Creamy and nutty, this homemade Japanese Sesame Dressing is made from ground roasted sesame seeds, mayo, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. It’s easy and so delicious with your green salad!
I love a salad dressing that has unlimited potential. And this Japanese Sesame Dressing (胡麻ドレッシング) has it all: it’s creamy, full of umami, nutty, and mildly sweet with a tang. You can use it on any combination of greens and switch up the variations as you feel like. Best of all, it’s so, so easy.
If you eat salads year-round, you want to keep a bottle of this homemade dressing in your fridge at all times!
Popular Japanese Salad Dressing
Japanese home cooks often serve a side of salad when we prepare Yoshoku, Japanese-western influenced dishes for dinner. This sesame dressing is a favorite choice because it’s creamy and full of flavor.
Not only it pairs beautifully with simple green salads, but it’s also delicious on cold noodles, or as a sauce for grilled meat, grilled bok choy, and tofu.
For my typical style salad, I have iceberg lettuce, sweet corn kernels, tomato wedges, and wakame. Sometimes I top the combo with half a hard-boiled egg for extra protein before I serve over the dressing.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
To make this sesame dressing, you’ll only need simple pantry ingredients that are common in Japanese kitchen:
- Toasted sesame seeds – I usually give the pre-toasted sesame seeds another quick toasting in a frying pan to bring out a more aromatic and nutty flavor.
- Mayonnaise – I recommend using Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie Mayo) as it has a richer flavor. This is my homemade recipe if you can’t find the storebought one.
- Rice vinegar – Unlike other kinds of vinegar, rice vinegar has a mellow yet refreshing aroma. You can sub it with apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice but dilute with some water.
- Soy sauce – Soy sauce lends savoriness to the dressing. Tamari or gluten-free soy sauce works fine too.
- Sugar – I use granulated sugar, but you can use other types of sugar such as turbinado or raw cane sugar.
- Mirin – Add a bit more water if you can’t find mirin.
- Toasted sesame oil – It binds everything together with its irreplaceable nutty fragrance.
My husband likes the dressing to be on the tangy side, so I use a bit more rice vinegar. But always feel free to adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your taste!
What to Serve with Sesame Dressing
If you plan on using the sesame dressing over a simple salad, here’s what I suggest serving it with:
But don’t let this stop you from trying the dressing on other dishes. Because it is so much more dynamic than you think!
Other Popular Japanese Salad Dressings:
Japanese Sesame Dressing
- Put sesame seeds in a frying pan and toast them on low heat. When 2-3 sesame seeds start popping, remove from the heat.
- Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle until smooth.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk everything together.
- Drizzle on top of a simple salad of iceberg lettuce topped with tomatoes, boiled eggs, wakame, and corn.
- You can keep the dressing in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Update: Photos updated in November 2013