Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. The oil is one of the earliest-known crop-based oils. Worldwide mass modern production is limited due to the inefficient manual harvesting process required to extract the oil. Oil made from raw seeds, which may or may not be cold-pressed, is used as a cooking oil. Oil made from toasted seeds is used for its distinctive nutty aroma and taste, although it may be unsuitable for frying, which makes it taste burnt and bitter.[1]

Light sesame seed oil in a glass vial



Manufacturing process

Bottling sesame oil at Moran Market, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Dark brown sesame oil derived from roasted/toasted sesame seeds
Extracting sesame oil by a bullock driven wooden press (Myanmar)

Sesame seeds are protected by a capsule which bursts only when the seeds are completely ripe, a process called dehiscence. The dehiscence time tends to vary, so farmers cut plants by hand and place them together in an upright position to continue ripening, until all the capsules have opened.[2]

Tanzania remains the largest producer of sesame oil and also dominates the global consumption of this product. The African and Asian regions constitute the fastest-developing sesame oil markets. The steady growth in demand being observed here is in line with rising household income and urbanization, as well as an increase in the use of sesame oil for food products and Asian dishes.[3]

While some manufacturers will further refine sesame oil through solvent extraction, neutralization, and bleaching in order to improve its cosmetic aspects, sesame oil derived from quality seeds already possesses a pleasant taste and does not require further purification before it can be consumed. Many consumers prefer unrefined sesame oil due to their belief that the refining process removes important nutrients. Flavor, traditionally an important attribute, was best in oils produced from mild crushing.[4]

Sesame oil is one of the more stable natural oils, but can still benefit from refrigeration and from limited exposure to light and high temperatures during extraction, processing, and storage; this minimizes nutrient loss through oxidation and rancidity. Storage in amber-colored or opaque bottles can help to minimize light exposure.

Sesame oil is a polyunsaturated (PUFA) semi-drying oil. Commercial sesame oil varies in color from light to deep reddish-yellow depending on the color of the seed processed and the method of milling. Provided that the oil is milled from well-cleaned seed, it can be refined and bleached easily to yield a light-colored limpid oil. Sesame oil is rich in oleic and linoleic acids, which together account for 85% of the total fatty acids. Sesame oil has a relatively high percentage of unsaponifiable matter (1.5-2.3%). In India and in some other European countries, it is obligatory to add sesame oil (5-10%) to margarine and generally to hydrogenated vegetable fats which are commonly used as adulterants for butter or ghee.[citation needed]

Sesame seed market

White sesame seeds, mostly unshelled.

About 65% of the annual US sesame crop is processed into oil, and 35% is used in food.[5]

Sesame oil
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy3,699 kJ (884 kcal)
0.00 g
100.00 g
Saturated14.200 g
Monounsaturated39.700 g
Polyunsaturated41.700 g
0.00 g
Vitamin C
0.0 mg
Vitamin E
1.40 mg
Vitamin K
13.6 μg
0 mg
0.00 mg
0 mg
0 mg
0 mg
0 mg

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[6] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[7]



A 100 gram (100 ml) reference amount of sesame oil supplies 884 calories of food energy (table). The only essential nutrient having significant content in sesame oil is vitamin K, providing 13% of the Daily Value per 100 grams (table).

For fats, sesame oil is approximately equal in monounsaturated fat (oleic acid, 40% of total) and polyunsaturated fat (linoleic acid, 42% of total), together accounting for 80% of the total fat content (table). The remaining oil content is primarily palmitic acid, a saturated fat (about 9% of total, USDA table).

Potential for allergy


As with numerous seed and nut foods, sesame oil may produce an allergic reaction, although the incidence of this effect is rare, estimated at 0.1–0.2% of the population.[8] Reports of sesame allergy are growing in developed countries during the 21st century, with the allergic mechanism from oil exposure expressed as contact dermatitis, possibly resulting from hypersensitivity to lignin-like compounds.[9]





Sesame oil made from seeds that have not been toasted is a pale yellow liquid with a pleasant grain-like odor and somewhat nutty taste, and is used as frying oil.[5] Oil made from pressed and toasted sesame seeds is amber-colored and aromatic, and is used as a flavoring agent in the final stages of cooking.[5]

Despite sesame oil's high proportion (41%) of polyunsaturated (omega-6) fatty acids, it is least prone, among cooking oils with high smoke points, to turn rancid when kept in the open.[2][5] This is due to the natural antioxidants, such as sesamol, present in the oil.[5]

Light sesame oil has a high smoke point and is suitable for deep-frying. Toasted sesame oil is not suitable,[5][1] but it can be used to stir fry meats and vegetables, for sautéing, and to make omelettes.

