If you are in need of sesame oil in a recipe but do not have any to hand, you might be wondering what you can use instead.
Or maybe you just really dislike the distinctive nutty taste of sesame oil but want to know what to add to that Korean Bibimbap?
Whatever it is, you are in luck. That is because there are lots of sesame oil substitutes to choose from, with many already available in your kitchen pantry.
Some of these alternatives include using a different nutty flavored oil such as walnut or peanut, to the likes of flaxseed oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and even Chinese sesame paste.
In this article we shall take a look at sesame oil substitutes in more detail so you can enjoy that dish in next to no time. So, let’s go!
1. Walnut Oil
Walnuts are packed full of good stuff, so it is no surprise that people like to douse their food in this tasty oil. Better still, it tastes great with both pasta and meat, among other things.
As obvious as it may sound, walnut oil comes from, well, walnuts. This mighty nut, as well as its oil, is bursting with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
This is beneficial when it comes to the body because it has the ability to protect a person from developing heart disease, as well as decrease inflammation.
The oil itself has a richer, nuttier taste compared to sesame oil’s more milder flavor, and it does turn bitter while it is being heated up through cooking.
Because of the latter, it is best to use this oil for any recipes which do not require any cooking, for example a salad dressing or to use as a sauce.
This would take the place of a condiment, and be used to enhance the meal’s overall flavor.
While it has limited usage, it is a great sesame oil substitute for drizzling over food.
2. Peanut Oil
When it comes to peanut oil, there are three different types to choose from, with one being much more difficult to find – spoiler alert, it probably is not available at your local grocery store.
Peanut oil is available in either unrefined or refined, with the last one being roasted peanut oil. So, what is the difference between all three of them?
The unrefined peanut oil is subtle in flavor and cannot be used when cooking with high heat because it has a lower smoking point.
It is often best to use this oil to drizzle on to food such as pasta, or as a general end sauce.
The refined peanut oil goes through a completely different process compared to unrefined peanut oil making it available to be used with high temperature cooking.
Because it can be used at a higher smoking point, and because the process of creating the oil is not the same as other peanut oil, some of its flavor becomes decreased.
In turn, it has made it suitable as a neutral-based oil, such as olive oil.
It is also very similar to that of sesame oil, making it a great substitute.
Lastly, roasted peanut oil is stronger in flavor and usually added at the end of creating a dish to enhance its flavor. It has a low smoking point so is not suitable to cook with.
Another option, while not listed in the ‘big three’, is toasted peanut oil. It tastes delicious, though again, is often used as an end flavoring to a dish, rather than to cook with.
When it comes to the health benefits of peanut oil, it can provide a person with a decent amount of their vitamin E intake, which is good for building up the immune system and having healthy eyes and skin.
It also features a high amount of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which help to support the heart.
However, if you are allergic to peanuts, you might want to avoid this oil altogether.
Okay, so let’s talk about butter. While you might be trying to avoid butter, it may just be your only hope.
We have to say it, butter is a good all rounder for both cooking and baking, and when you have no sesame oil present, there is a good chance you have butter available.
This means that you will not have to buy anything specialized in order to find a good substitute for sesame oil. Having said that, you will not get the exact flavor you are looking for.
While sesame oil has a distinctive nutty flavor that is often used in Asian cuisine, butter is creamy in both taste and texture.
To provide a dish with an enhanced flavor, you will need a butter that is able to brown within a pan.
This will cause it to take on a slightly different taste which can be useful if you would like to add an enhanced flavor to a dish.
Fortunately, most butter types are able to do this so finding one suitable should not be a problem.
Surprisingly, butter does have some health benefits. It contains a good amount of both vitamin A and E, which support skin and bone health.
It can also be used with a really high smoking point making it a great substitute for sesame oil.
However, butter is usually super high in fat, which overtime can cause issues with the heart if not consumed by a person with an active lifestyle and healthy, balanced diet.
