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How to use sesame oil (and five favorite recipes)

How to use sesame oil (and five favorite recipes).

The phrase "a little goes a long way" describes sesame oil perfectly. Too much in a dish, and you notice it. Not enough, and you notice that, too. Just the right amount, a small amount, adds a heavenly, nutty, musky undertone to Asian stir-fry and sauces, and it's a key ingredient in my favorite all-purpose works-with-any-leftovers seasoning: three parts low-sodium soy sauce; two parts oyster sauce; and one part sesame oil.

Buy sesame oil at an Asian market (I'm partial to the Maruhon brand, recognizable by the red cap), and store it in your cupboard. My original ingredient post about sesame oil will tell you more.

Here are five of my favorite recipes that use sesame oil:

Bok choy stir fry with ginger and garlic.

This bok choy stir-fry with ginger and garlic gets a double dose of sesame from oil and seeds.

Cold sesame noodles (The Perfect Pantry).

I'm hopelessly addicted to these cold sesame noodles.

Chicken lo-mein noodles (The Perfect Pantry).

I'm also hopelessly addicted to these warm chicken lo-mein noodles, though I've been caught eating the leftovers cold, straight from the fridge.

Grilled sesame-lime shrimp and cucumber skewers.

Serve these grilled sesame-lime shrimp and cucumber skewers at your next party; you can cook them indoors on a panini press!

Everyone loves beef teriyaki on a stick!

These beef teriyaki skewers are another fun way to get your party started, and they're so much better than take-out.

What's your favorite way to use sesame oil?

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love sesame oil so much I like to open the bottle and smell it every time I go in the kitchen. I thought sesame oil like nut oils needed to be stored in the fridge?

Ellen, great question. I have never stored my sesame oil in the fridge. the only time I've had sesame oil go rancid was when I bought it at a health food store, and it turned out not to be the right type for Asian cooking. Refrigeration won't harm it, but I have never found it necessary.

I used to love sesame oil but unfortunately have developed an allergy to all things sesame! But some recipes I just make and leave it out - it lacks the 'certain something' the sesame brings to the party but oh well - it is better than hives!

Carol, is your allergy sesame-specific? You might try another nut oil, like walnut oil, in some of these recipes. (And yes, better than hives to leave it out altogether!)

Great post, and I am completely drooling over every one of the dishes you featured. I think it's definitely breakfast time here. Now I just wish I had leftover Chinese food to eat for breakfast.

I love toasted sesame oil. From macrobiotics, I was familiar with non-toasted sesame oil, so I always hope to see the specification 'toasted,' for clarity. I also have had black sesame oil and sesame-chili oil. All delicious. I find that recipes often call for more than I need for that wonderful taste, so I cut back by as much as 1/2. Lately I've been making Korean sauces with it, and the wonderful Nina Simonds Peanut Dipping Sauce I found right here!

I love sesame oil and I use it all the time to make stir fry. And like you, I also have been caught on occasion eating my lo mein cold straight from the fridge.

Kalyn, I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to leftover Chinese food, especially for breakfast, and especially when it's cold.

Susan, that peanut sauce is still my very favorite.

Jennifer, there is something completely irresistible about cold lo mein.

Lydia, I don't have enough leftover Chinese food in my fridge or my life.
I like sesame oil in stir fries and salad dressings.

Sesame oil is one of my favorite ingredients - I put it in everything I can think of - scrambled eggs, stir-fries, sauces, noodles, you name it. Your grilled shrimp looks really good - that's something I haven't tried with sesame oil.

If you cook with sesame oil be aware that it burns at quite low temperatures. I use it together with another higher temperature oil (eg canola) so that you get the sesame oil taste but no burning. I don't keep mune in the fridge either.

Fabulous tips for sesame oil! Gotta go pick me up a bottle now!

Threre are some awesome recipes here, I am a big fan of sesame oil :D


Kirsten, there's never enough Chinese food in the fridge!

Jeanette, I love sesame oil and still need to use it more often in my own cooking.

Katie, thanks, good advice.

Georgia, go!

CCU, enjoy!

Oooh Lydia, I love sesame oil and I love these dishes. These are so bookmarked - the bok choy and the cold sesame noodles are two dishes I've always wanted to make. Yours look perfect!

