Tahini sauce is a creamy, tasty, versatile condiment with runny tahini, fresh lemon, crushed garlic, water, and sea salt.
It has an earthy, nutty, and lemony flavor, adding an irresistible richness and creaminess to any dish.
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Tahini sauce is one of the most important condiments (if not THE most important) for anyone who wants to eat more veggies.
We are sure you’ll love this homemade tahini sauce recipe because:
- It’s quick and easy to make with five simple pantry staples.
- It tastes incredible with mild nutty, lemony, and garlicky notes and a perfect creaminess and velvety mouthfeel, making it almost cheesy.
- It’s nutritious, rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and protein, and good heart-healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats to keep you satiated and energized throughout the day.
Let’s see how to make the best and most authentic tahini sauce, one that is not bitter, with just five simple ingredients.
Tahini or tahina (طحينة in Arabic) is a sesame seed paste that has a rich, nutty flavor and a creamy texture.
It’s used as a condiment, usually mixed or diluted with other ingredients, in most countries in the Levant and Easter-Mediterranean regions and some North African countries.
To make the best tahini sauce, tahini should be light in color, smooth, and creamy but quite runny, not dark, pasty, and gritty.
It’s best if imported from Lebanon or Palestine, with Arabic text on the package, and made with 100% hulled sesame seeds. No other ingredients should appear on the label of good quality tahini.
Tahini, made with 100% sesame seeds, is naturally vegan and gluten-free. Also, it is not bitter. If your tahini is bitter, then change the brand.
You can find high-quality tahini in ethnic food stores; Middle Eastern or Asian grocery stores are your best bet. Some supermarkets also keep imported tahini.
Generally, I would avoid Western brands unless you have tried them before or are ready for some try and error.
Getting the correct tahini type was the biggest game-changer in our cooking.
They went from bitter, gritty, and overpowering to silky smooth, rich, nutty, and I-want-to-eat-this-thing-with-a-spoon-like-Nutella kind of thing.
We tell you all this because we bought the “wrong” tahini for years. One that was pasty, dark, gritty, and bitter.
We thought raw, unhulled, organic, and modern packaging were the things to look for. We were so wrong. Go for traditional if you can; you won’t regret it.
Try to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the one from a bottle.
Garlic should be crushed, not grated or minced. The garlic flavor should be mild, and the sauce should be smooth; that’s why crushed garlic is preferable.
The crushed clove infuses the tahini sauce with a mild garlic flavor without ruining its texture. If you grate the garlic in it, you will get a gritty tahini sauce, which is not what we want here.
We recommend sea salt for this recipe.
Cold tap water is fine. Take our recipe as a starting point and add more or less water until you reach your desired consistency.
Generally, tahini sauce should be drizzle-able with a spoon.
Note: Although less traditional, you can customize your basic tahini sauce with herbs and spices.
You can make variations with small quantities of ground cumin, sumac, garlic powder, finely chopped fresh parsley, chives, and fresh mint. Some bloggers even like to add honey or maple syrup and turn it into a tahini dressing.
There is no need to blend the tahini in a food processor. You can make this simple sauce in a small bowl with a whisk in 1 minute.
How to make tahini sauce
Stir the contents of your tahini jar with a spoon. It’s possible that if you haven’t used it in a while, the sesame oils and the sesame paste separate, so giving it a quick stir before using it helps.
Pour the tahini paste into a medium bowl, then add freshly squeezed lemon juice, water, a peeled and crushed garlic clove, and salt.
Tip: To crush the garlic, use the flat side of your knife’s blade, pressing down with the palm of your hand.
Avoid minced, grated, or pressed garlic because it’ll make your tahini sauce too garlicky and grainy.
Whisk for about a minute or until the ingredients turn into a smooth and velvety sauce.
You’ll see the tahini change texture and go from thick to curdle to velvety smooth. The color will also change from light brown to beige.
Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water to suit your preferences.
Keep in mind that as it sits, the sauce thickens up slightly. So you might need to add more if you make beforehandime.
Tahini sauce pairs well with most veggies, legumes, salads, and grains.
We make a fresh batch every week, as having it ready in the fridge is handy. Here are some of our favorite pairings:
The best hummus is one drawn in tahini sauce. Try making our homemade hummus recipe, then serve it with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce and extra virgin olive oil.
Check out our hummus recipe.
