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Sesame Oil Substitute: Try These Best Alternatives!

Sesame oil is a versatile and flavorful oil widely used in many Asian cuisines, particularly Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking. Its distinct nutty aroma and ...

by Kendra Reed

This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Sesame oil is a versatile and flavorful oil widely used in many Asian cuisines, particularly Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking. Its distinct nutty aroma and rich taste add depth to a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and marinades to dressings and baked goods.

However, for those with allergies or dietary restrictions, or simply if you’ve run out of sesame oil, finding a suitable substitute can be challenging. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of sesame oil, their nutritional value, and provide you with the best substitution options for various culinary purposes.

What Is Sesame Oil?

Benefits Of Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is extracted from sesame seeds, which are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. There are two main types of sesame oil: toasted (or roasted) and untoasted (or plain).

Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds, which are the seeds of the Sesamum indicum plant. It has a distinct nutty flavor and is commonly used in cooking, especially in Asian cuisine. Sesame oil comes in two main varieties: light sesame oil and dark sesame oil.

Light sesame oil, also known as regular sesame oil, is made from raw sesame seeds and has a light color and flavor. It is often used for stir-frying, sautéing, and as a salad dressing.

Dark sesame oil, also known as toasted sesame oil, is made from toasted sesame seeds and has a darker color and stronger flavor. It is typically used as a flavoring agent in dishes, adding a rich, nutty taste. Because of its strong flavor, dark sesame oil is usually used in small quantities to enhance the taste of dishes.

Sesame oil is also valued for its health benefits, as it contains antioxidants and has been linked to various health benefits, including improved heart health and reduced inflammation. Additionally, it has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying.

Benefits of sesame oil

Heart Health Benefits

  • Contains a balanced ratio of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids which can lower the risk of heart disease.
  • May help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels.

Antioxidant Properties

  • Rich in antioxidants like sesamin which can fight free radical damage linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Wound Healing Potential

  • When combined with ozone, sesame oil may help heal wounds and burns, possibly due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

  • Used in traditional medicine for anti-inflammatory purposes
  • Some test-tube studies show it can lower inflammatory markers

Blood Sugar Regulation

Hair Benefits

Stress/Depression Relief

  • Contains the amino acid tyrosine which can boost serotonin to fight stress and depression

Sun Protection

Toasted sesame oil vs untoasted sesame oil

Toasted sesame oil is made from roasted sesame seeds, giving it a deep, rich, nutty flavor and aroma. This type of sesame oil is commonly used for flavoring dishes, drizzling over finished products, or as a condiment.

On the other hand, untoasted sesame oil is derived from raw, unroasted sesame seeds. It has a lighter, more neutral taste and a higher smoke point, making it suitable for cooking at higher temperatures, such as stir-frying or deep-frying.

Best sesame oil substitute options

While sesame oil imparts a unique flavor, there are several alternatives that can be used in its place, depending on the dish and the desired taste profile.

1. Avocado Oil: With a mild, nutty flavor and high smoke point, avocado oil is an excellent substitute for untoasted sesame oil in high-heat cooking applications like stir-fries or deep-frying.

2. Peanut Oil: Peanut oil has a relatively neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it a good option for stir-fries or deep-frying when substituted for untoasted sesame oil.

3. Olive Oil: While olive oil has a distinct flavor, it can be used as a substitute for toasted sesame oil in dishes where a nutty, slightly fruity taste is desired, such as salad dressings or marinades.

4. Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste): If you’re looking to replicate the nutty flavor of sesame oil, tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, can be a suitable substitute. Just mix it with a neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil to achieve a similar consistency.

5. Walnut Oil: For a nutty, rich flavor, walnut oil can be a good substitute for toasted sesame oil in dressings, marinades, or drizzled-over finished dishes.

6. Toasted Sesame Seeds: If you have sesame seeds on hand, you can toast them and use the oil released during the toasting process as a substitute for toasted sesame oil. Simply drizzle the toasted sesame seeds and their oil over your dish for added flavor and aroma.

Sesame oil substitute for fried rice

When making fried rice, the nutty flavor of sesame oil adds a distinct aroma and taste. If you don’t have sesame oil on hand, avocado oil or peanut oil can be good substitutes for the cooking process. However, to mimic the sesame flavor, you can add a small amount of toasted sesame seeds or a drizzle of tahini (sesame seed paste) mixed with a neutral oil at the end.

Sesame oil substitute for flavor

If you’re looking to replicate the nutty, rich flavor of sesame oil in dishes like marinades, dressings, or drizzled over finished products, walnut oil or a combination of tahini and a neutral oil can be excellent substitutes. Olive oil can also work well in certain dishes, providing a nutty, slightly fruity taste.

How to use sesame oil?

Sesame oil can be used in various ways, depending on the type and desired application. Toasted sesame oil is often used as a finishing oil, drizzled over dishes like salads, stir-fries, or noodles to add flavor and aroma. Untoasted sesame oil has a higher smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods like sautéing, stir-frying, or deep-frying.

Potential risks of sesame oil

The main potential risks discussed are:

➡️ Sesame allergies

  • Sesame is the 9th most common food allergen in the U.S., with around 0.2% of the population allergic to it.
  • Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, including potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis which may require an epinephrine auto-injector.
  • Since sesame oil is commonly used, those with sesame allergies need to be cautious about its presence in foods.

➡️ Weight gain

  • While sesame oil contains healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6, it is very high in calories.
  • Consuming too much sesame oil can lead to excess calorie intake and potential weight gain.

➡️ Medication interference

  • Sesame oil may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • However, for those already on medications for high blood pressure or diabetes, adding sesame oil could cause levels to drop too low.
  • Consulting with a doctor before adding sesame oil to the diet is recommended for these individuals.


While sesame oil imparts a unique and distinct flavor to many Asian dishes, there are several viable substitutes available for those who cannot consume it or have run out. By understanding the different types of sesame oil and their intended uses, you can choose the most appropriate substitute based on the dish you’re preparing and the desired flavor profile. Whether you opt for avocado oil, peanut oil, olive oil, tahini, walnut oil, or toasted sesame seeds, these alternatives can help you achieve a similar depth of flavor and aroma in your culinary creations.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is it healthy to eat sesame seeds daily?

A. Yes, eating a small handful of sesame seeds daily is considered good for your health. They provide benefits for heart health, diabetes management, and arthritis.

2. What’s the difference between black and white sesame seeds?

A. The main difference is in their color and taste. Black sesame seeds have a stronger, more robust flavor, while white sesame seeds have a milder taste.

3. Can I use black sesame seeds instead of white sesame seeds?

A. Yes, you can use black sesame seeds as a substitute for white sesame seeds if the color difference doesn’t matter. The primary difference will be in the intensity of the flavor.

4. How should I consume sesame seeds?

A. Sesame seeds can be consumed in various ways. You can eat them raw, baked, or toasted. Toasting or baking enhances their nutty flavor, while eating them raw allows you to add them to dishes as a healthy addition.

5. Are sesame seeds gluten-free?

A. Yes, sesame seeds are naturally gluten-free, making them a safe option for those following a gluten-free diet or with gluten allergies.

6. Can consuming too many sesame seeds be harmful?

A. Yes, eating too many sesame seeds can cause your blood glucose levels to drop below normal, which can be problematic.


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