Sesame oil is most popular in continental Asia, especially in East Asia and the South Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, where its widespread use is similar to that of olive oil in the Mediterranean.

  • East Asian cuisines often use roasted sesame oil for seasoning during cooking, or at the table.
    • The Chinese use sesame oil in the preparation of meals.
    • In Japan, rāyu is made of chili and sesame oil and used as a spicy topping on various foods, or mixed with vinegar and soy sauce and used as a dip.
  • In South India, before the advent of modern refined oils produced on a large scale, sesame oil was traditionally used for curries and gravies. It continues to be used, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, mixed with foods that are hot and spicy, as it neutralizes the heat.[citation needed] It is often mixed in with a special spice powder that accompanies idli and dosa, as well as rice mixed with spice powders (example, paruppu podi).

Religious uses


In Mandaeism, anointing sesame oil, called misha (ࡌࡉࡔࡀ) in Mandaic, is used during rituals such as the masbuta (baptism) and masiqta (death mass), both of which are performed by Mandaean priests.[10]

Industrial uses


In industry, sesame oil may be used as:[2][5]

  • a solvent in injected drugs or intravenous drip solutions
  • a cosmetics carrier oil
  • a coating for stored grains to prevent weevil attacks. The oil also has synergy effects with some insecticides.[11]

Low-grade oil is used locally in soaps, paints, lubricants, and illuminants.[5]



Historically, sesame was cultivated more than 5000 years ago as a drought-tolerant crop which was able to grow where other crops failed.[12][13] Sesame was cultivated during the Indus Valley civilization and was the main oil crop. It was probably exported to Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE.[14]

See also



  1. ^ a b Andriani, Lynn (March 29, 2019). "Sesame Oil, Explained: What's the Difference Between Toasted and Untoasted?". Martha Stewart.
  2. ^ a b c E.S. Oplinger; D.H. Putnam; A.R. Kaminski; C.V. Hanson; E.A. Oelke; E.E. Schulte; J.D. Doll (May 1990). "Sesame". Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
  3. ^ "Global Sesame Oil Market Overview - 2018 - IndexBox". Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  4. ^ "Ghani: A traditional method of oil processing in India". United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, Document Repository. 1993.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "AgMRC Sesame profile". Ag Marketing Resource Center, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. 2016.
  6. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  7. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154.
  8. ^ Dalal, Ilan; Goldberg, Michael; Katz, Yitzhak (May 19, 2012). "Sesame Seed Food Allergy". Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 12 (4). Springer: 339–345. doi:10.1007/s11882-012-0267-2. ISSN 1529-7322. PMID 22610362. S2CID 11111725.
  9. ^ Gangur, Venu; Kelly, Caleb; Navuluri, Lalitha (2005). "Sesame allergy: a growing food allergy of global proportions?". Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 95 (1). Elsevier: 4–11. doi:10.1016/s1081-1206(10)61181-7. ISSN 1081-1206. PMID 16095135.
  10. ^ Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen (2002). The Mandaeans: ancient texts and modern people. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515385-5. OCLC 65198443.
  11. ^ Morris, JB (2002). "Food, Industrial, Nutraceutical, and Pharmaceutical Uses of Sesame Genetic Resources". Purdue University.
  12. ^ Raghav Ram; David Catlin; Juan Romero & Craig Cowley (1990). "Sesame: New Approaches for Crop Improvement". Purdue University.
  13. ^ D. Ray Langham. "Phenology of Sesame" (PDF). American Sesame Growers Association.
  14. ^ Small, Ernest (2004). "History and Lore of Sesame in Southwest Asia". Economic Botany. 58 (3). New York Botanical Garden Press: 329–353. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2004)058[0329:AR]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 4256831. S2CID 198159338.