Whether or not you’ve ever been to the Middle East, chances are you’ve had tahini, and probably more than once. Also known as sesame paste, tahini is just that: ground sesame seeds with oil. Simple and perfect. It’s a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, and you’ll find it across both Israeli and Turkish dishes (classic hummus and baba ghanoush included). It’s also a great addition to various sauces, dressings, and spreads. Tahini is known to have a creamy, rich, and nutty flavor, so we turn to it often when we’re looking to balance spice or add a savory edge to our meal. Seriously, tahini goes way beyond that ingredient used in hummus. Since there are endless ways to bring your tahini dreams to life, we’re sharing our favorites.
As a spread
On it’s own, tahini has the consistency of nut butter, making it the perfect PB substitute. We love spreading it on our morning toast alongside sliced bananas, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. It’ll most certainly result in an insta-worthy photo. If you can wait before taking a bite, that is.
As a dip
Raw veggies are a snack we can always get behind, and with the right dip, it gets even better. Just add lemon juice, salt, and a little pepper to your tahini, and say hello to your new afternoon pick me up. If you’re looking for extra heat, add a splash of your favorite hot sauce.
And of course, we’d be crazy not to mention tahini’s major claim to fame: Hummus. Loved by the masses (we will put hummus on anything), this chickpea-based dip uses tahini to give it that irresistible, smooth consistency.
As a topping
Whether it’s drizzled over a bowl of roasted chickpeas or a simple fish filet, tahini is a great way to round out a main dish. You can really add it to anything, but you can try our Chicken Shawarma to get the juices flowing.
As a salad dressing
Everyone has their favorite go-to dressing, but it may be time to add tahini to the mix. For an everyday vinaigrette, whisk together tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and minced garlic.
As a sauce
By now you’ve learned that we add tahini to everything, and we haven’t even touched the sauce genre yet. When noodles are involved, tahini is a serious game changer. If you’re looking for some inspo, our Test Kitchen dreamt up some chilled long life noodles—they will satisfy your every craving.
Make your own
While you can definitely by your own tahini to use in all the above delicious ways, it’s super simple to make it at home.
2 cups hulled white sesame seeds
1–2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
Preheat oven to 350F, and arrange sesame seeds on a bare baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden brown (careful not to burn).
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then add to a food processor and blend until smooth, adding oil to encourage blending. The amount of oil you need will depend on the freshness of your sesame seeds and the power of your food processor.
Scoop into a jar or sealed container and store in the refrigerator up to 3–4 weeks.