Out Of Sesame Oil? Make Your Own With Just 2 Ingredients

Sesame oil is a staple of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine — and has been for a very, very long time. Sesame was one of the first crops grown for oil production and used by ancient Babylonian, Chinese, and Egyptian civilizations.

While refined sesame oil is a neutral oil that can be used for a wide variety of applications, unrefined sesame oil packs significantly more punch. Unrefined sesame oil — which comes in toasted and untoasted varieties — has a strong, nutty taste. It's exquisite when used well, but too much and you'll risk overpowering a dish.

It can make or break a recipe: stir-fries, salad dressings, and soups that call for it just don't taste the same without the mellow, nutty taste of sesame. Unfortunately, thanks to its powerful and unique taste, it's pretty hard to find a solid stand-in for sesame oil.

Realizing you've run out midway through a recipe can leave you scrambling for a substitute, especially since sesame oil isn't always readily available in the United States. While Asian grocery stores and higher-end shops generally stock the stuff, it can be hard to find in standard American supermarkets.

Fortunately, you have options. It's possible to extract your sesame oil at home, but the process takes hours and you'll need several cups of sesame seeds for only a few tablespoons of oil. However, if you're short on time (or sesame seeds), you can create an approximation using just a few tablespoons of seed and a neutral-tasting oil.

Substitute sesame oil with sesame seeds and a neutral oil

Sure, sesame oil has a pretty strong flavor, but fortunately, so do sesame seeds. They'll impart their flavor to other oils, especially oils with a neutral flavor.

To approximate sesame oil, cook sesame seeds at a low temperature in a neutral-tasting oil, like canola, vegetable, or avocado. Use a ratio of one part sesame seeds to two parts oil — i.e., if you're using a quarter cup of seeds, use half a cup of oil. You'll only need to cook for a few minutes. Strain the seeds out, leaving the tasty oil behind.

For toasted sesame oil, cook the seeds in the pan until they're aromatic, then add the oil.

Technically speaking, this trick doesn't produce a perfect substitute. Healthline explains that sesame oil is chock full of antioxidants, so alternatives won't necessarily have the same health benefits. You should also check the smoke point of the base oil before using it for frying. But it will add some of that rich, sesame goodness back into your dish.