Don’t have sesame oil, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best sesame oil substitute to use in recipes.
Making a recipe that calls for sesame oil and don’t have it? Don’t worry, there are few options that are suited as a substitution. Before we start, let’s talk sesame oil terminology:
- What is sesame oil? Sesame oil is made from raw sesame seeds and often used in Asian cuisine for sauteing. Sesame oil has a neutral flavor and is light in color. In fact, it doesn’t taste like sesame at all!
- What is toasted sesame oil? Toasted sesame oil is made from roasted sesame seeds. It’s dark in color and has a strong sesame flavor. It’s used more as a finishing oil to flavor dishes and sauces.
Don’t have time to shop for it? Or working around a sesame allergy? Here are some substitute ideas for both sesame oil and toasted sesame oil.
Best sesame oil substitute
1. Organic grapeseed oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil (for plain sesame oil)
The best plain sesame oil substitute? Another neutral oil! Try grapeseed oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil as a 1 for 1 substitute for sesame oil. Find organic versions of these oils if you can. They all have a neutral flavor and are pretty interchangeable with plan sesame oil.
2. Olive oil (for plain sesame oil).
The next best plain sesame oil substitute? Olive oil! You can use olive oil as a 1 for 1 substitute for sesame oil. Olive oil is known as a healthy oil, and it cooks similarly to sesame oil. It does have a stronger flavor than the other neutral oils above, so you may notice a subtle difference in flavor.
2. Toasted sesame seeds + neutral oil (for toasted sesame oil)
The best toasted sesame oil substitute? Toasted sesame seeds, with a bit of neutral oil as necessary. To add that big sesame flavor, follow these instructions on How to Toast Sesame Seeds. If the recipe requires oil (like if you’re making a dressing or sauce), add neutral oil and then a handful of toasted sesame seeds to bring in the flavor. If the toasted sesame oil is a garnish, you could skip the oil and just use the seeds.
Here are some recipes that use sesame oil:
- Fried Rice (Takeout Style!)
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- Quick Soba Noodles
- Perfect Pan Fried Tofu
- Easy Grilled Tofu
- Spicy Edamame
- Vegan Poke Bowl
- Shrimp and Broccoli
- Broccoli Stir Fry
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.