It would be absolutely delightful if sesame oil was natural or could be found anywhere. But alas, it doesn’t even grow in the United States. This leaves us with but one option for this common Asian condiment-looking to find a readily available substitute.
There are plenty of oils that are either healthier, fuller bodied, or more affordable substitutes for sesame oil that can be found either locally or on the internet. Many of the substitutes for sesame oil are actually found in countries such as India and Bangladesh where sesame oil can be more easily and affordably found, but are still common worldwide. These cheap and readily available condiments will work just as well as the real thing.
What is Sesame Oil?
The Sesame Oil is a good cooking oil with a high smoke point. It tastes nutty and gives food a deep flavour. Many people use Sesame Oil for cooking because it gives food a crunchy, toasted taste.
Sesame Oil is found in many Asian supermarkets and some major grocery stores. It can also be purchased online for a cheaper price.
Sesame Oil has been used by cooks for years and has been popularized in different cultures all over the world. Even though it’s an oil, it doesn’t sit heavily on the stomach and is often used as a dipping sauce or to season grilled and fried foods before they are eaten.
The oil is made of Sesame Seeds which are known as a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. It’s also very rich in antioxidants.
There Are Two Main Forms of Sesame Oil
Light Sesame Oil and Dark Sesame Oil. Both have a nutty flavour and can be used the same way in recipes. Light Sesame Oil has less flavour than the Dark one but can be used for cooking purposes as well.
This oil is considered a healthier alternative to olive oil and can be used in most recipes that call for olive oil. This is because it has a higher smoking point and can be used to heat foods more quickly. It also gives food the same taste of toasted sesame seeds.
Sesame Oil contains a lot of nutrients that are good for your health including: Vitamin E, Panthenol, Pro-vitamin B1, Carotenoids, Fatty Acids and Polyunsaturated Oils.
Sesame Oil can also contribute vitamins to your diet. It’s high in Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant and helps maintain healthy skin and improve hair health.
Sesame Oil is Used for Cooking
While Sesame Oil is used for cooking, it can also be used for many other purposes including:
- Deep frying – Sesame Oil has a high smoke point of around 210 °C (410 °F), making it possible to fry food such as chicken or fish without damaging the oil. The flavor of Sesame Oil also adds to the taste of that food.
- Salad Dressing – Dark Sesame Oil can be used in salad dressings to give a nutty flavor with lots of antioxidants. It can be used to create a dressing or dip for your side salads or veggies.
- Salad Garnishes – Sesame seeds and Sesame Oil are often paired together as garnishes on salads or other foods like burgers and sandwiches to add some crunch and flavor at the same time!
- Coatings for Meats – Sesame Oil is used in many Chinese dishes like stir-fried beef or chicken. It can also be used to coat meats such as pork before cooking. This helps seal in the juices and gives food a crunchy texture.
- Stir-Fried Vegetables – Sesame Oil can be heated at high temperatures, making it great to use on vegetables or mushrooms when stir-frying them! The oil adds a nutty flavor to the vegetables and makes them even tastier!
- Dipping Sauce – Dark Sesame Oil can be used for dipping sauces for foods like spring rolls or tempura. It comes in a glass bottle to allow you to see how much oil is left and will stay fresh at room temperature.
If you love cooking, then you’ll definitely enjoy using the Sesame Oil in any way possible! It adds a great flavor to dishes and has many uses that make it more than just an ingredient.
List of 15 Best Sesame Oil Substitutes
#1 Olive Oil
Olive oil has a very neutral flavor which makes it versatile for cooking other dishes without altering their taste too much. It can be used to fry food or to use as a dipping sauce just like sesame oil, either way it would make you healthier than if you were frying with vegetable oils like soybean or corn.
Olive oil is full of antioxidants and polyunsaturated fat which helps with cholesterol and blood pressure levels. This has similar benefits to those seen in sesame oil. It can be found at your local supermarket without difficulty, whilst extra-virgin olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
Olive oil is one of the best substitutes for sesame oil, however, it lacks a nutty flavor which may not be desired by some. It can still be used in cooking savory dishes just like sesame oil and can also be used to marinate foods like meat or seafood. As well as this, it can also be used for dipping bread and as a salad dressing.
Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, it has a very similar flavor and consistency to sesame oil.
It is mostly used in the cuisines of Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey, Syria, Israel and Greece. It’s most commonly used as a sauce or dip for pita bread, falafels and shawarma’s.