Drizzle tahini sauce on freshly made falafel served on hummus and get transported to the Middle East.
This is one of the best flavor combinations in the world, and we are sure you’ll love it.
Check out our homemade falafel recipe.
Cauliflower and tahini are among the best flavor affinities we’ve ever tried.
How you cook cauliflower doesn’t matter; tahini sauce will transform it into a delicious dish.
Like cauliflower, eggplants shine with tahini.
Try our stuffed eggplant with couscous and tahini sauce drizzled all over. It’s a delicious main course for an easy lunch or healthy dinner and our favorite way of stuffing eggplants!
Together with tangy and garlicky chimichurri, tahini sauce is our favorite condiment to drizzle on most roasted, air-fried, or grilled vegetables.
Try it as a condiment on your favorite bowls; from grain bowls to Buddha bowls, tahini sauce won’t disappoint.
It works well in a sandwich, too, as a healthy and tasty sauce. It goes well with most vegetables and spreads, so go ahead and experiment with your favorite combinations.
Drizzle plenty of the tahini sauce on top, and you are in for a treat!
You can also use it as a tasty and healthy dip to replace mayonnaise, queso, or sour cream. It’s delicious with oven-roasted or air-fried potatoes, and it’s also fantastic with raw veggie sticks.
Check out our roasted potato recipe.
Tahini sauce is one of the best salad dressings because it’s healthy, creamy, and tasty, and it has a mild garlicky, nutty, and lemony taste that works with most salads.
With other condiments
Tahini should be made from 100% ground sesame seeds.
Tahini sauce is made with tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.
Yes. We recommend refrigerating tahini once opened because the sesame oils become rancid after a while at room temperature, especially if you live in warm climates. However, you can refrigerate tahini for 5 to 6 months.
The only downside of cold tahini is that it gets harder to handle and stir. If that’s the case for your tahini, take it from the refrigerator 10 minutes before using it, and mix well with a spoon.
Tahini and peanut butter taste different as tahini is made from sesame seeds, while peanut butter is made from peanuts. However, like most seed and nut butter, they both have a rich, sticky, and silky texture and a similar macronutrient (fats, carbs, and protein) content.
If there’s one thing we’d like you to take away from this blog post is this:
“Source tahini made from hulled sesame seeds and light in colour, and typically made in the Levant region in countries such as Lebanon or Palestine. Avoid unhulled sesame pastes that are dark and gritty. We can’t stress enough how important it is to seek out authentic tahini. The key to creamy dreamy is in the tahini, really.”Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love: Recipes to Unlock the Secrets of Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer: A Cookbook. Page 19.
Make ahead: You can make tahini sauce up to 4 days ahead as it keeps well in the fridge. However, after 24 hours, tahini sauce starts to thicken up, so you might have to add a dash of water to make it drizzle-able again.
Refrigerator: Keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. Stir well before serving it. Also, you might want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a dash of water after a couple of days to thin it up a little.
Freezer: To freeze tahini sauce, transfer it to ice cube trays and freeze it for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
More sauces, dips, and dressings
For more ideas, take a peek at our selection here:
- Romesco sauce: the perfect condiment for anything grilled.
- Yogurt tahini dressing: a thick, creamy, tangy, and refreshing dressing with a Middle Eastern flare.
- Chipotle sauce: a dressing that pairs with most sides, from french fries to baked vegetables, fajitas, and more.
- Vegan mayo: creamy, thick, and perfect as a dip.
- Marinara sauce: made with canned tomatoes, onion, dried oregano, olive oil, basil, etc.
- Tzatziki: made with cucumber, mint, garlic, Greek or dairy-free yogurt, dill, parsley, etc.
- Eggplant dip: made with roasted eggplant, tahini, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika, etc.
- Chili oil: perfect for a spicy infusion in soups, tofu recipes, and most pasta recipes.
For more condiment ideas, check out our dressing and sauces category page.
- ⅓ cup tahini made with 100% hulled sesame seeds, light-colored, and runny – not thick
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Stir the content of your tahini jar with a spoon. In a bowl, add ⅓ cup tahini, ⅓ cup water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed), and ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Whisk for about a minute or until the ingredients turn into a smooth and velvety sauce.
- Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water to suit your preferences.
- Serve with hummus and falafel or drizzle on your favorite veggies, salads, grain bowls, and more.