Also, if you are vegan, you will need to buy a non-dairy alternative.
Vegan-friendly butter works just as well, too!
4. Avocado Oil
Avocados are still having a moment, despite what the Generation Zs say.
While avocado oil is a tricky one to find – you might have to go to a specialist store – it can make a great substitute for light sesame oil.
This is because avocado oil has a milder, lighter taste, despite its creaminess. It also has a wonderfully rich and buttery texture, which is not too dissimilar to sesame oil.
Having said that, avocado oil will not produce a nut-like flavor that you are wanting, though it is still great to cook with.
That is because it can also be used for cooking in hot temperatures due to its high smoking point.
When this happens, any fats that the avocado has will start to break down. This is what causes the smoke to erupt – so now you know.
Avocados themselves are full of benefits for the body.
Not only do they have a plethora of antioxidants and vitamin E, but they also include a compound called lutein which is essential for the overall health of the eyes.
They also have omega-9 fatty acids which are important to help reduce the buildup of cholesterol, and to help remove any plaque within arteries.
While you might think avocados are fatty, they are good fats only.
5. Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseed oil is a love it or hate it situation. This is because it is often used with particular dishes due to its odd taste when paired with specific food.
However, surprisingly it does not really have much of a taste to it.
It is often paired with everyday items such as steamed veggies, rice, potatoes, and as a salad dressing.
It is also an oil that is put into smoothies as an added benefit. Because the flavor is so mild, it does not spoil the sweetness of something like the fruit.
Despite it being used with hot food, it does have a low smoking point. So with that being said, it is best used as an end sauce.
That means that it will enhance the flavor of a hot dish when poured over it at the last minute.
Flaxseed oil can also be used to drizzle over a salad too (see also ‘20 Flaxseed Recipes To Rock Your World‘). It has a milder flavor than that of sesame oil, but does a great job of providing a subtle nutty taste to meals without overpowering anything else.
The oil includes a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which is perfect for those who do not get it from other sources such as fish.
It is also said that flaxseed oil is beneficial to heart health by helping to reduce cholesterol levels and boost the skin.
However, you are going to want to keep the consumption of this oil on the low side, as it does contain a lot of fiber which can cause you to be gassy.
If this is a problem for you, you might want to avoid hemp seed oil too.
6. Homemade Sesame Seed Oil
You might be surprised to hear, but you can also just make your own sesame seed oil.
While it does involve having sesame seeds to hand, it does provide a sense of satisfaction knowing that you have managed to make your own oil.
For this to work, you will need white sesame seeds (also known as hulled) to recreate the traditional flavor that you get with sesame oil.
If you do decide to use the black seeds (the ones which are unhulled) then you will find that the oil is strong and bitter. So, keep this in mind when shopping around for sesame seeds.
You will also need some neutral oil. The ones that work best are sunflower oil and canola oil (see also ‘3 Canola Oil Substitutes‘).
Surprisingly, something like olive oil will actually take away some of that tasty sesame seed flavor, so it will be best to avoid it.
The following recipe is a small batch intended for sesame oil that is to be used right away:
How to make:
Using a medium frying pan, place a small amount of sesame seeds into the pan on a medium heat for around 2 to 3 minutes. You will know when to remove them because they will turn a golden brown color.
Once 30 seconds have passed, move the sesame seeds around, and keep repeating every time 30 seconds has passed.
When they turn brown, remove them from the heat and allow them to cool for up to ten minutes.
Once they are ready, add the neutral oil and the now toasted sesame seeds into a blender and blend until smooth.
Once you are satisfied, remove from the blender and pour onto a cheesecloth which covers a bowl so it can strain through to become a thin oil.
If you do not plan to use up all the oil, it can be kept in an airtight container for around 4 weeks.
7. Chinese Sesame Paste
While not an oil, Chinese sesame paste will give you the nutty flavor that you are after, but there will be some limitations to using it.
