I see you looking skeptical over there. Can tahini sauce really be “the best”? Isn’t it all the same? Au contraire, my friend! This tahini sauce is the best I have ever encountered.
This tahini sauce is rich, creamy, perfectly smooth, nutty and tangy. Its subtle garlic flavor enhances the toasted sesame flavor, rather than overwhelms or detracts.
This tahini sauce adds irresistible creaminess and tang to anything it touches, whether that be fresh or roasted vegetables, salad, falafel or pita bread.
When I set out to make tahini sauce, I read everything I could about the subject, like I do. Chef Michael Solomonov gave me some clues, via Serious Eats. (I don’t know the guy, but his techniques also guided my hummus recipe, which has been a smashing success.)
Are you ready to over-analyze tahini sauce with me? Hope so.
How to Make the Best Tahini Sauce
First, marinate the garlic in lemon juice for 10 minutes. The acidity of the lemon juice prevents the garlic from becoming too harsh (here’s why). This way, your lemon juice is infused with delicious, mellow garlic flavor.
Strain the garlic out of the lemon juice. I know, this sounds like extra work, but it’s worth it (I tried both strained and non-strained versions). This step ensures perfectly smooth tahini sauce and prevents the garlic flavor from stealing the show after all.
Pssst—if you’re in a hurry, just skip the garlic altogether and whisk in the lemon juice during the following step.
Whisk in tahini, salt and cumin. You can’t make tahini sauce without tahini, and the salt and cumin enhance the other flavors.
Whisk in ice water until the mixture is gloriously smooth and creamy. When you add the tahini to the bowl, it will seize up. It loosens with the addition of sufficient amounts of ice water. It’s a really cool transformation, just wait!
Adjust to taste, if necessary. Add more water for a thinner consistency, more salt for more overall flavor, and/or more lemon juice for more tang. Your tahini sauce is good to go!
Uses for Tahini Sauce
Generally speaking, tahini sauce complements other Middle Eastern recipe components and flavors. Use it as a dip or a sauce. It’s also lovely with vegetables and other fresh, herbed flavors. Tahini sauce goes well with the following:
- Fresh vegetables
- Roasted vegetables
- Flat bread or toasted pita wedges
- Whole grains, such as farro
- Used as salad dressing (thinned with water as necessary)
- Served as an appetizer with hummus and/or baba ganoush
The Best Tahini for Tahini Sauce
My other go-to? Trader Joe’s organic tahini, which is made from Ethiopian sesame seeds like Soom’s. Whole Foods 365 used to be my go-to, but I encountered a few bad jars that tasted so bad, I’m afraid to try again.
Variations on Tahini Sauce
If you want to change up your traditional tahini sauce, just add herbs! You can whisk in chopped fresh, leafy herbs, such as fresh parsley, cilantro, dill, or basil. If you would like more of a uniformly green sauce, just blend the herbs with the tahini sauce in a food processor or blender. See recipe note for more details.
Please let me know how your tahini sauce turns out in the comments! I bet you come up with some more delicious variations and I’m looking forward to hearing about them.
Best Tahini Sauce
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Sauce
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Learn how to make ultra creamy tahini sauce! The best tahini sauce is ultra creamy, deliciously tangy and irresistible. This recipe is easy to make, too. You’ll just need a whisk! Recipe yields 1 to 1 ¼ cup; double if desired.
- 4 medium-to-large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pinch of ground cumin
- 6 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
- In a medium bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, to give the garlic time to infuse the lemon juice with flavor.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Press the garlic solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the garlic.
- Add the tahini, salt and cumin to the bowl. Whisk until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
- Add water 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth. (It may seize up, don’t worry.) After about 6 tablespoons, you will have a perfectly creamy and smooth, light-colored tahini sauce.
- If desired, thin with additional water for a more drizzly sauce. Adjust if necessary—if you’d like more tang, add more lemon, or for more overall flavor, add another pinch of salt. Your tahini sauce is ready to serve!
Shortcut option: Simply skip the garlic altogether and stir the lemon juice in with the other ingredients in step 3. You’ll end up with a great, basic, tangy tahini sauce this way.
Storage suggestions: This tahini sauce keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 1 week. The tahini may thicken with time; whisk in additional cold water as necessary to thin. Solomonov suggests that the tahini sauce can also be frozen for up to 1 month.
Herbed tahini sauce: Whisk ¼ cup (or more, to taste) chopped fresh, leafy herbs into the tahini sauce. Great options include fresh parsley, basil, dill and/or cilantro. If you would like a well-blended green sauce, simply blend the tahini sauce and herbs together in a food processor or blender.
Food processor option: (This makes more sense if you’re doubling the recipe and/or making the blended herbed sauce option.) You can actually toss unpeeled garlic cloves into the food processor, blitz until finely chopped, add the lemon juice, and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then strain the garlic out of the mixture in a strainer as described, and return the garlicky lemon juice to the food processor. Add the tahini, herbs (if using), salt and cumin and blend until creamy. Thin with cold water, added 2 tablespoons at a time, until you have a perfectly smooth sauce.