The Best Tahini Substitute for Every Recipe 

 Last Update July 12, 2022

By Jenny Z

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Halfway through making a batch of homemade hummus, you realize you're out of its star ingredient: tahini paste. Worry not! We've come to the rescue with six of the best tahini substitutes. Keep scrolling, and we'll teach you how to make your own!

But first, let's take a closer look at tahini itself.

What Is Tahini?

Tahini is a versatile smooth paste made from ground sesame seeds. It's made using two simple ingredients: sesame seeds and a neutral oil (such as sesame oil or canola oil). Many brands add a pinch of salt too.

While traditionally used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, tahini paste has become a modern staple in kitchens worldwide. Perhaps because it's packed with health benefits:

  • Healthy fat content
  • High in fiber and protein
  • Essential vitamins and minerals, including copper, selenium, phosphorus, and iron
  • Reduces inflammation and decreases blood pressure
  • Supports bones and immune health

Are Tahini Paste And Tahini Sauce The Same Thing?

The texture and flavor profile of tahini varies slightly from product to product. Those labeled as tahini paste are typically on the thicker side, and their thick, creamy texture makes it easier to spread a generous layer on a falafel sandwich, veggie wrap, or slice of toast. Jars and tins labeled as tahini sauce will have a bit more oil, giving them a thin, runny consistency that's perfect for stirring into desserts, sauces, and salad dressings. Either one will work just fine for making hummus.

What Is Tahini Used In?

Thanks to its versatile flavor profile and creamy consistency, tahini paste can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are a few of the most popular ways to use tahini:

  • Hummus, baba ganoush, and other dips
  • Baked into loaves of bread, cakes, brownies, and other sweet treats
  • Salad dressings, sauces, and marinades
  • Stirred into curries, soups, and stews
  • Drizzled over Greek yogurt, Acai bowls, ice creams, and smoothies
  • Spread on toast
  • Drizzled over falafel sandwiches, shawarma bowls, and salads

Tahini is often used to enhance the flavor of other ingredients in the dish. Plus, it's nut-free, gluten-free, and completely vegan. Consider it the perfect addition to any dish.

What Does Tahini Taste Like?

Most tahini is made using toasting sesame seeds that deepen the flavor and add a slight nuttiness. While most nuts and seed butters tend to have a distinctive flavor, tahini is surprisingly neutral and versatile. Just one spoonful, and you'll be hooked!

The Best Tahini Substitutes

Now that you have a better understanding of tahini, let's look at a few of the best alternatives to use if you're out. Substitute the exact same amount as the recipe calls for.

Creamy Almond Butter

Creamy almond butter is one of the best tahini substitutes as it provides a similar nutty flavor and rich, creamy texture but lacks bitterness. And there's a good chance you've got a jar on hand! Stick with a smooth variety to keep the same creamy consistency, or use crunchy almond butter to add a little texture to cakes, brownies, and other baked goods.

Cashew Butter

Cashew butter is another great alternative to tahini as it provides a similar nutty flavor and rich, creamy texture but also lacks bitterness. It has a mild flavor and a subtle nuttiness that's quite similar to the real thing. Cashew butter's versatility makes it a good tahini replacement for homemade hummus.

Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is the best nut-free substitute for tahini without changing the flavor of the bread, cakes, and other delicious desserts. If sunflower seed butter is not available, you can blend some sunflower seeds to make homemade sunflower butter.

Other Nut Butters

Don't have cashew and almond butter on hand? No problem and any other nut butter in your fridge can work in a pinch. While peanut butter will add a unique flavor profile of its own to salad dressings and marinades, it may not be the best choice for making traditional hummus.

If you have nuts at home but don't have nut butter, you can make your own nut butter by blending the nuts at high speed in a blender.

Homemade Tahini

Don't be intimidated! Homemade tahini is surprisingly easy to make on your own, and all you need is a food processor and a handful of ingredients you may already have stashed in your pantry: sesame seeds, a neutral-flavored oil, and salt.

How To Make Your Own Tahini

  1. If your sesame seeds aren't already toasted, you may want to lightly toast them in a skillet with some olive oil or sesame oil on low heat for 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them and frequently stir to prevent them from burning.
  2. Once your toasted sesame seeds have cooled, transfer them to a food processor blender and pulse until they're crumbly.
  3. Add a small amount of oil with the food processor running on low. Stop and scrape the sides every minute or so to ensure a consistent texture throughout.
  4. Once the mixture reaches your desired consistency, season with salt to taste.
  5. Store your homemade tahini in an air-tight glass jar in the fridge, and it'll stay fresh for weeks.

Black Sesame Paste

Black sesame paste is a Japanese condiment you can find at most Asian grocery stores. While traditional tahini is made using white sesame seeds, it's made using black sesame seeds that bring a rich flavor and unexpected color. Try adding it to chocolate brownies and dark-colored sauces.

Greek Yogurt

While Greek yogurt won't work as a tahini substitute in most recipes, it can be a great tahini alternative as a last-minute swap in certain dips, dressings, and sauces. Stick with cold recipes, as yogurt tends to curdle in hot dishes. It won't bring the same flavor as tahini, so you'll probably want to add a few extra seasonings and spices to bring out the flavors of your dish.

Jenny is a health-conscious, organic and natural lifestyle influencer with a Bachelor's degree in science. With years of experience working in food sciences with organic products and health & nutrition companies - she firmly believes that a natural lifestyle is healthier for you and better for the environment as well.

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