Sesame oil is a cooking oil made from sesame seeds that's popular in Asian cooking. There are a few varieties made with pressed plain seeds or toasted seeds, and they are used in different ways in Chinese, Japanese, South Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Light sesame oil is typically used as a neutral cooking oil, while toasted sesame oil is used as a flavoring in sauces, soups, and other dishes.


Toasted sesame oil is also known as dark, black, or Asian sesame oil. The light brown to dark reddish-brown oil is made with toasted sesame seeds and has a strong aroma and flavor. A little goes a long way; sesame oil is often used as a finishing oil, adding nutty, toasty flavor to a hot or cold dish.

Typically, the darker the toasted sesame oil, the stronger the flavor. Light sesame oil, also called white or plain sesame oil, is light in color. It's made using raw sesame seeds, resulting in high-heat, low-flavor oil.

Cold-pressed sesame oil is made without the use of heat or chemicals. It's prized for its purity and can be found in health food stores. Blended oils are also available, combining toasted sesame oil with other oils. The result is a cheaper option with a less intense flavor.

How to Cook With Sesame Oil

Light sesame oil can be used much like canola or vegetable oil. It has a similar neutral flavor and can withstand high heat for frying or roasting. Use it to stir-fry and sauté, or use or anywhere that calls for a neutral-tasting oil. Toasted sesame oil is best used in low-heat cooking methods or added at the end or after cooking.

Dark sesame oil can be used for low- or medium-heat cooking (not deep-frying) but tends to lose some of its flavor if cooked for too long or over high heat. That said, its smoke point is relatively high at 450 F. It's frequently drizzled on dishes like soups and stir-fries after cooking. It can be used in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.







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