This versatile sauce is perfect for almost all diet and lifestyle options. Requiring just three simple ingredients and coming together in a few minutes, you can use this sauce but itself or as an addition to your dips and sauces.
What Is Tahini And How Is It Used?
Dating back to 13th century Persia, this sauce and can be found in dishes throughout the Middle East, Asia, and the Mediterranean. Derived from grinding fragrantly nutty toasted sesame seeds into a smooth paste or sauce, this clean-eating sesame paste requires only three ingredients (one of which is optional!). It’s so simple to make that I typically make it as needed so that it is as fresh as possible. A wildly popular ingredient in hummus, you can use this sauce as its own dip, or as a complement to marinades, dressings, dips, sauces, etc.
Tahini is truly a versatile sauce that is perfect for virtually all diet and lifestyle options including those with nut allergies (sesame seeds are not a tree nut), those on a gluten-free diet, vegans, vegetarians, or those on the keto or paleo diet. And best of all it’s incredibly easy to make. Let me show you…
Ingredients Needed For Tahini:
- Sesame Seeds: The main ingredient for our sauce, you can use either white hulled (the more common option) or unhulled/sprouted sesame seeds. Whichever choice you opt for we’ll need for our seeds to be toasted. You can buy your seeds pre-toasted or toast them as needed (more on that in a moment).
- Oil: You can grind your sesame seeds without any oil but the texture will be more gritty and paste-like as opposed to smooth and sauce-like. Opt to use a light or mild olive oil, a neutral oil such as grapeseed oil, or pure sesame oil.
- Salt: Optional. But a small pinch of salt can enhance the nutty flavors of our sauce. I’m using a Himalayan pink salt but you can also use a sea salt if preferred.
Here’s How Easy This Tahini Is To Make:
Sesame seeds are the main ingredient in this dish. If your sesame seeds aren’t toasted (mine weren’t) simply place them in a pan on med-low heat, being sure to gently shake the pan and agitate the seeds so they are constantly moving as they brown so that they don’t burn.
After a few minutes the seeds will turn a light golden color and you will be able to get little wisps of their nutty scent as the oils within them begin to come out. They almost smell like toasted peanuts or pumpkin seeds! Once golden, remove the seeds from the pan and proceed to use them as needed.
Even if your sesame seeds are pre-toasted, it is highly recommended to warm them slightly. This enables the natural oils and nutty flavors to be drawn out of the small seeds which not only improves and enhances the depth of flavor, but it makes our seeds easier to grind.
With your ingredients gathered, place your warm and toasted sesame seeds into a food processor along with a pinch of salt. Then we’ll begin to break our seeds down by pulsing it a few times.
As you continue to pulse your seeds, slowly begin to pour in the oil in a small but steady stream. Stop halfway through and scrape down the sides. Continue adding oil until the sauce comes together. Keep processing your sauce until your desired texture is achieved.
If you prefer an ultra smooth sauce, consider using an immersion (hand) blended after you’ve broken the seeds down in your processor and streamed the oil in.
As a bonus, you can flavor your sauce to suit your personal tastes. One option is to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice for a bright, fresh citrus burst, or sprinkle in a pinch of cumin or a even a touch of garlic paste to create additional depth and an extra layer of flavor. However, remember that the toasted sesame flavor is the true star of this dish so you want to use and add-ins sparingly to allow it to shine 🌟
Simple Homemade Tahini Sauce
- Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a pan until they are lightly browned with a nutty aroma. Be sure to keep the heat low and keep the seeds moving in the pan to avoid them from burning.
- Add the toasted seeds to a food processor with a pinch of salt (if using). Blend until the seeds begin to form a paste and begin streaming in your olive oil a teaspoon at a time.
- Continue blending until a smooth, creamy and emulsified mixture is made. Pour the sauce into an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
- If you're using pre-toasted sesame seeds you can still warm them up in a pan on low heat so that their oils are released faster.
- The amount of oil needed will depend on the type of sesame seeds used and their age and oil content.
- There's nothing wrong with a slightly grainy tahini however for a smooth and creamy paste, continue blending until the desired texture is achieved, adding oil as needed, or finish your sauce by removing it from the food processor's bowl and using an immersion (hand) blender.
- Want to boost the flavor of your tahini sauce? Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice for a bright, fresh citrus burst or add in a pinch or two of cumin for an additional depth of flavor. If you'd like a subtle hint of garlic flavor, omit adding in the salt and instead use it to make a fresh garlic paste of which you'll need 1/4 tsp of for your tahini.