What Does Sesame Oil Taste Like?

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In this article, we’ll be discussing sesame oil—what it tastes like, how to use it in your cooking and what the differences between the raw and toasted sesame oils are.

Sesame Oil

Let’s dive right in…

What Does Sesame Oil Taste Like? 

Sesame oil is very earthy and nutty in flavor. You may see raw (often referred to as cold-pressed) sesame oils or toasted sesame oils in the grocery store, which are a little different.

Cold-pressed sesame oil is much milder and almost sweeter. The richer of the two is toasted sesame oil. It’s a darker color and tastes roasty and smoky, a little like roasted nuts.

Sesame Oil Texture 

Most sesame oils will be thick, but some are thicker than others. Toasted sesame oils can take on more viscous textures.

Sesame oils made for cooking are lighter both in flavor and consistency. Generally, you would use larger quantities of this kind of oil than toasted sesame oil in your meals.

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Does Sesame Oil Taste like Olive Oil? 

Refined sesame oils and olive oils are both pretty neutral, but even the lightest sesame oils don’t really taste like olive oil as they’re still nutty. Olive oil tends to be more bitter in flavor, especially if it’s extra virgin.

If you prefer, you can cook with the lighter sesame oils instead of olive oil (toasted sesame oil is a flavorant, not really a cooking oil). Refined sesame oil has a comparable smoking point, which is usually high enough to work with on the stove top.

Can You Eat Raw Sesame Oil? 

Sesame oil is safe to consume raw. You can use cold-pressed sesame oil in salad dressing, or you can add a splash of the toasted kind to hot and cold meals.

In fact, you probably don’t want to cook too much with toasted sesame oil. There’s nothing wrong with adding it to the pan with your veggies, but be careful not to turn the temperature up too high or it’ll start to smoke and the flavor will degrade.

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What Is Similar to Sesame Oil? 

Light and refined oils tend to be pretty interchangeable with refined sesame oil, but some of the best substitutes are peanut oil and sunflower oil. Both of these oils are similarly earthy and nutty.

As for toasted sesame oil, only sesame seeds will mimic the flavor. If you’re cooking and you’re out of both, you can use roasted nuts, but the end result will not be the same.

What Can Sesame Oil Be Used For? 

Refined sesame oil can be used in any savory recipe you’d make with olive or canola oil, but toasted sesame oil is used in other ways. It’s typically a finishing oil on top of a dish that’s already been cooked, but if you keep the heat low, you can do a little cooking with it, too. For guidance, check out these helpful videos with easy-to-follow recipes.

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First up: spicy sesame noodles. This vibrant dish is well-rounded in flavor thanks to the addition of toasted sesame oil. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Bragg Liquid Aminos (or tamari)
  • Garlic
  • Ground ginger (fresh would work, too)
  • Vinegar
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Harissa paste
  • Green onions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegan noodles of your choice
  • Sesame seeds

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This video will show you how to saute spinach with toasted sesame oil. This is great for a change from the standard olive oil and spinach saute. You’ll need:

  • Fresh spinach
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame seeds

Wrap Up

Toasted sesame oil is deeply earthy, nutty and rich while cold-pressed sesame oil is much gentler in flavor. You’ll likely do your cooking with refined sesame oil and flavoring with toasted sesame oil, though you can heat the toasted kind to a medium-low temperature. For best results, sprinkle toasted sesame oil on finished dishes like delicious sesame noodles.

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