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.

tahini sauce in a white bowl with silver spoon

Tahini sauce is one of the most important condiments (if not THE most important) for anyone who wants to eat more veggies.

It’s perfect for drizzling veggie-packed meals like hummus, falafel, roasted vegetables, salads, grain bowls, and flatbreads.

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.

hummus with falafel and tahini sauce

Ingredients

Tahini sauce ingredients

Tahini

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.

Tahini with spoon
Pure Lebanese tahini. It is made with 100% hulled sesame seeds.

Getting the correct tahini type was the biggest game-changer in our cooking.

Suddenly, recipes like this easy tahini sauce, hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, salads, roasted eggplant, and anything tahini-drizzled made sense.

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.

Lemon juice

Try to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the one from a bottle.

Garlic

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.

Salt

We recommend sea salt for this recipe.

Water

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.

Couscous salad with tahini dressing
Couscous salad drizzled with tahini sauce.

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.

Tahini sauce in a bowl before mixing

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.

Tahini sauce in a bowl with hand

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 with a silver spoon

Serving suggestions

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:

Hummus

hummus swimming in tahini

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.

Falafel on a plate of hummus

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

Whole roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing and almonds

Cauliflower and tahini are among the best flavor affinities we’ve ever tried.

Drizzle it on whole roasted cauliflower, roasted cauliflower, air fried cauliflower, or use it as a condiment for our roasted cauliflower salad and lentil cauliflower salad.

How you cook cauliflower doesn’t matter; tahini sauce will transform it into a delicious dish.

Eggplant

Couscous salad on stuffed eggplant

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!

It’s also excellent on roasted eggplants, grilled eggplants, and air-fried eggplants.

Roasted vegetables

Air fryer asparagus with white beans and tahini sauce

Together with tangy and garlicky chimichurri, tahini sauce is our favorite condiment to drizzle on most roasted, air-fried, or grilled vegetables.

Try it on roasted potatoes, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, and more.

You can also drizzle it on smashed potatoes, zucchini boats, and stuffed bell peppers.

Bowls

hummus in a falafel bowl

Try it as a condiment on your favorite bowls; from grain bowls to Buddha bowls, tahini sauce won’t disappoint.

Our favorite is a Mediterranean bowl with homemade falafel, hummus, roasted bell peppers, tabbouleh, tzatziki sauce, jalapeños, Kalamata olives, pickled beets, and warm pita bread.

Sandwiches

Falafel in a pita bread with hummus

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.

Wraps

Falafel in a wrap with tahini sauce

If you want to try it in a wrap, we recommend it with a tangy and refreshing shirazi salad over a bed of hummus and topped with mashed falafel.

Drizzle plenty of the tahini sauce on top, and you are in for a treat!

Dip

tahini sauce as a dip for roasted potatoes

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.

Salads

Cauliflower salad on a white plate

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.

Try it with tahini salad, tofu salad, couscous salad, fattoush, farro salad, rice salad, cauliflower salad, sweet potato salad, lentil carrot salad, and many other salads.

With other condiments

mashed grilled carrots and cannellini beans

Try it with other condiments such as chimichurri, tahini yogurt dressing, tzatziki, salsa verde, and cilantro lime dressing. We tried and tested these combinations many times; they are all wonderful.

In the dish above, we combine smashed maple syrup roasted carrots with cannellini beans tossed in salsa verde, chimichurri, and drizzled with tahini sauce.

Questions

What is tahini made from?

Tahini should be made from 100% ground sesame seeds.

What is tahini sauce made of?

Tahini sauce is made with tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

Do you refrigerate tahini?

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.

Is tahini similar to peanut butter?

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.

Tips

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.
Tahini sauce recipe just after mixing the sauce

Storage

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.

Tahini sauce with lemon and spoon

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.

Tahini sauce and silver spoon

Tahini Sauce

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 8 votes
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.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 13 tablespoons
Course: Dressing & Sauces
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern

Ingredients

  • cup tahini made with 100% hulled sesame seeds, light-colored, and runny – not thick
  • cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • 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.
    Tahini sauce in a bowl before mixing
  • Whisk for about a minute or until the ingredients turn into a smooth and velvety sauce.
    Tahini sauce in a bowl with hand
  • Taste and adjust the amount of lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water to suit your preferences.
    Tahini sauce with a silver spoon
  • Serve with hummus and falafel or drizzle on your favorite veggies, salads, grain bowls, and more.
    hummus with falafel and tahini sauce

Video

Tahini Sauce: a drizzle-on-everything-sauce

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 tablespoon of tahini sauce.
STORAGE
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.
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Nutrition

Calories: 37kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 32mg, Dietary Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 0.1g, Vitamin A: 4IU, Vitamin B6: 0.01mg, Vitamin C: 1mg, Vitamin E: 0.004mg, Vitamin K: 0.004µg, Calcium: 9mg, Folate: 6µg, Iron: 0.3mg, Manganese: 0.004mg, Magnesium: 6mg, Zinc: 0.3mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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