5 Best Tahini Substitutes + Easy DIY Tahini Recipe

Tahini is made from hulled, roasted, and ground sesame seeds. It has a distinctive flavor and is used to make hummus, salad dressings, or condiments. However, if you are looking for a substitute or to make your own, keep reading to find your perfect solution.

A spoon with tahini sauce dripping off of it.

What is Tahini?

Tahini is popular in Mediterranean cuisine. It’s especially so in the Arab and Israeli areas. In Arabic, it’s called tarator. Tahini blends ground sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and salt into a paste. Add more olive oil to make it thicker, like a sauce. 

Tahini is very salty and distinctive. However, the flavor is only for some, and some might feel strongly about it. So whether you do not like the taste of tahini, are allergic to sesame seeds, are out, or cannot find it, I have five of the best tahini substitutes, plus a recipe for making your tahini at home. The nut butter has the same creamy texture as tahini paste.

With no further ado, let’s get on to the five best tahini alternatives and great substitutes.

What is the Difference Between Tahini and Tahini Sauce?


Tahini and tahihi sauce same base ingredient, ground sesame seeds. However, tahini sauce has garlic, lemon, and water or yogurt. This gives it a pourable consistency and softens the flavor.

Tahini

  • Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds that is thick and creamy.
  • It has a rich, nutty flavor with a hint of bitterness.
  • Tahini is a common ingredient in hummus, salad dressings, sauces, dips, and baked goods.

Tahini Sauce

  • Tahini sauce is a thinner, pourable sauce made by thinning tahini with water or yogurt. Fresh lemon juice and garlic are often added to balance the flavor.
  • It is popular as a salad dressing, a dipping sauce, or to drizzle on sandwiches, bowls, and shwarma.
Hummus surround by tomatoes and olives.

Five Best Tahini Substitutes

  1. Smooth Natural Peanut Butter: Peanut butter is generally the best substitute for tahini. It has a rich, nutty flavor and a similar creamy consistency. To make the same sauce, thin the peanut butter with water and whisk it to make it smooth. Peanut butter is my top recommendation for tahini. Use it when making hummus or salad dressings. Then, cut the amount by 50% and increase it until you find the flavor you want.
  2. Smooth Almond Butter: Almond butter is my go-to choice if I’m looking for a milder alternative to tahini. Its subtle sweetness adds depth to sauces and dips without overpowering other flavors.
  3. Cashew Butter: Cashew butter is an excellent alternative to tahini. It can be used in creamy sauces and desserts. Cashew butter has a milder flavor than tahini. It’s a great substitute for those who find tahini too strong. It is easily found in most grocery stores. 
  4. Sunflower Seed Butter: Nut-free and packed with nutrients, sunflower butter is an excellent alternative for those with allergies or dietary restrictions. Sunflower seeds have an earthy flavor similar to sesame seeds. The sunflower seed butter is perfect with falafel. It also works as a condiment in Mediterranean sandwiches. It can be found in most grocery stores near peanut, almond, and cashew butter.
  5. Sesame Oil and Greek Yogurt: Sesame oil and greek yogurt are a great combo when tahini is unavailable. Sesame oil provides a nutty flavor. Greek yogurt adds creaminess and tang. Use equal parts sesame oil and Greek yogurt, then season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Vegans. can use vegan Greek yogurt to achieve the same flavor.

DIY Tahini Recipe

Another great option is DIY tahini. Which, in my humble opinion, is the best alternative! Making tahini at home takes a little work, but the flavor is better than anything you can buy at the store. Plus, Lebanese grandmothers will give a giant sigh of relief at going old school and making your own! See the recipe card below for this easy homemade tahini three-ingredient recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Typically, tahini is made using toasted sesame seeds. If the seeds have not been roasted, the tahini will be labeled “raw tahini.” Raw tahini has a milder flavor.

Hummus, salad dressings, sauces for roasted vegetables or falafel, baked goods, and dips for fresh veggies.

I usually find tahini in the kosher section of grocery stores and not in the peanut butter section. I suggest investing in a quality brand because, in my experience, not all tahinis are created equal.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please leave a comment below.

A spoon with tahini sauce dripping off of it.

Easy DIY Tahini Recipe

Tahini is a popular Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredient. Normally used in making hummus, dressing, or as a condiment, the flavor is distinctive. So, whether you are running out of tahini or are looking for a substation, I have the five best tahini substitutes, or you can make your tahini at home using my recipe.
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Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings: 16
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients

Tahini Paste

  • 1 cup sesame seeds, hulled
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil like grapeseed oil
  • 1 pinch of salt

Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ¼ cup water or yougurt

Instructions

Tahini Paste

  • Toast the Sesame Seeds: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the sesame seeds in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast the seeds in the oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn.
  • Cool the Seeds: Remove the toasted sesame seeds from the oven and let them cool completely. They should be at room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
  • Blend the Seeds: Transfer the cooled sesame seeds to a food processor or high-speed blender. Process the seeds for about 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until they form a thick, crumbly paste.
  • Add Oil: With the food processor or blender running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil, starting with 2 tablespoons. Continue to process the mixture for another 2-3 minutes, or until it becomes smooth. The tahini will be smooth, but also consistant and thick.

Tahini Sauce

  • Mix all the Ingredients: In a bowl, combine the ½ cup tahini paste, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, grated garlic clove, 1 pinch of salt, and ¼ cup water or yogurt. Mix everything together until a smooth and uniform consistency is achieved.

Notes

Store: Transfer the homemade tahini paste or sauce to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Before using, stir until thoroughly mixed together.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy DIY Tahini Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
149
Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
14
g
22
%
Sodium
 
10
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
5
g
2
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
0.05
g
0
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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