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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can you substitute sesame oil for sesame seeds?

I've found great recipes that I want to try out but they contain sesame seeds and they don't sell sesame seeds here in Panama. Can you substitute sesame seeds with sesame oil? If so, how much oil for seeds?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Toasted sesame seeds spilling from a wooden scoop

This very much depends on the recipes. Sesame seeds are generally added to recipes for both flavor and texture. Sesame oil won't add quite the same flavor or texture. For instance, adding sesame oil to breads that call for sesame seeds might change the flavor and texture dramatically. A fish dish that calls for sesame seeds might work great with sesame oil, however.

Note that there is sesame oil and dark, or toasted sesame oil. The latter is made from seeds that have been toasted and has a much more intense, nutty flavor. The difference could greatly affect the taste of your recipe.

In general I estimate that you would use about 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to replace 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet