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Sesame Oil Substitute


Sesame oil is widely used oil that is often incorporated in Asian dishes. It provides a nutty flavor that adds an extra delicious taste to any meal. If you don’t have it available on hand or forgot to grab it from the store, there are some options you can use. Below you’ll find a sesame oil substitute for all types of recipes.

measuring dish filled with sesame seed and bottle with brown colored sesame oil

What is sesame oil?

Sesame oil is derived from sesame seeds both for sautéing and frying. The high smoke point allows it to be versatile in its uses.

There are two varieties of sesame oil – light sesame oil that has more of a neutral flavor and toasted sesame oil, boasting a smoky flavor. With so many uses in cooking, you’ll want to incorporate it into all of your dishes.

Best Sesame Oil Substitute

1. Olive Oil

Why is this substitute for sesame oil noted as number one? In large part, to its accessibility. It is one of the types of oil that most people keep on hand for cooking. There’s a high probability there’s a container of olive oil sitting in your cupboard right now. 

Olive oil is also a thicker oil, so you’ll find it similar in that manner to sesame oil. It’s also able to be used for many different dishes. If you use extra virgin olive oil, you’ll find that the taste is much stronger than sesame oil. 

2. Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is an excellent choice for a sesame oil alternative. It has a subtle flavor so that it can pair well with an array of recipes. It also has a high smoke point, making it an excellent oil for any meal. 

Its subtle flavor may not make it a great contender for drizzling over dishes. However, it will work well for many other applications.

This oil provides a large amount of Vitamin E – much more than olive oil. It also includes healthy fatty acids.

Tip: Grapeseed oil can go bad faster than other oils. One tell-tale sign is the smell. Make sure to check there is no sour smell before using it in a recipe.

3. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is considered to have a subtle taste, making it great sesame see oil substitute. Like the two above sesame oil alternatives, it also has a high smoke point. This oil provides similar benefits to olive oil and is relatively easy to find in grocery stores – especially in the past few years.

4. Flax Oil

You’ve probably heard of flax seeds – either in powder form or their original seed form. You may even have a smoothie or two with some flax seeds in it. What about flax oil?

If you enjoy the taste of flax seeds or flax powder, this will be a good choice for you. This alternative will be a great choice if you’re looking for a toasted sesame oil substitute, which is typically used as a topper/for taste. 

Due to the low smoke point in this oil, it’s advised to avoid cooking with it. It’s instead intended to be drizzled over foods or perhaps added to a healthy smoothie. 

While limited in use, it’s a great flavor booster.

5. Tahini

Tahini may seem like an odd choice for a sesame oil replacement. However, it will provide that same nutty flavor you may be missing from other oils. This oil is not an oil at all. It’s a combination of a paste made from ground-up sesame seeds combined with oil. 

This works well if your focus is solely on flavor and you’re not looking to cook with it. Tahini is an excellent alternative to sesame oil for dressings, dips, and sauces that generally would include sesame oil. 

6. Sunflower Oil + Roasted Sesame Seeds

If you’re craving that toasted sesame seed flavor, this combination will provide the perfect toasted sesame oil substitute. On top of that, sunflower oil has a high smoke point, unlike actual toasted sesame oil. This means you can cook with it or drizzle it on top of your food. It is considered a neutral oil, meaning the flavor is quite subtle.

You’ll maintain a similar taste as toasted sesame oil while opening the possibilities of what can be made with it. 

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has, in recent years, been hailed as an all-around great oil. You can catch people not only consuming it but also using it for their hair, skin, and nails to provide moisture. Some even use it for oil pulling.

As for the taste, sweet coconut flavor might not blend well with dishes made with sesame oil flavor in mind. It can withstand higher temperatures during cooking, so it is still a good sub for sesame oil.

8. Sweet Almond Oil

Like sesame oil, sweet almond oil is an unrefined oil that has a high smoking point. You can use sweet almond oil as a replacement in a pinch.

