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12 Best Sesame Seeds Substitutes in Cooking/Baking

We need ingredients that give us good health and good flavor. This comes from great natural ingredients like the best quality flours, yeasts, and seeds. Sesame seeds are an integral ingredient in many of the baked goods we create.

Per 100g of sesame seeds:

Energy

563 Kg Cal

Carbohydrates

25 g

Dietary Fiber

16.8 g

Fats

43.3 g

Protein

18.3 g

Calcium

1450 mg

Iron

9.3 mg

Phosphorous

570 mg

Copper

2.29 mg

Zinc

12.20 mg

Whether you don’t want the nutty flavor of sesame seeds, are allergic, or don’t have the time to go to the store, here are the top substitutes.

What Can You Substitute for Sesame Seeds?

Poppy Seeds

poppy seeds

Poppy seeds are the perfect substitute for sesame seeds, especially if you want the same flavor and texture profile. However, expect a slightly more bitter taste from these seeds.

Nutrients

Poppy seeds have certain advantages over sesame seeds, like a higher content of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. On the flip side, they have lower iron, copper, magnesium, and sugar content.

How to Use

You can use poppy seeds as a sesame seed substitute in baking recipes, salads, curries, and garnishing. It’s advisable to add these seeds in the last few minutes of cooking.

Sunflower Seeds

sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are ideal substitutes for sesame seeds in baked foods and salads. Like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds have a nutty flavor.

Nutrients

These seeds pack a lot of nutrients, with selenium [1] and Vitamin E occurring in higher levels. Other nutrients in sunflower seeds include manganese, copper, zinc, iron, folate, and vitamin B6 & B3.

How to Use

Go for unsalted sunflower seeds to avoid over-salting your food. If you only have the salted version, reduce the salt levels in other parts of the recipe.

Pistachio Seeds

pistachio nuts

These are popular seeds characterized by a neutral taste. They are produced by the pistachio tree. Pistachio Seeds are an excellent alternative to sesame seeds that can be utilized in both savory and sweet dishes.

How to Use

Pistachio seeds can be utilized in a wide range of recipes; however, they must be roasted before using them. They are perfect for cooked foods, sweet baked goods, and pastries.

You can easily substitute sesame seeds with pistachio seeds by chopping pistachio seeds and using them to prepare a flavorful meal. However, avoid placing pistachio seeds on top of the dough when preparing a dish because they can easily get scorched.

Hemp Seeds

hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are an excellent substitute for sesame seeds when baking or garnishing food. Hemp seeds have an almost similar flavor and texture to sesame. They commonly get used in vegan and vegetarian dishes for their pronounced flavor.

Hemp seeds are ideal in Middle Eastern cuisine and European baking/garnishes. However, these seeds don’t work well in sushi or as a garnish in simple rice dishes. They are also costlier and harder to find than other sesame substitutes.

Chia Seeds

ground chia seeds

Chia seeds have a nutty flavor, making them the ideal sesame substitute. Chia seeds work well with various recipes, where they enhance the taste but do not dominate the primary flavors.

Nutrients

Chia seeds are rich in protein, soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and micronutrients, bringing many health benefits [2].

How to Use

You can use them instead of sesame seeds in salads, baked, or cooked foods. Use fewer chia seeds than recommended in the recipe, as they tend to increase in size when exposed to moisture.

Tahini Paste

tahini paste

What better way to substitute sesame seeds than with a sesame seed product? Tahini paste gets made by grinding toasted sesame seeds. It’s common in hummus, salad sauces, and middle-eastern/ Asian cuisines.

How to Use

While using tahini paste as a substitute for sesame seeds, use a 100% sesame seeds product to maintain the same flavor profile. Use a small amount of tahini paste since it can be too strong.

Pine Nuts

pine nuts

Pine nuts work well as a sesame seed substitute due to their nutty flavor and crunchy profile.

Nutrients

Although slightly smaller than sesame seeds, pine nuts are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain minerals, including calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin E. They are also rich in protein and fats.

