These tahini recipes are healthy and delicious ways to enjoy the popular sesame paste, from Buddha bowls to sweet potato fries to cookies!
Do you use tahini? You might have bought a jar of tahini if you’ve ever made homemade hummus. But tahini is not just for hummus! Common in Middle Easter or Mediterranean dishes, this sesame paste is becoming very popular: it’s used for dressings, dipping sauces, and even desserts! Tahini is one of Alex and my favorite ingredients to use in recipes, and we realized we have a long list of tahini recipes. Keep reading for 13 tahini recipes that make healthy eating undeniably delicious.
First, what is tahini sauce?
What is tahini sauce (tahini)? Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds, typically used in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes. Tahini is vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, Paleo, keto, and Whole 30 friendly, so it works for many diets. It’s purely sesame seeds and salt! Tahini is perfect for making creamy sauces for salads and Buddha bowls, and it’s also fantastic for desserts like cookies or as a replacement for peanut butter for peanut allergies. It’s perfect for use in vegan dishes as a creamy alternative to dairy.
What does tahini taste like?
On its own, tahini has a bitter flavor. It’s not sweet like most nut butters or seed butters! So, tahini is best when mixed with other flavors, especially an acid like lemon juice which brightens it. If using tahini in a dessert, it works well mixed with a sweetener like maple syrup. Ready for our tahini recipes?
And now…our top tahini recipes!
Our top tahini recipe is easily this Best Lemon Tahini Sauce! It’s a creamy, savory sauce that’s totally versatile: use it on salads, nourish bowls, tacos, fries, veggie burgers, and sandwiches. Since it’s vegan, it adds a creamy savoriness without the use of dairy. This one is so good we’ve used it on several different recipes: our Chickpea Couscous Bowls, Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls, and Roasted Nourish Bowls (not pictured).
These vegan no bake cookies use tahini instead of the typical peanut butter, and they’re over the top delicious. Created for our friend with a peanut allergy, we made these no bake cookies with tahini instead of peanut butter, coconut oil instead of butter, and maple syrup instead of sugar. Using dark cocoa powder brings in a dark chocolate flavor, and a sprinkle of sea salt on top makes them salty sweet. These no bakes are a must make!
This tahini recipe is from a vegan cookbook, Power Plates by our friend Gena Hamshaw. It’s a hearty vegan main dish: roasted sweet potatoes are topped with Moroccan-spiced lentils and nourishing veggies. To take it over the top, a lemon tahini drizzle that’s similar to our Best Lemon Tahini Sauce above. It’s so flavorful, you won’t miss the meat or dairy in the slightest.
This simple pita sandwich features one of our favorite veggies: roasted cauliflower! It’s nestled in a pita with crunchy romaine and drizzled with a yogurt tahini sauce that brings the entire sandwich together. This one’s from Kristin Donnelly’s book, Cauliflower.
Want our favorite way to use that Best Lemon Tahini Sauce? It’s these couscous bowls! Couscous cooks up in just 5 minutes, so it’s a quick base for this bowl meal. To accessorize, cumin scented chickpeas, tomato and cucumber, and a bed of greens. Slather on that tangy, creamy tahini sauce, and it’s a heavenly vegan main dish in just 30 minutes. It’s one of our top recipe picks!
A list of tahini recipes wouldn’t be complete without hummus! The most well-known way to use tahini is for making hummus; the sesame paste adds a creaminess and body that’s essential to homemade hummus. While we have many variations on hummus flavors, our best hummus recipe is this one: 5 ingredients make that classic, creamy hummus that’s endlessly versatile.
This brownie pie isn’t technically a tahini recipe, until you consider the drizzle. Yes, that’s a salted tahini maple sauce, and it’s insanely good. From Jerrelle Guy’s cookbook Black Girl Baking, the sauce becomes almost caramely after mixing tahini, maple syrup, espresso powder, and salt. Here it’s drizzled over brownie pie, but it would be great on just about anything: vanilla ice cream, a skillet cookie, or vegan brownies. Healthy might be a stretch here on this pie recipe, so let’s just consider the tahini drizzle!
Here’s another tahini recipe that uses our Best Lemon Tahini Sauce, and this one is a tried and true favorite. Based on a dish from a fantastic vegan restaurant here in Indianapolis, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe, this Buddha bowl features a raw version of falafel. Falafel are a popular Mediterranean chickpea fritter that are typically served in a pita: here, the falafel is deconstructed into raw vegan energy balls full of Mediterranean spices. It might sound strange, but the concept is seriously satisfying. Garnish with that Lemon Tahini Sauce and you have a bowl bursting with nutrients and flavor.
Tahini recipes aren’t just salad bowls: in this recipe we’ve used tahini to make a Cumin Lime Crema sauce without the dairy! This vegan crema sauce relies on tahini, lime juice, Mexican hot sauce, and cumin to bring big flavor. The sauce brings together our crispy sweet potato fries and Mexican style toppings (black beans, salsa, corn). You could serve it as an appetizer, but we prefer this as a vegan dinner recipe: so we can have it all to ourselves!
Here’s another version of a Buddha bowl! This time it has a variety of roasted and fresh veggies for texture contrast: there’s velvety roasted sweet potatoes, addictive roasted cauliflower, crunchy fresh romaine, vibrant raw beets, and chewy black rice. To pull it all together: our Best Lemon Tahini Sauce, which brings a creamy, tangy flair to the entire bowl. This one takes the standard bowl meal to the next level.
This tahini recipe is a vegan version of pizza so flavorful you don’t miss the cheese! Naan pizzas are fitting for weeknights, so you don’t have to bother with making and shaping pizza dough. Instead, simply spread toppings onto purchased naan bread or pitas and bake. These naan pizzas are spread with hummus and topped with broccoli, chard and artichokes. And the best part: a flavor-popping drizzle made of tahini, miso, and orange juice.
Back to Mexican-style flavors with this tahini recipe: tacos! Here we’ve baked tofu with a zesty marinade, then topped them with crunchy fresh veggies. What brings it all together is a chipotle tahini sauce that’s perfect for tacos of any kind. The magic ingredient is adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers; it’s readily available in most groceries and adds a smoky flavor and bright orange color.
For our last tahini recipe, tahini teams up with yogurt to make an ultra savory creamy sauce! To up the savory saltiness, we’ve used capers to blend into the dressing to balance the tangy lemon. The tahini yogurt sauce is perfect for salads and Buddha bowls, or as a dip for roasted veggies (like those sweet potato fries above). Here, we’ve created a custom “Go Green” bowl with quinoa, broccoli and greens to make eating your greens intensely satisfying and delicious.
More tahini recipes
For more tahini recipes, here are a few from around the web:
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.