Japanese Sesame Salad Dressing

Sesame salad dressing

The Spruce


  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
118 Calories
9g Fat
8g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 118
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 475mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 3g
Calcium 77mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Sesame salad dressing is very popular in Japan and is sometimes known as goma dressing (goma means sesame in Japanese). Sesame seeds have a nutty, slightly sweet taste and contribute a wonderful flavor to this simple salad dressing, calling for ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. You may find a lot of bottled sesame dressings at your local supermarket, but it is very easy to make at home, and won't contain all of those preservatives.

Although there are mayo-based goma recipes that many people enjoy, this soy sauce-based salad dressing flavored with sesame oil doesn't use mayonnaise, saving you a lot of calories and making it a healthier—but still delicious—choice.

The Japanese Sesame Seed

Historically, the sesame seed is the first recorded seasoning, dating back to 3000 B.C. Assyria. It grows widely in India and throughout Asia. Shiro goma is unhulled white sesame seed, muki goma is hulled white seed, and kuro goma is black sesame seed. Goma abura is sesame seed oil. All four products are available in Asian markets. This recipe calls for shiro goma and goma abura.


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  • 3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (brown or granulated)
  • 1 teaspoon  sesame oil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sesame Salad Dressing Recipe
    The Spruce 
  2. Put sesame seeds in a frying pan and toast them over low heat. When 2 to 3 sesame seeds start popping, remove the pan from the heat.

    Sesame Salad Dressing Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a motor and pestle, food processor, or clean coffee grinder until smooth.

    Sesame Salad Dressing Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Mix rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Add sesame oil and ground sesame seeds and whisk everything together. You can keep the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

    Sesame Salad Dressing Recipe
    The Spruce 


    • The vinegar in this dressing may make it too sour for some. To play it safe, start with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and then taste the dressing before adding any more.
    • Instead of toasting and grinding your own sesame seeds, you can also use store-bought ground sesame seeds (but the dressing may not have as rich of a sesame flavor).
    • Drizzle this sesame dressing over thinly sliced beef, pork, fresh tuna, or salmon, all garnished with chopped cucumber. Enjoy it on steamed vegetables tossed with cold noodles. Or use it as an Asian-inspired marinade for chicken, shrimp, or steak. Make an Asian coleslaw by combining shredded cabbage and carrots with the dressing, and then top it with a mixture of crunchy ramen noodles and toasted sesame seeds. You can also use this dressing as a dipping sauce for dumplings or other Asian appetizers.

    Recipe Variations

    • Enhance the taste of this dressing by using a 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil. Or sweeten it up with 2 tablespoons of mirin (Japanese rice wine).
    • If you prefer a creamier dressing, add 2 tablespoons of Japanese mayonnaise or another high-quality mayo. Or, alternatively, pulse the mixture in a blender for 15 to 30 seconds until it's thick and emulsified.
    • Garlic and ginger are two other welcomed additions for up-leveling the spice (add about a 1/2 teaspoon each).