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Tahini Sauce is a versatile Middle Eastern condiment made with tahini paste, lemon juice and garlic. It’s vegan, very flavorful and takes only a few minutes to make. If you’ve ever had falafel or beef shawarma restaurants, you may have noticed this tahini sauce is often served with them. The flavor is garlicky, tangy and nutty and makes the perfect accompaniment to many Mediterranean salads, sandwiches and finger foods.
What is tahini sauce
Tahini sauce is a Middle Eastern condiment that is served with many dishes from the region. It’s made with only 3 ingredients: tahini paste, which is crushed sesame seeds, lemon juice and garlic. Tahini is made by grinding toasted, hulled sesame seeds to create a creamy, smooth spread. It’s similar to the process of making peanut butter actually. Once it’s in paste form, it has a savory and nutty flavor, but more slightly bitter than nut butters.
- Tahini Paste: This sesame seed paste is wonderfully earthy and nutty. You can find it usually in the condiments section of your local store, or in the ethic foods aisle.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice adds a great fresh and zingy flavor. Use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled, it makes all the difference.
- Garlic Cloves: Finely mince the garlic cloves for the boldest flavor.
- Salt: A little salt helps to bring out the natural falvors of the tahini. I like to use kosher salt so that it’s not too harsh of a flavor.
- Water: Add more or less depending on how thick or thin you want the sauce. Add more for a dressing, or less for a thick dip.
How to make tahini sauce
This is how my mom and her mom (and I think her mom’s mom probably) have been making tahini sauce since forever. So I didn’t mess with the recipe at all, and I’m sharing the classic Lebanese way I grew up eating it.
As with many Lebanese condiments and recipes though, there is truly an art to this one. So, I recommend starting with the recipe below and adjusting to your taste by adding more lemon juice or more salt. That’s because every jar of tahini will be different and the acidity of lemon juice can also vary.
To start, place the tahini paste in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, crushed garlic and salt. Make sure to crush, not mince, the garlic. It allows the garlic to mellow out evenly into the lemon juice and eliminates any harsh lingering taste.
Using a fork or a whisk, start whisking vigorously. It will take a few minutes, and the tahini sauce will evolve as you can see below. After a few minutes, it will become homogenized, lighter in color and thicker.
Finally, when it’s well blended, start whisking in some water. I like to add ¼ cup, but you can start with as little as a tablespoon and adjust as necessary. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and velvety. Finally, taste and adjust the lemon juice and salt. It’s your art 🙂
How To Use
This sauce is vegan, gluten-free and versatile, especially with Mediterranean recipes. You can use it in salads, in sandwiches or as a dip. You can thin it out with more water when using it as a salad dressing versus a dip or sandwich sauce. Here are my favorite tahini sauce uses:
- Beef Shawarma
- Air Fryer Potatoes
- Shawarma Pita Pizza
- Roasted Cauliflower Pitas
- Baked Kale Chips
- Lebanese Fish & Rice
Tips for making this recipe
- Adjust consistency depending on how you’re using the tahini sauce. If you’re using it as a dip with fries or vegetables, keep it thick and creamy. If you’re using it as a sauce to add to sandwiches or salads, add more water for a more liquid sauce.
- Use a food processor to make it faster. The traditional way of making the tahini sauce is by manually whisking in a bowl, which takes a few minutes and some elbow grease. However, using a food processor eliminates the need to crush the garlic in advance and creates quicker emulsification.
- Add seasoning or herbs to switch it up. I usually just add chopped parsley to keep it traditional. But you can add cumin, paprika, coriander or cayenne pepper. You can also switch up the herbs by using cilantro, mint or dill.
Frequently asked questions
I recommend the Ziyad brand on Amazon (affiliate link). Not all tahini is created equal. Look for high quality brands that only have one ingredient – mechanically hulled sesame seeds. And make sure the tahini is not separated. If you notice separation, give it a good stir before adding it to the food processor. Bad tahini paste will be bitter and chalky, so you want to avoid that.
Yes, you can freeze the tahini sauce. Just place it in a freezer-safe container, and it’s good for up to 3 months!
This could be due to the the type of tahini paste you’re using since there are so many different varieties. I would recommend trying another brand to see if you have a similar issue. To remedy the current batch, try adding some olive oil to the mixture.
Tahini sauce is a smooth and creamy condiment that really enhances many Middle Eastern dishes. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and made with only 3 ingredients in a few minutes. I love how versatile it is and how the flavors of the nutty tahini, lemon juice and garlic all combine so well for a rich taste and texture. Growing up in a Lebanese house, this has always been my go-to-sauce!
More Sauces and Dips
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Tahini Sauce recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Lebanese Tahini Sauce
- 1/2 cup tahini paste
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves pressed/minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup water depending on desired consistency
- Place the tahini paste in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, crushed garlic and salt. Use a whisk or fork to combine mixture. Alternatively, you can blend everything in a small food processor or blender, stopping periodically to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- After a few minutes of mixing, the sauce will turn into a smooth thick paste. Slowly add water to the mixture and whisk until you reach the desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust by adding more lemon juice, salt or water.