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Sesame Oil

This oil made from pressed sesame seeds is widely used in Asian cuisine. Its two variations give you endless options in the kitchen. Whether you are looking to add a pop of flavor to a dish or simply sauté your favorite veggies, sesame oil is sure to win a place in your heart.

Sesame oil in a glass container.

There’s nothing quite like the warm, nutty aroma of sesame oil. This flavorful kitchen staple can be used in a variety of cooking methods and can be found in some of my favorite dishes (see recipes below!). As with any ingredient, it is important to understand it well before using it in a recipe. Let me help.

What Is Sesame Oil?

Sesame oil is an ingredient made from pressed sesame seeds. It is widely used in Asian cuisine. It can be used as a flavor enhancing ingredient OR as a neutral cooking oil, depending on whether or not the seeds have been toasted before pressing.

What Does It Taste Like?

It depends! Toasted sesame oil has a distinct flavor and aroma that is often described as nutty and rich. Light versions made from raw sesame seeds, on the other hand, are quite neutral in flavor.

Sesame oil in a glass container with two bottles of sesame oil; one pure and one toasted.

Different Types & Varieties

There are 2 main varieties. They each play a distinct role in the kitchen.

  • Toasted sesame oil is made from sesame seeds that have been toasted and pressed. It has a nutty, warm taste and aroma that intensifies with heat. This makes it a great choice for finishing recipe such as this cucumber salad, but less of a favorable option when it comes to cooking.
  • Light sesame oil, made from raw sesame seeds, is lighter in color and flavor when compared to its toasted counterpart. Its neutral flavor makes it a wonderful cooking oil, similar to avocado or grape-seed oil.

Sesame Oil vs Olive Oil

Sesame and olive oil are both popular cooking oils. They each have their place in the kitchen. Here are some things that set them apart:

  • Flavor. While sesame oil carries a nutty flavor and aroma, olive oil offers a more mild grassy, spicy flavor.
  • Nutrition. While both oils are unsaturated fats, making them a good choice for you health, olive oil delivers greater nutritional content.
  • Smoke point. Sesame has the lower smoke point of the two oils. This means that it starts to smoke and release free radicals at a lower temperature, making olive oil a better choice in recipes that require higher temperatures. Sesame oil works wonders in recipes that require lower temperature and a bigger punch of flavor. Check out this informative article on smoke point.
Sesame oil in a glass container.

How to Store

It is important to store oil properly because it easily looses its flavor and/or goes rancid. Store it an unopened container in a cool, dark, place. Once the container has been opened, store it in the refrigerator. This will greatly prolong its shelf-life.

How long does sesame oil last?

An unopened container will stay good when stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year or for up to 2 years in the refrigerator. Once opened, it can be refrigerated for up to 2 years. If you go through cooking oils relatively quickly, it is not necessary to refrigerate the opened container. It will remain edible for up to 6 months in a cool, dark place. Pay attention to taste and smell. If your oil smells bitter or rancid or just “off”, it’s time to throw it away.

Does it need to be refrigerated after opening?

Sesame oil does not need to be refrigerated after opening, but doing so will greatly prolong its shelf-life. I suggest giving it a spot in the fridge.

Sesame oil in a glass container.

Ways to Use It

Sesame oil is one of the most popular cooking oils used in Asian cuisine. I have gathered some of my favorite recipes featuring this savory ingredient. Here they are!

The Best Dumpling Sauce Recipe
This sauce is easy to make and requires just a few simple ingredients. It's the perfect compliment to any dumpling or pot sticker. It's even great with scallion pancakes.
Check out this recipe
pan-fried dumpling dripping in dumpling sauce held onto by wooden chopsticks
Air Fryer Honey Sesame Salmon
Savory sweet and done in 10 minutes, this salmon recipe is sure to make it to your favorites list.
Check out this recipe
Honey Soy Chicken
Let your taste buds take a trip to Asia with this saucy chicken dish. It's quick, easy, and packed with flavor. Perfect for a weekday.
Check out this recipe
Korean Beef
Similar to Korean beef bulgogi, except with more budget friendly ground beef, this recipe is sure to delight your taste buds.
Check out this recipe
Pan-Fried Sesame Garlic Tofu
Tofu can be tricky to get right. This crispy, flavor packed tofu dish might just be the answer to your dreams.
Check out this recipe
If you aren't totally 100% on board with tofu yet, this pan-fried sesame garlic tofu will have you head over heels in love with it! #tofu #tofurecipe #vegan #veganrecipes
Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
Craving takeout? This beef and broccoli will trick you into thinking you ordered from your favorite restaurant. Throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning and come home to restaurant quality beef and broccoli.
Check out this recipe
Slow cooker beef and broccoli is easy to make at home and such a warm comforting meal to have in a big bowl of rice! Much better than calling take-out; simply whip out your slow cooker and make this beef and broccoli at home!
Spicy Chinese Cucumber Salad
This cucumber salad is an ideal compliment for almost any Asian main. It is so simple to make and will wake up your taste buds with a sweet, fiery, refreshing crunch.
Check out this recipe
Overhead view of Chinese cucumber salad in white bowl with chopsticks
Cold Spicy Peanut Sesame Noodles
This refreshing noodle dish is perfect for a warm day. The comfort of the peanut sauce next to the chill of the noodles might just cause you to develop cravings.
Check out this recipe
Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞)
This staple Taiwanese dish is the perfect weeknight meal. This recipe marries succulent chicken with a deeply savory sauce that will certainly delight your taste buds.
Check out this recipe
Closeup of three cup chicken in skillet with basil leaves
Korean Bulgogi
Perfect over steamed rice, this Korean staple is so easy to make. There's not much to it aside from thinly slice. beautifully marinated ribeye steak grilled to perfection. Give it a try.
Check out this recipe
Korean beef bulgogi served over rice in a bowl.
Cold Sesame Veggie Noodles
These sesame noodles are perfect on a hot day. They only require 6 ingredients and 25 minutes, making them the perfect quick lunch.
Check out this recipe
Closeup of cold sesame noodles with sesame seeds and scallions
Drunken Noodles with Chicken
Flavorful, filling, and done in 30 minutes? Need I say more? These drunken noodles pack in just the right amount of veggies, carbs, and protein to make them a one and done dinner.
Check out this recipe
Teriyaki Beef and Broccoli
Teriyaki beef and broccoli is one of those classic takeout cravings. This recipe allows you to make it at home, saving your pocket book and sparing you some of the less than healthy additives that takeout delivers.
Check out this recipe