Even though the like-for-like flavor does give it a great reason to use it as a substitute for sesame oil, you may find it just does not work for what you need it for, afterall, it is a paste and not an oil.
In fact, it is a condiment. If you have ever used the Korean condiment gochujang – stirring it within a tasty bibimbap – then you will understand the texture of it.
It is a paste, and does not pour out of its container the same way. In fact, you are more likely to use a spoon.
However, if you are looking for a mild flavor which is similar to that of light sesame oil, then the Chinese sesame paste will be far too overpowering. It has a likeness to the flavor profile of toasted sesame oil.
There is a trick to using this paste as an oil though, and it includes using a mild flavored oil to thin it out to achieve a liquid like sauce.
However, it is not suitable to cook with and is best used as a marinade, sauce, or a dip.
If you want to use it straight from its container, then make the most of its flavor by mixing it into a dish or having it as a dipping sauce.
8. Grapeseed Oil
If you are looking for a sesame oil substitute which has a neutral taste, then grapeseed oil is a good contender. Due to its subtle flavor, it is a commonly used oil for a number of different recipes.
Because it has such a high smoke point, it can be used for cooking pretty much anything.
Also, because it has such a mild flavor, it will not overpower dishes, and instead will let the ingredients and seasoning do the talking.
This means that if you have a dish that requires a ‘barely there’ oil in order for it not to affect the taste of the dish, then grapeseed oil (along with olive oil) are great choices.
It also has many health benefits too which includes vitamin E which is known for helping to neutralize potentially harmful free radical compounds.
It also helps to boost the immune system which can help the body to naturally fight diseases.
Also it includes healthy polyunsaturated fats which are needed to help absorb all of that beneficial vitamin E that you are getting per serving.
However, like with most things, there are some downsides to using grapeseed oil. For one, it sadly does not last that long. While it will not go off overnight, do not expect it to last as long as a standard oil.
One way of knowing if it has turned bad is by giving it a sniff. If it smells sour, rather than having a neutral oil smell, then it means it is time to throw it away.
You will not want to taste it, as it will also have an off putting sour taste.
9. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a kitchen staple, so it will be surprising if this is not sat in your pantry. It can be used for cooking, marinading, dipping, and baking purposes, making it a fully versatile oil.
It has a subtle flavor profile too, which is one of the reasons it can be used in a plethora of ways, just like light sesame oil.
This makes it a great substitute to sesame oil, because not only is it an easy oil to consume, but it has many added benefits too.
For example, olive oil is well-known for being full of polyphenol antioxidants.
These are plant-based compounds that have the potential to protect a person against diseases, making sure that they stay healthy.
Another thing olive oil includes is monounsaturated fats. They are considered healthy fats that we need to consume to stay healthy.
They help with the absorption of vitamins A, D and E because they are fat-soluble, meaning the vitamins need the help of healthy fats to be absorbed into the body.
Not only that, it is also an oil that can be used for high heat cooking, or as a marinade and sauce, or to dip food into. What is not to like when it comes to olive oil?
The only downside is that you will not achieve a nutty flavor.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a powerful, flavorful option when it comes to looking for a sesame oil substitute. This is because, just like with the latter, coconut oil has a strong coconutty taste and smell.
For this reason, you will want to make sure you do not use too much of this oil, otherwise your dish will taste and smell like coconut.
If this was the intention, then hey, it’s cool – but if you were just hoping for some help from the oil to marinate some meat, then keep the quantity of oil small.
While some consider coconut oil super healthy, it is an oil that is best served in smaller doses due to the high concentration of saturated fats.
While other oils contain healthy fats, the type in coconut oil is best avoided in higher doses.
That is because saturated fat can cause all sorts of problems for the heart in the long term.
However, there are also some upsides to consuming coconut oil too and that is because it contains some vitamins and fatty acids.
Because coconut oil is a popular ingredient to use, you may need to check that the one you have picked up is pure coconut oil and is suitable to eat.