Jamie, make the two together and have a wonderful meal! I love both of these dishes, too. Oh, and the shrimp. Well, honestly, these *are* my five favorite dishes with sesame oil!

Thanks for these tips. I have sesame oil but have never really used it.

@Lydia - yes the allergy is sesame specific. I have been playing around with other oils - walnut is nice but lacks flavor - Pumpkin is great but expensive - Sunflower is my new favorite it has a great dominant nutty flavor and the viscosity is nice too!

I love this round up with sesame oil recipes. I keep this oil on hand because I love it, but I can really use more recipes to utilize this oil more. I think it makes any dish divine. I can't wait to try your recipes for bok choy and cold peanut noodles. I have been looking to duplicate someone's peanut noodle recipe I had at a picnic a long time ago-- I hope this recipe does the trick.

Fantastic post Lydia! I just had to make the Chicken Lo Mein and post about my experience making it, so I linked back to you about 57 times. Okay, 3 links, but still, you deserve all of the credit! Thanks for this recipe and other outstanding recipes! Keep up the good work! Cheers!

You mentioned that using to much or to little and you know about it. How much do you suggest is an appropriate amount? Do you suggest frying with it like you would any other oil?


Simon, if you read the recipes linked in this post, you'll see that sesame oil is not a frying oil, because the smoke point is too low. Add it to dishes after the primary stir-frying has taken place.

Can you use sesame oil in place of tahini when making hummus? Thank you

Dusty, you can use peanut butter, which has a similar consistency to tahini (which is a paste, not an oil), and add some ground up sesame seeds for flavor. Or use almond butter.

Thanks for the info.I was going to try mixing some almond butter and sesame oil instead of buying a jar of tahini.I love sesame oil on grilled asparagus!!

I know nothing about sesame oil and do not know what kind to buy for stir fry. Would someone please tell me if I should buy toasted or just regular?I think I read you do not use it until the stir fry is finished, then you add it...is that correct. Sorry about 2 questions in one.

Jacquie, I'd urge you to click through to the link in the post (http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2007/01/sesame_oil.html) to learn more about sesame oil -- The Perfect Pantry is here to help! You should buy toasted sesame oil, which is easy to find in Asian groceries or in the Asian food aisle of any supermarket. While it's often used as a finishing oil, sesame oil can be used for cooking, and you'll see in the recipes here that it's added during the cooking process, but not used as the primary cooking oil.

I actual put a little bit into my ramen, when I have it. It really makes normal package ramen taste amazing. Not that you can't throw anything into normal ramen and have it be a little better.

I drizzled sesame oil on fried rice according tp a recipe instruction and it became inedible. Could I have saved the rice? Did I simply put too much of the oil on it, or could the oil have been past its best date? The rice actually tasted burnt.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

Mark, sesame oil has been toasted (cooked), and it will turn rancid if it's old or if it hasn't been stored properly, so it's possible that, rather than too much oil, the oil had just passed its prime. Sesame oil is strong and should be used sparingly. Sorry, but I don't think you have have saved the rice at that point.

I roasted a turkey with a recipe that called for sesame oil oddly enough, however I poured too much into the marinade by mistake and tried to cover it up with canola. Needless to say the taste is just too "woodsy" with one hour approx. left til done. Is there any ingredient I can use to counteract the sesame?

I am baking short ribs at 300 degrees 4 1/2 hours. Every thing I read says only use it as a finishing oil, but the recipe calls for 1 TBS of Asian sesame oil. Think that is the toasted. Will it ruin the dish ?
Also, I cannot fine Shaoxing...Chinese rice wine. How about seasoned rice vinegar as a sub?

K Gulf, you definitely want to use the toasted sesame oil.

Just want to say that sesame oil should be used in place of cod liver oil...a teaspoon a day...!! You name it, I use it on it. As a meat marinade, on eggs, kebobs , corn on the cob, shrimp, a splash on a green salad, in stir fry while cooking, on a stir fry after cooking, on mushrooms with garlic and balsemic vinegar, pasta. The list is absolutely endless. Thanks for all the great tips and ideas on this site. Enjoy!!

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