Keep this lemon tahini dressing on hand in the fridge, and you'll eat more salad than you ever have before! It's creamy, nutty, bright, and delicious.
Of all of the homemade salad dressings out there, this lemon tahini dressing might be the one I make most often. It’s really versatile – it tastes just as good with tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer as it does with roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or broccoli in the fall. It consists of a short list of ingredients that I always keep on hand, and it’s super easy to stir together. No blender or food processor required!
Nowadays, most home cooks I know are familiar with tahini, but in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a paste made from ground sesame seeds that originated in the Middle East. It’s what makes dips like hummus and baba ganoush so velvety and rich, and if you’re a fan of falafel, there’s a good chance you’ve drizzled nutty tahini sauce on top. In my kitchen, I use tahini in oatmeal, cookies, ice cream, and more, but I especially love it in this simple tahini dressing recipe. It’s creamy, rich, nutty, and bright. I like to keep it on hand at all times, and once you try it, I think you will, too.
Tahini Dressing Recipe Ingredients
Ready to make tahini salad dressing? You’ll need these simple ingredients:
- Tahini – It makes up the dressing’s creamy base. For the best results, use really smooth, runny tahini here, not the dry, stiff stuff that you might find at the bottom of a jar. Tahini’s consistency can also vary from brand to brand; my favorites are Soom, Cedar’s, Trader Joe’s, and Seed+Mill.
- Fresh lemon juice – It makes the dressing nice and bright.
- Sesame oil – It highlights the tahini’s rich, nutty flavor.
- Garlic – For sharp depth of flavor.
- Maple syrup – For balance! It tames the bright lemon juice and sharp garlic.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds body and richness.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Add the ingredients to a small bowl along with 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk to combine.
As the dressing starts to come together, the tahini will seize up, and the sauce will thicken. Don’t worry about it! It’s totally normal. Keep whisking, and you’ll have a smooth, creamy tahini salad dressing in no time.
If the dressing is still thicker than you’d like it to be, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. Season to taste with more lemon juice, salt, maple syrup, or sesame oil, and enjoy!
How to Use Lemon Tahini Dressing
Clearly, this lemon tahini dressing is fantastic on salads. I call for it in this Sweet Potato Salad recipe, but it’d also be great on this kale salad, this roasted cauliflower salad, this pomegranate salad, this beet salad, or this butternut squash salad. Not in the mood for salad? No problem. Here are a few more delicious ways to use this tahini dressing:
- Drizzle it over roasted veggies like Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, acorn squash, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, or beets. I also love it with grilled eggplant, zucchini, and mixed grilled vegetables in the summertime.
- Spoon it over falafel or a chickpea shawarma wrap.
- Add it to a bowl. Try it in this Buddha bowl or this Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl, or make your own bowl with your favorite veggies, a grain like farro, quinoa, or brown rice, and a protein like baked tofu, lentils, or roasted chickpeas.
How do you like to use lemon tahini dressing? Let me know in the comments!
More Favorite Dressings and Sauces
If you love this tahini dressing recipe, try one of these flavorful dressings next:
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- Homemade Italian Dressing
- Greek Salad Dressing
- Vegan Ranch
- Green Goddess Dressing
- Homemade Caesar Dressing
- Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Coleslaw Dressing
- ¼ cup smooth tahini*
- 3 tablespoons water, more if needed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic, and salt until smooth.
- If the dressing is too thick, add more water, ½ tablespoon at a time, until it’s a drizzleable consistency.
We love this tahini dressing recipe! It is thin with strong sesame flavor so we add to mayo if we want a thicker dressing for lettuce salads. I agree the tahini brand makes a difference. I used Krinos (1# jar at Walmart). It has the smooth consistency with minimal stirring, way better than the last tahini I purchased from Kroger, which came in a can with a plastic lid, an inch of oil on the top and rather solid mass of dried tahini.
Also discovered there is a taste difference between regular sesame oil and toasted sesame oil. Use toasted if you find it.
Hi Sally, I’m so glad you love the dressing!
FAR too sweet – lots more of all the other ingredients leaves it still too sweet. Leave out the maple syrup is my tip
Yup, I’m with you. I kept adding lemon juice but it didn’t help much. I also found it had a bitter after-taste and adding extra salt is not good for my high blood pressure. Apparantly I don’t like tahini salad dressing.
Hi Sheila, the bitterness could be coming from your tahini. What brand are you using? Our favorites are Trader Joe’s, Soom, Seed+Mill, and Cedar’s.
Hey Phoebe, thanks for the reply.
I live in a small village on North Vancouver Island in Canada. I’m lucky to be able to lay hands on tahini at all, let alone the brands you’re talking about. I have a brand called Tamam from Montreal.
I must admit that I don’t fully understand how one brand can be that much different from another when there is just a single ingredient, but perhaps you’re right.
i doubled recipe to have extra for veggies. it’s fine but it’s very sweet and thin – would start with less water and sweetener if I make again
Hi Kim, If your dressing is too thin, I’d recommend adding a bit more tahini to thicken it. To balance the sweetness, add an extra pinch of salt or more lemon juice to taste. Hope this helps!
Just made this dressing. Lovely. I subbed a smidge of honey for the maple syrup and then added a couple of drops of tamari. Just gave it that extra something. Would make again!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Love it!! I used extra runny tahini like you suggested! I accidentally put too much lemon juice – any advice on how to fix it? Thank you!
The dressing did not turn out so well for me as there was a strong bitter after-taste. I’m not sure if this was from my tahini, sesame oil or even the olive oil.
I notice this happens with tahini dressings sometimes too. A good trick I’ve found (learned from a pastry chef but works here too!) is to add a pinch or two more salt. When you’re working with anything bitter, salt is your friend for toning it down.
Made this to go with a salad today. Absolutely delicious and easy to make. Already shared recipe with friends . Thanks for sharing this recipe.
I’m so glad you loved it!
This is yet another dressing that I’d like to sip through a straw! It’s that good! Where is the 10-star button?
Ha ha, I’m so glad you’ve loved it!
I can’t stop with this dressing. It is so decadent and filling and mild and flavorful. I put it on everything!
I bought a cute little mason jar, filled it with this tahini dressing and gave it to a friend as a housewarming gift. He LOVED it and now I’m his favorite for introducing him to your recipes.
Aww, I’m so glad you loved the dressing and thanks for sharing it! You’re the best.