This is because there are forms of coconut oil which have been blended with other ingredients to make it suitable to be used as a cosmetic product. Try not to get confused by the two!
Looking for a substitute for sesame oil might seem problematic, but if you enjoy cooking Indian-based dishes, then you might just have some tahini in your kitchen cupboard.
While something like Chinese Sesame paste is a thicker paste (sorry to point out the obvious), tahini is an oil-like paste which is made from sesame seeds and can be used as a replacement for oil.
But, while the taste of sesame oil and tahini will be very similar, this is where the similarities end.
There are also limitations to using a paste, however there is a way to get around this limit of only using tahini as a mixer.
You can add oil to tahini (see also ‘7 Substitutes For Tahini‘) to ‘water’ it down to create an oily base. However, tahini is quite high in calories already, and adding an oil means adding extra calories.
If you are conscious about this, then stick with the paste only, or find an alternative.
Tahini does have some health benefits too. It is full of antioxidants and contains properties which are said to be anti-inflammatory, which is great for digestive issues. In fact, tahini is known to help with digestion.
The paste also contains vitamins B1 and B6 which are heroes when it comes to the healthy function of nerves.
It allows them to have a supply of energy which keeps them working, and also repairs nerve damage.
Even though it is a paste, it will be suitable to be used as a dipping sauce or to add flavor once the cooking of a dish is over.
12. Fish Oil
There are quite a few oils that contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, but why try and figure that out when you could just use a fish oil.
While it is not liked by everyone, it can enhance the flavor of particular dishes, however, it is not an oil you can use for general cooking.
For that reason, it is an oil that is mainly used as a way to consume essential fatty acids, rather than as an oil to finalize a dish.
So, while it is not a full-on swap with sesame oil, it is an important ingredient to consider.
Often it is made from the oil from fish such as tuna, trout, sardines, mackerel, salmon, and herring.
All of these fish contain the essential fatty acids that help to promote a good heart, make sure blood doesn’t clot inside the body, and so much more.
We cannot make omega-3 ourselves, so we need an external source to do it for us. So, how can you consume fish oil? One way is by adding small amounts to a sweeter dish, or by hiding it in a smoothie.
If you are brave enough, having a spoon of it is good enough.
13. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is another common kitchen staple just like olive oil, however it has some differences. One of them is the fact it has no taste, and if it does? Well, it is quite bland.
Even so, it makes a good substitute for light sesame oil because while it does not share the nutty taste of the latter, it can be used for a number of recipes.
This is because it shares the common characteristic of having a high smoking point.
If you originally wanted a nutty flavored stir fry but do not have any sesame oil, then at least sunflower oil will bring in that oily moisture a stir fry needs in intense heat.
However, it is not an oil which you would use to dip food into, or drizzle over a salad.
Sunflower oil also includes some beneficial fats too, such as both monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
They help to absorb the vitamin E that sunflower oil includes which will boost the immune system to ward off illnesses.
And, you might have guessed it, sunflower oil comes from sunflowers. While not the mature flowers themselves, the seeds of the plant are pressed to remove the fatty oil.
14. Canola Oil
A Canadian favorite, the canola oil comes straight from the seeds from the canola plant.
They have small but beautiful yellow flowers that look similar to pea pods. Inside the pods are black tiny seeds that contain the oil.
While the oil is considered to be neutral because it does not have much of a flavor, it means it can be used for a variety of recipes because it will not disturb the overall flavor of the dish.
However, because it lacks in flavor, it means that it is not suitable as a salad dressing or dip, which sesame oil would be.
Even so, you can easily also use canola oil in baked goods too. This will ensure that something like a cake will stay very moist.
It does contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids meaning it will promote a healthy heart and brain, and overall health, and it also contains high amounts of omega-6.
The latter also helps with the regulation of the metabolism, overall hair growth and skin health, and it makes sure the reproductive system is healthy.