How to Use

Pine nuts are the perfect replacement for sesame seeds in baked foods, pasta dishes, and stews. Avoid these nuts if you are allergic to tree nuts [3].

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are another superfood substitute for sesame seeds in baking, salads, and savory dishes. It’s best to grind flax seeds before using them, as the whole seed is difficult to digest.

Nutrients

Flax seeds have the same nutty flavor as sesame seeds but have a less crunchy texture. Their nutritional profile includes omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and dietary fiber.

Sesame Oil

sesame oil

Sesame oil is an excellent substitute for dishes that require the flavor of sesame seeds but not necessarily the same texture. Sesame oil works well in salads, stir-fries, soups, and stews.

How to Use

Sesame oil comes as either sesame oil or dark sesame oil. The latter is made from toasted sesame seeds and gives a more intense flavor than plain sesame oil. Dark sesame oil is perfect for salads, stir-fries, or as a drizzle on cooked vegetables.

Sesame oil is not an excellent alternative for sesame seeds in baked foods due to its lower burning point.

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds work well as sesame seed substitutes in breakfast bowls, stir-fries, cream soups, baked foods, and noodles. They are significantly larger than sesame seeds, but you can roast and chop them before use to achieve the same texture as sesame seeds.

Nutrients

Pumpkin seeds contain essential nutrients, including fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fat (omega-6 fats), magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin K.

Roasted Almonds

roasted almonds

I love anything that has nuts in it so this is one of my favorite ingredients. A fine substitute for sesame seeds are roasted almonds. Of course, not being actual seeds, they will need your attention in grinding or chopping to fit the recipe.

Nutrients

Almonds and sesame seeds are both high in calories. Like most nuts, both are gluten-free.

Sesame seeds have roughly 565 calories per 100 grams and almond seeds have 579 calories per 100 grams. This is a very close match giving almond high marks as a substitute.

Macro Ratios from Calories:

Almonds

Sesame Seeds

Protein

14%

11%

Carbohydrates

14%

17%

Fat

73%

72%

How to Use

Use delicious roasted almonds for your stir-fries, salads, and desserts in the same way you would use sesame seeds. After roasting and chopping, use them over raw dishes as well as over a fully cooked meal. Your family will love them!

Chopped Nuts

chopped nuts

Nuts are ideal substitutes for sesame seeds due to their nutty flavor.

How to Use

Cashews, peanuts, almonds, and pistachios work perfectly in place of sesame seeds, but you’ll need to chop them up to reduce their size. You can use chopped nuts in cakes, cookies, bread, stir-fries, noodles, and salads.

If you choose almonds as a sesame seeds substitute, roast them first to achieve a similar flavor. Roasted pistachios also work, but they burn much faster.

FAQs About Sesame Seeds

Are flax seeds the same as sesame seeds?

Flax seeds and sesame seeds come from different plants. However, they can get interchanged in recipes due to their similar flavor.

Can I substitute chia seeds for sesame seeds?

Chia seeds are a good substitute for sesame seeds in baking, garnishing, and salads. They do not alter or overpower the flavors of the primary dish.

What can I use instead of sesame seeds?

Healthy seeds like poppy, hemp, and pumpkin are popular substitutes for sesame seeds. They match either the texture or flavor of sesame seeds.

Do sesame seeds add flavor?

Sesame seeds are popular in Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asian, and European cuisines for their nutty flavor. The flavor is more pronounced in roasted sesame.

How to Choose the Perfect Sesame Seeds Substitute

Not having sesame seeds when a recipe requires them shouldn’t stop you from making food. You can find the perfect substitutes in your pantry, ranging from seeds to tree nuts and oils.

When choosing a sesame seed substitute, consider the seeds’ role in the recipe.

If the flavor and texture are a big reason for using sesame seeds, find a replacement with the same flavor and texture profile. For garnishing, you may want a similar substitute in size and color.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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