Sesame oil is a distinctive and nutty oil often called for in Asian cuisine. It’s notably famous for stir-fry recipes, fried rice, omelet, marinades, and many more delicious meals.
However, not everyone has sesame oil stored at home and often asks what to use in place of sesame oil.
Furthermore, suppose you’re allergic to sesame oil and need to find suitable alternatives. In that case, we will explore the best substitutes for sesame oil in this article.
What Is Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is a popular and versatile cooking oil in Asian cuisine with a strong nutty and toasty taste.
There are different types of sesame oil, from light to toasted, with other uses and flavors.
It’s crucial to quickly understand the types of sesame oils when looking for a substitute. That will help you know what they’re used for and the best kind of oil used for that particular dish.
For example, sesame oil can be used for a salad dressing or called for in high heat stir-fry recipes.
Here are the types that you will often see:
- Dark: darker and pressed from toasted sesame seeds.
- Light: lighter and made using raw sesame seeds.
- Toasted: enhances the nutty flavor.
- Untoasted: made from raw, pressed sesame seeds.
- Refined: high smoke point and neutral flavor.
- Unrefined: retains the natural flavor.
- Cold-Pressed: made without using any heat or chemicals.
- Extra Virgin: made from the first-pressed batch of oil without heat or chemicals.
- Black: made from black sesame seeds and very rich.
It’s a long list, but these are the type of sesame oils you can buy from supermarkets or online, which can be called for a particular recipe.
There are different types of sesame oil. They may have their own health benefits; for example, cold-pressed or extra virgin sesame oil is considered healthier because of how it has been pressed.
However, generally speaking, there are multiple proven health benefits of sesame oil. It’s high in antioxidants, contains strong anti-inflammatory properties, and good for your heart.
It may be suitable for your heart because it contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (healthy fats).
Sesame oil is also traditional used for massage because it can help treat arthritis, diabetes and can be used to improve your circulation.
As mentioned above, there are multiple types of sesame oils available and the flavors will vary.
Nevertheless, sesame oil is strong in nutty flavor which is only suitable for a certain types of recipes.
All different oils have various smoking points, meaning they can be used for different ways of cooking and making food.
The variation of sesame oils will have different smoking points used for particular recipes and in different ways.
Sesame oil is famous for stir-fry recipes because of the high smoke point ideal for cooking at a high temperature.
The Best Substitutes For Sesame Oil
In no particular order, here is a list of the best substitutes for sesame oil.
An obvious substitute for sesame oil is peanut oil because of the nutty flavors, versatility, similar smoke points and similar health properties.
Of course, there are different types of peanut oils too from almond oil to macadamia oil which has its own distinct nutty flavors and health benefits.
However, peanut oils are great because of the versatility that allows you to use them for cooked or uncooked meals, just like sesame oil.
- Contains healthy fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- Lowers blood pressure levels
- Similar nutty flavors
- High in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Best for: replicating nutty flavors in recipes for cooked or uncooked meals.
Olive oil (especially extra-virgin olive oil), is considered one of the healthiest oils which is why it’s very popular in many healthy cooking recipes and in Mediterranean cuisine, and it can be a great substitute for recipes that call for regular or untoasted sesame oil.
In terms of flavor, they are very different because sesame oil has a distinct nutty flavor whereas extra virgin olive oil is fresh and tangy, but it can work well with many standard recipes.
Although it’s ideally used for salad dressings, extra virgin olive oil can work well with heat and frying too.
- Healthiest oil
- Low in saturated fat
- Protective Against Heart Disease
- Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants
- Overconsumption is bad
Best for: recipes that call for regular or untoasted sesame oil.
Although Tahini isn’t an oil exactly, it can work well for a sesame oil replacement because it’s an oily paste made from sesame seeds which can help keep the nutty flavor for a particular dish.
Instead, you can use it with a neutral oil to add flavor and replace the nutty tones which the recipe calls for.
Do use tahini with a neutral oil, you can add the paste with the oil and mix it together before you begin it to cook it. This can work wonders for a stir-fry or egg-fried rice dish.
- Rich in antioxidants
- Full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals
- Similar nutty flavors – it’s a sesame paste
- Contains antibacterial properties
- Not a cooking oil
Best for: neutral recipes or sauces which you can combine with a neutral oil to replace the nutty flavors.
Avocado is renowned for having a very high smoke point which can be ideal for particular recipes that call for sesame oil.
It’s made from the pit of avocados and extremely healthy, in similar ways to extra virgin olive oil which can be used for multiple cooked or uncooked recipes.
Although avocado oil doesn’t taste anything like sesame oil, it can be a fantastic replacement for neutral recipes because it has its own unique flavor and health properties.
- Rich in healthy fat
- Reduces cholesterol
- High in lutein
- Enhances the absorption of important nutrients
- Very high smoke point
- High in calories
Best for: high smoke point or neutral recipes.
Grapeseed oil is also renowned for being one of the healthiest cooking oils, with a high smoke point, that you can choose which you can use in place of sesame oil for neutral recipes.
Similar to extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil, using grapeseed oil will not replace the nutty flavor of sesame oil but instead introduce its own unique flavor and health benefits which is why it’s ideal for neutral recipes.
