There are lots of oils that you can use in cooking, but out of all the varieties, walnut oil isn’t commonly used. This is because it is often expensive and can have a bitter taste when heated.
Despite this, walnut oil does have its uses. Walnut oil may not be the best cooking oil, but it can be used to add a finishing touch to room temperature meals and colder dishes.
Walnut oil has a nutty, mild sweet taste that tastes great with aged cheese, filling vegetables, and cold noodle recipes.
However, if you have run out, or don’t have a bottle in your kitchen, you may need a substitute ingredient to use in your recipes.
As walnut oil has a unique, earthy taste, it’s hard to find an oil that mimics this exact flavor. Nevertheless, there are a few alternatives that will give your recipes similar nutty notes.
We’ll cover some of these substitute ingredients below, as well as some more information about walnut oil in this post.
More About Walnut Oil
As the name suggests, walnut oil is sourced from walnuts. The method involves compressing walnuts until they release their oils, extracting the fluid from the nuts.
The oil is golden brown with a nutty, sweet taste, but this turns bitter if the oil is exposed to heat. This is because walnut oil has a low smoke point, so it’s unsuitable for most cooking techniques.
You can make walnut oil in a lot of different ways. The less expensive form involves steeping walnuts in a cheaper, neutral oil base, like canola oil. This oil isn’t pure walnut oil, but a blend of different types.
The more expensive version is sourced straight from the walnuts themselves. These will have been dried, either expeller pressed or cold pressed, then heated.
Walnut oil is used to enhance food, but it is also used to coat wooden utensils and bowls. The oil acts as a food-safe glaze, preventing the wooden tools from cracking and deteriorating over time.
Different Types Of Walnut Oil
Walnut oil is available in four main types:
Cold Pressed, Unrefined Walnut Oil
Cold pressed, unrefined walnut oil is the most expensive out of the four types. It’s sourced by grinding down walnuts to make a paste, then processing the substance to divide its solids and oils.
As the walnuts are not heated to remove the oils, this type of oil doesn’t have as bitter a flavor.
Refined Walnut Oil
Refined walnut oil can be either expeller pressed or extracted with a solvent.
Expeller pressed means extreme pressure was used to source the oil. If the walnut oil hasn’t been labeled with the term ‘expeller pressed’, it’s probably been sourced by using a solvent.
If walnut oil has been extracted with a solvent, it will have been heat-treated to eliminate the solvent later on.
Both types of refined walnut oils can be used for finishing purposes, but their flavor won’t be as clean or as distinct compared to cold-pressed walnut oil.
Refined And Unrefined Blends
Some walnut oil brands make their product by mixing expeller pressed oil with cold pressed oil. The result is a multipurpose walnut oil that has a mild, gentle flavor.
You may be able to gently sauté with blended walnut oil, but it’s best saved for finishing touches and dressings.
Oil Infused With Walnuts
You can buy olive oil that has been infused with walnuts, giving the oil a similar walnut flavor.
However, this type of oil isn’t really walnut oil, so you will notice a significant difference. The oil won’t have the same walnut fragrance, nutrition profile, or heating limitations.
How Does Walnut Oil Taste?
As walnut oil can be made in various ways, they can all taste differently, depending on the type you use.
Unrefined, cold pressed walnut oil is the highest quality version you can buy. It has a mild, gentle taste and delicate nutty notes, just like the walnuts used to make the oil.
Refined walnut oil, however, has been processed and heated at a higher level. These processes affect its nutritional value and flavor, giving it a more neutral taste.
If you want to use walnut oil to cook with, use the refined version. This has a higher smoke point than unrefined walnut oil, so it can handle more heat from cooking.
Unrefined walnut oil has more nutty flavors compared to its refined counterpart. This is best saved for adding finishing touches to dishes, making dressings, or enhancing room temperature meals.
Things You Can Do With Walnut Oil
Even though walnut oil isn’t a great cooking oil, there are several things you can do with it.
Cold pressed walnut oil can be drizzled over rich salads, giving your dish some nutty flavors. You can also add some of the oil over pieces of fish, like roasted salmon, or add to dress up some wild rice, bringing out the grain’s nutty flavors.
Walnut oil may be a better finishing oil, but you can use it for light sautéing or give baked goods a light walnut flavor.