However, it is said that omega-6 can cause high blood pressure, blood clots, and cause the body to hold on to water.
So long as you are eating a balanced diet, and that means getting enough vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids, it should be fine to consume something like canola oil in moderation.
15. Hemp Seed Oil
You may not have heard of hemp seed oil, but trust us, you will be converted by the time you reach the end of these next few paragraphs.
While it might not be available at your local grocery store, it is worth finding this oil, especially if you like stronger flavors.
For that reason, it is often best used as a substitute to toasted sesame oil, rather than the light sesame oil.
The flavor of this oil can overpower sweeter dishes, so it is not recommended to use when that is the case.
Also because of this you may want to only drizzle a small amount of hemp seed oil over food to make sure you do not take anything away from other flavors.
Another option is to blend the oil alongside either canola oil or sunflower oil.
This will dampen the strong flavor and will make a delicious dipping sauce, though if you are looking to make the most of the hemp flavor, then we recommend leaving it as is.
It tastes wonderful as a bread dipping sauce too, and it really enhances a bland salad!
One thing that hemp seed oil is not suitable for is cooking. It has a low smoking point, making it more suited towards being an end sauce or a dip.
So you will want to drizzle it over food, rather than using it in a stir fry.
However, don’t worry, you will not become high on this oil. It is made by cold pressing the hemp seeds off the Cannabis sativa plant to extract the oil only.
This provides a flavor that is quite similar to that of sesame seeds, making it a great substitute for sesame oil.
Hemp seeds are full of benefits too because they contain a lot of fiber, and have many nutrients which provide a boost for both brain and heart health, as well as helping to reduce stress, and build up immunity.
16. Almond Oil
In much the same way as sesame oil, almond oil is the type you would use to enhance the flavor of a dish.
With its sweet but nutty flavor, you will often find it being used to bake with, rather than in a regular hot dish.
However, this does not mean that you cannot use it to change the flavor profile of a stir fry for example, you will just need to be extra creative with what you use when it comes to vegetables and other flavorings.
Do remember however, that almond oil is sweeter than sesame oil, so you will need to take this into consideration if you plan to use oil in a cooked dish.
Also, if you need to use it on a high heat, then buy the unrefined version.
Generally, almond oil is quite healthy compared to sesame oil. It contains a high amount of fatty acids – all three in fact – that is omega-3, 6, 9.
These will do a good job at keeping your heart in good shape, as well as making sure you have good cholesterol flowing through your arteries.
While this is a good substitute, there are better options out there that are not as overpowering in flavor.
You might find that almond oil takes over most of the dishes that you cook, so keep the quantities small.
17. Perilla Oil
Often used within Korean-based cooking, perilla oil has a wonderfully nutty flavor despite its origins as a seed from the perilla plant. The plant itself is a part of a wide range of mint species.
However, perilla oil (and the seeds themselves) do not taste or smell anything like mint – phew! Just like with sesame oil, it has a nutty and earthy flavor, making it a good substitute.
While popular in South Korea, many people use it throughout the world to create delicious sauces and dips. Just like with light sesame oil, it can also be used at high heat due to its high smoking point.
This means that it is super versatile and can be used for most types of recipes.
It does contain a large amount of calories though, so those who are looking to lose weight will not appreciate it.
There are other nutty tasting alternatives out there that have a lower calorie count.
Also, it is said that if you are pregnant, you should speak to a Doctor before consuming perilla oil.
However, it is also said that avoiding eating perilla-based foods while pregnant is a myth, so it is always best to speak to a professional before doing so.
Lastly, perilla oil is notoriously difficult to find, so you will need to head to a specialist store to buy a bottle.
When you do manage to find some, you can enjoy the nutty delights that it has.
There are some upsides to perilla oil, with one being that it contains essential omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain and heart health.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, then you may be lacking these essential fatty acids.
