There are many great recipes out there that call for sesame oil, as it gives a great flavor to any dish you make, especially with Asian inspired cuisine, and can add some great health benefits to each meal as well. However, if you don’t have sesame oil on hand, there are many substitutes for sesame oil you can choose.
Sesame oil substitutes are diverse and include peanut oil, sesame seeds, peanuts, tahini, coconut oil, fish oil, and olive oil. Sesame oil substitutes allow you to get the same great flavor that you want when you are out of your favorite oil.
Some of these substitutes work better in your baked goods, some work as a nice topping on salads and other dishes that need a little extra oil, and others work well with the high temperatures of a stir-fry. This article will discuss some of the best substitutes you can use with sesame oil to help you get that dish done and supper on the table.
What Is Sesame Oil?
Sesame oil is often known as one of the best oilseeds because it can be used for so many different things.
It has been used for cosmetic, culinary, and medicinal uses, making it one of the best choices out there for your cooking needs. It is most popular in cooking, though, and can add a distinct flavor to any meal while also adding some of the healthy nutrients you need.
Sesame oil is simply derived from sesame seeds, helping give this oil a nice nutty aroma that will add flavor to many types of cuisines. It is common to find Asian dishes with sesame oils, but they can be used in cuisines worldwide.
In addition to the enhancing flavor, sesame oil can also add more fragrance to your meals while boosting the nutritional value. This oil is easy to add to soups, salads, stir-fries, and even a few desserts.
It is common for most recipes to only call for a few teaspoons of sesame oil at a time. This means that unless you plan to make the same recipe many times, it may not make sense to purchase a whole bottle.
To help you save money while still making your favorite recipes, it is important to know a few of the best substitutes you can use for sesame oil when cooking.
The Best Sesame Oil Substitutes
When you want a specific flavor to a dish you are making, finding a sesame oil substitute is important. There are several different substitutes you can use for sesame oil, including:
Peanut oil is a light oil that many Asian cultures will add to their foods. The savory flavor that comes with peanut oil helps to add something new to your dish without overwhelming it at all.
Because the flavor is nice and light, you can easily substitute it for the sesame oil.
Peanut oil is used at the same ratio as sesame oil in any recipe. If the recipe calls for half a cup of sesame oil, you will use half a cup of peanut oil in that recipe.
Keep in mind that if you are serving a dish to a large group and worry about allergies, it may be best to choose a different type of substitute for this dish.
Roasted Sesame Seeds
For some of the dishes you want to make, you may be able to use roasted sesame seeds.
These seeds are simple to use and can provide a subtle yet delicious flavor when you add them to curries, stews, and sauces. They also work well in many vegetable dishes and meats.
However, if you plan to cook or fry something on the stove in sesame oil, the seeds would not work, and you need to pick another option. If the sesame oil is just added to the dish, then sesame seeds will work fine.
Roasted peanuts work in a similar manner to the roasted sesame seeds we discussed above.
The flavor of peanuts is so powerful that you can add some of these to any dish to get a similar taste as sesame oil provides.
In many cases, the recipes you choose might just drizzle the oil over the finished product for additional flavor. Instead of doing this, you can take a small handful of peanuts and add them to the dish for a suitable flavor replacement.
Peanuts work best as a topping or added into a soup or other dish, similar to sesame seeds like we talked about before. If you want to use it to help with a stir fry or a skillet meal, you will need to use peanut oil instead. Both give a distinct flavor that can enhance many meals that call for sesame oil.
One of the most accessible and best replacements for sesame oil is the all-time favorite olive oil. Since most families have some olive oil sitting in the cupboard, this is an easy replacement to use.
While olive oil is often used in Mediterranean-style dishes, it can taste good for many recipes that call for sesame oil too.
When it comes to using olive oil as a replacement, the lighter, the better. Keep in mind that extra virgin olive oil will provide a slightly different flavor to any dish you add to, but it is still a fantastic and easy substitute to using sesame oil.
Avocado oil is a good substitute because it has plenty of monounsaturated fats. While it will lack a bit in some of the nutty flavoring that you get from sesame oil, it does work well as a cooking oil.
Avocado oil is stable under high heat and works for deep-frying if you need to use it for that purpose. Whether you want to substitute it for a hot skillet or use it as a topping on your cold salad, avocado oil is a great choice.
Coconut oil is a natural, cold-pressed oil. It is well known that the health benefits of coconuts are far-reaching, and it only takes a moment to walk down the grocery store aisle to see how popular this food is.
Coconut oil can always stand in for sesame oil when you cook, but it really shines when you bake with it.
Coconut oil often comes in a more solid form than you’ll see with olive, vegetable, and sesame oil, so keep that in mind when cooking. You will need to give it a bit of extra time when you add it to a skillet to cook with, so it has time to melt. The flavoring is really distinct, though, and it can add something unique to your favorite dishes.
Walnut oil does not provide the same health benefits that you see with sesame oil, but it does bring a nice nutty flavor as we do with the original.
This oil does not work well in high heat, though. If your recipe calls for stir-frying or baking, choose another option on our list.
Perilla oil is a type of vegetable oil made from perilla seeds. Consuming it may help reduce the risk of heart disease (3), aid in maintaining good joint health to reduce the effects of arthritis (4), help strengthen (5) the immune system.
Even if you aren’t looking for any good health benefits in a sesame oil substitute, perilla oil has a great taste to add to any dish.
Perilla oil has a deep, rich, and earthy taste and is a common dipping sauce for Korean cuisine. It is higher in calories compared to sesame oil, so users need to be aware of that. It is also a nut oil, so be careful about allergic reactions.
