Using sesame oil is an ideal way to add some light nuttiness to your everyday cooking. As an unsaturated fat, sesame oil is a much healthier option for cooking with than other types of oils and it is ideal for adding flavor to many dishes, not just stir fries and soups.There are two main types of sesame oil – light sesame oil and toasted sesame oil - and in this article we look at the difference between the two and how they should both be used for cooking with. To help you choose the best sesame oil for cooking, we also review a selection of light sesame and toasted sesame oils.
The Spectrum unrefined organic sesame oil is our kosher, USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified best pick of the sesame oils for cooking with up to a temperature of 350°F.
The 365 Everyday Value organic sesame oil is our certified organic, kosher and vegan budget pick of sesame oils for everyday cooking.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Sesame Oils
- 1. Spectrum Unrefined Organic Sesame Oil
- 2. 365 Everyday Value Organic Sesame Oil
- 3. Seitenbacher Premium Sesame Oil
- 4. Napa Valley Naturals Organic Sesame Oil
- 5. OTTOGI Premium Roasted Sesame Oil
- 6. Ziyad Extra Virgin Sesame Oil
- 7. Dabur Sesame Oil
- 8. Kevala Organic Toasted Sesame Oil
- 9. Naturevibe Botanicals Sesame Seed Oil
- 10. La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil
- Things to Consider Before Buying Sesame Oil for Cooking
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Sesame Oils
1. Spectrum Unrefined Organic Sesame Oil
The Spectrum unrefined organic sesame oil is certified USDA organic and is also Non-GMO Project Verified. This is an all-purpose oil that is suitable for cooking with up to 350°F. The sesame seeds are sourced from the US or Mexico and then expeller pressed, and this comes as 16 fl. oz glass bottle with a no-drip spout. As an unrefined oil this does have quite a strong sesame aroma and some buyers have struggled with pouring the oil cleanly from the bottle. This oil is also certified kosher.
2. 365 Everyday Value Organic Sesame Oil
Made in the US from expeller pressed and unrefined sesame seeds from Mexico, the 365 Everyday Value organic sesame oil comes as an 8.4 fl. oz glass bottle. As well as being certified USDA organic, this sesame oil is also certified kosher and vegan.A light colored sesame oil, this has a milder flavor than other sesame oils and not all buyers have been as keen on it. The odd buyer has also commented that this tastes like cannola oil!
3. Seitenbacher Premium Sesame Oil
The USDA certified organic Seitenbacher premium sesame oil is a cold pressed unrefined sesame oil which comes as a twin pack of 8.4 fl. oz glass bottles. A lighter sesame oil with a light flavor, this is suitable for medium heat cooking as well as for dressings.As an imported oil produced in Germany, this does cost more than other organic sesame oils.
4. Napa Valley Naturals Organic Sesame Oil
The Napa Valley Naturals organic sesame oil is a lighter oil that is ideal for cooking with as well as using in marinades and sauces. This sesame oil is unrefined and cold pressed to preserve the delicate and nutty flavor and nutritional profile. This oil is bottled in Napa Valley in a 12.7 fl. oz wine bottle and is also certified USDA organic.Although bottled in California, the odd buyer has been disappointed to find that it has been produced in Mexico and as with any glass bottle there can be a risk of receiving a damaged bottle.
5. OTTOGI Premium Roasted Sesame Oil
Made in South Korea from whole sesame seeds grown in China, the OTTOGI premium roasted sesame oil has a well-roasted and distinctive aroma and has been filtered three times before being canned. This is the bestselling brand of sesame oil in Korea.
This comes as a large 56 fl. oz can and although it has a pour spout for ease of pouring, some buyers have commented that the bad design of the spout means it can be difficult to pour out the oil without spilling it. There is also a risk of the can being damaged during shipping.As a toasted oil, this does have a lower smoke point than other types of sesame oil so is better used at lower temperatures or to add flavor to dishes at the end of cooking.
6. Ziyad Extra Virgin Sesame Oil
Made from expeller cold pressed sesame seeds, Ziyad extra virgin sesame oil is also double filtered to produce a light colored oil. This is a pure unrefined oil, although there is a little confusion as to whether this has been pressed in India or Mexico. This comes as a 26 fl. oz clear glass bottle. The odd buyer has commented that this is a low aroma and very low flavor oil.
7. Dabur Sesame Oil
The Dabur sesame oil is a refined oil which is available in various sized plastic bottles, including 250ml. This is a lightly flavored and colored all-purpose sesame oil that is also suitable for cooking with. This sesame oil may be a little too light for some users. Produced in India, this sesame oil is also free from any additives.
8. Kevala Organic Toasted Sesame Oil
Coming as an 8 fl. oz glass bottle, Kevala organic toasted sesame oil is cold pressed and unrefined. Because it is cold pressed, this helps retain the nutrition, aroma and flavor of the oil. Certified USDA organic, this is also Non-GMO Project Verified. Bottled in the US, this is a product of Mexico and is certified as kosher.This is a darker colored oil with the distinctive nutty flavor expected in sesame oil and for those who are new to using sesame oil, its aroma can be stronger than other brands of sesame oil. It will also not be suitable for sautéing with at higher temperatures as this is a toasted, rather than a lighter sesame oil.