This oil will also provide a nutty taste like that of sesame oil. However, it has a much sweeter flavor and adds creaminess to dishes. If you’re planning on baking with sesame oil, this is a suitable replacement.

Due to its sweetness, it does not work well with most savory dishes. If you need to replace the nutty flavor that sesame oil offers, this is a good option. For any other reason, you will want to opt for a different choice. If you already have sweet almond oil in your kitchen, you may want to try it with your recipes. Otherwise, it can be tricky to find at grocery stores.

9. Butter

Butter is last on the list for sesame oil substitutes. It is mainly included as a backup in case the other oils are not available. In terms of taste, it adds quite a lovely richness and sweetness to dishes. However, it does not add the nutty flavor typically derived from sesame seed oil. 

FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about sesame oil and substitutes. Read away so you can learn and make good swapping choices in the future.

What if I don’t have sesame oil?

If you’re making a recipe that calls for sesame oil and notice you have run out, you can use the above replacements. The flavors will be slightly different, though the dish should still taste good.
If you’re worried about oils with strong flavors, opt for lighter or neutral-tasting oils like canola oil. This more delicate taste will allow the other ingredients to shine through in the dish. When the flavor is not a big concern, you can use olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.

Does sesame oil make a difference?

Yes, sesame oil does make a difference in dishes. This oil adds a specific nutty taste that not all oils provide. It blends well with Asian-inspired recipes ranging from dumplings to fried rice and everything in between.

Should sesame oil be refrigerated after opening?

According to the Michelin Guide, yes, sesame oil should be refrigerated. Any unrefined oil like sesame oil should be kept in the fridge after opening. Many oils used in Asian cuisine are unrefined and should also be kept in the refrigerator.

Can I substitute sesame seeds for sesame oil?

Yes and no. The answer to this question depends on what you intend to use the sesame oil for. If you’re purely using it for taste, yes, you can use sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds. If you intend to use sesame oil to pan-fry a dish, you need to incorporate oil, so the food does not stick to the pan and burn.

Is sesame oil better than olive oil?

In terms of flavor, sesame oil and olive oil both add their taste to dishes. One is not better than the other flavor-wise. However, they each work best with different styles of cuisine. As noted above, sesame oil works well with Asian cuisine, while you can use olive oil with most other recipes, including European and American.

Can I use sesame oil instead of soy sauce?

This question has another yes and no answer. You can use a small amount of sesame oil as a way to flavor dishes. However, you’ll be missing the umami taste that soy sauce provides. Plus, it will add more oil to the recipe, which may not be suitable for taste and consistency.

Can I use sesame oil instead of toasted sesame oil?

Yes, you can use sesame oil instead of toasted sesame oil. You’ll notice a milder flavor since it is not toasted. However, the sesame taste will be present. If you’re cooking with it, regular sesame oil is the better option anyway as it has a higher smoking point.
You should use toasted sesame oil when you want to add flavor after the dish has been cooked. This form of oil, while tasty, has a low smoking point which allows food to burn easily.

Can you pan-fry with sesame oil?

Yes, you can pan-fry with sesame oil. This is not true for toasted sesame oil, as noted above. However, untoasted sesame oil is an excellent option for pan frying a variety of foods.

What Is The Best Oil Substitute For Sesame Oil?

There is undoubtedly one oil that rises above the others. That would be olive oil – especially Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Beyond olive oil, avocado oil is considered the next healthiest oil to consume. Partially, as noted above, because it contains very similar properties to olive oil.
Avocado oil is also known for keeping the quality of its nutrients at all temperatures.

Summary

Now, when you’re hunting around the kitchen wondering what to use instead of sesame oil, you can save time by choosing one of the above options.

They each bring it’s own benefits to the table, so it’s hard to go wrong when picking a cooking oil. Keep in mind, it’s all about moderation. As long as you’re keeping your portions in check, you’ll be able to enjoy the flavor that these oils bring to the table.

Recipes With Sesame Oil

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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