If you have ever made Asian dishes, such as pad thai or orange chicken, then you know well how sesame oil is essential. However, you may also know it is very expensive and comes in very small bottles! So don’t panic if you can’t buy it or don’t see it anywhere nearby. There are other choices you can use instead.
What Is Sesame Oil?
Sesame oil is made from sesame seeds, and it has a strong aroma and a distinct nutty flavor. It has been used for centuries, often even as a medical alternative, and dental treatment. It is known for being heart-healthy and has gained popularity in recent years, becoming a staple in Chinese, Korean, and Indian cuisines.
The reason why sesame oil can be considered healthy is that it is high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats while being low in saturated fats.
However, it is a very rich oil, so it does contribute to a high number of calories and thus, should be used moderately. Consider using sesame oil in your stir-fry, Korean bibimbap, fried rice, or seaweed salad.
Related: Can Sesame Oil Go Bad?
What Can You Replace Sesame Oil With?
These are the best sesame oil substitutes you can use in your next cooking adventure:
#1. Avocado Oil
This oil is also rich in monounsaturated fats because it is made from avocados, so it is also a healthy option. It is safe to use at high temperatures, which is why you can use it to stir fry and make all the Asian dishes you like. You can find avocado oil in almost every grocery store nowadays, but you can also try organic stores where you’d be sure to find it.
Avocado oil goes very well in salads, dressings, and marinades. This oil can be pretty much replaced in equal parts as what the recipe called for.
#2. Peanut Oil
Peanuts are considered a very healthy food, as they are high in protein and low in saturated fats.
Peanut oil is low in saturated fats too and can withstand high temperatures, so it can be used pretty much the same way you would use sesame oil. You can find this oil in most grocery stores, though sometimes it may be hard to find so you may need to go look in specialty stores.
Peanut oil is a bit milder than sesame oil, which is why it is often used for regular cooking, such as sauteing, grilling, or as a marinade in salads.
#3. Canola Oil
You probably have canola oil in your pantry right now, so instead of looking for another option, you may want to consider using it.
This plant-based oil is a genetically modified version of grapeseed oil, but this choice is deemed to be safer than the grapeseed one, which was found to be toxic. Canola oil can be used in extremely high temperatures and has a very neutral flavor, making it versatile as well.
You can find canola oil everywhere, as it is one of the most common, if not the most in the market today. From this list though, it is considered to be less healthy, so be sure to use it in moderation.
#4. Olive Oil
Though it seems to be very different, it is, in fact, a very similar choice to sesame oil. Olive oil is considered to be an extremely healthy choice as it comes from green olives.
It is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine, making it the first choice for dishes such as hummus, baba ganoush, or in dishes with feta. This oil though has a distinct flavor, salty, and a bit of olive, which is why it could alter the flavor of your Asian dishes more than desired.
You can find this oil in any grocery store, but be careful to choose the extra-virgin option if you aren’t planning of heating it too much, otherwise, the normal version is best.
#5. Walnut Oil
The reason why this oil is not higher in the list is that it is still somewhat hard to find. However, walnuts have been used for many years by Greeks and Persians, until it became more popular in Europe. It is now finally making its way everywhere else, and it is considered healthy and high in omega 3 fats.
Like peanut oil, this oil has a nutty flavor that replaces the sesame taste very well. One downside to this oil though, is that it should not be used for cooking in high heat, as it is not very stable. You can use it for salads, sauteing fish or vegetables, and in dressings or marinades.
Going With The Right Choice
While all these oils are considered to be safe and most are healthy, they are still fats and thus add calories to your meal. This is why we recommend that you choose wisely, making sure you like the taste, and adhering to the portions that the recipe dictates. Also, when in doubt, it is best to check if the alternative you picked is safe to use in high temperatures, as some oils are not.
Because fried rice is made at high temperatures, the oil you choose should be able to resist heat very well and be stable. You can use canola oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil.
Yes, sesame seeds are a good choice if you can’t find sesame oil, but these will only add the flavor and you still need to use another oil. In this case, you could try peanut or walnut oil and then use sesame seeds to add crunchiness and flavor. Toasting the sesame seeds will make them more flavorful and the taste will be similar to sesame oil.
Making your own sesame oil is actually possible. You may need toasted sesame seeds and a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil. Prepare one-fourth cup of sesame seeds to a cup of oil of your choice. Mix together the two ingredients on a skillet over medium heat. Once the seeds turn brown, approximately within two minutes, your sesame oil is ready.
It isn’t all lost if you can’t find any sesame oil or if you find it too expensive, you can still make your favorite Asian dishes with these choices. Just make sure you consider whether they are safe to deep fry with and taste them, as some do taste very different from sesame oil. These are all healthy options, but remember, with fats, moderation is key.
*Photo by tycoon/depositphotos