Sesame Oil vs. Olive Oil: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie

Adventurous cooks don’t hesitate to use and even mix different types of oils in the kitchen. Each kind of oil cooks and flavors your food in unique ways.

Sesame oil and olive oil are two of the healthier oils you can use. Some use one in place of the other, depending on what they have on hand or what’s cheaper to get from the store shelf. But these two are not so much alike and may change the outcome of your recipe.

So what’s the difference between sesame oil and olive oil? The main difference between sesame oil and olive oil is the taste. Sesame oil has a nutty, earthy taste, while olive oil has a bitter, buttery, and grassy taste. You may also pick up the fruity, floral taste in olive oil.

Sesame oil can easily dominate your dish. But olive oil is neutral, even in large quantities.

Sesame oil and olive oil are different in composition or preparation. The strength of their flavors differ according to the variety you buy. One sesame oil bottle may be more or less nutty than the others. And one olive oil bottle may be more or less bitter than the others.

What are Other Differences Between Sesame Oil and Olive Oil?

There are other differences between sesame oil and olive oil. First, they are different in source. Both of these oils come from plants, and many similarly categorize them as vegetable oil. But sesame oil is extracted from a seed (sesame seed), and olive oil is extracted from fruit (olive fruit).

Second, they have different uses. You can use both oils for seasoning food, making dips and marinades, or stir-frying. However, olive oil can be used for baking in place of butter or shortening in recipes. But sesame oil cannot be used in large amounts for baking recipes. The strong flavor will change the taste of your baked dish.

When it comes to frying, you can deep fry using olive oil but it’s not recommended to deep fry with sesame oil exclusively. You should blend it with other oils. On its own, sesame oil is best used in minimal amounts or towards the end of cooking.

Third, there are more varieties of olive oil than sesame oil. You can buysesame oil only in regular (or light) and toasted (or dark) varieties. But you can buy olive oil in pomace, regular (or pure), light, extra-light, virgin, and extra-virgin varieties.

Fourth, olive oil has a lot more nutritional value than sesame oil. Both of these contain the healthy kind of fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), but olive oil has more calcium and choline. Olive oil also has more vitamin E, with 12 mg. in 1 tbs., while sesame oil only gives about .2 mg. per tbs. Olive oil contains more vitamin K (or potassium), with 8 mcg per tbs., while sesame oil only has less than 2 mcg per tbs.

Fifth, they are different in color. You can buy sesame oil in pale yellow (cold-pressed sesame oil), golden (Indian sesame oil), light brown, brown, or dark brown (toasted sesame oil) color. And you can buy olive oil in pale yellow, yellow gold, green, or darker green color.

One last difference is the price. Olive oil can be way more expensive than sesame oil, especially the premium quality ones.

When Should You Use Sesame Oil?

Use sesame oil when you want to enhance your dish with a nutty flavor and aroma. Most Asian or Oriental salads are best served with a splash of sesame oil. Sesame oil brings out the best in your stir fry vegetables. You can add some drops to your noodles and noodle soups.

Add some sesame oil to your mixed rice and other rice dishes. Asian salad dressings, grilled meat marinades, and dark sauces taste so much better with sesame oil.

For the best taste, add sesame oil when you’re about to turn the heat off. And remember to choose light sesame oil if you plan to deep fry. Lastly, choose cold-pressed sesame oil if you want to add sweetness or go for a less nutty taste in your food.

When Should You Use Olive Oil?

You can use olive oil as a basic dressing for many salads. Make excellent homemade pesto and sundried tomatoes with olive oil. Or mix some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dip for crusty bread or naan.

You can also use olive oil to baste your meat before grilling it on the barbecue. This helps seal the flavor and juices. Olive oil is also great for roasting potatoes and other vegetables. Massage some of it into your potatoes and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 20 minutes.

Use olive oil in place of butter for spreads, cakes, cookies, and bread recipes. Golden yellow olive oil or extra light olive oil is your best choice for baking. It is mild, a bit sweet, and light. Use 3 tbs. of olive oil for every ¼ cup of butter.

Remember to use refined olive oil for deep frying. This type of olive oil has a high smoke point and won’t burn quickly.

Can You Substitute Sesame Oil for Olive Oil?

Yes, you can use sesame oil in place of olive oil. If you want to minimize the nutty taste, choose light sesame oil. Since using sesame oil can mess with the intended taste of your food, it is always better to use the specified type of oil. However, if you don’t mind changing up your dish, then freely substitute one for the other.

How about substituting olive oil for sesame oil? You can do that, but you will lose the nutty taste. The best substitutes for sesame oil are perilla oil, peanut oil, or sunflower oil.

Final Thoughts

  • Sesame oil and olive oil are both healthy fats because they are unsaturated.
  • Olive oil has more nutrients than sesame oil.
  • Sesame oil is nutty and earthy, while olive oil is buttery, grassy, or bitter.
  • Sesame oil can overpower a dish, but olive oil is neutral.
  • Sesame oil comes from sesame seed, while olive oil comes from olive fruit.
  • You can use olive oil in place of butter for baking bread, cake, or cookies.

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