It is often mixed with lemon juice or garlic to create a sauce called Tarator which goes well with vegetable dishes.
You can use tahini in the same way you would use sesame oil, by drizzling it over vegetables or stir fries, or you can create a paste with water and add it to noodle and rice dishes.
Tahini also works well in salad dressings as it is salty and nutty, plus it contains vitamin E which helps your skin stay youthful.
Tahini can be found in most supermarkets and health stores, it comes in a jar filled with sesame seeds or it can also be found as an ingredient in hummus.
#3 Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is often considered the ‘healthy fat’, just like olive oil.
It has a very similar flavor to sesame oil and is commonly used in Chinese cuisines.
It is used for stir-frying, adding to rice dishes, or for sweetening food. Try drizzling it over tofu and stir-fried vegetables.
The main problems with peanut oil is that it tends to go rancid quicker than other oils, so if you’re not using it quickly enough you may end up with a bitter flavor.
Peanut oil can also be found in most supermarkets in tins or jars and comes in both mild and spicy flavors.
#4 Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil is a light yellow-colored oil that is very similar in consistency to olive oil.
A healthy substitute for sesame oil, you can use it to marinate food and is also suitable for baking.
It works well as a salad dressing and can be used in stir fries, as a cooking oil or in baking.
Like peanut oil, grapeseed oil tends to go rancid faster so try not to leave it around for too long.
Grapeseed oil is found in most supermarkets and health stores. It can also be found in tins and jars of oil.
#5 Canola Oil
Canola oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the rapeseed plant, but it is commonly used to describe oils that are made from a variety of plants.
Commonly used as an alternative to olive oil, it has a neutral flavor that works well with many dishes.
It has a high smoke point (around 492 degrees fahrenheit), so great for cooking at high heats, however it has a low level of saturated fat, which means it doesn’t work well in deep frying.
Canola oil is found in many supermarkets and health stores. It comes in tins and jars as well as bottles so you can take it with you on the go.
#6 Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils out there, it contains a lot of saturated fat, which is often considered to be both artery-clogging and unhealthy.
However just like olive oil, it contains healthy fats that can help with cholesterol and blood pressure.
It also has antimicrobial properties that can help with digestive problems as well as boosting your immune system.
Coconut oil tastes sweet because of the glycerin which is produced during the dehydration process.
If you want to use it as a replacement for sesame oil, it works well in salad dressings, as a cooking oil and on bread.
You can take it with you anywhere as it comes in tins or jars and in bottles that you can carry around with you.
#7 Almond Oil
If you are looking for something that is very similar to sesame oil, almond oil may be your oil of choice.
It is made from almonds and has a nutty flavor just like sesame oil. Coconut oil, but it does tend to smell much sweeter.
Almond oil can help with dry skin and it also works well for nourishing the skin.
It is a versatile oil, you can use it in place of sesame oil for many recipes, it works well in salad dressings and can be used on bread.
You can also use it to help with the treatment of sunburns, and as a hair treatment.
Almond oil is found in most health stores, supermarkets and online. It comes in bottles that are often sold with a dropper, so you can take it with you anywhere.
#8 Perilla Oil
Perilla oil is derived from Japanese Perilla frutescens seeds.
It will give you that nutty flavor similar to sesame oil, so it’s best used in Asian-style cooking.
It can also be used to give a nice boost of flavor to your sauces, katsu (Japanese deep-fried cutlet) and desserts.
You can get it in bulk at health food stores for much cheaper than the average grocery store varieties.
#9 Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is one of the hottest cooking oils in the healthcare world, it contains omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids, so it’s best used for preventing strokes and heart disease.
It has a very neutral flavor and can be used interchangeably with sesame oil. It is a great substitute for those who prefer to avoid animal products such as fish, dairy and eggs.
It’s high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an essential Omega-3 fatty acid; it also contains a decent amount of omega-6, so it’s best used for salads and marinades. You can also use it as a salad dressing or dip like sesame oil.
#10 Walnut Oil
Walnut oil will give you that nutty flavor similar to sesame oil. It’s an expensive but healthy oil, which makes it a great substitute for sesame oil.
Walnut oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
It also contains high amounts of antioxidants, so it may have some benefits to help you fight cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. It has a very strong nutty flavor and is best used in baking.
#11 Fish Oil
Fish oil is commonly used in the healthcare industry to help prevent heart disease, it contains a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and has been found to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
It may also lower your risk for developing cancer, so it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best substitutes for sesame oil. It has a very strong fishy smell, so you may have to mix it with another type of oil before cooking with it.
