16 Delicious Ways to Cook With Tahini

Go Beyond Hummus


The Spruce

It may be an ancient food, but tahini—also known as sesame paste—is enjoying a major renaissance right now. Fans of Middle Eastern food may know it best as the stuff they drizzle on falafel. But thanks to chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Einat Admony (not to mention countless food writers and bloggers) making creative use of tahini, it's clear that the possibilities are virtually endless.

What is Tahini? Tahini is sesame paste, made by grinding up sesame seeds until a smooth, peanut butter-like consistency forms. It's nutty, creamy, and oily, and is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. Lately, it's become popular the world over in salad dressings, baking, sauces, and more.

Where to Get Top-Notch Tahini: Middle Eastern Markets, specialty grocers, and health food stores are good sources for tahini, but most supermarkets stock the ingredient now. You can typically find it with other Middle Eastern products, next to the peanut butter, or sometimes in the fridge area. A little oil separation is fine and proof that your tahini is all natural and free of emulsifiers. Simply stir it up when you're ready to use it to combine the oil and paste.

How to Cook With Tahini: When baking, tahini is typically used in the same way as peanut butter, adding a mildly nutty flavor. It can easily be whisked into sauces and dressings, but keep in mind that adding acid, such as lemon juice, will cause tahini to thicken rapidly. Adding a little warm water will thin it to the proper consistency.

You can also make your own tahini with sesame seeds, oil, and a good blender. For ideas on how to use sesame paste, we've got a wide range of recipes that are sure to make you a tahini fan.