Japanese Sesame Salad Dressing

Sesame salad dressing

The Spruce


Ratings (39)
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 2 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
118 Calories
9g Fat
8g Carbs
3g Protein
(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.


  • 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

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.

Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a motor and pestle, food processor, or clean coffee grinder until smooth.

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.

Tips and Variations

The vinegar taste in this dressing is somewhat pronounced and may be too sour for some. If you want to play it safe, start with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and taste the dressing before you add any more. If you prefer a creamier, sweeter dressing, add 2 tablespoons of Japanese mayonnaise or high-quality mayo. If you'd like it creamier but don't want to add the mayo, put the mixture in a blender for 15 to 30 seconds until thick and emulsified.

This recipe calls for toasting and grinding your own sesame seeds for maximum sesame flavor, but you can also use store-bought ground sesame seeds if you prefer. As you experiment with making this dressing, you may want to try including a few other ingredients to enhance the taste. Try adding 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons of mirin (Japanese rice wine). Of course, a bit of garlic (1/2 teaspoon) is always a welcome addition, as is a similar amount of grated fresh ginger. And because soy sauce is salty, you probably don't need to add any salt, but if you think the flavors need a little balancing out add a pinch of kosher salt (but no more than 1/2 teaspoon). 

Ways to Use Sesame Dressing

This dressing is quite versatile and can do a lot more than just dress a green salad. Sesame dressing is great drizzled over thinly sliced beef or pork, garnished with cucumber. You may also like this dressing on steamed vegetables tossed with cold noodles, and it is the perfect Asian-inspired marinade for chicken, shrimp, and steak. For a twist on the common coleslaw, combine shredded cabbage and carrots with the dressing and top with a mixture of crunchy ramen noodles that have been toasted along with sesame seeds. You can also use this dressing as a dipping sauce for dumplings or other Asian appetizers. And spooned on top of a piece of grilled fresh tuna or salmon is pure perfection.

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.