This creamy Japanese sesame dressing can elevate any simple salad. Light, nutty, and slightly sweet, it is easy to whip up, ready in 10 minutes, and can be made ahead of time, making it perfect for salads, slaws, or as a dipping sauce.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you need this toasted sesame dressing
- Versatile. It has a mild, nutty, tangy flavor which goes great with just about anything, as a dressing for salads and slaws, as a drizzle over rice or noodles, or even as a dip or spread for sandwiches or wraps!
- Easy to make with simple ingredients, and ready in 15 minutes.
- Nutritious. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are full of essential nutrients and are rich in healthy fats.
📋 Ingredients and notes
To make this Japanese sesame dressing, you'll need whole sesame seeds, Japanese mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil.
Notes and Variations
- Japanese mayonnaise. Japanese-style or Kewpie mayonnaise is made with rice vinegar and uses only the egg yolk, giving it a richer taste and creamier texture. It can also contain a small amount of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which enhances its umami flavor. Regular mayo includes whole eggs and is made with distilled or cider vinegar, but works just as well in this recipe!
- Rice vinegar. Rice vinegar, also called rice wine vinegar, has light acidity, a slight sweetness balanced with tanginess and a subtle rice flavor which makes it perfect for this recipe. You can also use apple cider vinegar.
- Soy sauce. Use a low-sodium soy sauce to lessen the saltiness. Tamari is a good substitute for a gluten-free alternative.
- Mirin. Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine used in cooking, adding sweetness and depth. You can use this in place of sugar if you wish.
📖 How to make sesame salad dressing
Add sesame seeds to a medium pan and toast them until aromatic (~3 minutes). Toss them frequently to avoid them getting burnt. Allow to cool down for a few minutes.
Add toasted sesame seeds to a mortar and pestle (or food processor / coffee grinder) and grind until you have a fine powder.
Add the fine, ground sesame powder into a mixing bowl or a salad jar, and add Japanese mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil and sugar (or mirin). Whisk well and serve on your favorite salad.
👩🏽🍳 Tips for the best Japanese sesame dressing
This is a very simple recipe, and these tips will help you make it right each time.
⭐ Toast your sesame seeds and use a mortar and pestle. Toasting sesame seeds (vs. buying pre-toasted seeds) right before blending or crushing them in a mortar and pestle, intensifies the flavor, adding a nuttier and more aromatic quality to the dressing.
- Let it rest. After preparing the dressing, let it rest for a while to allow the flavors to combine. Refrigerate the dressing for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Adjust consistency. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of water or additional rice vinegar. Conversely, if it's too thin, add more sesame seeds or Japanese mayo for thickness.
- Slowly drizzle the sesame oil into the mixture while whisking continuously to achieve proper emulsification for a smooth and creamy texture.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
Japanese dressing, also known as Goma dressing in Japan, is a delightful blend of vinegar, sugar and a bit of soy sauce. This version uses Japanese mayonnaise, sesame seeds, and sesame oil.
Japanese sesame seed are tiny, flat seeds used in many traditional Japanese dishes. It's an essential part of the Japanese cuisine, giving a nutty and subtly sweet flavor to recipes such as dressings, noodles, and desserts. There are two types of sesame seeds you can use: white sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. Both varieties are used in Japanese sesame dressings.
🍴 What to serve with Japanese sesame dressing
This Japanese sesame salad dressing can be served with a variety of salads, slaws, and other vegetables.
- Use it as a dressing for a simple shredded lettuce salad, kale salad, asian coleslaw, and other simple green salads for a light but flavorful meal.
- Add flavor to steamed vegetables, stir-fries, and sandwiches.
🍴 Storage instructions
Store the dressing in an airtight container or a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
🍴 More dressing and dip recipes
Check out these other dressing and dip recipes:
- Pesto Salad Dressing (Vinaigrette & Creamy Versions!)
- Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing
- Green Goddess Salad Dressing
- Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Easy Mango Salsa Dip
Japanese Sesame Dressing
- 1 Spice Grinder
- 1 Japanese Mortar and Pestle
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise, substitute regular mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce, low sodium if possible
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- Add sesame seeds to a medium pan and toast them until aromatic (~3 minutes). Make sure to toss them frequently to avoid them getting burnt. Allow to cool down for a few minutes.
- Add toasted sesame seeds to a mortar and pestle (or food processor / coffee grinder) and grind until you have a fine powder.
- Add the fine, ground sesame powder into a mixing bowl or a salad jar, and add Japanese mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil and sugar. Whisk well and serve!