Tahini Sauce

Tahini Sauce - Traditional Middle Eastern Condiment

A few days ago, my husband and I made a batch of fresh tahini sauce.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with tahini, it’s a dense paste made from crushed sesame seeds.  Tahini sauce is a mixture of tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and water.  This traditional Middle Eastern sauce is served in Israel and in Arab countries throughout the Middle East. The sauce is used as a condiment to accompany dishes like hummus, falafel, and babaganoush. It can also be served alongside a kosher meat meal as a dairy-free alternative to cream sauce.

Middle Eastern stores sell pre-mixed tahini sauce, but my husband swears by making it from scratch. I do notice a big difference between store-bought tahini sauce and homemade– the flavor of homemade is fresher, creamier, and more delicate. He walked me through the process, step by step, just like his mother used to make it when he was a child in Ramat Gan, Israel.

While I would love to give you the definitive tahini sauce recipe, making it properly is a bit of an art form.  It’s best learned in the kitchen beside somebody who’s been making it their whole life.  I have included the basic process and ingredient measurements here, but bear in mind that each batch of tahini sauce is different.  Ingredients must be added slowly, and the cook should keep a close eye on consistency and flavor throughout the process.

Once prepared, this recipe can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. This sauce is gluten free, vegan, healthy and tasty. Enjoy!

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Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tahini sesame seed paste (made from light colored seeds)
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water, or more for consistency
  • 3 cloves raw garlic (or 5 cloves roasted garlic)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced (optional)
Total Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 1 1/2 - 2 of cups tahini sauce
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Grind tahini paste, lukewarm water, garlic, lemon juice and salt together in a food processor or blender till sauce is creamy and ivory-colored. A food processor is the easiest way to make this sauce; scrape the sides of the processor periodically during processing. If using a blender, you may need to use a long-handled spoon to break up the thick part of the sauce once every 30 seconds; this will keep it from clogging your blender blades. After a few minutes of blending, sauce will turn into a rich, smooth paste. If mixture is too thick, slowly add more water until it reaches the preferred consistency. You may need quite a bit of water depending on the thickness of your tahini paste. If using tahini to top hummus or a meat dish, keep it thick and creamy. As a condiment for pita or falafel, a more liquid sauce is usually preferred. Taste often during the blending process; add more lemon juice or salt, if desired.
  • Tahini SauceWhen you're happy with the sauce's flavor and consistency, pour it into a bowl. Stir in parsley (optional) till well combined, or garnish sauce with fresh parsley on top. Enjoy!

Comments (36)Post a Comment

  1. Thank’s Tori… That hit the spot… Just made some to use with Lamb Shish Ka Bob.. Delish …<3

  2. Hi Tori,

    The website is amazing. Me and my girlfriend are having a great time looking at recipes.
    I’m a big Tahini fan and with my experience it’s very important to use COLD water rather than warm or hot water.
    Have you tried that?

  3. Just made the sauce to use on your falafel recipe and it was amazing! I definitely had to use more water to thin down the sauce which made it to have the perfect consistency. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Hi,
    In your recipe for Tahini you are saying to use Tahini Paste.
    I was looking on your site for Tahini Paste and i could not find it.
    Can you tell me please if you have it on your site or where can i get a Tahini paste made of light color sesame seeds?
    Thanks
    Vered

    1. Hi vered,
      Tahini Paste is really easy to make at home!
      All you need is sesame seeds, olive oil and a food processor.
      First you need to roast the sesame, but only very lightly. Place the sesame seeds on a dry pan and roast them, stirring constantly. You want them to warm up and start changing their color to just a little darker. Do not allow the sesame to brown!
      Then you put the sesame into a food processor, add olive oil (approx. ½ cup of oil per ½ lb. of sesame seeds), and blend until you get a smooth paste. You can add more oil if the mixture is too thick for your blender.
      In my experience, you can safely store the paste refrigerated in an airtight container for a couple of months.

    2. Hi Vered and Elizabeth, I generally purchase 100% sesame tahini paste from my local Middle Eastern market. Gregory K, thanks for sharing your method; the tahini paste I use in this recipe doesn’t contain olive oil, but if the olive oil method works for you that’s great. My attempts at homemade tahini paste never taste as good as when I buy a jar. Tahini paste generally only includes pulverized sesame seeds ground into a paste, much like natural peanut butter only includes peanuts (and sometimes a little salt). If I’m able to crack the tahini paste code I’ll definitely post the recipe here!

  5. I am glad to know you could use tahini for passover. I plan to give tahini halva dessert to friends for passover.
    Please let me know if this recipe works.
    Thank you
    Kay

  6. Hi Tori…as always, I love reading your recipes! I’ve made tahini sauce and love the taste of it. It can get thicker after it’s refrigerated, I usually add a little bit of water to thin it out some. The other day, I thought I’d try adding yogurt to it instead of water, yum, it was delicious. Give it a try if you haven’t tried that. I’m going to try your chickpea patties as I’m sure it’s gonna be delicious! Thanks for your wonderful postings!

