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Looking for Healthy, Organic Sesame Oil Substitute?

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

Where can you find a substitute for sesame oil? Is there anything we can replace it with? These are just a few of the questions I hear from people who can’t handle anything sesame. For them, I submit for consideration some suitable sesame oil replacements.

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Next time you run out of sesame oil, rest assured that there are other options available. Together we will look into them. I am going to help you discover the fundamentals of finding a good plant-based cooking oil that can substitute sesame oil.

But before we get to that point, I must tell you how deeply I appreciate sesame oil. It is one thing that I always add to my salads or use when sautéeing vegetables and searing some steaks. It just has that naturally soothing taste and aroma that can’t be beat.

For the sake of establishing the culinary importance of sesame oil, let me go deeper into the details, as not many people are aware of this oil. Extracted from sesame seeds, the oil comes in several different varieties.

As there are two distinct types of sesame seeds, the oil extracted from them are of two major types: one is pale yellow, extracted from white sesame seeds, and then there’s the darker one from black sesame seeds. Ordinarily we refer to the pale-yellow type as sesame oil as it is the one most commonly used in households. Other varieties of sesame seeds include red and yellow seeds, which give different shaded oils, but they are not that commonly produced and used.

It is worth mentioning here that oil from black sesame seeds and toasted sesame seeds are two different varieties in themselves. Though both seeds can give a darker color to the oil, they taste different and also contain different nutrients as well as caloric value. There is yet another way to differentiate between the types of sesame oil, and that is to check if it’s organic or not.

The cold-pressed and unrefined sesame oil is known as the extra virgin sesame oil, and I always recommend the organic type no matter which brand you are using. It is more nutritional and keeps the food fresh and healthy after cooking. Organic sesame oil is also best for uncooked servings, like salads.

Despite all its pros, it is not always possible to keep the sesame oil in constant use. Sometimes it is not available in remote places, or there is no good store nearby. Or sometimes people just can’t have it because of its sesame seed origin.

So, if the recipe still says to use sesame oil, what do you do?

There is one simple solution. Take a look around in your house and find the closest match to use instead. The list in this article will tease out all such possibilities. The substitute should have sesame oil-like properties in order to keep the meal as delicious and healthy as possible. I keep switching between different alternatives to enjoy all sorts of tastes and to discover all their different health benefits.

What to seek in a good oil substitute?

When it comes to finding a replacement for cooking oils, it is not all about the taste. Several different features have to be kept in mind. Before opting for a specific substitute, consider the density, color, appearance, aroma, and temperature tolerance along with the flavor.

To bring everyone to the same page, we should all be aware of the peculiar traits of a desirable substitute for sesame oil. It should meet certain standards. Let me break down those for you before we jump ahead.

  • Nutty or Neutral Taste:

Sesame oil has a somewhat nutty or seed-like taste which is not readily available in all of its substitutes, so the best way to opt for a replacement is to find an oil either with a nutty flavor or a neutral taste. In this, you will be able to use that cooking oil in a range of different recipes.

  • Temperature tolerant:

Temperature tolerance is an important feature of cooking oil; those which are not stable at high temperatures are not good for deep frying or high-temperature cooking. Sesame oil is good both for deep frying and shallow frying, so its substitute be a good fit for any of these purposes.  While discussing different sesame oil alternatives, we will also look into whether they are suitable for such modes of cooking.

  • Monounsaturated:

Sesame oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, and any of its substitutes should have such a composition. Those fats are free from any bad cholesterol, and they are very good for you. It also keeps the consistency of the oil very fluid and light, thus making it suitable for salads and different healthy meals.

  • Plant-Based:

All plant-based oils share a similar composition at their core. They all are unsaturated, liquid, lighter in density, rich in minerals, fatty acids, and good cholesterol. Sesame oil has these properties, and that’s what we should be seeking in an alternatives. Our search will be therefore confined to plant-based oil categories, with monounsaturated fatty acids and high-temperature tolerance the priorities.

8 Good Sesame Oil Replacements

Sesame oil is not as commonly used in Western cuisines as it is in Asian ones. Whether it’s Korean dishes or Chinese stir-fries, drizzling some toasted sesame seeds as a garnish is a culinary norm, and using sesame oil is also one of their centuries-old traditions. In those cultures, not having sesame oil in the kitchen is not considered a good omen.

That’s how significant sesame oil is. There is always a chance you’ll run out of this oil while cooking, but instead of panic, you can turn to other options found in every kitchen cabinet.

In the light of the features discussed above, it’s about time we look around and find something closely related to sesame oil. We need a plant oil which can not only imitate the taste of the sesame oil but also its lighter consistency, peculiar aroma, and nutritional value. Keep the basic traits of sesame oil in mind before we look for the right replacement.

It is a light, pale-colored oil with a mild and nutty taste and soothing aroma when cooked. It is monounsaturated seed extracted oil rich in nutrients and low in calories. Down below are a few of the options which are commonly used in place of sesame oil. They include olive oil, avocado oil, peanuts, and walnut oil.

Why exactly are they good substitutes?

Let’s find out:

1. Avocado oil

A good substitute for sesame oil in cooking is avocado oil. It is full of healthy monounsaturated fats. Though it does not have that same nut-like taste as that of sesame, and it has a rather different consistency and earthy taste, this oil stands close to sesame oil and can easily replace it in everyday cooking, especially for grilling, sautéing, roasting, and making dressings for the salads.

It can also withstand high temperatures, which is a prerequisite of deep frying. Avocado oil has many health benefits of its own; it has antioxidants, essential vitamins,  and nutrients, not to mention it’s free of bad cholesterol.

