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Question about sesame oil [Moved from Home Cooking board]

I read all the time about people cooking with sesame oil, but I've heard a number of times on cooking shows that it's not really a cooking oil, but rather more of a condiment. Are there two kinds of sesame oil? We were at an Asian market and we saw little tiny bottles of it and big one-gallon cans of it, so I wasn't sure if maybe there were different kinds. We have a small bottle in our pantry, but I'm unsure as to how to use it. Thanks!

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  1. Open the bottle in your cupboard and taste it. Is it dark coloured and strong flavoured? That's for seasoning, after the dish is cooked. Actually, so is the light, but it's a gentler taste. There are different kinds, yes, some mixed with other oils. I get the dark oil for condiment. I never use it for cooking. It costs way too much. The early cooking show experts, Martin Yan, Michael Yan, and others who I can't remember right now, all said the same thing...the good flavour will cook out with the excessive heat of stir frying. A quick sprinkle across the dish just before serving, same as a handful of chopped green onions, as garnish, I find, is the very best way to use it.
    (I will sometimes just take a bowl of rice, pour a little sesame oil, and a little light soy sauce and eat it as a snack, or breakfast or....)


    1. The little bottles are more likely to be flavoring oil. The larger containers can be either flavoring oil or a cooking blend. The blend usually says sesame oil in large print and "soybean/sesame oil" or "blended soybean and sesame oils" or some variation.

      1. Toasted sesame oil is used for finishing dishes. Sesame oil per se is another cooking oil.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Wouldn't you say that the toasted sesame oil can be strong tasting? So you want to use it in a measured way. At least know what a little is going to taste like before you add a lot.

          1. re: karykat

            There are so many types of sesame oil now that you should taste before you use.
            In general, the darker the oil the stronger the flavor. (Except for black sesame seed oil which I believe starts dark).
            Of the dark oils you have toasted and roasted, I'm not completely sure of the difference other than the oils labeled roasted seem to be generally (but not always) darker than the ones labeled toasted.
            Labels that say "pure" are straight sesame, while others are, or may be, blends.
            Then you have organic, refined, natural, cold pressed .....

        2. So if I were in the market and wanted to look for cooking sesame oil, I should look for something light and a blend? I dated a guy a while back who made me something cooked in sesame oil and I loved the flavor. I just didn't think the tiny little bottle in my pantry was quite the same thing. I usually use peanut oil when cooking Asian foods, but would like to experiment with sesame.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tara17

            The tiny bottles are generally used for dressings or as finishing oils. You do the actual cooking - stir fry or whatever style - and add the oil near the end for the flavor.
            Some blends are also labeled as salad oil but may be used for light cooking. It will really depend on what dish you are making.
            For stir fry dishes we did in my restaurant we used a light coating of blended sesame/soy bean oil with good results, adding roasted sesame oil at the end (last 30 seconds or so) to give the dish the sesame flavor.
            We also used the roasted oil in marinades, vegetable dressings, and dipping sauces.

          2. I love sesame oil. I buy the smaller bottle and have used it only to cook with. Chop some cabbage, fry some ground pork & onions/ginger, add rice wine vinegar & sesame oil. HEAVEN! It's like eating the inside of a dumpling.
            Think I will make some today!

            3 Replies
            1. re: stellamystar

              stella, you are brilliant! why bother with the wrappers????

              1. re: alkapal

                alkapal - the small bottles of toasted/rasted sesame oil should only be used for flavoring, and I think stella was delineating that. Don't fry with it!

                boogiebaby (below) might have something to say about the cooking oil aspect of sesame oil (and where to find pure pressed sesame oil), but for most of us, those little bottles of toasty goodness are not good for anything other than flavoring...and flavoring well.


                1. re: cayjohan

                  thanks cay, i know that toasted sesame is only for flavoring. and it is one of my favorites. stella's recipe just sounded so easy and tasty! i'd use napa cabbage, but baby bok choy might be good with stella's deconstructed dumpling idea. now...i want it for breakfast! ;-)

            2. Some cuisines use it to cook with. In Malaysian cooking, there is a fried chicken dish in which you marinate the chicken with turmeric juice, grated ginger, salt, etc and then fry it over medium heat in sesame oil. The oil gives the chicken an amazing flavor.

              I have both a large tin of it (for the chicken above) and also a small bottle which is use to drizzle oil on fried rice, noodles, etc right before serving (toss while hot to bring out the aroma and favor).

              1 Reply
              1. re: boogiebaby

                It's also used as a cooking oil in at least some of South India where, as far as I know, roasted sesame seed oil is not used much if at all. I've never seen large cans of the raw/unroasted oil there but most Indian markets of any size seem to have liter bottle and smaller sizes at lower-than-health-food/"goumet"-brand prices.

              2. How do you store sesame oil and how long does it last? I was told to put it in the fridge upto 6 months or so is that wrong?

                1 Reply
                1. re: xena1441

                  There was a time during which I kept forgetting that I already had sesame oil, so that whenever I was in an Asian market I'd buy some more. So by the time I finally realized this, I had maybe six bottles, some of plain toasted sesame and some of the sesame-based chile oil. That was over two years ago. The bottles stayed in the cupboard until they were open, when they were transferred to the fridge. I now have the last bit of chile oil and half a bottle of toasted sesame oil in the fridge, each just about a year past being opened. Still good. I love the toasted kind on greens or spinach, but it doesn't take much.

                2. My asian friends quite often saute things in toasted sesame oil. There really is no technical reason that you can't or shouldn't.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I think the toasted sesame oil has a lower smoke point than the more refined version, so it may be more unhealthy to cook with at high heat.

                    1. re: Humbucker

                      You are correct. The smoking point for untoasted sesame oil (yellow) is quite high while the toasted one is low. And I'm Asian and have never heard sauteing in toasted sesame oil. The only thing I can think of is my mom used to fry (more like poach) thin slices of rib-eye with toasted sesame oil over low heat.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        The smoke point for toasted sesame oil is 350, which is certainly high enough to cook with it. It's just a matter of taste.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          What do they cook in it? I like the flavor very much, but the idea of actually using enough to cook something sounds a little gross... kind of like a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a single mixed drink or something...

                          1. re: MikeG

                            It's used in moderation to sautee vegetables that morph into a sauce with kojuchang added to it. It's delicious.

                            My only point is that there is no *technical* reason you can't cook with it, other that your personal taste.

                            This debate is akin to the one about extra virgin olive oil and whether it can/should be used for frying and other high heat uses.

                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              IS extra virgin olive oil appropriate for high heat cooking?

                              1. re: Humbucker

                                Many people, including Mario Batali, even deep fry in it. I don't though. But it's a myth that you can't.

                  2. I know when I order egg foo young from my favorite Chinese restaurant,they give m me a brown gravy with it.When I get it home,there is usually a thin layer of oil resting on the top.Hence:the oil was added after the preperation of the gravy.I mix it well and the end result is the best tasting gravy ever.I have finally come to the conclusion that they use sesame oil.