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Sesame Oil Substitute: 13 Ingredients To Use In Its Place.

Are you wondering what a good sesame oil substitute is? Don’t sweat if you forgot to grab it from the store. There are plenty of alternatives available.

Sesame oil is a widely used oil often incorporated in Asian dishes. It provides a nutty flavor that adds a delicious taste to any meal. This guide will walk you through everything about sesame oil and what you can use in its place.

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

What is sesame oil?

Sesame oil, sometimes called sesame seed oil, is derived from sesame seeds. You can use it in both cooked and non-cooked dishes. Its high smoke point allows it to be versatile in its uses.

Sesame oil is also commonly used in making homemade teriyaki sauce. It is one excellent cooking oil, best for deep frying and sauteing.

Because of its rich flavor, it is also used for marinades and salad dressings. Its sesame flavor also makes stir-fries and fried rice taste better. Sesame oils are are low in saturated fats.

Types of Sesame Oil

There are two varieties of sesame oil – light sesame oil and dark sesame oil.

1. Light sesame oil.

This kind of sesame oil is also called plain sesame oil or white sesame oil. Others call it untoasted sesame oil as well.

It has a light color since it’s made from raw sesame seeds rather than toasted ones.

Light sesame oil has more of a neutral flavor. For this reason, it is best used when you don’t want to change the taste of your dish.

2. Dark sesame oil.

Dark sesame oil is also known as toasted sesame oil. From its name, you can tell that it comes from cooked or toasted sesame seeds.

It has a distinct smoky flavor and amber color. Dark sesame oil is often used in marinades, salad dressings, and sauces because of its aroma.

Its distinct taste can also affect your dish’s overall flavor.

Best Sesame Oil Substitutes

There are plenty of other ingredients you can use to substitute sesame oil. Each of these alternatives has different characteristics, so you must get familiar with them first.

No need to worry; our list has everything you need to know.

Here are 13 of the best substitutes for sesame oil:

1. Olive Oil

Why is this noted as number one? Well, this substitute for sesame oil is the most accessible alternative. It is one of the types of oil that most people keep on hand. There’s a high probability that a container of olive oil is sitting in your cupboard. 

In addition, olive oil has health benefits that will make meals more nutritious.

Olive oil is also thick, so you’ll find it similar to sesame oil in terms of consistency.

It is worth noting that there are several kinds of olive oil. There is regular olive oil, which is best for cooking. Then, there is extra virgin olive oil.

The extra virgin variety is also a good option, especially when cooking with high heat. It is perfect for deep frying and stir-frying. However, its taste is much stronger than sesame oil.

Lastly, there is light olive oil. It is heavily processed, so it has the highest smoke point.

Nevertheless, they can all be used as a substitute for sesame oil.

2. Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is another great choice for a sesame oil replacement. It has a mild flavor, so it can pair well with various recipes. This oil also has a high smoke point, making it excellent for cooking.

Its subtle flavor may not make it great for drizzling over dishes. However, it will work well for deep frying.

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

Before using it in any recipe, ensure there is no sour smell. Grapeseed oil goes bad faster than most oils, so it is best always to check.

Also, grapeseed oil has a neutral taste. There are better options if you are looking to replace toasted sesame oil.

3. Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is considered to have a subtle taste, making it a great sesame oil substitute. Like other sesame oil alternatives, it also has a high smoke point.

This oil provides similar benefits to olive oil. Additionally, it also has monounsaturated fats, which are considered healthy.

It is also relatively easy to find in grocery stores – especially in the past few years. Note that, unlike sesame oil, it does not taste nutty. Because of this, it tastes nothing like toasted sesame oil.

However, adding toasted sesame seeds to your dish can lend the same flavor.

4. Flax Oil

This is perfect for you if you enjoy the taste of flax seeds or flax powder. It will be a great choice if you want a toasted sesame oil substitute.

Due to the low smoke point in this oil, it is advised to avoid cooking with it. It is instead intended to be drizzled over foods. It is also often added to a healthy smoothie. 

While limited in use, it’s a great flavor booster. It is a great option if you’re replacing sesame oil for its taste.

5. Tahini

Tahini is a paste made from ground-up sesame seeds and oil. It may seem like an odd choice to replace sesame oil because it is not an oil. However, it will provide that same nutty flavor you may be missing from other oils.

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.

6. Sunflower Oil + Roasted Sesame Seeds

If you’re craving that toasted sesame seed flavor, this combination will give it to you. On top of that, sunflower oil has a high smoke point, unlike actual toasted sesame oil. This means you can cook with it. Its flavor also makes it great for drizzling.

It is considered a neutral oil, so it will not alter your dish’s flavor.

Nevertheless, you’ll have a similar toasted sesame taste that sesame oil has.

For this reason, sunflower oil and roasted sesame seeds make an excellent swap for sesame oil.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has, in recent years, been hailed as an all-around great oil. It contains a good amount of Vitamin E. Plus; it has antioxidant properties.

As for the taste, the light coconut flavor might not blend well with dishes made with sesame oil flavor in mind.

Refined coconut oil has a high smoke point because it is rich in saturated fats. Because of this, it works great as a cooking oil.

This is a great swap if you want to replace sesame oil in cooked recipes.

8. Sweet Almond Oil

Like sesame oil, sweet almond oil is an unrefined oil with 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. It makes a suitable replacement if you plan to bake with sesame oil.