I used to have avocado oil in my kitchen cabinet, but it never made it to daily use until I went for it as a substitute. It was its mild and soothing taste which first made me use it. Avocado oil is now finding popularity in many circles because of its endless benefits; it is a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

Through its culinary uses, it can ensure glowing skin, better moisturization, detoxification of body cells, and maintenance of the metabolism and gut system. As a substitute for sesame oil, start taking avocado oil and tap into its hidden benefits.

2. Canola oil

Canola is commonly used for all kinds of cooking from deep frying to searing and sautéing. It is actually extracted from rapeseeds, which are found in canola blooms. You can say that it is a genetically modified form of rapeseed oil. Plants of mustard, cabbage, turnip, brussels sprouts, and rutabaga all offer these seeds.

Being a seed-based plant oil, canola offers a good substitute to sesame oil. It is best used for deep frying.  The great thing about this oil is the neutrality of its taste.

Canola oil was not new to me when I first opted for it as a sesame oil substitute for cooking. In fact, I used to add canola use to several recipes even before that. But for Asian recipes, I was always reluctant to use this oil, as I thought it would mess up the taste. But to my surprise, it replaced the sesame oil without doing much harm to the taste and texture of my recipe. That’s why I’ve added canola oil to my list of substitutes!

3. Olive oil

Using olive oil is always a safe option. When you can’t use any other seed or nut oil, substitute sesame oil for olive oil. It has partially neutral flavors and it’s pale yellow in color. It cannot provide similar health benefits or the same taste as sesame oil, but it is can give the same color and appearance to the food as sesame oil provides.

It is best to use in salad dressings, shallow frying, searing, and sautéing. Olive oil is prescribed to everyone with a heart condition, as it is both preventative and curative in nature. You should always have extra virgin olive oil in your kitchen cabinet. It is rather a more neutral option to seek when you are out of any oil, whether sesame or any other.

Olive oil is good both in content and taste. It also keeps the food fresh and delightful. It is not much of a deep-frying material, but it is excellent for sautéing. It guarantees a unique aromatic flavor to each recipe. Keep some amount of olive oil in daily use to procure all of its various health benefits.

4. Peanut oil

Peanut oil gives you the best nutty flavor, making it a suitable oil to replace sesame oil with. It has great health benefits and tolerates high heat. Therefore it is useful for both salad seasoning and frying, be it searing or deep frying.

Nut oils are usually enriched with a high amount of nutrients — always a plus. Naturally, peanut oil has a mild taste, so you can use any amount of it without any worries. The downside of this oil is that it can trigger a peanut allergy.

Peanut oil is considered analogous to sesame oil; it is extracted directly from peanuts and is also known as groundnut oil. Peanut oil has more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated ones, and naturally, it is low on saturated fats, which makes peanut oil a completely healthy ingredient for all diet plans.

Its strong, nutty flavor makes it a suitable contestant as a sesame substitute, but it is restricted in culinary uses where you just need a mild taste of oil in the recipe. Use a small amount of this oil to keep the balance of the ingredients. It can be the best substitute for sesame oil in stir fry.

5. Perilla oil

Perilla is not something you hear about every other day; in fact, you might have not heard about it at all. This oil is most commonly used in the Korean cuisines and other Asian foods. So, there are chances that you can find it at some Asian specialty store. If you get your hands on it, it can be a great sesame oil replacement.

However, this oil is not free of allergens, either. It is also high in calories, which makes it not a healthy oil for everyone. Nonetheless, the oil is great for preparing salad dressings and sautéeing any food. The taste of perilla oil is best suited for Korean dishes.

6. Roasted peanuts

If it’s the nutty flavor that you seek in sesame oil, it can be replaced with roasted peanuts. When the peanuts are added to a recipe, it infuses a similar taste to the food.

Toasted sesame oil Substitute:

The sesame oil regularly used is the kind that has a light yellow color and grain-like odor. It is made using raw sesame seeds, so you should not mix up the dark sesame oil with this one. When seeds are toasted before extracting the oil, they give dark-colored sesame oil. And this version can also be used to replace the pale colored normal sesame oil.

Both of them have a different aroma and their taste also slightly differs. The dark sesame oil substitute has a strong and intense taste. Where pale sesame oil is used primarily for deep frying and a number of other cooking methods, the dark oil is good for stir fry and sautes. It also goes well in salad dressings and marinades.

Walnut oil

Walnut oil is a good substitute for sesame oil because of its natural nutty taste. Moreover, it is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which means it is a healthy option. Its nutty taste makes it a perfect replacement when used in salad dressings. Walnut oil is drizzled over cooked steaks, mixed pasta, desserts, and even in fish marinades. Due to its distinct taste, it infuses nice flavors to all the sauces and salads the oil is used for.

Conclusion

Now you have the list of all the oils which can compete with the taste and aroma of the sesame oil. You can’t find a perfect parallel to sesame oil, but you can get pretty close. I suggest using any of these replacements, depending on what your dish calls for.

If it’s only for a salad, I would recommend adding a few drops of olive oil. For an omelet, use avocado oil, and make use of walnut oil for desserts. Finally, canola oil is best for regular cooking like frying or sautéing.

With appropriate usage, these oil substitutes can bring out the same flavor and charm to the food as sesame oil does. Make sure to look into the nutritional content of each oil before you switch to it. Keep your health preferences in mind, too, and then make your decision. Good oil is essential to preparing a delicious and healthy meal. No good cook moves an inch ahead with the cooking without putting extra thought into the selection of the oil.

Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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