However, if you do want to cook with walnut oil, remember to keep your heat as low as possible. Walnut oil will taste bitter when it is heated too high.
The 6 Best Substitutes For Walnut Oil
Now that you know some more about walnut oil, here are some of the best alternatives you can use in its place.
1. Peanut Oil
Peanut oil is a great alternative to walnut oil, as it has a similar delicate taste and consistency. Peanut oil is more of a neutral oil, but it has lighter nutty undercurrents that work well in several recipes.
Peanut oil can be used in place of walnut oil to add finishing touches to dishes. A huge advantage here is that it has a high smoke point, so it can be used for high temperature cooking too.
For instance, many fast food restaurants use peanut oil to deep fry their food. It’s a great oil to keep in the pantry as it’s suitable for a large range of cooking tasks.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the most popular types of oils used in the kitchen. The oil is sourced from olives, instead of nuts, but it is still a useful walnut oil substitute.
One reason is because it is readily available. You probably have a bottle of olive oil in your kitchen already, so you won’t have to look far to find it.
Another reason is that its flavor works in a lot of different meals. It doesn’t have the same nutty flavors that are in walnut oil, but it’s likely to add a nice flavor to your recipe, whether it is savory or sweet.
3. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is sourced from pressed sesame seeds. The most popular type you’ll find is toasted sesame oil. This version has a relatively distinct fragrance and taste, which are both perceptible when used as an alternative.
Toasted sesame oil is best for light frying and flavoring tasks. However, keep in mind that the oil is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine, so it rapidly gives other recipes the same kind of flavors.
If you do want to use sesame oil as a walnut oil substitute, it’s best to use it frugally, in small amounts.
4. Hazelnut Oil
If you were going to use walnut oil to give your dish a nutty flavor, hazelnut oil may work as an alternative.
Just like walnut oil, hazelnut oil is typically used for dressings, as a finishing oil, or for baking jobs.
Hazelnut oil has pleasant roasted notes that can elevate several recipes, but as it tastes quite strong, it may overpower your dishes, so it’s best to use it in little quantities.
5. Pumpkin Seed Oil
Pumpkin seed oil is sourced with the same processes as walnut oil, but they have very different tolerances.
It has delicate, nutty undertones with an overall bitterness. It’s best to save pumpkin seed oil for raw kitchen tasks, as its bitter flavors can increase when heated.
Pumpkin seed oil has an extremely low smoking point, so it can start to burn at lower temperatures, giving your dishes an unpleasant, harsh flavor.
Like walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil tastes great over salads. It also works well over grilled meat, as the fat helps neutralize some of the oil’s bitter flavors.
6. Sunflower Oil
Sunflower oil is a multipurpose cooking oil that, despite its neutral taste, has a very light nutty undertone.
If you aren’t opposed to the oil’s neutral taste, it can work well as a walnut oil alternative. It has a high smoke point that’s perfect for cooking tasks, but the unrefined version has an earthy flavor that goes great in many recipes.
You can use sunflower oil to make salad dressings, sauté dishes, and add a finishing touch to grilled meat recipes.
Advice For Choosing A Walnut Oil Substitute
The oils above can work well as a walnut oil substitute, but keep in mind that they won’t recreate the same, exact walnut oil taste.
Many types of oils will deliver a similar consistency, but all of their various flavors can influence the way a recipe tastes.
If you don’t want to change a recipe’s flavor much, use a neutral flavored oil as your walnut oil substitute.
If you want to give your dish a similar walnut oil flavor, unrefined versions of oils, like sunflower, hazelnut, and peanut oil, are good options.
Just remember that unrefined oils have lower smoke points, so they shouldn’t be used to cook with. Save these for dressings and garnishing recipes instead.
Walnut oil has a light, delicate flavor that can add a nice touch to several recipes.
If you’ve run out of walnut oil, or aren’t able to buy any at the store, the oils listed above can work well in its place.
Some of these, like peanut oil, are better to cook with, while others, like pumpkin seed oil, are best used to add finishing touches.
We hope you enjoy cooking with some of these walnut oil substitutes!
The 6 Best Substitutes For Walnut OilCourse: Substitutes
Walnut oil is a unique ingredient that can elevate recipes, but what if you need an alternative ingredient? Discover the best walnut oil substitutes here.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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