Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. Besides being used as a cooking oil, it is used as a flavor enhancer in many cuisines, having a distinctive nutty aroma and taste.[1] 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. Sesame, in the Akkadian language and in Tamil it is called Ell (எள்).[2] and chamke(참깨) in korean.

Sesame oil
Sesame seed oil in clear glass vial
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 are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central


Sesame oil is composed of the following fatty acids: linoleic acid (41% of total), oleic acid (39%), palmitic acid (8%), stearic acid (5%) and others in small amounts.[3]


White sesame seeds, mostly unshelled.

Historically, sesame was cultivated more than 5000 years ago as a drought-tolerant crop and was able to grow where other crops failed.[4][5] Sesame seeds were one of the first crops processed for oil as well as one of the earliest condiments. Sesame was cultivated during the Indus Valley Civilisation and was the main oil crop. It was probably exported to Mesopotamia around 2500 BC.[6]


Manufacturing processEdit

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 only bursts when the seeds are completely ripe. This is 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. The discovery of an indehiscent mutant (analogous to nonshattering domestic grains) by Langham in 1943 began the work towards development of a high-yielding, dehiscence-resistant variety. Although researchers have made significant progress in sesame breeding, harvest losses due to dehiscence continue to limit domestic US production.[7]

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 figures and urbanization, as well as an increase in the use of sesame oil for food products and Asian dishes.[8]

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. Flavour, which was traditionally an important attribute, was best in oils produced from mild crushing.[9]

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

Sesame oil is a polyunsaturated (PUFA) semi-drying oil. Commercial sesame oil varies in colour from light to deep reddish-yellow depending on the colour of the seed processed and the method of milling. Provided the oil is milled from well-cleaned seed, it can be refined and bleached easily to yield a light-coloured 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.

Sesame seed marketEdit

The market for sesame oil is mainly located in Asia and the Middle East where the use of domestically produced sesame oil has been a tradition for centuries.[7] About 65 percent of the annual US sesame crop is processed into oil and 35 percent is used in food.[10]


There are many variations in the colour of sesame oil: cold-pressed sesame oil is pale yellow, while Indian sesame oil (gingelly or til oil) is golden. East Asian sesame oils are commonly made with roasted/toasted sesame seeds, and are dark brown, with a different flavour.

Sesame oil is traded in any of the forms described above. Cold-pressed sesame oil is available in Western health shops. Unroasted (but not necessarily cold-pressed) sesame oil is commonly used for cooking in South India, the Middle East, halal markets and East Asian countries. Toasted sesame oil is used for its flavour. [11]


The only essential nutrient having significant content in sesame oil is vitamin K, providing 17% of the Daily Value per 100 grams (ml) consumed supplying 884 calories (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).



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, used as frying oil.[10] Oil made from pressed and toasted sesame seeds is amber-colored and aromatic, used as a flavoring agent in the final stages of cooking.[10]

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.[7][10] This is due to the natural antioxidants, such as sesamol, present in the oil.[10]

Light sesame oil has a high smoke point and is suitable for deep-frying. Toasted sesame oil is not;[10] 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.
    • The Chinese use sesame oil in the preparation of meals.
    • In Japan, rāyu is a paste made of chili-sesame oil seasoning 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 (such as paruppu podi).

Traditional usesEdit

In Ayurvedic medicine, sesame oil (til tél) is used for massaging as it is believed to rid the body of heat due to its viscous nature upon rubbing.[12]

Industrial usesEdit

In industry, sesame oil may be used as[7][10]

  • a solvent in injected drugs or intravenous drip solutions,
  • a cosmetics carrier oil,
  • coating stored grains to prevent weevil attacks. The oil also has synergy with some insecticides.[13]

Low-grade oil is used locally in soaps, paints, lubricants, and illuminants.[10]


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.[14] 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.[15]


Although preliminary research on the potential effect of sesame oil on inflammation and atherosclerosis has been conducted, as of 2017, there was insufficient quality of the studies to allow any conclusions.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Goldberg, Sharon (1995). "Sesame Oil, a featured ingredient". Flavor & Fortune.
  2. ^ Martha, T. Roth (1958). The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD) Volume 4, E. Chicago. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-91-898610-8.
  3. ^ "Nutrition Facts for sesame oil per 100 g, analysis of fats and fatty acids". Conde Nast for the USDA National Nutrient Database, version SR-21. 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  4. ^ Raghav Ram; David Catlin; Juan Romero & Craig Cowley (1990). "Sesame: New Approaches for Crop Improvement". Purdue University.
  5. ^ D. Ray Langham. "Phenology of Sesame" (PDF). American Sesame Growers Association.
  6. ^ Small, Ernest (2004). "History and Lore of Sesame in Southwest Asia". Economic Botany. New York Botanical Garden Press. 58 (3): 329–353. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2004)058[0329:AR]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 4256831.
  7. ^ a b c d E.S. Oplinger, D.H. Putnam, A.R. Kaminski, C.V. Hanson, E.A. Oelke, E.E. Schulte, and J.D. Doll (May 1990). "Sesame". Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Global Sesame Oil Market Overview - 2018 - IndexBox". Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  9. ^ "Ghani: A traditional method of oil processing in India". United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, Document Repository. 1993.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "AgMRC Sesame profile". Ag Marketing Resource Center, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. 2016.
  11. ^ Katzer G (17 December 1999). "Spice Pages: Sesame Seeds (Sesamum indicum)".
  12. ^ Lahorkar P, Ramitha K, Bansal V, Anantha Narayana DB (2009). "A comparative evaluation of medicated oils prepared using ayurvedic and modified processes". Indian J Pharm Sci. 71 (6): 656–62. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.59548. PMC 2846471. PMID 20376219.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ Morris, JB (2002). "Food, Industrial, Nutraceutical, and Pharmaceutical Uses of Sesame Genetic Resources". Purdue University.
  14. ^ Dalal, Ilan; Goldberg, Michael; Katz, Yitzhak (19 May 2012). "Sesame Seed Food Allergy". Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. Springer. 12 (4): 339–345. doi:10.1007/s11882-012-0267-2. ISSN 1529-7322.
  15. ^ Gangur, Venu; Kelly, Caleb; Navuluri, Lalitha (2005). "Sesame allergy: a growing food allergy of global proportions?". Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Elsevier. 95 (1): 4–11. doi:10.1016/s1081-1206(10)61181-7. ISSN 1081-1206.
  16. ^ Hsu, E; Parthasarathy, S (6 July 2017). "Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects of Sesame Oil on Atherosclerosis: A Descriptive Literature Review". Cureus. 9 (7): e1438. doi:10.7759/cureus.1438. PMC 5587404. PMID 28924525.