Sesame oil is a versatile and flavorful oil that is popular in many cuisines around the world. But you may have noticed there are different varieties available – sesame oil and sesame seed oil.
What exactly is the difference between these two types of oil? The main difference between sesame seed oil and sesame oil is that sesame seed oil has a more mild and raw flavor due to the seeds being cold-pressed without toasting, while sesame oil has a rich, intense flavor thanks to the toasting of seeds before oil extraction. Sesame seed oil also has a higher smoke point, making it ideal for frying and high-heat cooking, unlike sesame oil which is better suited for low-heat cooking and as a finishing oil for dishes. In terms of nutrition, both oils are similar, but sesame oil usually contains more antioxidants and vitamin E due to the toasting process.
|Sesame Seed Oil
|Rich, intense nutty flavor from toasted seeds
|Mild, raw tasting flavor from untoasted seeds
|Lower smoke point (around 350-410°F or 177-210°C)
|Higher smoke point (around 450-475°F or 230-245°C)
|Higher in vitamin E and antioxidants due to toasting process
|Similar nutritional profile from sesame seeds
|Adding strong sesame flavor to dishes, finishing, dressings, low-heat cooking
|Suitable for frying, stir-frying, sautéing, general cooking
|Shorter shelf life due to lower smoke point
|Longer shelf life due to higher smoke point
|Making dressings and marinades with intense sesame flavor
Gentle heating dishes like noodle bowls with aromatic taste
|Stir-frying and deep-frying at high heat
All-purpose cooking with lighter sesame notes
|Limited use for specific flavor profiles
|Versatile for various cooking methods and flavors
|Higher in antioxidants
|Provides healthy fats and essential nutrients
Sesame Seed Oil vs. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil that is extracted from sesame seeds. It has been used for centuries in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Sesame oil adds a rich, nutty flavor to dishes.
Sesame seed oil, sometimes also called gingelly oil, is also extracted from sesame seeds. However, there are some key differences between sesame oil and sesame seed oil in terms of flavor, smoke point, nutrition, and best uses.
Understanding the distinctions between these two sesame seed-based oils will help you determine which variety is best for your cooking needs.
Let’s take a closer look at how sesame oil and sesame seed oil differ.
The most noticeable difference between sesame oil and sesame seed oil is in their flavor profiles.
Sesame oil has a rich, intense nutty flavor. It provides a strong sesame taste to dishes. The sesame seeds used to make sesame oil are usually roasted or toasted before being pressed to extract the oil. This toasting helps bring out the oil’s deep, aromatic nuttiness.
Sesame seed oil, on the other hand, has a much lighter, more delicate flavor. The sesame seeds are cold-pressed to extract the oil, without any pre-toasting. This results in an oil with a lighter sesame aroma and taste. The raw, untoasted sesame flavor is more subdued.
So in summary:
- Sesame oil = strong sesame flavor from toasted seeds
- Sesame seed oil = mild sesame flavor from raw, untoasted seeds
Smoke point refers to the temperature at which an oil begins smoking and breaks down. An oil’s smoke point determines how well it will perform for different cooking methods.
Sesame oil generally has a relatively low smoke point around 350-410°F (177-210°C). Therefore, it’s not the best choice for frying or other high-heat cooking methods.
Sesame seed oil has a higher smoke point, around 450-475°F (230-245°C). This makes sesame seed oil more versatile for stir-frying and deep-frying.
So in summary:
- Sesame oil = lower smoke point, not ideal for frying
- Sesame seed oil = higher smoke point, good for stir-fries and deep frying
From a nutritional standpoint, sesame oil and sesame seed oil are quite similar, as they both come from sesame seeds.
However, sesame oil tends to be higher in vitamin E and other antioxidantsbecause of the toasting process. This gives it some additional health benefits.
Both varieties provide these beneficial nutrients:
- Healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
- Vitamin K
So while both oils are nutritious, sesame oil offers slightly more nutritional value.
The different characteristics of sesame oil and sesame seed oil make them suitable for different culinary uses.
Sesame oil works well for:
- Adding rich sesame flavor to dishes
- Finishing dishes like stir fries
- Making dressings and sauces
- Adding nutty aroma to soups, curries, etc.
- Low-heat cooking methods
Sesame seed oil is better for:
- Frying at high heat
- Stir-frying at high heat
- Adding mild sesame flavor to dishes
- General cooking oil
So in summary:
- Sesame oil = finishing oil, dressings, sauces, low heat
- Sesame seed oil = frying, stir-fries, sautés, general cooking
Which One Should You Use?
So when should you use sesame oil versus sesame seed oil? Here are some recommendations:
- For stir-frying and deep-frying at high heat, use sesame seed oil. Its high smoke point makes it the best choice.
- For making dressings and marinades where you want a punch of sesame flavor, reach for regular sesame oil. Its intense, roasted flavor will come through.
- When making dishes with gentle heating like noodle bowls or light sautés, go for the aromatic taste of sesame oil.
- For general all-purpose cooking where you want a light sesame flavor, use sesame seed oil. Its milder flavor works well.
- If a recipe simply calls for “sesame oil” without specifying a type, either variety can work. But the roasted sesame oil will provide more pronounced flavor.
- When storing oil for later use, sesame seed oil has a longer shelf lifethan sesame oil. Its higher smoke point leads to better stability.
- For the most nutritional benefits, choose regular sesame oil for its antioxidant content. But both offer healthy fats and vitamins.
So consider the flavor you want, heating needs, and nutrition when deciding between these two omega-rich, sesame-flavored oils.
To recap, here are the main differences between sesame oil and sesame seed oil:
- Sesame oil has an intense, roasted sesame flavor while sesame seed oil is mild and raw tasting.
- Sesame seed oil has a higher smoke point so it’s better for frying and high-heat cooking.
- Sesame oil offers more antioxidants while sesame seed oil has a longer shelf life.
- Sesame oil adds bold sesame flavor as a finishing oil on dishes or in dressings. Sesame seed oil is better as an all-purpose cooking oil with lighter sesame notes.
Knowing when to use each variety comes down to considering the flavor you want, cooking methods required, and nutritional priorities. With their similar origins but different characteristics, sesame oil and sesame seed oil each have their ideal culinary uses. So experiment to find how you most enjoy these nutty, aromatic oils.