I have a weak spot for aromatic oils. Not essential oils, but the cooking oils like hazelnut oil and avocado oil. I love making dishes where they are the primary flavour component (e.g. a veloute sauce poured over something bland).

Just now, I was shopping in a Turkish grocery store, and they had nigella oil (I am not sure which plant it is exactly. The label says Nigella big, then Black cumin in the English translation and Schwarzkümmel in the German translation. Schwarzkümmel is usually translated to English as Black caraway). I almost bought it, but at the steep price (14 Eur for a 250 ml bottle) it would have been too bad if it turned out to be a neutral tasting oil.

Has somebody tasted it? How strong does it taste? The stronger, the better (for my purposes). Does it taste at least as strong as avocado oil, or is it a weak aroma, like grapeseed oil, or even neutral, like sunflower? Also, if it has a taste, is it a taste most people are likely to accept (like macadamia, or almond oil) or one which is at best an acquired taste (like the overly bitter flaxseed oil)? For reference, I like black caraway seeds as a spice.

  • "black cumin" causes a lot of confusion potential - it could be understood as nigella or as shahi jeera.... Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 23:27

9 Answers 9


It is supposed to be fairly aromatic, though bitter; can't say as I've tried it - and at that price, am unlikely to do so!

I believe it is sold as a health supplement, hence the inflated price, rather than for culinary use - in middle eastern culture it was originally viewed as a panacea apparently.

(As for the plant, Nigella sativa, English name translations are numerous, I always just use nigella seeds.)

  • There's a nice list of names on the wikipedia Nigella sativa page.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 14:46
  • @Jefromi: Aye, looked there before, most of them I considered to be unwise to use. The nigella seeds I have at home are labelled "Black onion seeds", a misnomer. When we buy them for bird seed, they are simply called nigella which is much more sensible.
    – Orbling
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 14:57
  • Thank you, I think I'll buy it when I go to this store again. The price isn't that unusual, I am accustomed to paying around EUR 10 for 250 ml on the exotic oils, with some rare delicacies like organic roasted argan costing significantly more than the nigella. I think they are worth it, the taste is very good, and they get used up much slower than an all-purpose refined oil.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 18:40

I bought a bottle some time ago and wanted to share my experience. The nigella oil has turned out to be one of my favorite oils. I don't have any other like it.

It has a very strong aroma, more similar to fresh carrot than to black caraway seeds. It is slightly bitter, and also slightly hot. The hotness is weak when compared to most hot spices, but it is there. The bitterness is very pleasant. It doesn't have the fatty, clingy quality of flaxseed oil bitterness (and has no fish taste at all). All in all, it is a very green, fresh taste, more like a herb than like an oil. "Robust" style olive oils taste this way, but the nigella oil is much stronger.

It is too strong for combinations, but it is easily made the main star of many dishes. Frying an omelette in it completely changes the taste, no need for other spices at all (it does get more bitter at low frying temperatures, but does not lose the strongest part of the flavor, just the overtones). It is also very good for dipping a rustic bread. It is also economical in the sense that a little bit of it goes a long way (using too much of it makes it really overwhelming). Conclusion: a great thing to have in the kitchen.

  • How good of you to revisit this thread after learning the answer from experience. I'll keep my eyes open for the oil.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 11:45

It is a very strong oil. It is sometimes labeled as "black seed oil" - note that it is not caraway seed oil or onion seed oil at all. I bought it as a health supplement and I HATED the taste at first, but stuck with it. I am now in a toleration phase and hopefully will develop, if not a liking for, at least a passing acceptance.I will use the entire 16oz bottle and then evaluate further use.

  • Hello FBA, and thank you for your answer. We are a strict cooking site, and don't discuss nutrition or the health effects of food. I had to edit these out, as they are off topic. But the rest covers my experience too.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 17:12

It does indeed smell and taste like terpentine, this was confirmed by the specialists that were selling it to be normal (at first I thought it was not cold-pressed but rather terpentine-extracted, so asked additionally therefore)


Someone sent me two bottles to try. I took 2 teaspoons immediately, and was horrified. It had a strong terpentinue / kerosene flavor / odor and burned my throat going down. I was really, really scared.. and I had some activated charcoal on hand in capsule form, so I took 5 of those, just in case what I had just injested was toxic. What I got is intended as a health supplement and i had fears that it was tainted in some way. The smell is definitely "fuel-like"... so I got online to look it up and found SO many others who had said the same thing. The only explanation I have found is by a doctor on facebook who says he sent it off to a mass spectrometer to be analysed after getting multiple complaints and they said it was nothing but the plant material. He said that the odor is coming from the seeds themselves. Not sure if I will ingest any more before i do some more reading.


It has a very strong kerosene fuel smell and taste that lingers in the mouth, and gives some burning sensation going down the throat. Not a pleasant taste at all but I take it for the various health benefits.


If your Black Seed Oil tastes or smells like Kerosene or turpentine, you have purchased low quality and/or OLD oil which has most likely had hexane added to it! Return it & get your money back! DON'T buy your BSO from unknown or disreputable sources, such as random sellers on Amazon. You are sure to end up with a low-quality and/or out of date product which has had hexane added to it, thus smelling and/or tasting of fuel. FRESH, HIGH-QUALITY BSO is golden-brown in color and has a strong HERBAL smell/taste... Wonderful for cooking, consumption, skincare & haircare.


To me it tastes like really strong parsley...….


I don't think black seed oil is for culinary use. Could be... but the cold pressed natural oil taste and smells like turpentine!

  • The OP (the person who originally asked the question), came back to let us know that she really enjoys the oil for culinary applications. @rumtscho's answer to her own question strongly contradicts your point.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 21:48
  • Indeed, nigella is a spice used in cooking, so it's only natural that oil pressed from it will have a flavor that's also suitable for cooking.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 21:32

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