This paper explores the complex nexus between the global oil prices and the food prices of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during the period 2000–2020. Both linear and nonlinear models of the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) approach are adapted into panel data form to investigate the symmetrical and asymmetrical influence of oil prices on food prices. The key results are summarized: i) The effect of oil prices on food prices is significantly positive including both oil-exporting and oil-importing nations are verified in the long-term. The positive impact on oil-exporters—due to higher oil revenues—is greater than importing nations, leading to an increased demand for food. Additionally, the effect on oil-exporters is negative and significant in the short-term but not significant for importers. ii) The panel analysis for the MENA sample confirms the presence of negative short-term asymmetric behaviour, while in the long-term, the asymmetric effect is positive, indicating that food prices increase regardless of fluctuations in oil prices. iii) Wald test results support asymmetric co-integration for the whole sample of the MENA due to the heterogeneous response within the oil-importing and exporting samples. Specifically, the non-linear ARDL test results affirm the absence of an asymmetric nexus among oil and food prices for oil-exporting group (including Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) and Tunisia within the oil-importing group. Although there are differences in the direction and degree, the food prices of other countries are asymmetric to the oil price. This study provides recommendations that are useful to MENA countries to establish a stable mechanism for oil and food prices to ensure food security in the region.