame oil into your meals, you can expect a good source of Vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage and supports a healthy immune system.

For those who are conscious about cholesterol levels, sesame oil can be a reliable option. It contains a healthy balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can contribute to maintaining proper cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease. At the same time, sesame oil has a low level of saturated fats, which is beneficial for your cardiovascular health.

Sesame oil also contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties. This characteristic can aid in reducing inflammation in various parts of your body, especially when used consistently in your diet. A moderate intake of sesame oil can help soothe irritated skin and provide relief for joint pain.

When it comes to minerals, sesame oil offers a generous dose of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese. These minerals are crucial for maintaining proper bone health, as they contribute to bone growth and development. Incorporating sesame oil into your diet can support strong bones, assist with proper muscle function, and provide other essential nutrients your body requires.

By including sesame oil in your cooking, you are not only enhancing the flavor of your dishes but also ensuring that your body obtains valuable nutrients. Keep these benefits in mind when deciding on oil for your meals and enjoy the distinctive taste that sesame oil brings to your culinary creations.

Assessing Quality and Versatility

When looking for a suitable sesame oil substitute, it’s important to assess the quality and versatility of the potential alternatives.

First, consider the aroma of the substitute oil. A key characteristic of sesame oil is its distinct, nutty aroma that adds depth to dishes. While it may be challenging to find an exact match, look for oils with a similar, pleasant fragrance that can enhance your dishes without overpowering them.

Next, think about the flavor profile of the oil. Sesame oil has a unique taste that is both mild and slightly sweet. An ideal substitute should have a complementary flavor that won’t clash with other ingredients in your recipe. Oils like sunflower, peanut, and walnut oil can be considered based on their flavor profiles.

The smoke point of the oil is another essential factor to consider. Sesame oil has a moderately high smoke point, making it a good option for stir-frying and sautéing. When choosing a substitute, ensure it has a similar smoke point to avoid altering the cooking process. Oils like grapeseed, canola, and avocado oil have smoke points similar to that of sesame oil, making them suitable for various cooking techniques.

Lastly, the versatility of the oil is important. While sesame oil is not commonly used in salad dressings and baking, a versatile substitute can expand its potential uses in your kitchen. Look for oils that can be used in a broad range of applications so you can seamlessly transition between dishes and cooking methods.

By keeping these factors in mind – aroma, flavor profile, smoke point, and versatility – you’ll be able to confidently choose the best sesame oil substitute for your culinary needs.

Precautions when Using Substitutes

Allergic Reactions

When choosing a sesame oil substitute, it’s essential to consider potential allergic reactions. Some individuals may have allergies or asthma related to specific oils. Be aware of your own sensitivities and that of anyone consuming the meal. It’s best to use cooking oils with a known safety profile for you and your guests to avoid any adverse reactions. Choose a substitute that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences.

Cooking Process

The cooking process plays a critical role in determining an appropriate sesame oil substitute. Different oils have varying smoke points, which impacts their suitability for various cooking techniques. For example, if you’re frying or sautéing, opt for an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or avocado oil. On the other hand, if you’re using the oil for dressings or marinades, a more flavorful option like olive or walnut oil may be suitable. When selecting a substitute, it’s crucial to consider the impact on the flavor and overall outcome of your dish.

Remember to adjust the cooking temperature and time accordingly to prevent burning or altering the taste of your meal. It may require some experimentation to achieve the desired result, so be patient and flexible when using alternatives.

Health Benefits of Sesame Oil

Sesame oil, a popular ingredient in many cuisines, provides various health benefits due to its rich nutritional profile. You may experience improvements in your overall health by incorporating this flavorful oil into your diet.

Antioxidants and Free Radicals: Sesame oil is rich in antioxidants, which help combat free radicals in your body. These free radicals can cause damage to your cells, leading to diseases and aging. By consuming sesame oil, you are providing your body with the tools to neutralize these harmful molecules.

Blood Pressure and Heart Health: Sesame oil contains polyunsaturated fats that can help in lowering your blood pressure, ultimately promoting heart health. Additionally, studies have shown that sesame oil may reduce cholesterol levels further benefiting your cardiovascular system.

Diabetes Management: Sesame oil can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes. It improves blood sugar regulation and has been found to decrease insulin resistance. Incorporating sesame oil into your meals can help manage diabetes symptoms and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Arthritis Relief: Research has shown that sesame oil contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Regular use of sesame oil for cooking or massages can provide relief for those suffering from arthritis.

Improved Digestion: Sesame oil is easily absorbed by the body, promoting better digestion. It has a mild laxative effect, which can be helpful in cases of constipation. Adding sesame oil to your diet may improve gastrointestinal health and promote regular bowel movements.

Remember to consume sesame oil in moderation, as it is still a source of calories and fat. For a healthy and balanced diet, use this flavorful oil in combination with other heart-healthy oils and ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some alternatives for sesame oil in recipes?

There are several options you can try if you want to replace sesame oil in your recipes. Some of the popular alternatives include canola oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or perhaps walnut oil. Each substitute brings its own unique flavor, so you may need to experiment to find the one that works best for your taste and the dish you are preparing.

Can olive oil replace sesame oil in a dish?

Yes, you can use olive oil as a sesame oil substitute, particularly for dishes that require low to medium heat cooking. However, the distinct flavor of olive oil might not work well in some Asian dishes that normally use sesame oil. It’s best to consider the intended flavor profile of the dish before deciding to use olive oil in place of sesame oil.

How can I make my own toasted sesame oil?

To make your own toasted sesame oil, you’ll need raw sesame seeds and a neutral-flavored oil, like canola or vegetable oil. Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing them continuously until they turn golden brown. Allow the seeds to cool, then combine them with the oil in a food processor or blender. Blend until a smooth paste forms, then strain the oil using a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Your homemade toasted sesame oil is now ready to use.

What is a suitable substitute for someone with a sesame allergy?

If you have a sesame allergy, consider using oils like canola, sunflower, or grapeseed oil. These oils can provide a neutral flavor base for your dishes. However, if you’re looking to mimic the nutty taste of sesame oil without causing an allergic reaction, you could try using a small amount of tahini (provided it’s made from a different seed, like sunflower) or almond extract.

What is the best sesame oil substitute in egg drop soup?

For egg drop soup, you can use a mild-flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, as a seamless substitute for sesame oil. If you prefer a slightly nutty flavor, consider using a small amount of walnut oil or a few drops of almond extract. Remember to adjust the seasoning as desired, since the sesame oil contributes a particular flavor to the dish.

How crucial is sesame oil in Asian cuisine?

Sesame oil plays a significant role in many Asian dishes by providing a distinct, rich, and nutty flavor. However, its absence does not mean that a dish cannot be enjoyed. Using alternative oils or ingredients can still result in delicious dishes, albeit with slightly different taste profiles. Feel free to experiment with various substitutes until you find the one that works best for your preferences and dietary needs.

Substitutes For Sesame Oil: 13 of Our Best Picks

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 9 minutes
Course Seasoning, Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 180 kcal


  • Olive Oil
  • Tahini
  • Peanut Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Perilla Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Butter
  • Fish Oil


  • Try our kitchen tested sesame oil substitutes.


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Use in or with your favorite recipe.


Calories: 180kcal
Keyword sesame oil substitute
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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