Tahini Dressing

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.

tahini dressing recipe

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

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.

Hands whisking olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, sesame oil, and maple syrup in a small bowl

Add the ingredients to a small bowl along with 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk to combine.

Hands whisking creamy lemon tahini dressing

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!

Hands whisking tahini salad dressing

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:

How do you like to use lemon tahini dressing? Let me know in the comments!

tahini dressing

More Favorite Dressings and Sauces

If you love this tahini dressing recipe, try one of these flavorful dressings next:

Tahini Dressing

rate this recipe:
4.93 from 53 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
This tahini dressing is fantastic on almost any salad, but your options for using it don't end there! Drizzle it over roasted veggies, grain bowls, and more. Find additional suggestions in the post above.



  • 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.


*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.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. JoAnne

    Is the sesame oil necessary, I don.t normally keep that on hand. Any substitutions?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      You can use olive oil instead, it just won’t be as flavorful in this as the sesame oil.

  2. Taylor

    5 stars
    You are a go to site when looking for recipes. This dressing is great, good on salad, roast veggies, rice ramen, etc. Also thanks for warning about it seizing up- it gets me every time!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  3. Kaylie

    5 stars
    So easy and absolutely delicious!

  4. Fiona

    Both New Seasons and Whole Foods in Portland, OR, have lemon tahini dressing on their salad bars. It instantly became my very favorite dressing of all time. I no longer live there but I always make a point to get some when I visit. I haven’t tried this yet but I am getting ready to…from looking at the ingredients I don’t think one could go wrong. Thanks so much!

  5. Maya

    Delicious! It made my salad! I made it exactly as instructed.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  6. Sally

    5 stars
    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.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Sally, I’m so glad you love the dressing!

  7. Kirstin

    FAR too sweet – lots more of all the other ingredients leaves it still too sweet. Leave out the maple syrup is my tip

    • Sheila

      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.

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

        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.

        • Sheila

          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.

      • Sara

        The kind tahini makes all the difference. They are not created equal. I also thought I didn’t like tahini but then I tried some different varieties. I only buy a specific Ethiopian one from Amazon now.

  8. Kim

    4 stars
    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

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      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!

  9. ginger m

    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!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Melissa

    5 stars
    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!

  11. Katrina

    3 stars
    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.

    • LT

      5 stars
      Hi Katrina,
      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.

  12. Nancy

    Made this to go with a salad today. Absolutely delicious and easy to make. Already shared recipe with friends . Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  13. Maria

    5 stars
    This is yet another dressing that I’d like to sip through a straw! It’s that good! Where is the 10-star button?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha ha, I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  14. Birdie

    5 stars
    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.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Aww, I’m so glad you loved the dressing and thanks for sharing it! You’re the best.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.