How To Make Tahini Dressing

If you’re wondering how to make tahini dressing from scratch, you’ve come to the right place! I’ll be sharing with you a super simple, creamy and versatile tahini sauce that is perfect to add to various dishes like salads, roasted or steamed vegetables, beans or lentils, Buddha bowls, wraps and burgers. 

Dressings and sauces can transform an ordinary dish into something quite spectacular if you pair flavours well. 

Tahini dressing in a small jar with a spoon.

What I love about homemade dressings is that you know exactly what has gone into them. No additives, preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients.

Unlike many tahini dressing recipes you’ll find out there, there will be no dirty dishes with this one! All you need is a jar and measuring spoons. A quick and easy way to make any meal amazing.

Tahini being drizzled over a buddha bowl.
Pictured: Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Tahini dressing ingredients

Here’s what you’ll find in this recipe:

TahiniLemon juiceSaltCumin powderGarlic powderMaple syrup

That’s it! You only need six ingredients. You’ll be pouring this perfectly balanced creamy, tangy, salty and sweet dressing over your food in no time. 

It’s oil-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and the best part is that you can adapt it however you like! Below are some ideas.

Falafel pockets stacked on top of each other with tahini sauce.
Pictured: Vegan Falafels

Variations of this tahini dressing

Want some heat? Add sriracha, chilli powder, chilli flakes.Make it green with fresh or dried herbs. Try parsley, coriander (cilantro), dill or even rosemary. If you like some punch, swap out the garlic powder for freshly minced garlic. I chose not to use fresh garlic in this recipe as it can be quite strong and leave you with bad breath. It’s the last thing you want when you’re at work, school or catching up with others!Love a bit of extra tang, add some dijon mustard. Don’t overdo it, a little bit goes a long way. Make sure to taste as you go to get it perfect for yourself.  If you love “cheesy” flavours and want a little more creaminess, you can add a small amount of nutritional yeast. A great way to add a hint of smokiness is by adding a good pinch of smoked paprika.Want an Asian twist? Omit the cumin and salt and add tamari and rice wine vinegar.If you love umami, add in some miso paste instead of salt. Your mind will be blown!

Tahini dressing in a small jar with a spoon from the front.

What is tahini?

Tahini is a paste that is made using sesame seeds. Ground up into a butter-like consistency, most commonly using toasted sesame seeds. You can also buy raw tahini, but I’ve personally never used it. 

Think about all the other nut and seed butters out there—peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, hemp…this is just a sesame seed version and it’s probably been around the longest with its roots in the Middle East—specifically Persia and Israel. However, I’ve also read that it could have originated in China and India.  

Vegan Red Rice Salad with Tahini Dressing close up
Pictured: Red Rice Salad with a Tahini Dressing

What is the difference between hulled and unhulled tahini?

Hulled tahini has the outer skin/shell (known as kernels) removed, therefore is less bitter and lighter in colour.

Unhulled tahini (the kind that I normally use) is made using the whole sesame seed. Unhulled tahini has more calcium, contains more fibre and is a healthier alternative, however does have a stronger bitter flavour. I also find that it’s a thicker consistency.

Just note that the dressing won’t be as smooth if you’re using unhulled tahini. Hulled tahini because it has the skin removed, has a much creamier and smoother consistency. 

I’ve also seen that depending on the brand that you buy, the consistency and quality of the tahini can vastly vary.

Keeping this in mind, you need to adjust the amount of water you use, depending on the tahini that you have, hulled or unhulled.

Tahini dressing in a small jar with a spoon dripping close up.

How to make tahini sauce less bitter

As I mentioned earlier, your best bet to get a less bitter dressing is to use hulled tahini. If you’re using the hulled tahini and you still find it bitter, the maple syrup is there to add a slightly sweet note and to offset any of the bitterness. 

In addition, the lemon juice and maple syrup together lighten it up without covering up the tahini flavour.

On a total side not– if you find foods very bitter, your body needs it more! Bitter foods in our diet are very important. A little fact I learned from my mum (she’s a naturopath).

Quinoa Buddha bowl with tahini dressing drizzled over the top.
Pictured: Quinoa Buddha Bowl

Tips and tricks to make tahini dressing from scratch

Here are a few pointers to get this creamy tahini dressing right every single time.

You’ll notice that if you don’t shake the jar for long enough, the dressing will look like it’s splitting, but don’t worry, keep shaking and it will come together into a nice smooth dressing. This essentially happens because you’re trying to combine oil (naturally in the tahini) and water together and emulsify it. It may also look like it’s too thick, again this is solved by shaking the jar more until all the ingredients incorporate. If it’s still too thick even though everything is combined, add a tablespoon of water to get the desired consistency.I learned a neat little trick and that is to use ice-cold water to create a creamy dressing every time. You can use this recipe as a sauce or a dressing. Use less water for a sauce, and add a few more tablespoons of it for a dressing. It’s that simple! Adjust the flavouring as you go to your liking.You’ll be able to store it in the fridge for up to 1 week. You may just need to re-mix (or shake) it to incorporate everything together again. This may require a little more water. As I mentioned earlier, tahini varies from brand to brand. The better the quality, the better the results. The lemons you use will also impact the flavour. If you use slightly more tangy lemons like Eurekas or Lisbons or a sweeter lemon like a Lemonade lemon.I’m based in Australia, so my measuring spoons are unfortunately slightly different to the ones that you get in the US. Please keep that in mind when making my recipes.

Other recipes you’ll love:

Simple Creamy Vegan White SauceSun-Dried Tomato HummusRainbow Falafel SaladTurkish Stewed Green BeansEasy Garlic Parsley Sauce

If you try this recipe, let me know. Would love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.

Ingredients

6 tbsp hulled tahini

1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cumin powder

4-8 tbsp ice-cold water*

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Serve on top of falafels, wraps, salads, Buddha bowls. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Notes

* Add as much water as you like to reach the consistency you’re after. This will also vary depending on which tahini you use.

* Please read the tips and tricks listed earlier in this post.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 73Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 153mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically. The accuracy of this information is not guaranteed.

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