If you’re all out of sesame seeds then you’re likely bummed. Sesame seeds add a much needed kick to many baked goods and even some meals. Not adding many would lead to a much plainer existence.
So let’s take a look at the many sesame seed substitutes out there. We’re assuming you can’t find any sesame at all, be it white or black sesame (which taste the same). So here they are.
Sesame seeds substitute
The best sesame seed substitutes are tahini paste, sesame oil, sunflower seeds, roast almonds, roast pistachio, pine nuts, and flax seeds. All of these work especially well to give you the flavor of a nutty, umami sesame.
The first two are obviously the best choice, though they’re just a big different in flavor. The rest of the options may be easier to get a hold of, simply because they’re more common and are carried by pretty much every major supermarket.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind exactly why the recipe asks for sesame seeds. If it’s simply for decoration then you can use anything you like. If it’s for flavor then all of the substitutes on this list will get you there.
Read also: Sunflower Seed Substitute
Sometimes sesame seeds are added for texture, or simply for traditional reasons. In those cases you can feel free to experiment with very different seeds and use the ones you think may work best. So here’s our top picks for sesame seed substitutes.
1. Tahini paste
Tahini is probably the closest thing to actual sesame seeds, because it’s a paste made from actual sesame seeds ! Yes, tahini is made of roasted and ground sesame seeds, and its has a very deep, distinctive flavor. It can be a little bitter for some people, and just like organic peanut butter it can separate in time.
After all, these are sesame seeds, and their natural oil will separate and remain at the top. Give it a good mix or shake. Be sure to get tahini that is 100% sesame and has nothing else added, aside from maybe a bit of salt. Stabilized tahini may have other ingredients like palm oil that will allow it to keep its formula but change the flavor a little.
Do not use a whole lot of tahini, use it sparingly.
2. Sesame oil
Sesame oil is our personal favorite, since it gives you a lot of sesame flavor in a small bottle. Really it’s very potent, almost more than tahini so you don’t need to add so much you risk ruining your recipe.
Remember, the sesame your recipe needs is not that much (unless you’re making sesame bars) so use sesame oil very sparingly. oh, to get a nice combo of flavor and texture, why not pick another substitute from this list, for looks and texture, and add just a bit of sesame oil ?
3. Sunflower seeds
These are the most common seeds you’ll find all over the world. They’re fairly cheap and often they come without the shell already. So you can either use them as-is, or roast them a little and chop them a little before incorporating into the recipe. Mind the sharp ends, sunflower seeds can poke your gums if you’re not careful.
4. Roast almonds
Almonds may not have been on your list and we’re sure you know how they taste. But have you tasted roasted almonds ? Dear God you’re missing out. Unless you’ve got a severe almond allergy, these are even better than roast sunflowers. It’s just that they’re more expensive, and you will definitely need to chop them down after roasting.
They will be crunchy, slightly oily/juicy as you bite into them, and so nutty !
5. Pistachio seeds
Pistachio is always roasted, otherwise it’s not really edible. So shell a few pistachios, chop them roughly, and make yourself the best pastries ever ! Pistachio can work in savory recipes too, since it’s not sweet but blends well with sugar. So it can easily blend well into a loaf or some buns. If you leave it on top it may burn a little, so it may be best to put it in the dough instead.
6. Pine nuts
Pine nuts are delicious and expensive, but hey maybe you live somewhere they’re easier to find. So if you can, lightly roast these, and chop them up or even mash them with a mortar and pestle and incorporate into your recipe.
7. Flax seeds
Flax seeds can be used on their own as-is, they don’t really need to be roasted beforehand. They also provide a very satisfying crunch when you bite into them. This means you can easily make your sesame bars with a combination of nuts, including flax seeds, and still get that satisfaction of crushing through a seed’s outer coat.
And that’s pretty much it. You can mix and match the seeds and nuts we talked about in this post. We tried to avoid the idea of poppy seeds, simply because they’re always thrown as a first alternative. But they’re so far removed from sesame flavor that they’re not really worth the effort.
Unless you’re trying to replace black sesame and want a similar color. In which case we still recommend flax seeds, since they look more similar in shape and size.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.