18. Toasted Sesame Seeds
If you are looking to add a hint of sesame flavor to your dish, and have a bag of white sesame seeds to hand, then you are in luck.
While you might not have sesame oil available, you can achieve a wonderful nutty flavor by toasting the seeds.
It is really easy to do, and can provide a good sesame oil substitute without having to search around for alternative oils with added fats.
Toasting sesame seeds also means you can either sprinkle them across a dish, or grind them up to mix into a sauce.
How to make:
Put some white sesame seeds into a pan on medium heat. Move the seeds around the pan every 30 seconds until they turn a golden brown color.
Move them off the heat and allow them to cool for around 10 minutes. Once cool, they are ready to either grind into a powder, or to sprinkle over a dish.
Whether you are in the middle of cooking and realize you do not have any sesame oil left, or maybe you are just not a fan of sesame oil and want to find something else to use – don’t panic, there are a number of substitutes to choose from.
From using another nutty oil such as walnut or peanut oil, to exploring the plethora of oils out there (flaxseed, avocado, hemp, etc.), you will be so spoiled when it comes to choosing that you might even already have a substitute in your kitchen cupboard.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at our other substitution posts. Don’t worry, we have got you covered!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Use In Place Of Sesame Oil?
If you are in need of sesame oil but do not have any to hand, then you are in luck. There are many substitutes for sesame oil so your options are wide.
Some of these include any type of nut oil (peanut, walnut, etc.), and seeds (flax, hemp and sunflower) but also the likes of avocado oil, olive oil, or making your own homemade sesame oil.
Is Sesame Oil Important To Use In A Recipe?
Sesame oil has become popular over the last few years due to its delicious nut-like taste. It is especially common in Korean food such as bibimbap, and can be used in stir-frys, or as a salad dressing.
It brings an extra element of flavor to food that is thoroughly enjoyed by many.
Is Olive Oil And Sesame Oil The Same Type Of Oil?
Both olive oil and sesame oil have completely different flavors, and this means that they are also used in different ways when it comes to creating a dish.
Olive oil has a bitter and butter-like taste, while sesame oil is both nutty and earthy. Often olive oil is used to deep fry in or for baking instead of butter because it does not change the flavor.
Sesame oil on the other hand is often used in cooking (not baking) due to its nutty flavor being absorbed by the food and into the dish as an overall taste element.
This type of oil would be far too powerful in baking, causing cupcakes to taste nutty.
What Does Sesame Oil Taste Like?
The overall taste and smell of sesame oil has a nut-like flavor, but then its undertone is actually quite neutral. This makes it highly versatile as an oil.
When cooking with sesame oil it brings a strong delicious aroma into the kitchen. You can also use it to dress a salad or marinade meat.
Is Sesame Oil Suitable To Use At A High Cooking Temperature?
Sesame oil, along with sunflower, avocado, canola, and peanut are great for using at higher temperatures, such as when you are frying food.
They have a smoke point of 400 degrees fahrenheit or higher.
Are There Health Benefits To Using Sesame Oil?
There are some health benefits to using sesame oil. Some of these include helping to protect the skin from free radical damage, fighting against inflammation, and providing the heart with healthy fats.
What Is Light Sesame Oil?
If you are looking to use a sesame oil for cooking or for using as a salad dressing, then you would want to choose the light colored version.
It has a milder flavor (though it still packs a punch), and can be used to enhance the flavor of a dish.
It is taken from untoasted sesame seeds, making it not as strong in flavor compared to its toasted sibling.
It can also be used to cook at a high temperature too, and can be commonly found in the grocery store at a reasonable price.
What Is Dark Sesame Oil?
Dark sesame seed oil is taken from toasted sesame seeds and has a much stronger flavor compared to light sesame oil.
The richer, nutty taste is an explosion for the senses, meaning it is normally used to enhance the flavor of food, rather than used to cook with as a main cooking oil – for example olive oil.