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An Asian recipe I'm trying calls for sesame oil. However, the only bottle I found is $6, and since I'm only using a tablespoon of it, and am on a tight budget, I don't want to spend that much just to not use most of it. Is there a good substitute for the sesame oil?

The recipe I'm making is a "cheater" Korean beef dish if that helps at all.

Update: I tried it with extra virgin olive oil instead and it turned out fantastic! I'm not sure how much different it would have been with the sesame oil, but it was pretty great without it. The recipe can be found here.

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    Is it toasted sesame oil? If it's not toasted, most light oils will work. Toasted will be much harder to substitute. – SourDoh Feb 26 '14 at 20:47
  • It doesn't specify for it to be toasted, so I'm assuming that it's not. – Nicole Rae Feb 26 '14 at 20:49
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    I would assume it is, as that is the major reason to use it. IF you provide the complete recipe, the context should tell us. IF you are frying in it, its not. If you are using it as a condiment, it is. – SAJ14SAJ Feb 26 '14 at 20:52
  • If this was indeed for flavoring, the fact that it was good with olive oil really just means that it was good without sesame. You just made the dish missing that flavor. – Cascabel Feb 27 '14 at 1:21
  • Maybe someday I will bite the bullet and just buy the sesame oil and retry the recipe with it. :p I'm sure it would have added flavor, but it tasted good without it. I'm interested to see what difference it makes. – Nicole Rae Feb 27 '14 at 2:31
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As a substitute for untoasted sesame oil, most light oils will work (light olive, peanut, canola, sunflower, etc). Any nut or seed oil should be pretty close.

Toasted sesame oil has a much bolder and nuttier flavor. It could perhaps be approximated with a light oil and adding toasted sesame to your dish.

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    Or perhaps even toasting the sesame seeds in the oil... – daramarak Feb 26 '14 at 22:02
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Since your recipe only calls for a tablespoon, I am inferring this is toasted sesame oil, which is used for its strong and lovely flavor.

There really are no good substitutes for this purpose.

I would recommend investing in the bottle, which kept in the refrigerator should last a long time, and will bring flavor to many dishes.

If you choose not to do that, I would simply omit the sesame oil, although your dish will lack certain depth and complexity the oil brings.

  • A small amount of toasted sesame oil is frequently called for in recipes, so it might be a good investment. The smallest bottle I have been able to find is abt. 5 oz, or 150 ml, and kept in the fridge, it lasts me - like - way more than a yr. But please note that when this oil gets cold it sort of crystallizes a little bit and looks cloudy & clumpy, but when it warms up, it looks clear & fine again, and tastes absolutely just as good. The last drop in the bottle is still great - if you keep it refrigerated. So don't let that fridge-cloudiness bother you. Olive oil & peanut oil do it too. – Lorel C. Jan 18 '17 at 18:11

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