  7. You are amazing; and so are your recipes. Ever since I discovered your website I do not go anywhere else for anything I need in recipes. The recipes that I used and am still using are endless, and I cannot start listing them. Whatever I am looking for, I find it here. Thank you so much for being here and helping so many people.

  8. Tori, I have to tell you that this recipe and the shwarma recipe are simply unbelievable….it was impossible not to make noises of delight as I ate this with a friend. I just want to go and make it for everyone that I love!!! I just returned from Israel, and amazingly, I didn’t have shwarma while I was there…..there was so much amazing food, and every time I found myself in the presence of shwarma, I wasn’t hungry! And then when I was hungry….no shwarma was to be found. But now I can have it any and every time I want it. This is a miracle recipe. THANK YOU!!! YOU HIT THE JACKPOT WITH THESE!!

  9. quick question: what consistency are we looking for with this sauce? Quite liquidy, or almost pasty? I’ve found another recipe that is basically the same, but for the 1 cup of tahini paste it calls for 3 cups of cold water “drizzled into food processor until the sauce is frothy”. That sounds very liquidy – but I don’t think using just 3/4 cup as your recipe calls for would be.

    I know – I know! :-) you call for “3/4 cup water, or more for consistency” but you don’t really describe the consistency we should be looking for!

    ;-)

    Thank you, by the way, I’ll be making your shwarma chicken this week, can’t wait to compare it to the lebanese place I go to in Chicago!

    1. Hi Peter– different people like their tahini different consistencies, which is why you see the variation in liquid levels. Corner schawarma stands will often serve a more liquid version because it stretches the tahini further, making it more cost effective (it’s also a bit lower in calories). I prefer a more creamy texture with a more pronounced flavor, which is why I start with 3/4 cup and add from there. Basically, it’s whatever you prefer in terms of taste and flavor. The consistency I prefer is similar to a thick, pourable cream sauce. Hope that helps!

  10. ok – so the whole sauce thing confuses me. I just found another recipe that calls for

    FOR THE SAUCE:
    1 cup tahini
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    2 tablespoons yogurt

    So very very different! And another site that called for tzatziki sauce with cucumber, etc …

    Are these differences just regional differences? The tzatziki sauce really threw me, I did not expect that one!

    1. Hi Peter– some Greek places serve a version of shawarma with tzatziki as a filling for gyros. Greek schawarma is a little different in terms of flavor with oregano and more garlic in the marinade. My schawarma recipe is more Middle Eastern-inspired, and is best served with either tahini or garlic sauce.

    1. Hi Marvin– I’m not sure about the nutritional information. Servings will vary based on what you are using the sauce for, but I would say an average serving is around 1 1/2-2 tbsp as a topping/sauce.

  11. lol! And then there is also garlic sauce that some folks use with Shwarma. Oh my. I think the garlic sauce is maybe from Lebanon? And the tzatziki sauce is more Greek? And the tahini sauce is more … what … is it found all around the middle east, or is there a particular tradition that it is thought as being a part of?

    1. Peter– yes, see my answer above. :) Tahini sauce is Middle Eastern, but garlic sauce is also a popular condiment in the Middle East. Either one will work great with my recipe. The schawarma is also great on its own and doesn’t really need a sauce to be tasty. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Marvin, I’m sorry to hear about the kidney disease. There are many nutrition calculators online where you can plug in the ingredients to find out the information you need. I wish I was able to calculate the information for all of my recipes, but at this time I don’t have the staff power to help me. Hopefully soon!

  12. Hey Tori. In your description of Tahini sauce you mention oil “tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and oil”. In your ingredient list and your recipe oil is not mentioned. ??

  13. Hi Tory. I am Greek and I love middle eastern food. Today I used your recipe and made tahini sauce for the first time.I wanted to use it to dip the Falafel I made also for the first time but i did not do very well.
    The falafel I made were not fluffy enough as in london Lebanese restaurasnts and my tahini was bitter.
    I am determent to do it right but i need advice to succeed.Help anybody?

    1. Hi Makis, I’m not sure why your tahini sauce turned out bitter. Perhaps try another brand of tahini paste? They vary greatly in terms of flavor from brand to brand. Did you use my recipe for falafel? Most people have had a great result with my recipe– if you used it and had trouble with it, I recommend reading through the comments on that recipe, you may pick up some tips that will help you next time.

  14. For those of us that might not be up to making our own tahini paste, do you have a favorite brand? I have experimented with a number of different brands and so far my favorite is Tarazi. I noticed that you have the Kavala brand in your store. Is that your preferred brand?

    I LOVE your blog and a recently made your falafel recipe and it turned out perfectly on the first try. Thanks for all of the great information that you provide.

    1. Hi Kelli, there are a few different brands I like. I tend to like the tahini sold in kosher/Israeli markets better than the tahini sold in health food stores, the texture and flavor is usually better. Kevala is great, and it’s organic which is a plus for me.

  15. Just made this and was instantly transported to Cyprus where my husband and I ordered this in the tavernas every day! so easy to make it will accompany my home made babaganoush, and hummus.

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