12 Best Sesame Oil Substitutes

Need a last-minute sesame oil substitute? From coconut to olive oil, these twelve best alternatives will match the nutty flavor and high smoke point you need.

sesame oil

Sesame oil is a staple in many Asian cuisines, but it can be hard to find and expensive. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to sesame oil, this article will show you the best substitutes.

Sesame oil is well known for its rich, nutty, toasty taste. It’s a staple in many Asian cuisines, appearing in popular dishes like bulgogi, ginger meatballs, and many classic stir fry recipes. It has a uniquely rich taste that’s not easy to replicate.

The problem is that it can be difficult to find and expensive to buy, and if you need some at the last minute, finding a good backup can make or break your dish.

We’re here to help. In this guide, we look at the best affordable alternatives to sesame oil, many of which you may already have in your kitchen. Let’s get into it.

Types of Sesame Oil

Sesame oil can come in different forms. It can be a thin white liquid or an amber-colored solid. Most people are able to tell the difference in taste and texture, but some may not know which type they should purchase for their needs.


There are different types of sesame oil that you can use. Generally, there are just two types, light and dark sesame oil. The primary and most obvious difference is their color difference. Dark sesame oil is toasted and has a dark color. Often it is used to season dishes rather than cooking.

Dark sesame oil is made of toasted sesame seeds that give it a brown or gold-like color. It has a robust nutty and full flavor makes it a great addition to dishes that require such flavors. 


This type of sesame seed oil is made of untoasted seeds. As such, it has a light color. It is made from untoasted pressed raw sesame seeds. No heat or chemical process is used to manufacture a pressed oil such as light sesame oil. The flavor is nutty but not as much as when you toast them and also not as full-bodied. You use it for cooking rather than to drizzle to finished dishes as you do with dark sesame seed oil. This oil is easier to replace or substitute with a lot of other oils. 


Black sesame seed oil is made of black sesame seeds. It has a rich, creamy flavor. Like toasted sesame oil, it is well paired with salads and better used as a top drizzle in uncooked foods. While black and dark oils can both be drizzled over salads, they differ in their taste.

Olive Oil

olive oil poured into hot pan

Light tasting, sweet but not overpowering – olive oil is one of the best alternatives to sesame oil. Also good if you want to use it in recipes that require less heat like salad dressing

Olive oil is a common sesame seed oil substitute. It is made by extracting oil from olives. One of the main reasons is that it has a string of health benefits. It works well as a substitute for cooking because it has a high heating point. However, it has a slightly tangier flavor than sesame oil. Keep this in mind, especially if you do not want the flavor altered too much.  

Olive oil is a healthy fat, just like sesame oil, and that’s why it’s a good substitute. Use a 1:1 substitution ratio. 

Avocado Oil

avocado oil

This natural oil is a pressed oil made from the pulp of avocado. It is not a nut-based oil, and as such, will not have the same nutty flavor, but it is still a good sesame oil substitute with high nutritional value, such as being rich in oleic acid. It can be used in place of both light or dark sesame seed oil, even though the flavor will not be as intense. It has a high heating point, which makes it an excellent substitute for light sesame oil. Use one tablespoon of avocado oil in place of one tablespoon of oil. 

Toasted Sesame Seeds

toasted sesame seeds

When sesame seeds are toasted, they release a rich flavor. You can use them in place of dark sesame seed oil. This way, you know that you are getting the same rich flavor.  However, these won’t work if you needed the oil to bind ingredients together. You can use one tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds for one tablespoon of sesame seed oil. 

Roasted Peanuts

Roasting peanuts helps to bring out the flavor. It works well to replace dark sesame seed oil, which is known for its nutty flavor. They can give your dish an incredible lift in this department. 

This substitute will replace flavor but not texture. It works well as a garnish or a flavor enhancer. You may use one tablespoon of toasted peanuts in place of 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil or taste. 

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oil is extracted from vegetable seeds and other parts. They are better used to cook with rather than as a garnish. The health benefits are similar to those you find with sesame seed oil. There is a variety of vegetable oils that you can choose from. Their flavor is not as distinct as sesame seed oil, but the good thing is that they can withstand heat well. You can use one tablespoon of vegetable oil in place of a tablespoon of sesame seed oil.

Sunflower Oil

This is a type of vegetable oil that can be used in place of sesame seed oil. It works similarly to olive oil and is just as versatile. It can be used for high heat frying recipes, making it a good substitute for light sesame seed oil that is often used for stir fry.  You can use a tablespoon of sunflower oil in place of 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil. 

Tahini (Sesame Paste)

If you want the sesame flavor, this is one of the best substitutes made from sesame seeds. This is a paste and not an oil. So it will not match sesame seed oil in texture. You can mix it with another oil to come up with the same consistency. To use tahini in place of sesame seed oil, use ¾ teaspoon of tahini and ¼ teaspoon of a neutral oil with a high heating point.

Peanut Oil

This is an oil extracted from peanuts and, as such, has a nutty flavor. It has a high heating point, so it does well as a sesame seed oil substitute for frying, sauteing, and deep-frying. This is a great substitute as it carries the rich nutty flavor, but it is also affordable. To substitute, use a 1:1 ratio.

Canola Oil

This is a vegetable oil extracted from canola. Synthetic chemicals are used in the extraction process, which is a concern for some. It’s a neutral oil that you could use combined with sesame paste if the nutty flavor is something you are after. You can use it for cooking as well as for baking.  Use a 1:1 ratio for substitution. 

Grapeseed Oil

This oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes, and it is also classified as vegetable oil. It’s great to use for cooking and in place of light sesame seed oil, as it is neutral and has a high heat point. It also has nutritional benefits for the skin and hair, just like sesame seed oil. Use a substitution ratio of 1:1. 

Perilla Oil

Perilla oil, also known as purple basil, is a common ingredient in Korean dishes with high nutritional value. Also, the two oils are similar in that they are both made through a process of pressing. You can get both in toasted and untoasted versions, making it an excellent substitute for sesame seed oil. 

DIY Sesame Seed Oil

To make your sesame seed oil, heat ¼ of sesame seeds carefully so they don’t burn, add 1 cup of neutral oil. Heat the two for about 3 minutes and then turn the heat off. You can then strain the seeds out of the oil and remain with the oil, packed with flavor.  Make sure to use a neutral oil with a bland taste and a high heating point to versatile your homemade oil.