Tahini Sauce

Creamy, nutty, and bright, this easy tahini sauce will become a staple in your kitchen. Drizzle it over falafel, grain bowls, salads, and more!

Tahini Sauce

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that I love tahini. In the past, I’ve posted tahini cookies, salad dressings, oatmeal, and even ice cream, but today, I’m finally sharing my favorite 5-ingredient lemon tahini sauce recipe.

This tahini sauce is incredibly versatile, as it shines on salads, sandwiches, falafel, bowls, and more! My basic version is similar to what you’d find at any Middle Eastern falafel or shawarma restaurant, but I’m also including three delicious variations here. Honestly, I can’t choose a favorite. They all pack a punch of vivid color and bold flavor, and making them couldn’t be simpler. They keep for up to a week in the fridge, so prep one (or more) to jazz up your meals all week long!

Pouring lemon tahini sauce into glass jar

If you’re not familiar with tahini, it’s a creamy, nutty paste made from ground sesame seeds. Popular throughout the Middle East, it’s a key ingredient in spreads like hummus and baba ganoush. These days, you can find it in most well-stocked grocery stores. I use tahini in lots of ways in my kitchen, but most often, I add it to this easy, versatile lemon tahini sauce.

Tahini sauce recipe ingredients

Basic Tahini Sauce Recipe Ingredients

You only need 5 basic ingredients to make this easy recipe:

  • Tahini This recipe is all about the tahini, so choose a good quality one that isn’t too stiff or bitter. My favorite brands are Cedar’s, Soom, and Seed + Mill, all of which have a nice runny texture and nutty taste.
  • Lemon juice – Squeeze it yourself for the best bright flavor!
  • Garlic – Instead of using minced garlic, I finely grate it so that it fully incorporates into the sauce, adding a kick of garlic flavor.
  • Water – Add water, as needed, to thin your sauce until it has a smooth, creamy texture.
  • Sea salt – Stir it in to sharpen the sauce’s nutty, lemony taste.

Yum!

Hand using spatula to transfer sesame paste from measuring cup to mixing bowl

How to Make Tahini Sauce

To make this recipe, simply whisk the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water together in a bowl until they create a luscious, smooth sauce.

Hand whisking lemon juice into sauce

When you first add the water and lemon juice to the tahini, it will firm up and look something like this:

Hand whisking thick tahini sauce Hand pouring water from measuring cup into bowl

That’s totally normal! Continue whisking for a minute or so, and the ingredients will combine to form a smooth, creamy sauce. If your tahini is dry, or if you prefer a thinner sauce, add more water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.

Then, taste and adjust your seasonings. If you prefer a brighter sauce, add more lemon. If it is too bitter, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey. And if the flavor is too sharp, mellow it with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive oil. Enjoy!

Garlic tahini sauce in a bowl

Tahini Sauce Recipe Variations

Like my cilantro lime dressing, I like to make this dressing in more ways than one. The traditional version is delicious, but these colorful, flavorful variations are fun ways to change it up:

  • Turmeric Tahini – Stir 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup into the base recipe to make this vibrant, sunny sauce.
  • Beet Tahini – Beets + tahini are a match made in heaven! Make the entire recipe in the food processor, blending a peeled and roasted beet, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander with the base ingredients to give the sauce a sweet, spiced flavor. Add water as necessary to thin.
  • Green Goddess Tahini – Like the beet variation, this super-green sauce comes together in the food processor. I pulse a heaping 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, a heaping 3/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon olive oil into the base recipe ingredients.

Let me know what variations you try!

Pouring tahini sauce from measuring cup into glass jar

Tahini Sauce Serving Suggestions

Tahini sauce is super versatile, and I use it in all sorts of ways in my kitchen. Most simply, I enjoy it as a dip with fresh veggies or pita bread, or I drizzle it over my morning avocado toast. Here are a few more of my favorite ways to use it:

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

4 Tahini Sauce Recipes

If you love this tahini sauce recipe…

Try any of these flavorful sauces or dressings next:

Tahini Sauce

rate this recipe:
4.87 from 15 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Serves 4
This easy tahini sauce is versatile and delicious! Drizzle it over grain bowls, salads, falafel, and more. Find my favorite variations in the post above. All keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Ingredients

Basic Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini*
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated or pressed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, and sea salt. Season to taste. If you find the tahini sauce too bitter, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey to balance the flavor. If it’s too sharp, add ½ to 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil to mellow the flavor. If it's too thick, add water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.
    See the blog post about for the turmeric, beet, and green tahini sauce variations.

Notes

*I prefer these brands of tahini: Cedar’s, Seed + Mill, and Soom.

 

 

43 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Michelle
    06.27.2022

    5 stars
    Delicious with some harissa added for a bit of heat!

  2. Jonathan Bryans
    05.16.2022

    5 stars
    Basic one was so good….I will discover the other ones later

    Thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.18.2022

      I’m so glad you enjoyed!

  3. Nancy
    05.05.2022

    5 stars
    I made your basic tahini sauce to go with some falafel pitas. I served them with the tahini and a cucumber/tomato combo. Delish!
    I can’t wait to make your other tahini recipes.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.07.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  4. McKenzie
    05.03.2022

    I’m totally new to tahini sauce! I prefer lime to lemon, would using lime instead of lemon in the basic sauce work or would it be totally gross?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.04.2022

      Hi McKenzie, I haven’t tried it so I’m really not sure! It’s delicious with lemon though, a classic pairing.

      • Candace
        09.17.2022

        I did this with lime & it was great. Not quite as shard as lemon.

  5. SmittyRaeRae
    04.09.2022

    4 stars
    Felt like the 6 tablespoons of water was a bit much but I always like to follow a recipe as written before changing things. Had it said up to 6 tbls of water I would have been more cautious. Still a good sauce. Next time I’ll just as water to desired consistency.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.11.2022

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll add “up to.” It’s possible my tahini was more thick.

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.