Best Substitutes For Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has a rich history originating from tropical regions of Africa and India. The oil is extracted from sesame seeds and has been used for over 5,000 years in Asian cuisines. Sesame oil provides great nutritional benefits as it is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants.

However, sesame is also one of the top 8 food allergens. Hence, some people need substitutes when cooking in order to avoid sesame oil. Also, certain diets like paleo and keto restrict sesame oil due to its high omega-6 content.

So what are the best options for replacing sesame oil in recipes? Let’s first understand what sesame oil is and how it compares to toasted sesame oil.

What Is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil is derived from sesame seeds that are cleaned, toasted, and then pressed to extract the oil. Sesame likely originated in tropical regions of Africa and India. From there, its use spread to other parts of Asia.

The oil has a pale yellow color and mild, nutty taste. Cold-pressed sesame oil retains more of its nutrients but has a lower smoke point. Sesame oil provides the following nutritional benefits:

  • Rich in heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Excellent source of antioxidant vitamin E
  • Contains zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and fiber
  • Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

So in moderation, sesame oil can be a great addition to a balanced diet. Now let’s see how it differs from toasted sesame oil.

Sesame Oil Vs. Toasted Sesame Oil

While regular sesame oil is made from raw, untoasted sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil comes from seeds that are toasted or baked prior to oil extraction.

This roasting gives toasted sesame oil a darker color and more robust, nutty sesame flavor. Toasted sesame oil also has a lower smoke point than light sesame oil.

Therefore, the two oils are used differently:

  • Sesame oil: versatile cooking oil suitable for stir-frying, sautéing, etc.
  • Toasted sesame oil: finishing oil added at the end for flavor. Not suitable for high-heat cooking.

So when you need a substitute for regular sesame oil, look for oils with a light color and mild, neutral taste.

But if you want a replacement for toasted sesame oil specifically, choose an oil with a deeper color and nutty, roasted flavor.

Now let’s get into the best substitutes!

Substitutes For Light Or Regular Sesame Oil

When you need a substitute for regular sesame oil, look for oils with a high smoke point and neutral taste. Here are great options:

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil has a mild, nutty taste similar to sesame oil. It has a high smoke point of 450°F, making it suitable for:

  • Stir-fries
  • Sautéing veggies and proteins
  • Deep frying foods

It’s an affordable, versatile choice for replicating sesame oil’s neutral flavor.

Extra-Light Olive Oil

Extra-light olive oil is refined for a lighter color and milder flavor. With a smoke point of 468°F, it’s excellent for:

  • Sautéing aromatics like onions and garlic
  • Cooking tender vegetables
  • Frying chicken or fish
  • Making salad dressings

Canola Oil

With its neutral taste, high smoke point (400°F), and affordability, canola oil is a budget-friendly sesame oil substitute. Use it for:

  • Stir-fries
  • Deep frying
  • Sautéing meat, poultry, or vegetables

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil has a near flavorless profile. With a smoke point of 420°F, it works well for:

  • Frying foods
  • Sautéing
  • Salad dressings
  • Baking

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil has a mildly nutty, buttery flavor. Its high smoke point of 520°F makes it a healthy choice for:

  • Grilling meats
  • Sautéing veggies
  • Frying
  • Whisking into dressings

Walnut Oil

For a nuttier flavor, try walnut oil. It has an earthy, nutty profile that mimics sesame oil. With a 400°F smoke point, use it for:

  • Sautéing aromatics
  • Salad dressings
  • Marinades
  • Drizzling over fruits like pears

Safflower Oil

With its neutral flavor, safflower oil is a great choice for Asian cooking requiring high heat. Its smoke point is 510°F. Use it for:

  • Stir-fries
  • Tempura batter
  • Deep frying

Almond Oil

Almond oil provides a mild, nutty flavor similar to sesame. With a smoke point of 430°F, it’s suitable for:

  • Sautéing veggies or proteins
  • Baking
  • Massages
  • Making marinades

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil has a very mild taste and high 450°F smoke point. Use it for:

  • Frying
  • Sautéing
  • Making dressings
  • Baking

So those are great neutral-flavored oils to use in place of regular sesame oil in recipes requiring high heat cooking.

Toasted Sesame Oil Substitutes

When you need that signature roasted sesame flavor, try these toasted sesame oil replacements:

DIY Toasted Sesame Oil

For the closest match, make your own by:

  1. Toasting sesame seeds in the oven or pan on low heat for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  2. Letting them cool.
  3. Blending the toasted seeds with a neutral oil like grapeseed oil in a food processor.
  4. Straining out the solids.

This yields a homemade oil with the same rich, roasted taste.


Tahini is a Middle Eastern paste made from ground, toasted sesame seeds. With its thick, nutty flavor, tahini makes a great sub for toasted sesame oil in:

  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Hummus

Chinese Sesame Paste

Chinese sesame paste provides an extra dark color and intense, smoky sesame flavor. Use it in place of toasted sesame oil when cooking Chinese or Asian fusion dishes.

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil

With its deep green color and robust, nutty taste, toasted pumpkin seed oil mimics the flavor of toasted sesame oil. Drizzle it over:

  • Salads
  • Grilled or roasted veggies
  • Grain bowls

So those are great options for replicating the dark color and rich, roasted flavor of toasted sesame oil.


Is peanut oil a good substitute for sesame oil?

Yes, peanut oil is one of the best substitutes for sesame oil due to its neutral flavor, affordability, and high smoke point of 450°F. Its mild, nutty taste closely resembles sesame oil.

What oil has the closest flavor to sesame oil?

For regular sesame oil, oils like peanut, grapeseed, and avocado have the closest mild, nutty flavor. For toasted sesame oil, tahini and toasted pumpkin seed oil come the closest to replicating the signature roasted sesame taste.

Can I use olive oil instead of sesame oil?

Extra light or refined olive oil can be used instead of regular sesame oil in some cooking applications. But avoid using extra virgin olive oil, which has too low of a smoke point and strong flavor.

What oil has the highest smoke point?

Avocado oil and refined safflower oil have the highest smoke points at around 510°F, followed by rice bran oil (490°F) and refined peanut oil (450°F). This makes them suitable for deep frying and high-heat cooking.

Is coconut oil a good substitute for sesame oil?

Coconut oil isn’t the best sub for sesame oil since it has a much lower smoke point of 350°F. Also, coconut oil imparts a strong flavor that may not work well in savory dishes that call for sesame oil.

Wrap Up: Best Substitutes For Sesame Oil

In summary, sesame oil can be substituted with oils that have a similar light color and mild, nutty taste like peanut, grapeseed, and almond oil. For replicating toasted sesame oil, try tahini, pumpkin seed oil, or making your own DIY version.

Sesame oil provides great nutritional benefits but some people need substitutes to avoid allergies. With this guide of the best alternative oils to use in place of sesame oil, you can adapt recipes while still achieving delicious results.

So next time your recipe calls for sesame oil but you don’t have any on hand, try using one of these great substitutes to still create a mouthwatering dish!

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