Tahini is technically made up of ground sesame seeds. So, if you don’t want to spend the time toasting your own sesame seeds, then you can use tahini and add it alongside a healthier option like coconut oil.
Tahini is best known for working well with hummus, but you can also use it instead of refined sesame oil without losing any of the flavoring.
Ghee is similar to clarified butter (6) and will result when the milk solids separate from the butterfat in processed butter while cooking it in water. The pure butterfat will then strain out right away, and then it will be used in that pale and golden state. The ghee will work well in high temperatures like stir-fries and is often easy to switch out with coconut oil and vegetable oil.
If you have some ghee on hand and are short on sesame oil, you can switch it out. However, note that the taste of the dish will be different, and the nutritional value is much lower.
Ghee is a popular choice for many diet plans, including the ketogenic diet, because of the high-fat content, so it is a good substitute if you are on a keto diet.
Another choice to make when it comes to a substitute for sesame oil is grapeseed oil.
This option lacks a lot of the nutritional content you see with sesame oil, so it shouldn’t be your first choice for a replacement. However, it does provide a very similar flavor and can be used in a pinch. It is good for making stir-fries and can be quick and effective for getting the meal made.
Flaxseed oil is a good option if you want to keep those healthy omega-3 fatty acids in your meals. It is also an oil with lots of soluble fiber and lignans, which will contain the phytoestrogens that your body needs to keep things healthy.
It will give a nice texture to the foods that you want to cook with it, but the flavor of the meal will be a bit different.
Vegetable oil is one of the most widely available cooking oils in the United States. It is simple to find, inexpensive, and can stand in for most of the other oils you need in a recipe. This makes it a very versatile option to work with.
Most of the bottled vegetable oils found in grocery stores will include 100% soybean oil made from soybeans found in the United States.
This oil has fewer nutrients compared to sesame oil. But since it is likely you have some on hand, it is a good choice if you’re in a pinch and need a quick substitute.
Fish oil is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important substances that the body needs for many daily functions, including cell growth (7) and muscle activity (8). And these have to come from your foods because the body can’t naturally produce them.
If adding omega-3s to your diet is a priority, fish oil is the best sesame oil substitute to use. And since it can work well in high heat settings, fish oil is a good option for stir-fries and casseroles that require sesame oil.
Animal Fats (Lard)
Lard is a great substitute for sesame oil. It’s pretty healthy, and the consistency makes it feel like you’re using butter.
While this isn’t sourced from plants like most of the other options on this list, and it isn’t as healthy as many of the others, it’s still a decent option if you’re in a bind.
To get your lard ready as a sesame oil substitute, you should cook it until it’s got a light brown tinge. This will give it a toasty flavor that emulates sesame oil in some regards.
Canola oil is another solid replacement for sesame oil. It contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and has relatively low amounts of saturated fat. It’s also relatively common in most kitchens, making it one of the healthiest substitute options that you probably already have.
The Benefits of Sesame Oil
There are a lot of great health benefits of using sesame seed oil. If you can use this instead of substituting with one of the other great options, you can improve your health while making your food taste better. Some of the great health benefits you may enjoy with sesame seed oil include:
High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that can help reduce damage in the cells caused by free radicals. When your body accumulates many of these free radicals, it will cause inflammation. Inflammation is known to cause disease.
In a one-month study of rats (9), it was found that taking a bit of sesame oil supplements was enough to help prevent cell damage in the heart. In that study, antioxidant activity increased in rats that took between 2 or 4 ml of oil per pound of body weight.
Good for the Heart
A well-established body of research has proven how a diet high in unsaturated fats is good for the heart’s health. And sesame oil typically contains 82% unsaturated fatty acids (10).
In particular, it is higher in omega-6 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that can help prevent heart disease. Some research even helps show how this oil could help prevent heart disease and slows down plaque development (11) in the arteries.
To take it even further, research also suggests that this oil may help lower your cholesterol levels (12), as long as you use it in place of other oils high in saturated fats.
Another one-month study (13) done on 48 adults found that those who took in 4 tablespoons, or 59 ml, of this oil each day, had a larger reduction in the LDL cholesterol (14) and their triglyceride levels compared to those who chose to have olive oil each day.
May Help With Arthritis Pain
Osteoarthritis is estimated to affect about 15% of the population and is one of the most common sources of joint pain. Several rodent studies have shown that there may be a link between consuming sesame oil and improving the prognosis of arthritis patients. In one of these studies (15) that took place over 28-days, researchers gave oil to rats. The daily dose was 0.5 ml per pound of body weight.
During this study, it was found that the rats had reduced markers of oxidative stress and other symptoms of arthritis, including joint pain. Human research has not been done on sesame oil for joint pain and arthritis, but rodent studies have been a promising start.
Supports Stable Blood Sugar Levels
It is possible that sesame oil can support the healthy regulation of blood sugars. This can be great news for those suffering from diabetes. One study (16) showed that rats with diabetes went on a 6% sesame oil diet for a total of 42 days. During this time, they saw a big reduction in their blood sugar levels compared to those who did not get the oil.
Human studies have been used as well. One such study (17) looked at 46 adults who were dealing with type 2 diabetes. It was found that taking sesame oil for a total of 90 days was enough to significantly reduce the blood sugar levels at fasting and the hemoglobin A1c, compared to the placebo group. These levels are very important indicators of long-term blood sugar control.
While many dishes work well with sesame oil, there are times when you may need to find a substitute for a different oil.
Whether you are low on sesame oil or want to add a different flavor to the dish, there are plenty of options, including coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, fish oil, and more. Many of these options provide numerous health benefits, and the substitution can actually be an improvement as far as your health is concerned. The next time you need to make a dish that calls for sesame oil and are low on supplies, see how delicious it can be with one of these sesame oil substitutes.