Can you substitute sesame oil for olive oil?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute sesame oil for olive oil?”, and what are the best substitutes for sesame oil?

Can you substitute sesame oil for olive oil?

Yes, you can substitute sesame oil for olive oil unless you have a sesame allergy. Sesame oil is the best pick if you want to add a nutty flavor to your dish. Most Asian and Oriental salads are drizzled with sesame oil for flavor. 

According to FAO (2019), the world production of sesame exceeded 5.5 million tonnes in 2017, of which about 57% was produced in Africa and 40% in Asia. One industry report suggested that the global market value of sesame was about US$ 6.5 billion in 2018 and was following a positive trend with value increasing in line with growing demand as consumption patterns changed in line with health awareness of consumers (1).

You can also use sesame oil for stir-fry veggies, noodle and noodle soups, mixed or plain rice dishes, grilled meat marinades, and dark sauces. 

You should opt for cold-pressed sesame oil if you wish to add a light nutty flavor and a mild sweetness to your dish. Be specific in what flavor you wish would stand out in your dish. So that you can pick the right version of sesame oil with the right flavor profile to do the job.

The cold press technique has become the most suitable approach for extraction of seed oils. This technique is reasonably user-friendly and cheaper than commercial techniques for oil extraction. To obtain a superior quality of extracted sesame seed oil, mechanical CP (less than 45°C) and a filtration process are used for quality improvement (4).

Differences between sesame oil and olive oil

Sesame oil, extracted from a seed and is not suitable for use in large quantities such as frying or baking. The high amount of PUFAs and some substances enhance the oil decomposition at very high temperature and reduce the use of oils for frying purpose (4). Olive oil, extracted from a plant, is available in more varieties and boasts versatile culinary 

Best substitutes for sesame oil

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil can be substituted for olive oil in a 1:1 ratio. Grapeseed oil has a neutral flavor and is a rich source of polyunsaturated fats and Vitamin E. Vitamin E has excellent antioxidant properties. Grape seed oil is a by-product of the winemaking industry, with good benefits to human health. Numerous in vitro and in vivo evidences suggest cardioprotective and anticancer effects of grape seed oil (5). 

Walnut oil

Walnut oil is a bit expensive and is best used in dishes where little or no cooking is involved. For example, you can use walnut oil for adding a rich and nutty flavor to your marinades and salad dressings or you can drizzle it over your meat or pasta dishes.

Walnut oil is a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce the risk of heart diseases. Walnut oil also contains plant sterols, called phytosterols. Plant sterols help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the body and can also lower the blood LDL cholesterol. Phytosterols may also help reduce the risk for some cancers (6).

Avocado oil

This neutral-flavored oil can be used to replace sesame oil in a 1:1 ratio. Avocado oil has a high smoke point which makes it an ideal choice for frying, roasting, or grilling, thus avocado oil has a high smoke point (over 250°C). Avocado oil provides important antioxidants such as lutein; an antioxidant important for eye health. Avocado oil contains approximately twice as much lutein as olive oil (3).

Peanut oil

Unless you have a peanut allergy, peanut oil is a very handy substitute for sesame oil. Peanut oil boasts a mild flavor and a high smoke point which makes it an ideal option for fried rice, noodles, stir-fries, and chicken.

Peanut oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that have been linked to improved heart health. Peanut oil is an efficient source for supplementing vitamin E to the body (7).

Substitutes for toasted sesame oil

Toasted sesame oil is extracted from toasted sesame seeds. The toasting adds extra nutty flavor and thickness to the consistency of the oil. Just like sesame oil, toasted sesame oil is best used for finished or uncorked dishes.

Roasted sesame seed oil is produced by pressing roasted sesame seeds without a refining process. Roasting of sesame seeds is performed at about 200°C and gives a dark color and a characteristic good flavor to the oil mainly because of Maillard reactions. The smoke point of roasted sesame oil is as low as 165°C (2).

Toasted sesame seeds with a neutral oil

The dark brown color of roasted sesame oil sometimes makes food color less desirable and decreases consumer preference (2). You can dilute the flavor and thin out the consistency of the toasted sesame oil by mixing it in a lighter and milder flavor oil such as the light, mild oil, such as canola or avocado oil. 

Cold-pressed avocado oil has chemical properties similar to olive oil. At least 60% of the fatty acids are monounsaturated, and approximately 10% are polyunsaturated. In addition, cold-pressed avocado oil contains relatively high levels of pigments (chlorophylls and carotenoids) which act as antioxidants (3).

Toasted sesame oil, without any mixing, makes for an excellent garnish for dishes like chicken, tofu, or sautéed vegetables.

Perilla oil

Perilla oil is extracted from the perilla plant and boasts its rich and nutty flavor that makes it an ideal substitute for toasted sesame seeds. It is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for good heart and brain health.

An accumulating body of evidence has implicated deficits in the dietary essential long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acids, eicosapenaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in the pathophysiology of several major psychiatric disorders (8).

Chinese sesame paste

The deep-hued Chinese sesame paste is a condiment that is made from toasted white sesame seeds. It has a thick consistency and can not be used alone for cooking. 

You can mix it with a lighter and milder oil to achieve the desired consistency. The rich nutty flavor of the Chinese sesame paste enhances the flavor profile of dishes like salad, stir-fries, and noodle dishes.

Roasted peanut oil

Roasted peanut oil is not for you if you have a peanut allergy. Due to the rich nutty flavor of the roasted peanut oil, it is best used as a garnish over dishes. It can also be used to make sauces or dressings. 

Roasted peanut oil packs a good amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fatty acids improve heart health and prevent the risk of heart diseases. 

Moreover, roasted peanut oil is a rich source of Vitamin E that has excellent antioxidant properties. Vitamin E prevents free radical damage and protects the cells from oxidative stress. 

A study showed that roasted peanut oil was more stable to heat. During heating at 170°C, both roasted and unroasted seed oils become oxidized, with degradation of PUFA and formation of some undesirable and harmful compounds. Thus, the markedly slower rate of degradation of PUFA in roasted samples during heating probably provided protection against lipid oxidation (9).

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Can you use olive oil in ceramic pans?

Can you make a cake with olive oil?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute sesame oil for olive oil?”, and what are the best substitutes for sesame oil?


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  3. Woolf, Allan, et al. Avocado oil. Gourmet and health-promoting specialty oils. AOCS Press, 2009. 73-125.
  4. Imran, Muhammad, et al. Cold pressed sesame (Sesamum indicum) oil. Cold Pressed Oils. Academic Press, 2020. 105-111.
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  6. Radu, Oxana, Adelina Fuior, and Tatiana Capcanari. The study of biological and nutritional potential of walnut oil. 2013. Technical University of Moldova.
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  8. McNamara, Robert K., and Jeffrey R. Strawn. Role of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatric practice. PharmaNutrition, 2013, 1, 41-49.
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