Grapeseed oil is similar to sesame oil in terms of some health properties such as being anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and full of antioxidants.
As a result, it can be used in place of sesame oil when called for in massage or skin routines.
- High levels of vitamin E
- High smoke point
- Contains high antioxidant properties
- Helps prevent heart disease
Best for: neutral recipes, also for massage or skin routines that calls for sesame oil.
Butter, or a clarified butter like ghee, can be a great replacement for sesame oil for adding extra flavor to your recipes.
Ghee is a far superior choice because it won’t burn as easily and isn’t as heavy which can be a suitable replacement for certain types of dishes calling for sesame oil.
- High smoke point
- High flavor
- Contains vitamin A and vitamin E
- Good for low-carbohydrate diet
- High in saturated fat
- High in calories
Best for: adding extra flavor to recipes.
Coconut oil is very different from sesame oil in terms of flavor, but it can be a healthy replacement and extremely versatile which can be suitable for many Asian-inspired recipes.
In particular, coconut oil is the ideal substitute for sesame oil in recipes that call for refined or regular sesame oil because of the neutral flavors.
However, recipes which are notable for its nutty flavors, wouldn’t be good for coconut oil because you won’t replace those flavors because it’s creamier.
- Contains healthy fatty acids
- May raise HDL (good) cholesterol
- Good for hair and skin
- Can help with weight loss
- Can help boost heart health
- High saturated fat
- Experts say it may be bad for you
Best for: creamy or neutral dishes that call for sesame oil.
Vegetable oil is a great all-around choice when looking to replace sesame oil and there are many types from canola to sunflower oil.
It’s neutral in flavor and contains many health benefits, but it can also combine well with tahini if you want to replace the nutty flavors.
There are variations of vegetable oils which is why the pros and cons will vary.
Best for: most neutral recipes which call for sesame oil.
Flax oil is a highly nutritious oil which is best for uncooked dishes that calls for sesame oil such as salad dressings and drips.
This is because it has a low smoke point which isn’t ideal for cooking with.
It’s also high in Omega 3 fatty acids which is why this oil is more expensive because it’s vegan-friendly and very healthy.
Another variation is hemp seed oil which is similar to cold-pressed sesame seed oil, but again, is more expensive.
- High in Omega-3
- May reduce inflammation
- Good for heart health
- Good for plant-based diet
Best for: uncooked dishes such as dressings and dips, or to replace cold-pressed sesame seed oil.
Homemade Sesame Seed Oil
This might be a surprising suggestion but you could make your own sesame seed flavored oil if you have spare sesame seeds at home.
You can lightly toast the sesame seeds on low heat and combine it with a neutral oil like olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil.
Best for: if you don’t have sesame oil, but you have spare sesame seeds which you can toast.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Sesame Oil Important In A Recipe?
Sesame oil is popular in Asian cuisine because of its distinct and nutty flavors that complement particular dishes.
In some recipes, sesame oil is essential because of the nutty flavors. However, there’s plenty of recipes where the flavor will be neutral. Therefore it would be acceptable to use an alternative.
If you don’t have sesame oil at home and see a recipe that calls for this ingredient, you can always find a suitable alternative from the list above.
What Are The Best Substitute For Sesame Seeds?
Tahini or sesame oil are the best substitutes for sesame seeds if you’re looking for the same flavor in a dish.
Alternatively, there’s plenty of healthy seeds you can use, such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp seeds.
They may not taste the same, but the texture is similar, which can be advantageous for a particular recipe.
What Are The Sesame Oil Disadvantages?
One of the main disadvantages is that you could be allergic to sesame seeds that you cannot use for Asian recipes.
It’s also worth noting that oils are generally high in calories and sesame oil is no exception which can add to weight gain if used excessively.
Is Sesame Oil Healthier Than Olive Oil?
Olive oil, especially extra-virgin, is one of the healthiest oils which can be hard to beat, however sesame oil also has its health benefits.
There’s plenty of reasons why olive oil is better than sesame oil, however, the one advantage sesame oil has is that studies show it has greater reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
Is Sesame Oil The Same As Soy Sauce?
Sesame oil is not the same as soy sauce because they are made from different ingredients and is used differently in cooking recipes. In other words, one is an oil, and the other is a sauce.
However, it’s acceptable for some recipes to use soy sauce as a replacement for sesame oil accordingly, or vice-versa.
If you decide to use sesame oil as a replacement for soy sauce, remember to use less because it can destroy a dish if you use too much.
What Are The Most Popular Sesame Oil Recipes?
There’s plenty of popular recipes which calls for sesame oil and here are a few to name:
- Egg Fried Rice
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Bang Bang Chicken
- Chow Mein
- Singapore Noodles
- Prawn Toast
What Is The Healthiest Oil?
Many experts agree that olive oil is the healthiest oil and especially extra virgin olive oil which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which also contains healthy fats.
It’s best used for dressing on salads, but you can use extra virgin olive oil as cooking oil, despite having a low smoke point.
Founder @ Meal Plan Weekly. Passionate about improving physical and mental health (wellness) via nutrition.