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If you love savory sauces or seasonings, odds are you’ve tasted sesame paste at least once! In fact, you might use sesame paste as one of your most valuable cooking ingredients or sauces in Asian cuisine.
Sesame paste, however, isn’t always the easiest to find, especially if you live in the West and don’t have access to a market or grocery store with extensive Asian foods and ingredients. Furthermore, sesame paste’s unique flavor profile makes it very difficult to replicate with other things… or does it?
Turns out, there are several sesame paste substitutes you can and should use in a pinch. Who knows? Maybe some of these substitutes will work even better for your favorite dishes or sauces. Let’s break down some of the top sesame paste substitutes you can try out in detail.
First up is tahini paste, which is made from the same source as sesame paste: sesame seeds! Indeed, tahini paste comes from the Mediterranean and even has a similar texture to sesame paste, meaning you can use it in many of the same cooking dishes or sauces as you would sesame paste.
However, there are some notable flavor differences you should keep in mind. Tahini paste looks a little darker than sesame paste, and it has a nuttier flavor. For the best results, you might want to add a little olive oil to tahini paste; this will embolden its flavors and make it a little more similar to sesame paste than it is naturally.
You can also add extra ingredients like salt and/or pepper to change the flavor profile of regular tahini paste as well. Your mileage may vary on this point, however, so do some experimentation before assuming tahini paste will work exactly the same as sesame paste.
Naturally, you can also use sesame oil instead of sesame paste. This will obviously give you the same basic sesame flavor to your dish as sesame paste, though it will also be slightly different. Sesame oil has a more concentrated flavor than sesame paste, so whenever you use it in a dish or in a sauce, use less of it than you would paste.
It’s also important to note that sesame oil cannot replace sesame paste found in hummus; the textures of the other ingredients in hummus simply don’t mix well with sesame oil. Simply put, only use sesame oil if you need to substitute sesame paste’s flavor, rather than its texture or consistency.
You might also consider using smooth peanut butter in place of sesame paste. Odds are you probably have some in your kitchen cabinet!
Peanut butter, of course, has a distinct flavor of its own. This will match the nuttiness found in regular sesame paste, though it doesn’t have the same overall flavor profile of sesame. Smooth peanut butter can work in a pinch if you plan to use it in a dish where sesame paste isn’t the primary or most notable ingredient.
To make peanut butter an even better substitute for sesame paste, you should mix a little sesame oil with the peanut butter. Blend it thoroughly by hand or in a blender; this way, you’ll get the smoothness and texture reminiscent of sesame paste with a more concentrated sesame flavor profile.
Sun butter is simply butter made from sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds aren’t very similar to sesame seeds, though they still have a nutty aftertaste that is reminiscent of what you would experience if you ate sesame paste.
Sun butter works pretty well as a sesame paste substitute if you need something that is nutty and relatively smooth. However, some people find that sunflower seed oil and sesame oil taste too differently for sun butter to work as an appropriate replacement.
As with many of the other replacements above, consider adding a little sesame oil to sun butter. Once you do this, the sun butter will taste closer to sesame paste while retaining the smooth, buttery texture you can get with many sesame paste products.
Alternatively, you can consider soy butter instead of sesame oil or paste. Soy butter is made simply by mixing soy milk and oil together. You can use olive oil, or use sesame oil for the best results. Naturally, this will make the soy butter taste a little bit like sesame oil or paste.
We’d also recommend adding a little bit of lemon juice to your soy butter if you plan to use it as a sesame paste replacement. Mix the ingredients together very thoroughly until it is properly thick, then refrigerate the soy butter for storage and make sure that it solidifies properly.
Of course, soy butter will naturally taste quite distinct from regular sesame paste. But it can still work as a replacement in a recipe you really want to make ASAP.
Lastly, you might consider adding Greek yogurt to your recipe instead of sesame paste. We hear you – isn’t Greek yogurt completely different from sesame paste? Technically, yes. However, regular Greek yogurt has a similar texture and consistency to the best sesame paste products.
Therefore, if the sesame flavor is not the most important part of your recipe, Greek yogurt can work in a pinch. It’ll simply replace the sesame paste and provide the same creaminess you wanted. But keep in mind that its flavor can significantly impact the end taste of your dish. Furthermore, Greek yogurt is a little waterier than sesame paste.
There you have it: six sesame paste substitutes you can use if you don’t have time to go to the store or your local market has run out of sesame paste. As with all ingredient substitutes, it’s best to do a little experimentation before relying on any of these substitutes.
Keep in mind that no matter how close they are to sesame paste, none of them are a one-to-one exact match. Your dish will be a little different than you originally intended, but maybe that’s a chance to discover a great new recipe!