What Is Tahini Sauce, Actually?

Today we take a look at tahini, a sauce that originated in the Middle East but thankfully can be found almost anywhere, because it is delicious. Here’s the official rundown on everything you could ever want to know about tahini! 

What is in tahini sauce? What is tahini sauce made of?

Tahini is made of sesame seeds. Sometimes the sesame seeds are hulled, sometimes they’re left unhulled (hulled is another word for shelled!). The seeds are either roasted or raw, but as long as they’re ground, we’re tahini-bound! To make tahini sauce, sesame seeds are ground into a spreadable, often drizzle-able consistency. Like any other condiment, you can jazz it up with spices and sweeteners (some people add garlic and sometimes even maple syrup!) to fit any recipe or dish you may be serving.

Is tahini sauce vegan?

Because it’s made with sesame seeds, which, of course, come from a plant and not some weird, seed-based animal, tahini is vegan. (Apologies if we offended any seed-based animals that may be reading this from another planet.) 

Does tahini sauce have dairy?

Tahini is not only dairy free but gluten free, and is an alternative to nut butters if you happen to be allergic. It’s the total package! 

What does tahini sauce taste like?

Tahini has a very earthy flavor and is ever-so-slightly bitter. Although the spread resembles peanut butter and other nut butters, it does not have a similarly sweet flavor profile. Its toasted sesame seed flavor is most prevalent, making it unique. In fact, I’ll say it: The world could use more sesame seed-flavored things! 

How to use tahini sauce?

While it’s probably most often used in hummus, tahini is quite versatile, as its mild, nutty flavor pairs wonderfully with many foods. It can be used like peanut butter or even eaten straight, but is most typically used as a side dish or garnish with lemon juice and salt. It is also popularly used as a topping for meats and vegetables in Middle Eastern dishes, and it’s a great topping on falafel. You can use it in cookies, in salad dressings, as a dip, or even in a smoothie. 

Is tahini sauce spicy?

Proper tahini has no apparent baseline spiciness. However, if you need a little kick, you can purchase a spicy variety, or add something like red pepper flakes or even a classic hot sauce to up the ante.

And there you have it! Tahini, folks…not too flashy, not too hard to make, and beyond versatile. Get out and stock up on the stuff today, before we hit a sesame seed shortage and everyone has to switch to cinnamon raisin bagels! 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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  • hello! I am getting into making my own hummus so I went shopping for tahini and there were like 9 different brands. has Sporked rated tahini brands/do you plan to? would love to know which is the best according to y’all!