How to Make Great Tahini Sauce
Great tahini sauce finds itself on so many of our favorite dishes, from Lebanese shawarma to falafel. Learn how to make tahini sauce with the method that results in a smooth, glossy, delicious sauce. Shop my online market here for excellent tahini (not all are created equally!).
You would think that making tahini sauce is as simple as stirring your favorite flavorings into tahini.
But not so straightforward.
Just use excellent ingredients and follow one simple trick to make your sauce just the way you like it: glossy, smooth, delicious.
First, use tahini that’s smooth and tastes great.
Not all tahini is created equally! Read this for my soliloquy on lush tahini, which I love to call “adult peanut butter.” I can’t say that around the peanut butter fans here, though; they consider that an offense to their beloved….
What to look for in tahini? It’s a tasting game. And a stirring game. Tahini, which is simply pureed sesame seeds, likes to separate oil from solids. Over time those solids can become sludgy in the base of the jar, making the rest of the tahini oily, thin, not so good. I’ve tasted more tahini than I can count in search of the very best in class. I look for little to no solids at the bottom of the jar, a creamy look and mouthfeel (!), and pleasant bitterness–which means not much bitterness. If you have not liked tahini when you’ve tasted it, that’s likely because the brand you’ve had is too bitter. Bitter is not a given; many tahinis are creamy and nearly “sweet.”
Know that Tahini seizes when mixed with other liquids.
Seizing describes what happens to tahini when mixed with liquids such as must-have lemon juice. In cooking, seizing means the smooth liquid (tahini, or melted chocolate) gets stiff and clumpy.
Knowing that tahini seizes, and how to fix it, is the key to how to make great tahini sauce!
How to fix the seized tahini?
You’ll love this simple answer: ice cold water! Add this magical cold water just a little at a time, and watch the smoooooth happen!
How to store tahini sauce.
I like to make extra sauce to keep on hand. Store the sauce in your refrigerator in an airtight container for weeks. Store the jar of tahini in your pantry, as you would peanut butter.
What tastes good with tahini sauce?
Oh gosh, start with a spoon! Sauce made with great ingredients tastes fabulous. Serve tahini sauce alongside classic Lebanese and other Middle Eastern favorites such as shawarma, kibbeh, falafel, fried vegetables. Tahini sauce is also glorious on avocado toast and thinned out as a dressing for salads.
Once you start with tahini sauce, there’s no stopping the ways!
How to Make Great Tahini Sauce
- 1/2 cup tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder (fresh minced garlic can also be used; sauce will not be perfectly smooth)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup ice cold water, and more as needed
- Whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt. The mixture will seize and become clumpy.
- Add the ice cold water a tablespoon at a time, whisking with each addition, until the mixture is smooth. The finished sauce should be thin enough to pour but thick enough to dip, comparable to the thickness of stirred sour cream or labneh.
I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!