9. Naturevibe Botanicals Sesame Seed Oil
Coming as an 8 fl. oz plastic bottle, the Naturevibe Botanicals sesame seed oil is an unrefined oil which is suitable for cooking with at low to medium heat. Produced in India, this is labelled as being made from organic sesame seeds and the manufacturer has various organic accreditations, however, the packaging does not currently show a USDA organic certification. The odd buyer has found this on the lighter side of sesame oils so depending on your tastes, you may not be as keen on cooking with it.
10. La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil
Coming as a 16.9 fl. oz can, the La Tourangelle toasted sesame oil is manufactured from sesame seeds harvested in Africa or South America. Keeping in line with its French heritage, after harvesting, the seeds are slowly roasted at lower temperatures and then expeller pressed to extract the sesame oil. After extraction, the oil is filtered and bottled.
This pure sesame oil has a rich flavor with subtle toasted flavors and is a deep amber color. Although organic, this is currently not certified USDA organic. Some buyers have been disappointed with the taste of this sesame oil and consider it lacks flavor and is too mild compared too other sesame oils. You may also have issues with pouring the oil from the can due to the design of the pour spout.
Things to Consider Before Buying Sesame Oil for Cooking
Sesame oil is a staple in Asian cuisines and its fragrance along with its nutty and rich flavors means it can add so much flavor to a range of dishes. As well as being popular in stir fries and noodles, you can add it to soups, roast vegetables, use it in marinades or even in dips such as hummus. Sesame oil will also give a distinctive flavor to popcorn.
The easiest way to think about sesame oil for cooking with is to always start with a light sesame oil and finish with a toasted sesame oil. As a general rule, the darker the color of the sesame oil, the stronger its flavor will be. A lighter oil in the context of sesame oil does not refer to a lower fat oil, instead, it refers to the color of the oil.
With its more neutral flavor, light sesame oil can be used as you would use vegetable or cannola oil as it is suitable for frying over higher heat or roasting with. A darker colored sesame oil can also be used for cooking up to medium temperatures as like light sesame oil, it also has a smoke point of 450°F, but unlike a lighter sesame oil, a darker oil is more at risk of losing some flavor if it is cooked over high heat or for too long.
You can use toasted sesame oil (also known as Asian sesame oil) for cooking with, but only at low temperature as it has a lower smoke point than sesame oil. Because it has also been made from toasted seeds, if you use toasted sesame oil to cook with and then ‘overcook’ it, you will end up with a dish with burnt and bitter flavors. Its intense nutty and roast flavor also means toasted sesame oil can overpower a dish, so you may just want to add some to your pan at the end of cooking for extra flavor.
There are a number of benefits reported for consuming sesame oil. As an unsaturated fat it is a better choice for cooking with and as a source of Omega-6 fatty acids, it may actually help prevent heart disease. One study showed that those who consumed four tablespoons of sesame oil every day for a month had better reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared with those consuming olive oil.
Sesame oil also contains two antioxidants – sesamol and sesaminol – that are linked to positive health benefits as they may help reduce oxidative stress in the body, something which is linked with disorders such as arthritis, diabetes and of course, heart disease.
How Different Types of Sesame Oils Are Manufactured
Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) contain around 50% oil by weight and unlike other types of oil, sesame oil is quite a stable oil that is resistant to rancidity. To make sesame oil, a basic extraction or press heats the sesame seeds up to a temperature of between 250°F and 300°F for a few minutes. Once heated, the seeds are then crushed in a press to extract the oil. At this point, the oil has a smoke point of around 410°F – ideal for a range of cooking requirements.
A refined sesame oil is one in which the oil has been extracted by other processes such as a chemical solvent extraction.
A cold pressed (and usually unrefined) sesame oil is one in which the seeds are crushed at room temperature rather than heated. To do this an expeller press is used. This is a type of screw machine in which the screw drives forward and presses the oil out of the seeds using pressure and friction. Although this method is known as cold pressed, this is not always the most accurate description as the friction and pressure involved in expeller pressing means that some heat is naturally generated.
Cold pressed sesame oil usually has a lighter flavor than a refined sesame oil, however the process of cold pressing means it has a lower smoke point of around 350°F which makes it less suitable for sautéing at higher temperatures.
Toasted sesame oil is made from sesame seeds that have been browned at a temperature of 360°F for up to 30 minutes. These toasted seeds are then pressed. This gives an oil which is much darker in color and with a stronger aroma compared to other sesame oils.
Storing Sesame Oil
Although sesame oil is shelf-stable when stored in a cool and dark place, refrigerating it after opening will help prevent it from turning rancid. If you haven’t used an open bottle of sesame oil for a while, then do smell and taste a little of it just to ensure it has not gone rancid before using.
Sesame Seed Oils and Allergies
Some people are intolerant or allergic to sesame seeds and so should avoid sesame oil. Although sesame oils do not contain nuts or tree nuts, they are often manufactured in facilities that handle nuts and/or tree nuts, so if you do have any allergies, check out the labelling of the product thoroughly before buying.
Although there are no requirements for US manufacturers to list sesame seeds in ingredient lists many do. Sesame oil can also be called gingelly oil and sesame seeds are also known as sim sim or benne seed.
In this article we have taken a look at the distinctive difference between light sesame oils and toasted sesame oils and why one is better suited to cooking than the other. We have also looked at just some of the ways you can incorporate this unsaturated fat with its nutty notes into your everyday cooking.We hope that you have enjoyed reading the review of some of the best sesame oil for cooking with and that our reviews have helped you to select the right sesame oil, whether you want a lighter oil for frying with, or a toasted sesame oil for adding a burst of rich flavor to your dish at the end of its cooking time.