Tahini Sauce

Creamy & bright, this easy tahini sauce will become a staple in your kitchen. With 3 fun variations, it's perfect on falafel, bowls, salads & 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.

This tahini sauce recipe 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 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!

Lemon Tahini Sauce

If you’re not familiar with tahini, it’s a creamy, nutty paste made from ground sesame seeds. Popular throughout the Middle East, you can find it blended into hummus or baba ganoush, or drizzled over meat or fish. 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 – I don’t mince garlic for this recipe. Instead, I grate the garlic finely to fully integrate it into the sauce, adding a little kick.
  • Water – Add water, as needed, to thin your sauce to a creamy, drizzleable consistency.
  • Sea salt – Stir it in to sharpen the sauce’s nutty, lemony taste.

Yum!

Tahini in a 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.

Whisking tahini and lemon juice

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

Tahini sauce recipe How to make tahini sauce

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

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 – Just stir turmeric, ginger, olive oil, and a drop of maple syrup into the base recipe to make this vibrant, sunny sauce.
  • Beet – Beets + tahini are a match made in heaven! Make the entire recipe in the food processor, blending a roasted beet, cumin, and coriander with the base ingredients to give the sauce a sweet, spiced flavor.
  • Green Goddess – Like the beet variation, I make this super green sauce in the food processor, adding cilantro, parsley, cumin, maple, and olive oil to the base recipe ingredients.

Let me know what variations you try!

Lemon tahini dressing

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, or I drizzle it over my morning avocado toast. Here are a few of my other favorite ways to use it:

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

Tahini Sauce

If you love this tahini sauce recipe…

Try another Middle Eastern recipe like hummus, baba ganoushtzatziki, or Greek salad!

Tahini Sauce

rate this recipe:
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Serves 4
This easy tahini sauce recipe and its variations are delicious and versatile! Toss them onto salads, spread them on sandwiches, drizzle them on falafel, and more.

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

Turmeric Tahini

  • 1 recipe Basic Tahini Sauce
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Green Tahini

  • 1 recipe Basic Tahini Sauce
  • Heaping ¾ cup cilantro
  • Heaping ¾ cup parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Beet Tahini

  • 1 recipe Basic Tahini Sauce
  • 1 small beet, roasted and peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • Water, to thin, if necessary

Instructions

  • Make Basic Tahini Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, and sea salt.
  • Make Turmeric Tahini: Add the turmeric, maple syrup, ginger, and olive oil to 1 recipe of Basic Tahini Sauce. Stir until combined.
  • Make Green Tahini: Place 1 recipe of Basic Tahini Sauce in a food processor and add the cilantro, parsley, cumin, maple syrup, and olive oil. Pulse until combined.
  • Make Beet Tahini: Place 1 recipe of Basic Tahini Sauce in a food processor and add the roasted beet, cumin, and coriander. Puree until smooth, adding water if needed.

Notes

I prefer these brands of tahini: Cedar’s, Seed + Mill, Soom
Since tahini brands vary in flavor, it’s important to taste and adjust. If you find any variation 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.

 

 

17 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Keyan Kaplan
    09.26.2019

    Can I substitute a gf flour (grain, bean or nut) for the whole wheat in your falafel burger recipe? I’m curious to try this tahini recipe on homemade falafel.
    Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.26.2019

      Hi Keyen, I don’t think they would hold together well enough, but if you stay tuned for Sunday’s post, I have a GF falafel recipe coming up that doesn’t require any flours.

  2. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    09.26.2019

    love making sauces, dips, etc from scratch and had not had a tahini recipe of any kind so I really appreciate this one and all of the tweaks, the beet version especially!

  3. Heena
    09.27.2019

    5 stars
    Tahini sauce will add some new flavors to falafel’s. I was planning to surprise my husband on karwa chauth by cooking something different and I think falafel with tahini is perfect for the occasion 😋

  4. Sarah
    09.27.2019

    Looks wonderful! How long with this keep in the refrigerator?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.28.2019

      Hi Sarah, about 1 week for all of the variations except the green one which lasts about 4 days. I hope you enjoy!

  5. Lydia
    02.26.2020

    5 stars
    I’ve been making this tahini sauce/dressing regularly for a month or so–I drizzle it on a salad pretty much every day for lunch. It’s so good and versatile.

    Random things I’ve added include red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, honey, celery greens, and lots of different herbs and spices, depending on my preference that day. Still, the basic recipe is so delicious!

    Also, hot tip: I throw everything in a blender. No need to whisk. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Sarah
    09.28.2020

    Hi Jeanine,
    I LOVE all your recipes. I tell everyone who wants to cook about your site and your books. Your Macro Bowl was absolutely my favorite by far. But I’m so sad because the link to the recipe has changed, and so has the turmeric tahani dressing in this post. The old recipe with steamed veggies and that lovely dressing did not contain ginger. Can you re-post the old recipe somewhere, or at lease just the sauce?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.30.2020

      Hi Sarah, I apologize for the confusing changes… the macro bowl recipe is still in this post (we just changed it’s name): https://www.loveandlemons.com/buddha-bowl-recipe/

      Here is the original tahini dressing that went with it:
      1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
      1 tablespoon lemon juice
      1/2 tablespoon tahini
      1/2 tablespoon water
      1/2 garlic clove, minced
      1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
      sea salt

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.30.2020

      we also updated the photos and added some other grain/protein options but the core recipe is still the same. I hope that helps!

  7. Ezra Epstein
    12.18.2020

    I think you have the sequence a bit off. You want to do the water first. And you want the water to be ice water. ice cold. At the very end you add the lemon as it reacts with the sesame paste and changes its texture.

  8. Hannah
    01.18.2021

    Do these sauces freeze well?

  9. Miss Adelle
    03.01.2021

    5 stars
    I wouldn’t cheat on the Tahini. Freshly homemade is sooo much better. It only takes 1 cup of hulled sesame seeds, 2-4 T neutral oil, (I like using a light olive oil) and a pinch of salt. To make: Toast sesame seeds lightly (not browned, just a bit blond or golden) over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly. Cool them on a plate. Then put into food processor and pulse about a minute until a crumbly paste forms. Add 3 T neutral oil and process 2-3 minutes more, scraping sides of bowl from time to time, until it is smooth and pour-able. It should not be gritty. If it is too thick add the other Tbs of neutral flavored oil and process an additional minute or so, until it is smooth and pour-able. Test flavor and add salt to taste. Salt is optional if you have health issues but it tastes better with some salt. And this recipe comes from “Inspired Tastes” blog called “Easy Tahini Recipe–Better than Store bought.” And it is. And I have been using this recipe for a couple years now. It bested my best. If you google it there is also pictures to help you and a video as well. I don’t know your site as well to look for one here. I assume you don’t have one or you would have linked it. The Tahini sauce is fine but it needs a homemade Tahini. I feel so strongly about that that I do not see any reason to bother making this at all unless you are going to make homemade Tahini–which fresh is far better than ANY commercial including those you mentioned. It’s leagues better with fresh.

  10. phyllis
    03.10.2021

    OMG ALL your recipes are incredible. I especially like the salads., as like to make all different types of salads. Thank you so much. I have your first cooking and love it!

  11. Carolyn
    04.13.2021

    5 stars
    Yum!!! Perfect consistency 🙂 Can you recommend what you use to store sauces like this? Mason jars? Tupperwares? I need to invest in some nice containers so I can have your sauces on hand and storing well for days. Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.13.2021

      Hi Carolyn – either one! Any airtight container with a lid will be great.

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.