However, the taste is said to be similar to sesame oil. Fish oil is very high in triglycerides, so it’s good for you but bad for your arteries.
The reason it’s so healthy for you is because it contains Omega-3 which can help protect you from heart disease.
It also contains a high amount of Vitamin D and E but has no cholesterol, so it’s a great alternative to vegetable oils and other cooking oils that contain trans fatty acids.
#12 Avocado Oil
Avocado oil has a very mild and sweet taste, so it can be used to replace sesame oil in a variety of meals. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, (MUFA) which can help lower cholesterol and aid your heart.
It can also be used as a spread on sandwiches or toast like butter or margarine. It has a very similar texture to sesame oil.
This oil is perfect for all types of cooking, and it’s also a healthier alternative to vegetable oils. You can use it whenever you are looking for a sweet flavor in your dishes, like in cake or cookies.
#13 Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is one of the most popular oils used in many home kitchens across the world. You can use it for frying, baking, or in salad dressings.
This oil is higher in polyunsaturated fat and antioxidants, so it’s great to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Again, this has a very similar flavor to sesame oil but with a different color. It can help add a nice change of color to many dishes while still maintaining the nutty flavor you are looking for.
It’s great for frying or baking since it can reach high temperatures without burning. You can use it whenever you want that nutty flavor and color to a meal, but don’t want to spend a lot on sesame oil.
Butter is one of the best substitutes for sesame oil, which has a similar taste and consistency when used in recipes. You can use it interchangeably with sesame oil in many different dishes.
It’s an excellent substitute if you are looking to lower your cholesterol and need a healthy replacement for sesame oil, it also has a nice buttery taste which can help add another dimension to many dishes.
Butter is high in saturated fats, so it may not be the healthiest option but it’s still healthier than vegetable oil or trans fat-containing oils; its flavor is also much more preferable for most recipes. You can use it whenever you are in need of a buttery taste to your dish, but aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on the real thing.
#15 Hazelnut Oil
Hazelnut oil is one of the most popular cooking oils in western countries, usually used for frying and baking. It has a neutral flavor, which makes it great for any dish.
It is rich in saturated fats, so it may not be the best choice for those who are looking to lower their cholesterol levels.
However, it still contains antioxidants and vitamins, so it’s not a bad oil to have in your kitchen.
If you are looking for a sesame oil substitute, this would be one of the best options out there. You can use it whenever you want to add that nutty flavor to your dishes, but don’t want a very strong smell or taste.
How to Make Your Own Make Sesame Oil
How can I tell if my sesame oil is good or not?
When purchasing sesame oil for cooking, you should look for a clear and light color. Dark and murky oils indicate that the oil is old and has been oxidized at a high temperature.
Is sesame oil healthy?
Yes, in fact it’s often used in homemade salad dressings since it’s low in saturated fats and calories. Sesame seeds themselves are nutritious with lots of vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin E and B3. Sesame oil is also considered quite healthy due to it’s high antioxidant content which may protect against heart disease, cancer and degenerative diseases.
Do I have to refrigerate sesame oil? Should I always refrigerate sesame oil?
You do not need to store your sesame oil in the refrigerator, but if you live in a hot climate such as Mexico, it may be a good idea since heat can affect the quality of your sesame oil. It’s best to store your oil in a cool, dark place away from any heat sources.
How should I store sesame oil?
Store sesame oil in a dark, cool place away from any heat sources. Refrigerate any opened bottle of sesame oil before the expiration date.
What is the shelf life of Sesame Oil? Do you have to use it soon after opening?
The shelf life of sesame oil is about 2 years. If you use it within that time frame, then the quality should be maintained. If sesame oil is left in a constant hot environment, the quality will degrade more quickly.
How can you cook with sesame oil?
Sesame oil is commonly used for stir-fry cooking. It’s also used for frying due to it’s low smoke point.
Overall, coconut oil and grapeseed oil are my two recommendations for the best sesame oil substitutes. Both oils have similar smoke points, flavor profiles and consistencies which makes them excellent replacements for sesame oil in cooking.
The next time you need a sesame oil substitute, try sesame seed oil or one of the oils listed above. More importantly, try to use your leftover sesame seeds!
For homemade sesame seed oil, buy whole unshelled seeds and then grind them (in a coffee grinder) in small batches as you need them. Store the ground seeds in the refrigerator for 6-8 months.