Due to its sweetness, it does not work well with most savory dishes. This is a good option if you need to replace sesame oil’s mild nutty flavor.

You will want to opt for a different choice for any other reason. 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. Walnut oil

Another great substitute for sesame oil is walnut oil. This oil has the same nutty flavor that you can find in sesame oil.

One thing you need to know about walnut oil is that cooking it makes it bitter. That said, you should never use it when your recipe requires oil to be heated.

It works best when used as a swap in salad dressings. The same goes for drizzling on top of cooked food.

10. Peanut oil

Like walnut oil, peanut oil has a nutty taste that will go well with dishes requiring sesame oil. It also has a high smoke point and is one of the best cooking oils.

On top of that, peanut oil has both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This makes it a great addition to your food.

Roasted peanut oil also works in a pinch. Consider, though, that it has a strong flavor.

This makes it ideal for drizzling rather than cooking. It is also a perfect sesame oil substitute for a salad dressing.

Use peanut oil with caution because it comes from peanuts, a common allergen.

11. Perilla oil

Perilla oil might not be that popular, but it is also a good substitute for sesame oil.

This vegetable oil comes from the seeds of the perilla plant and is popular in Korean cuisine.

It is also suitable for high-heat cooking and has a nutty taste. For this reason, you can use perilla oil to substitute for sesame oil.

On top of that, it has polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats. They make this oil an excellent addition to any diet.

Perilla oil is commonly sold in Asian specialty food stores, so it might not be the most accessible option.

12. Canola Oil

Canola oil is among the most accessible sesame oil substitutes out there. It is a very popular cooking oil, so you might already have it in your kitchen.

This vegetable oil also holds well with high heat, so you can use it if you need to stir-fry or even deep fry.

You only need to note that it does not have the same nutty flavor. There are better sesame oil substitutes that can give you that.

Otherwise, canola oil is a great option if the taste is not that big of a concern.

13. Butter

Butter is last on the list for sesame seed oil substitutes. It is mainly included as a backup in case the other oils are unavailable. 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. You can add toasted sesame seeds to your dish if this is an issue.

It also does not have a high smoke point, so it should only be used for cooking in medium heat.

How To Choose The Best Sesame Oil Substitute

Picking among the wide array of sesame oil substitutes might be tricky. Here is a quick guide to help you decide.

Consider how it reacts to heat.

Each kind of cooking oil has its smoking point. The smoking point measures how high oil can take heat before it burns.

Technically, if an oil has a low smoking point, you should not use it for cooking. On the other hand, an oil with a high smoke point is ideal for cooking.

If you are looking for something that does not require cooking, choose alternatives like flax oil, tahini, or walnut oil.

Otherwise, pick sunflower oil, sweet almond oil, or olive oil.

Pay attention to accessibility.

Certain sesame oil substitutes are not easy to find.

If you are looking for a quick replacement, you should go for widely available ones. Your options include olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

Only choose sweet almond oil and perilla oil if you already have them on hand.

Mind the flavor.

Some of the substitutes for sesame seed oil have distinct flavors. Depending on the intensity, they can alter the taste of your dish.

If you want to keep your dish’s flavor as-is, go for those that have subtle flavors. Your best option is olive oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil.

Pick tahini, peanut oil, or sweet almond oil when you want that distinct nutty flavor found in sesame seed oil.

If you are up for a bit of a change, then go for coconut oil.

Take note of allergens.

Some of the swaps mentioned come from nuts, a common allergen.

That said, you should be careful not to serve them to people allergic to nuts.

Never use nut oils like almond, peanut, and walnut oil to substitute sesame seed oil if you cook for someone with nut allergies. Instead, pick a vegetable oil like perilla oil or canola oil.


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?

There are many substitutes for sesame oil you can use in its place.
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 sunflower oil.
Its 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.
Adding sesame seeds to whatever you’re making is also a good way to replace sesame oil.

Does sesame oil make a difference when cooking?

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. Suppose you’re purely using it for taste, yes. You can use raw sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds.
However, sesame seeds will not provide the same consistency as sesame oil. If you intend to use sesame oil to stir-fry a dish, the answer is obviously no.

Is sesame oil better than olive oil?

In terms of flavor, both sesame oil and olive oil add a unique 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. On the other hand, olive oil is best for European and American cuisine.

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 to flavor dishes. However, you’ll be missing the umami taste that soy sauce provides.
Plus, using sesame oil 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 in both.
Regular sesame oil is the better option if you’re cooking with it, 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?

It depends on the kind. Untoasted sesame oil is among the best cooking oils, so you can use it to pan-fry.
This is not true for toasted sesame oil because it burns easily.

What Is The Best Oil Substitute For Sesame Oil?

Undoubtedly, one oil rises above the others regarding sesame oil alternatives. That would be olive oil – especially extra virgin olive oil.
Beyond olive oil, avocado oil is considered the next healthiest oil to consume. As noted above, it contains very similar properties to olive oil.
Avocado oil is also known for keeping the quality of its nutrients at all temperatures.


A sesame oil substitute is not difficult to find. In fact, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Despite this, you need to consider some factors when picking a replacement. These include your purpose and the taste of your sesame oil alternative.

Olive oil and sunflower oil are the best swaps for cooking. Flax oil and walnut oil are great for drizzling.

They each bring their own benefits to the table. That said, it’s hard to go wrong when picking a replacement.

Be cautious, though, because some popular alternatives like peanut and sweet almond oil can trigger allergies.

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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